Knowing how to understand and lovingly support someone with mental health issues can seem like a daunting and confusing maze of mixed signals and conflicting advice. When this person is your partner, it becomes even more complicated because you are so deeply invested in their happiness and wellbeing.
Your care for them can help them to feel appreciated, loved, and supported but when boundaries are not respected and you do not listen, it can also serve to make them feel smothered and misunderstood. When you foster a dynamic of open communication, healthy boundaries, and mutual compassion, then your partner will likely tell you what they need to feel safe.
That being said, it can be incredibly challenging to express your emotions and needs when you find yourself in a downwards spiral with your mental health so we are here to impart the knowledge of psychologists, psychiatrists and relationship coaches.
Do Your Research
If you have not personally struggled with any form of mental illness it is incredibly challenging to have insight into the intricacies thereof. This is by no fault of your own – it simply cannot be understood without first-hand experience or sufficient research.
You will feel more equipped to appropriately engage with your partners mental health issues when you have a greater understanding of what it feels like as well and how to be there for someone who is struggling. It will also teach you to not take the symptoms personally.
Mental health is an umbrella term for a multitude of conditions and even within a single category, there are various manifestations thereof. Ask your partner what they battle with specifically and pay attention to that.
Never Judge How Hard They are Trying
You should always keep in mind that the effort that you observe is merely the tip of the iceberg. Working through mental health issues is not like training for a marathon, grit alone does not get you through. Criticising your partner for not putting enough effort into their psychological wellbeing is a counterproductive exercise that will likely make them feel alone and judged. Rather take a step back, buy Bitcoin credit card or do something else you enjoy when you feel judgemental.
This is perhaps the most important quality to embrace when you are a partner to someone struggling with their mental health. This does not mean contrasting their pain with someone who somehow ‘has it worse’ nor does it mean casting your own difficulties aside.
Empathy simply entails acknowledging their pain and being present for it without judgement – even if you do not know precisely how to be there. Doing this demonstrates that you accept those feelings and love them just the same for it. This encourages them to accept and love that part of themselves too.
Encourage Professional Support
Note here that we say encourage, not force. Just like every other individual who is not a psychologist or psychiatrist, you alone cannot cure your partner’s mental health illness. Make sure that they know that seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure. If they want you to, you can even drive them to appointments to express your support.