Living with a Partner Who is Dealing with a Mental Health Condition

Family Support in Mental Health Conditions

Dear Reader, 

I hope October has been kind to you so far. We have focused a lot on people living with mental health issues, and how they can navigate life with what they have. However, in this article, I’ll be talking about people living with partners who have mental health issues.

Dear Reader,   I hope October has been kind to you so far. We have focused a lot on people living with mental health issues, and how they can navigate life with what they have. However, in this article, I’ll be talking about people living with partners who have mental health issues.   With conversations around mental health now becoming more and more prominent on social media, there is also the introduction of cancel culture that can impact matter of mental health. It is now quite common to read posts that say things like, “If he/she can’t deal with my mental health issues, then they don’t deserve me.”, “If they can’t deal with me at my worst, then they don’t deserve me at my best.”

The thing with posts like this is that they completely absolve the bearer of any responsibility of working on themselves and trying to be better. This responsibility is then dumped on their partner, who in turn has to “do the work” for them.   Someone needs to say it, so I will. That is an unacceptable notion.   Living with a mental health issue is draining, especially when they are at the point where they have more lows than highs, but it’s not the responsibility of you as their partner to ‘fix’ them. Unless you are a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, you have no business trying to fix your partner. In fact, even if you are a licensed mental health worker, it is advised that you don’t treat someone that close to you as it could interfere with doing your job the right way.   What your responsibility is, however, is offering them support. No one wants to go through depressive lows  or a manic high alone. They need support- someone to hold their hands when they don’t want to face the world, wipe their tears and remind them to keep breathing and ensure that they eat and drink enough water when they can not do that for themselves. They need support while dealing with something that pretty much alienates them from the rest of the world. What I’m describing here is a support system, not a treatment plan.

While you are out there being a supportive partner, please do not neglect your own mental health. You cannot give what you don’t have. If your mental health is falling apart, you cannot be a good support system for anyone. For your sake and for the sake of your relationship, do not lose yourself while trying to be there for your partner. Your mental health should never come second place. If you feel like you are lacking in energy, do things that help you recharge. Do not be afraid to choose yourself and to put your own needs first. You will be able to support your partner better when your energy levels are great.   So many relationships have been broken because of a partner that’s dealing with a mental health challenge and another partner that exhausted themselves while trying to take care of the other person. Take care of yourself and communicate your needs openly with your partner. If they love and care about you, they would definitely not want anything less than the best for you, even as you support them.   I must add that being in this position requires a lot of patience. A lot of it, and if you need to speak with someone yourself, in order to maintain your relationship and your own sanity, please don’t shy away from doing that.

Love and Light. Lara.

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