Dealing with a partner who has a mental illness is not a simple task. It takes plenty of patience, support and self-care to maintain the relationship without letting it spiral out of control. There are some ways in which you can try and give yourself space as well as be supportive of your partner:
There might be many situations in your relationship where you’re not able to directly address issues because dealing with mental illnesses does take some amount of training. Having a therapist around helps you to take on those aspects, without having to fall into the role of therapist in the relationship yourself.
Research. You’re probably being told not to take it personally. It’s very hard not to take things personally in a relationship. If your partner refuses to get out of bed when you’ve planned a day together, it does make an emotional impact. Researching the illness helps you to maintain that necessary distance and also gives you an idea of what to expect.
Maintain a private and self-caring space. In relationships, it’s possible that you pick up each other’s energies and start developing a sort of emotional claustrophobia. Take time out for yourself, meditate, build a strong personal self-care routine that allows you more space for equanimity when you’re with your partner.
Let go of that savior impulse. We all want to save our partners. Often, we assume that love is enough. We think ‘why can’t he/she be happy? I’m there to take care of him/her.’ A relationship cannot directly take on a serious and recurring mental illness. A supportive relationship can sustain itself through the difficult times, but remember that your partner needs therapy and support as much as he/she needs love.
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