Mental illness isn’t just hard for us. Our significant others go through a lot as well, and sometimes we don’t realize that. Sometimes we are just so caught up in our own brain and we don’t think about how they are feeling.
Let them know what is going on.
nobody is a mind reader. If you are hiding in your bed and suffering in silence, there is no way for your person to know what it is that is bothering you. Let them know. Even if you don’t know exactly what it is that is upsetting you, tell them that. I guarantee your person wants to help you, but they can’t if they have no idea how to.
Remind them that you love them.
As someone with depression and anxiety, I constantly need reassurance. I am that person that will probably ask my husband if he still likes me on our wedding day. However, I can be distant. When I am feeling down in the dumps, I isolate myself and want to be alone. It can seem from the outside that I’m mad and that my person did something wrong. Just reminding your person that they did nothing wrong and that you still love them, can help a lot.
Explain to them that they can’t fix you.
There are plenty of people out there that are “fixers”. My boyfriend is a “fixer”. When I’m sad, when I’m scared, he wants to fix it, make it go away. If this sounds familiar, you need to shut it down. No, don’t be rude about it, but let your person know that they can help, but they can’t fix. Unfortunately, mental illness isn’t something that can be fixed that easily. There are things they can do to alleviate some of the symptoms, but they can’t make it go away. Letting them know this might help them realize that they don’t need to take on that responsibility of fixing a mental illness and might remove some tension in the relationship.
Tell them when you need some space.
You might be able to see a pattern here. Communication is key. It just comes down to the fact that if you are quiet about what is going on inside your head, then nobody can try to make you feel better, because they have no idea. If you just stomp away to another room and you don’t tell your person that you might need some space, they’re going to think they did something wrong. Mental illness shouldn’t be a topic of fights, but it can be if you don’t keep the line of communication open.
Have other support systems as well.
Your person didn’t sign up to be a therapist, they signed up for a partner. If you rely completely on your significant other for your support system, it can become the only topic of conversation. You could quickly lose the “spark” in the relationship. Go to your friends and family as well for advice or to vent, because you don’t want your relationship to turn into a patient/caregiver situation.
Do something nice for your person.
If the day has been rather complainy, or you can’t remember the last time you had a conversation about them, do something nice. Make dinner or clean the house. No, I’m not saying you need to apologize for having a bad day. I’m saying you never know if they are also having a bad day. I know personally, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own shit that I forget to ask how his day was. On days like this, when I finally realize what I’ve been doing, I see that my boyfriend seems distant and grouchy. The fact of the matter is that from his standpoint, it can seem like I just don’t care, which isn’t true at all. On days like this I will make his favourite meal, clean up, and give him extra cuddles (which totally counts for self care too.)
Ask them if they’re okay.
Going back to the communication thing, one big tip is to ask them how they’re doing. If your person struggles with mental health themselves, then this is super important. However, if they don’t, it’s still big. Everyone has bad days and if you have a mental illness they’re more frequent. Before you start ranting about how bad your day was, ask how theirs was. You never know, maybe you can start a cathartic ranting session and feel awesome afterward.
This is THE MOST important thing on this list. I can’t even count how many times my boyfriend has held me as I cried, brought me water when I was having a panic attack, or rubbed my back as I was coming down. This is a fucking job. He works hard to make me feel safe and the least I can do is thank him.
Getting a “thank you” goes a long way.
When your significant other feels taken care of, they can do more to help take care of you. As someone who suffers with several mental illnesses, I know how needy we can be. Spend some extra time to take care of your person today. They deserve it.