Realities of Dating Someone with a Mental Illness
Problems with your mental health may distant you from your partner, even if it’s not on purpose.
Even in most ‘general’ situations, dating is nothing but a mental and emotional roller-coaster. For a relationship to be described as healthy, stable, and functional, it requires a lot of equal input from both partners. Whether you are childhood friends or met on dating sites, mental health is an essential factor determining how relationships play out.
Defining Mental Health
Mental health is the overall psychological, social, and emotional state that impacts our thoughts, feelings, and actions. If any of these aspects are affected, it often derails an individual from what is considered normal. If left unchecked, such issues develop into chronic mental illness. Mental illness can result from a chemical imbalance in the brain, traumatic life experiences, abuse, or genetics.
Mental Illness and Relationships
At least once, we have interacted with someone struggling with their mental health or seen how mental illness affects a person. It could be depression, bipolar, ADHD, clinical anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and others. Knowing how mental illness affects relationships will help you understand what to expect, especially if you’re the supporting partner.
Learn your partner’s patterns, so you’re able to identify an episode without having to probe.
As a supporting partner, this awareness creates a ground to determine when mental illness becomes dangerous, both to you and your significant other. This includes violence or emotional abuse or self-harm behavior.
When dating an individual who has mental health problems, it’s crucial that you get the mental illness vs. mental health facts right. This includes specific details such as their clinical history and the type. It becomes a lot easier when you know what you are dealing with, the extent, and what you can do to help.
Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment
Understandably, you’ll want to help out in any way you can. Still, it’s best to seek professional help and avoid trying to ‘fix’ them. Undergoing a mental illness test helps to identify and categorize what they are suffering from. Diagnosis also determines the extent, treatment options, and duration. There are several mental illness types. It’s not uncommon for an individual to be diagnosed with two or more simultaneously.
Can Mental Illness be Treated?
Getting your mental illness facts such as family history, medication, and behavior charts can be of significant help when it comes to treatment options. Even though these conditions can’t be completely cured, the effective treatment allows an individual to function in an everyday setting. The most common treatment option involves psychiatric medication, therapy, and support groups.
Psychiatric therapy is one of the most common treatment options for mental illness.
There’s no rigid treatment program for mental illness. It is often curated to best suit an individual’s lifestyle and preference.
Is Mental Illness Permanent?
Technically, this cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Even though a mental illness’s effects and symptoms are not consistent, they tend to recur during a person’s lifetime. This means that even though your partner might show significant improvement over time, symptoms may reoccur in the future. For instance, rising cases in OCD mental illness after covid struck should be an expected curve.
Dating Someone with Mental Illness
If we’re being honest, dating someone struggling with their mental health can be overwhelming at times. As a supportive partner, it’s important to create a grounding area for you and your significant other. These are reality checks that will help you play your role without overdoing it, undermining each other, or interfering with treatment.
Mental Illness Does Not Equal Instability
Suppose your partner is under a treatment program or is aware of their condition. In that case, you should understand that they’ve developed coping mechanisms that help them live a normal life. When someone confides in you, listen and be supportive. Don’t try to assume what they’re going through.
Communication is the backbone of every relationship, even when your significant other is not mentally struggling. However, it is vital that you create an open and trustworthy line of communication with you. This way, they will know they can always reach out to you without the fear of judgment and assumption.
Talk to your partner often, listen, and be supportive.
Create a consistent routine of check-ins where you can both talk about issues and feelings that may affect your relationship. Not only does it create trust, but you also get to understand your partner a lot better.
Don’t Try to Fix them
Watching someone you love suffer can be quite distressing, and we often feel an impulse to help out in any way you can. Nevertheless, you should understand that certain decisions are not for you to make. Your partner is solely responsible for decisions concerning their mental health, such as getting professional help, starting treatment programs, or seeking solutions. Overplaying your role tends to create tension and heighten anxiety.
The Parameters of Normal Change
Spend time with your partner, listen, and cheer them up.
Suppose your significant other is suffering from mental illness. In that case, it’s important you understand that their normal will differ from what you’re accustomed to. There are certain aspects that you must accept or learn to live with to make your relationship work. For instance, if your partner has an eating disorder, your meal plans and schedules should match theirs to avoid triggers and relapses. Alternatively, dating someone with social anxiety will eliminate crowded places for date night.
The Unspoken Rules Remain
Even though certain aspects of such a relationship will differ, there are certain core elements that retain the balance and make it healthy and stable.
For starters, you are both equal partners, and no one should have to carry the relationship on their back. You should treat each other well and with respect, and they should give you due attention.
However, at certain times, the affected person might need extra support and attention, especially in their moments of vulnerability. Be careful of the individuals who try to take advantage of the situation, and they’re always on the receiving end. Mental illness is never a reason to be a jerk.
Be a reliable support system for your partner, more so when they’re vulnerable. Keep in mind that they are more sensitive, so be careful with your actions and choice of words. Suffering from a mental illness is not something they wished for.
What are some of the things you’ve learned about dating and mental illness? Share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!
Miranda Davis is a freelance writer in the relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking.