In It Together: How You Can Help a Significant Other with Their Mental Health | Rice Psychology
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In It Together: How You Can Help a Significant Other with Their Mental Health

My boyfriend suffers from depression and ADHD. Some days are really good; however, others can be tough, not just for him, but for me, too. I thought that since I’d taken a few psychology classes in college and read about some specifics related to depression online, I was prepared and could handle whatever his situation threw our way. I was so wrong! Not only are his mental health challenges causing major issues between us, but I’m worried it’s affecting my own mental health as well. I want to help him and our relationship, but I don’t even know where to begin. What should I do?

You don’t have to follow pop culture to know that Kayne West and Kim Kardashian are always making headlines. Recently, they’ve been in the news for something far more serious than fashion, music, and Kayne’s presidential aspirations. The rapper’s battle with bipolar disorder has been a hot topic due to some bizarre tweets and statements. Because of this, it’s caused many to take a deeper look at his wife, Kim.

How is she handling this? What is she doing to support him? What about their four children? While Rice Psychology Group hasn’t followed this story closely enough to know the answers to these questions, we do understand that being the spouse or significant other of someone living with a mental illness often brings its own set of challenges.

Where Do You Begin?

Is it possible to be in a good relationship with someone living with a mental illness? Of course! But like everything in life, it takes some work. Having a significant other with a mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD can be overwhelming, stressful, and emotionally burdening.

Our licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa believe that mental illness should not destroy a relationship and can instead make it stronger. If you’re the significant other of someone living with a mental illness, we have some helpful tips and information that can help you both build a stronger and more loving relationship.

Coping with Your Partner’s Illness

Like everything in life, the first thing to do in solving a problem is acknowledging it. And in this case, the problem to be solved may not be to cure the mental illness, but instead how to live with it and your partner’s journey. The worst you can do is remain in denial about their mental health and how it’s affecting you. Once you openly communicate with each other, it’ll be much easier to face this challenge together. But that isn’t all you can do. Below are some helpful tips inspired by an article on verywellmind.com that we think can help your relationship.

Always Show Support and Sympathy

Whether your partner’s diagnosis is new or something they’ve dealt with for some time, what they’re dealing with can be scary and embarrassing. They may even begin to believe it’s affecting how you view them. Make sure he/she/they understand that you’re there for them and your love will not change.

Educate Yourself

So many people believe that they understand mental illness when they actually don’t or are misinformed. Make sure to educate yourself about your partner’s condition. You can find reliable information from licensed specialists like us and helpful information online from legitimate sources such as the American Psychological Association Help Center.

Here are some tips:

  • Seek professional help – While you may be your partner’s main source of support, communicate with him/her/they and be sure to educate yourself about their diagnosis. It’s also crucial to not take on the role of therapist. Let trained professionals Your main concern should be to provide love, support, and encouragement.
  • Practice self-care – Taking care of yourself is important and crucial if you have a partner with mental health problems. How can you help someone else if you aren’t helping yourself? Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise, healthy food, time with friends and family, and time to do what makes you happy. Remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you’re okay enough to help your loved ones.
  • Be open with your children – If you have children, then try to be open and honest (to an extent) with them. If they ask questions, answer honestly and with a level they can understand and digest. Make sure they grasp enough of the situation to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Mom or Dad may act differently sometimes, but it’s okay. However, make sure what you tell them is age-appropr You don’t want to overwhelm or misinform them. This can be frightening and worrying. Instead, start with asking them what they already know and what questions they have about what’s going on.

Let’s Work Together in Tampa

We know that having a partner with a mental health issue can feel isolating and hard to deal with, but we’re here to let you know that you aren’t alone. We’re currently offering online sessions where we provide a safe environment to help your family find solutions that work. Contact us to schedule your online session today!

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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