While it is important to support your partner when struggling with their mental health, it can also be challenging. To make sure your efforts don't go in vain and you know exactly how to be there for your loved one, you must first identify any subtle signs that they are not doing alright (if they have not told you about it, of course).
Signs your partner is struggling with their mental health
They lose their cool more easily
While everyone has their ‘bad days', it is not normal for someone to blow up in a fit of rage, especially when you don’t see them usually do so. In fact, one of the earliest symptoms of depression in a person surfaces as they get more irritable, even for trivial reasons.
They are isolating themselves
Isolation is one of the most common symptoms of several mental health disorders, including clinical depression and anxiety. If your partner has lately been disconnected from you as well as others in their life, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on.
They are drinking more often
Increased dependency on alcohol or other substances is a huge red flag. While occasional drinks while unwinding and having fun are absolutely normal, if you notice your partner drinking daily or simply more than they usually do, it is definitely an alarming sign.
How can you be there for them?
Before answering this question, let’s try understanding what you cannot (and should not try to) do in the first place. Reminding yourself that you are not your partner’s therapist is essential. So, acting like one and trying to “fix” their issues would only take you a step closer to unhealthy codependency.
Instead, what you can do is support them while they navigate their concerns and find professional help. Here are some ways to do that.
Don’t blame yourself
You cannot blame yourself for your partner’s mental state. Several factors - both physical and psychological - are at play when it comes to mental health problems. So, seeing yourself as a part of the problem is not going to do any good to you or to your partner.
However, it might help to have an open conversation with them about whether your relationship is a cause of their concerns. If that is the case, you can try seeking couples' therapy or even consider ending the relationship mutually.
You must take the time to educate yourself about your partner’s mental health issues. While you do that, keep reminding yourself that the objective here is not to run a diagnosis but to open your mind to various possibilities.
Another way to go about this is to ask them open-ended questions (only if they feel comfortable answering them) about their emotions, triggers, etc. Such an approach would not only make you more aware of their inner state but also guide you on how you can be more supportive as a partner.
Perceive them as more than their illness
Don’t let your partner’s mental illness limit your perception of them. It is important to remind them and, more importantly, yourself that this illness doesn’t define them. We are all multi-faceted beings, and mental illness is just one facet. It can’t be singled out to compartmentalise and categorise a person. It is undoubtedly a part of your partner's identity, but not the only one!
Know your boundaries
Your partner’s struggles do not imply you always have to sideline your own needs. While you must be considerate in such situations, you should not be making all the sacrifices or adjustments. It is essential to remind yourself that your needs are as important as theirs. Try to make sure you are clear about what you need to be content in the relationship — all while still respecting their mental health challenges.
Help them seek proper mental healthcare
Finding the right mental health practitioner is crucial in facilitating your partner’s journey to recovery. This could involve discussing with them the various options available and what they deem to be the right fit for themselves. Treatment options include individual therapy, group therapy, and seeing a psychiatrist if they want to be on medications.
Based on the nature of the problem and your partner’s comfort level, Rocket Health can help you find the right mental health professional just at your fingertips.