Relationships are hard enough to maintain without the added struggle of a mental illness piled on top of it all. The thing about having a mental illness is that you stop thinking rationally and become somewhat dismissive of the help your partner is trying to provide to you or start getting angry at them for the stupidest things. At least that is my experience. I can’t say that I have followed all of these tips throughout my illness, but I am attempting to.
So what are my top tips on how to maintain a relationship through mental illness?
Stop undermining yourself
What do I mean by this? Saying things like “I’m not good enough for you” or “You can do so much better than me”. Here’s the secret: you DO deserve them, you ARE good enough for them and the can’t do better than you. If they could then they would, but they are there for you and are sticking around despite the illness so you are definitely worthy of their love (as they are of yours).
They are trying to maintain the relationship too
They might sound mean sometimes when they are trying to get you help or make you realise that what you’re saying is because of your illness, but they really are just trying to help. Relationships are about a partnership, we have to consider them in the illness too as they are watching it every day and trying to help you get better, even if they seem like the bad guy they’re sticking around to see that you get better and help the relationship get back on track. So try not to treat them like the bad guy – they’re actually the good guys.
It’s not easy for them
If they get a bit frustrated with you or seem at the end of their tether it’s because they are doing everything that can to make you better and it’s not working. It’s tiring for them having to listen to our jumbled thoughts every day. So try to show your appreciation for this. Show them that you still care about them too, make them feel wanted and don’t forget that you love each other. Make sure your partner doesn’t think their time is wasted by helping you.
Do something creative together
Creative activities are the best way to help yourself, but including your partner in this will keep you close to each other and continue to shape your relationship and bond you even further. This could be something as simple as cooking or baking (that’s what it is in my relationship), it could be painting or even photography. Don’t lose the bond that was once so strong.
Do things together
Yes, this is similar to the post above, but this is more about physical activities. Go for walks, attend parties, go and get ice cream. Get out of your safe zone with the person you feel safest with. It will be good for both you and your partner to be out and about together again. Me and my partner often go to the beach and get ice cream because that’s what makes me smile again.
Although this isn’t a foolproof guide to maintaining a relationship throughout a mental illness I hope that someone can gain something out of it. These are the things I am doing to maintain my relationship and believe me, they are working. At least try them if you feel the bond growing thinner. It could save something currently lost.