Helping your partner deal with mental illness can be challenging. You want to be supportive, but sometimes you are unsure how you can help. Understanding that your role can be overlooked, we have compiled a list of tips to help you navigate this uncharted territory.
Read on for six suggestions for helping your partner through mental illness.
- Learn about the Diagnosis: Mental illness can come in a variety of forms, and it can be overwhelming. Symptoms vary and so does the reaction to them. By talking with your partner and working to understand his/her specific symptoms, you can help ease stressful situations when they arise.
- Listen When They Talk: Sometimes the best way to manage a stressful situation is through a conversation. Listen to your partner when they talk with you about their thoughts and feelings. Confiding in you may just be the release they need to fend off symptoms.
- Do Not Trivialize Feelings: Mental illness can trigger an assortment of feelings. These feelings often come in waves, and they can seem irrational at times. Understand that your partner would not be expressing these feelings unless they were real to him/her. Validate your partner and make every effort to understand these emotions.
- Be Patient: Mental illness is complex and it takes time to unravel. Identifying triggers and finding coping mechanisms may take months, even years. Try not to rush the process, and provide your partner with time to work through these steps. Offer your support, and help when solicited, but do not place a timeline on progress.
- Try Not to Fix Things: Everyone handles things differently, and that can be challenging to understand. You may feel that your way of handling stress, for example, would benefit your partner. But what works for you may not work for him/her. Allow your partner to develop personal strategies and fight the urge to solve everything.
- Be There: This one is perhaps the most obvious and underrated item on this list. Sometimes it’s enough to just be there. Fighting mental illness can be overwhelming and exhausting. Emotions are constantly in flux and life is a whirlwind. Having a consistent support system can be vital for someone dealing with these challenges. Next time your partner has a reaction, remind them of your love. Your support will mean a lot.
While everyone reacts differently to mental illness, remembering these simple suggestions can go a long way. By understanding your partner and making an effort, you can develop strategies that work for your relationship.