- Posted by Jon Harju
- On September 3, 2019
When mental illness affects your partner or spouse, it can have an enormous impact on the relationship and on both partners involved.
Research suggests mental disorders are linked to an increase in divorce ranging from 20 to 80 percent (depending on the type of disorder).
Supporting a loved one through mental illness is hard work. When your partner experiences a mental health issue, not only do you desperately miss seeing them happy and mentally well, but it takes extra work to maintain a healthy relationship and in some cases a happy family life.
“When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well.” – Poorna Bell, author of Chase The Rainbow.
When one person in a partnership has a mental illness, it often negatively impacts the relationship and the supportive partners’ own mental health.
4 ways to help yourself while being there for your partner
Seek professional help and support
Get the help you need and deserve from mental health professionals, or support groups. Try to remember that you won’t be able to fully help your partner or yourself by trying to tackle this alone.
Consider couples therapy to help improve communication and problem-solving skills within your relationship.
Communication is key
Communication is crucial in relationships, particularly when one person is dealing with mental health issues. Mental illness is not something to be ignored and requires loving support from a partner. If challenges are not addressed, then misunderstandings and resentments begin to build, hindering any supportive communication within the relationship.
Block time regularly to look after yourself
Feeling like you have to handle everything is a natural response, but it can feel overwhelming. It’s essential to ensure you take care of yourself. The adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup” rings so true. If you’re not feeling strong yourself, you won’t be any use to your partner. Don’t stop doing the things you love or enjoying pastimes that bring you joy — you are allowed to be happy.
Talk to friends and family
You may fear that friends and family won’t understand your situation but trying to maintain appearances while supporting your partner is exhausting. Build your circle of trusted friends and family whom love you, and get them involved. This provides the support you and your partner need.
Hold on to who you are
Supporting a loved one struggling with mental illness is without a doubt stressful. It’s vital to treat yourself and each other with kindness and compassion during what can be a worrying and daunting time for both of you.
Poorna Bell shares advice from her lived experience:
“You’re dealing with a lot. You are patient, you are kind, you are loving, but you have to look after yourself because it’s very easy to lose a sense of yourself when you’re dealing with something like this. I can tell you from personal experience it’s unbelievably important to hold on to who you are.
Download Snapclarity to get the help you need, when you need it.