20 Ways To Help A Partner Living With Mental Illness


Health

“You’re going to be okay, and I’m here.”

Posted on February 14, 2018, 02:31 GMT

1. Be patient with them.

“Before I started dating my boyfriend, I was agoraphobic and
would never get into cars with people. After about six
long months with a lot of practice and A LOT of patience, he
brought me out of my comfort zone
and finally to his
house. My boyfriend has been helping me out of my comfort
zone over the last three years, and we’re still going
strong!” —meganc4d25442ea

2. Give them space if they need time to
themselves.

“Like most of my dad’s side of the family, I have bipolar
disorder. My husband is really great because when he sees
that I’m getting to a bad place mentally, he offers to take
our toddler out for a bit so I can have some time to
myself.
Just having him take our son out to the park for
an hour or two so I can have quiet time makes a such a huge
difference!” —jamesmoriarty

3. Reassure them they’re okay.

“Whenever my depression kicks in or I can feel myself about
to panic, my boyfriend will hold me. He repeatedly tells me
to breathe and that everything will be okay. Afterwards, he
always suggests we get froyo or smoothies because he knows
they’re my favorite. Sometimes you just need to hear that
you’ll be okay out loud.
And a smoothie doesn’t hurt
either.” —katarinar4ece229c3

4. Learn their symptoms, and think of
little ways you can help.

“I used to do this thing where if I was anxious about
something, I would dig my nails into my skin. I didn’t even
realize I was doing it at first, but he noticed right away.
Immediately, he gave me his hand to hold just so I
wouldn’t hurt myself.
It was such a small act of kindness
and patience, but his selflessness and unwavering support was
and has been a huge influence in my journey to getting
better.” —leahmroy

5. Don’t make them feel embarrassed or
ashamed for having a mental illness.

The most amazing thing my boyfriend did for me was accept
me.
While he hasn’t personally dealt with mental health
issues, he didn’t judge me or think less of me, or think I
was being dramatic. He is wonderful at pointing out days
or moments where he sees I am making progress.
Often
times he notices my progress more than I do.” —caseyc471932c25

6. Learn with them throughout
their recovery.

“When I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder, my
boyfriend had a lot of trouble understanding what I’d been
going through. He asked if he could meet with me and my
doctor so that she could answer his questions
. He also
attended all of the family parts of my treatment, and
constantly made sure he was doing what he needed to in order
to support me throughout my recovery.” —clairebnewman

7. Have a code word for when they’re
feeling off.

“My girlfriend and I happen to both have a mental illness.
We have our own special code where we can tap each other’s
hands a certain amount of times to ask if the other’s okay,
if we’re anxious, or if we feel a little off.
It helps to
be able to ask if we’re okay without having to say it out
loud in case one of us is super anxious or upset and doesn’t
want anyone else to know.” —meanreed08

8. Find something fun (and low-risk) to
do together.

“When my depression cloud is really dark over me, my
husband puts on America’s Funniest Home Videos or
takes me to the bookstore.
He’s the best.” —jessl44432cacd

9. Encourage them to communicate openly
about what they’re feeling.

“After I started dating my boyfriend, I realized how
important it is to grow as a person and be able to be your
own light. I also recognized that in order to be truly
myself and help our relationship grow, I needed to be
completely open and honest with him about all that makes me,
me.
After nervously telling my boyfriend about my past
struggles, I found I felt more confident. And instead of
feeling judged or thinking I was weird, he embraced me for me
and reassured me that these things don’t change his feelings
for me.” —amylynnm433301477

10. Help them rationalize their
anxieties.

My girlfriend talks me through my anxiety by asking
questions like, Why did you feel this way?, Is this
realistic?
and, Are you sure you heard/saw
this?
These questions remind me to always stay
grounded and that the world isn’t as critical of me as I am.”
—steviesue

11. Tell them (and show them) how much
you love them.

“Little things make a world of difference, like how he
calls me on Skype instead of on the phone because he wants to
see me while we talk.
Knowing how he sees me makes me
feel so much more confident about my appearance and
personality.” —katiep4472f3c87

12. Listen to them, and remember what
they say.

“My boyfriend and I have great communication. Since I have
depression, I’ve made sure to tell him exactly how I want to
be supported if I’m having a bad day. The best thing he
did was listen and remember what I needed.
Now, he always
asks if there’s anything he can do or if there’s anything I
want or need. He also reminds me that he’s always here for
me, and encourages me to talk to him about my depression and
to not let it build up inside.” —kcbrin

13. Get into a new hobby with
them.

“My husband has gotten me into new hobbies that help relieve
my stress and anxiety. He’s gotten me into crocheting, bought
me book after book, and he’s gotten me several video games
and puzzles. I can’t thank him enough for always thinking
of new things for me to do instead of pacing back and forth
and getting stuck in my thoughts.
” —kittytoes

14. Encourage their passions.

My husband encourages my creativity (like wanting to
get bright pink hair) or hobbies (like adult coloring
books).” —taramisu2

15. Give (or make) them little reminders
to show them how much you care.

My husband started working late, so he gave me a jar
filled with little notes about how he feels about me.
Now
I take them out whenever I anxiously start to doubt the
relationship or myself.” —firelilyfairy

16. Be sensitive to their
triggers.

“I have a difficult time with loud, unexpected noises, so
before doing anything noisy — whether it’s crushing a
water bottle or turning on the vacuum — my significant other
warns me with a “Noise alert!”
It sounds silly, but it
really means a lot to me.” —a413307118

17. Talk to them about lighter things
when they’re down.

“My husband will talk about nothing in particular for as long
as I need. I begin to focus more and more on what he is
saying, and before I know it, my racing thoughts have slowed
and I feel like I have a better grasp on my thoughts.
My
husband has so much patience with me. Being bipolar isn’t
easy, but having someone like him in my life makes my days
better.” —j4b0cf1602

18. Encourage them to seek professional
help if they need it.

My partner encouraged me to see a therapist. He’s
been in therapy for five years and uses skills he’s learned
to help me when I’m anxious.” —pami45535c347

19. Learn how to support them in a
healthy way.

“My boyfriend helped me learn the difference between
supporting someone (healthy) and taking responsibility for
their wellbeing (unhealthy)
.” —s4b8bc1fb7

20. And lastly, just have their
back.

“I have Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder. The
best thing my fiancé has ever done for me is not let me take
my diagnosis and wallow in it.
He is constantly helping
me do research, he keeps my medicine and gives them to me
weekly because I always lose my bottles, and he’s called and
booked me a therapy appointment because I was emotionally and
physically unable to. Basically, he won’t let me become a
diagnosis
. To him, I am Courtney, a woman full of love
and laughter, and that pesky mental illness is something that
we’ll combat and overcome together.” —courtneyw4d1efa99d

If you are thinking about suicide or just need to talk to
someone, you can speak to someone by calling the National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to
741741, the Crisis Text
Line. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found
here.

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Note: Answers have been edited for length or clarity.

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