How Does Mental Illness Affect Relationships?
Maintaining a long-term relationship is a task that’s tough enough by itself. When you add any type of a health condition in the mix, it can certainly become one of the more difficult things life can have in store for you. Even though it’s been estimated that nearly half of all US citizens will have to face a mental health condition during their lifetime, the stigmatization of these types of issues is still an ongoing problem.
In romantic relationships, being a partner of someone who is going through a mental illness. It can bring a whole another set of challenges to the table. It can be hard to understand the other person. Not to mention the struggles present in your daily routines that other people just don’t have to deal with.
Keeping a healthy relationship with someone who’s affecting by mental health problems can get overwhelming at times. Especially if you’re married, and your spouse proves incapable of performing any household duties. Such as taking care of the kids, doing maintenance work, or helping out with the cleaning.
Mental health conditions are the kind of relationship problems that can quickly lead to its demise. Before you start looking into different types of divorce, though, you should understand the many ways in which mental health affects relationships, and consider other ways to get help to try and make it work.
Most Common Problems in Romantic Relationships
Every intimate relationship is different, making it a daunting task to put together all the ways in which mental illness can affect them. Especially when you consider the amount of emotionally unstable relationships consisting of two perfectly healthy individuals (albeit with many unresolved issues). There are, however, certain issues that need to consider universal in couples affected by mental illness. Listed below are three of the most common ones:
- Emotions galore: on the one hand, there is a healthy partner who struggles with the social stigma placed upon their significant other — he’s the one that’s likely to explain their partner’s illness to other people. As well as become upset at the news and online posts that trivialize people with a mental health condition. On the other hand, the sick partner may feel ashamed of their condition. And feel like a giant burden on their lover. As time goes by, you can add frustration and disconnect to the mix, as people with mental conditions tend to shut in and cease to socialize with others. Also even spend time with their partners. These negative feelings can break even the strongest of bonds.
- Physicality: antidepressants, as well as other medications prescribed to patients with mental illnesses, can significantly decrease one’s libido. This may add a physical component onto the long list of emotional strains. As the healthy partner may feel as if they’re pushing away. On the other hand, those who are sick often get anxious about their performance in bed. As well as feel tremendous guilt at not being sexually available to their loved one.
- Codependency: although this relationship pattern is very prevalent in healthy couples, it becomes even more problematic when one of the partners has a mental health problem. As the affected person’s partner starts to derive their self-worth from their ability to provide care for their significant other. It further enables the mental illness and contributes to the mental deterioration.
What Can You Do to Cope With Your Partner’s Condition?
Aside from being supportive and caring in dealing with your loved one’s illness, you should also consider your own health and cope with this situation in a way that doesn’t make it worse.
Since we most fear the things we’re ignorant of, one of the first things you should do to get a better grip on this challenging situation is educating yourself on your partner’s illness. Whether it’s depression, severe anxiety, or any other disorder. Once you gain more and more knowledge about it, you’ll find it easier to support yourself and your partner through this rut.
You should also try and find support in others, such as your family members or close friends. Having someone to open up to and honestly talk about how you’re feeling may help you handle hardships. It provide an outlet for all the negativity you don’t want to expose your partner to. Attending support groups for those in a similar situation is another way to do. So if you seek the companionship of people who know exactly what you’re going through.
Involving your partner in these conversations can also be beneficial in certain scenarios. Attending couples’ therapy together could not only help you convey your own emotions to your significant other in a non-hostile way, but it can also let them explore their own mental illness and openly talk about it in the presence of a professional. Therapy may just prove to be the optimal source of support and understanding both of you desperately need.
Mental health is becoming destigmatized in modern society. The younger generation of more emotionally available and compassionate adults slowly but surely brings about this much-needed change. Those who struggle with mental illness now have more avenues than ever to obtain help. It significantly decreases the strain that their illness puts on themselves and their family. If you’re in a relationship with someone affecting by mental illness, remember — you’re not alone. These issues are much more common than you might think, and there is no shame in seeking help. Just like there is no shame in going to see the doctor about a physical ailment.