Discussing and looking after your mental health in a relationship is important, for both you and your partner. Treating your own mental health like a secret can bring a lot of stress, and may make your symptoms worse. By being open with your partner, you can build a stronger relationship through open communication and by naming your condition.
If you are in a relationship and struggle with your mental health, you may be unsure about bringing up how you’ve been feeling with your partner. Here are some ways to start the conversation.
Talking to your partner about your mental health
Knowing when to talk to your partner about any difficulties with your mental health you may have can be a tough call. You might not want to bring it up at the start of a relationship because it could be something very personal to you, but you also might not want to wait too long to discuss it in case your partner feels like you have been keeping it from them.
It’s entirely up to you when to discuss it, and when you do, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Talk to them about it
When you decide to have a conversation about your mental health with your partner, if possible you could try and choose a time when you are feeling well, or better able to handle the conversation. But if this is not possible, opening up is still a good idea.
Speak honestly and try to help your partner understand as much as they can.
Some things you could try include:
- If it’s hard to describe in words, you could use different ways to explain what you’ve been going through, like through writing, a drawing or an image
- Telling them about things that trigger you like big crowds or certain topics of discussion
- Let them know your own limits and how much you can discuss in one day
Give them information about your condition
In order for your partner to be able to support you, it can help for them to understand what you’re experiencing. Try to give them some information on your condition and how you manage it. If you see a mental health professional, like a counsellor, you could suggest they come along to an appointment so that they can ask questions and learn how to support you.
Let them know how they can help
This could be something new for your partner, so if you have an idea about what they could do to support you, let them know. You could have a conversation where you both share ideas around how they can help you to manage your condition. If you’re not sure how they can help, that’s okay – just keep it in mind, and talk to them if you think of something.
Remember you are more than your condition
It’s important to remember that things like anxiety and depression are conditions, they are not a part of you or your personality.
Reminding your partner of this and naming difficult moments as ones of anxiety or depression can help you manage it together as a couple by seeing it as something separate to you and your relationship.
Physical intimacy and mental health
Medication for a mental health condition, or the symptoms of a mental health condition itself, may reduce your desire to be physically intimate with your partner. This is completely okay; everyone goes through periods where their desire for intimacy changes, and your partner should respect that.
Talk to your partner about how it is effecting you. If you are concerned about your symptoms, talk to your doctor about finding ways to reduce and manage these side effects if you are on medication. It can also help to talk to your partner about each of your sexual needs in order to find a way to make things work for both of you. There are also other ways of showing physical affection with your partner such as hugging and cuddling.
It might also be a good idea to remind yourself and your partner that neither of you is to blame for this, and that it is only temporary.
Most importantly, if you are in a relationship and struggling with your mental health, always remember that you deserve a loving, healthy, and strong relationship, whatever your health history may be.
Looking after your mental health in a relationship
Regardless of whether or not you or your partner are dealing with mental health difficulties, it is still important to find ways to look after your mental health when you’re in a relationship.
Looking after yourself, as well as considering how your partner is feeling, can lead to a healthier relationship where you can both be open with each other about what’s going on.
Rely on yourself
At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own happiness, whether you are in a relationship or not.
If you are feeling low, your partner may not be able to instantly make you feel better, and that’s okay. Rely on yourself and the things that help you feel better, like taking a walk or reading a book.
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