When you meet the right person and fall in love, isn’t it a beautiful concept? Loving someone and being loved by them is a special feeling. A feeling that most of us are lucky enough to experience at some point in our life. Although, relationships promise to help nurture you and stick with you through thick and thin, how would it affect you when your significant other suffers from mental health issues?
Everyone talks about mental health awareness and the importance of therapy. But to be part of an interpersonal relationship with someone who has a mental health concern is a challenging task. Understandably, people are raised in different circumstances, and they have different perspectives about mental health.
Since mental health is a sensitive topic, the first step in comprehending the concerns of your significant other is psychoeducation. The more you know about it, the more considerable help you can be to make them feel better. The key to every successful relationship is ‘communication’, not over-communication or under-communication, or bridging the gap of misinformation or missing information, but a healthy two-way communication. It is difficult to live with mental illness, whether you’re the one with the diagnosis or your partner is. The individual’s mental illness, however, tends to overpower other feelings like being vulnerable and letting someone see who you indeed are. The fits of anger that they experience when their significant other does not understand them and, the guilt when they are repeatedly told that everything will be okay. The shame of not being ‘normal’ and the fear that one day all of this will vanish and the person will leave you because “they can’t do it anymore” and simply give up. The partner faces confusion over the reason behind their one’s action. The increasing worry and concern that they will end up harming themselves. The disappointment when they break promises, and the guilt when you remember that they are not doing it consciously. The shame that tells you, ‘you are at fault’ and the fear that one day they will give up.
But aren’t there many couples that just don’t give up.
Most couples are not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, the importance of mental health and its effects. Some of these mental health concerns can also involve identity crisis, sexual preferences, confusion about one’s choices concerning career, or partner. The silence and stigma have shaped how they deal with this illness. Needless to say, they struggle with the very idea of being ill. When the person opens up to their partner about their mental health concerns, most significant others would have no idea what this would entail. They struggle with comprehending the scale, the scope, and the fact that chronic illnesses like this can recur every year and linger for months.
Understanding each other, especially your partner, when they are having a nervous breakdown, or a typical episode of their illness can help in the long run. There may be times where one might not have every answer, and it is okay. Being present for your partner, if not physically but emotionally helps create a safe space where they are allowed to express their vulnerability. Allowing them to take their space and time helps them work certain things out for themselves.
Of course, different approaches work for different couples, and it might take you a while to figure it out. Being patient and giving each other time, enhances and promotes things to fall into place. Amidst this chaos, taking care of oneself is as important as lending a shoulder to your partner. Make sure you make time for yourself and indulge in self-care. You deserve it too! Mental health does not progress or regress overnight, they have a long and slow healing rate. Seeing someone you love struggle, and experiencing the pain with them can be a painful place to be in. But providing a safe space to promote positive catharsis for not just your partner but also for yourself can make a big difference.
Here is to creating more safe and happy spaces for your loved ones to open up!