What if you fall in love with someone who has a mental illness? Here are 3 ways you can still maintain a healthy relationship with someone who is mentally ill.
People are becoming more willing to talk about mental illness today and it is not uncommon to know someone who suffers from mental illness.
With many celebrities, like Mariah Carey, Carrie Fisher, Demi Lovato and Catherine Zeta-Jones revealing their battle with bipolar disorder, the stigma related to such illnesses has diminished.
Today people are more aware that, with proper medication and lifestyle changes, it is possible to live a near-normal life with mental illness.
We can’t always choose who we fall in love with. So what if you fall in love with someone who has a mental illness? What can you do in such a situation, to keep your relationship as healthy as possible?
Typically, people develop bonds through the spontaneity of their interactions with others. The likelihood that these bonds will thrive depends on how they are able to relate to each other.
Every relationship is unique and people have varying definitions of what constitutes a good relationship. But most want their relationship to be healthy.
In the event that someone you care about cannot reciprocate the same level of connection due to a mental health issue, it can put a significant strain on the relationship.
How To Maintain Healthy Relationships When Mental Illness Intervenes
When you want to be empathic to your loved one, here are 3 ways you can still maintain a healthy relationship with someone who is mentally ill.
1. Learn About Their Illness
The best way to relate to someone you care about is to know what they are going through so you can better support them. It is especially challenging to be a support system for someone who is going through mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that causes drastic shifts in mood, energy and activity levels as well as the ability to function or carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are different types of bipolar disorder, but they all share the pattern of drastic mood swings or what we call emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and emotional lows (depression). Other symptoms would include poor decision making, distractibility, euphoria agitation or unusual talkativeness.
To maintain a healthy relationship with someone diagnosed with Bipolar disorder means you have to be more accepting and understanding of their need to be loved and cared. Get to know the symptoms when their illness triggers them before you mistake their acts as disdain towards you or poor upbringing.
A person diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, for instance, could display symptoms that include depressive tendencies and rapid mood swings. People in their condition might stretch your patience and require extraordinary support.
2. Maintain Channels Of Communication
Just like any other relationships, maintain regular communication with your loved one. Communication is fundamental in keeping any relationship lasting and healthy.
Cultivate an open communication where both of you can speak freely and talk about the things that are bothering you instead of holding them in.
There’s no need to walk on eggshells around a person with mental illness. Don’t be afraid to compromise with your disagreements, but fight fair so no one gets hurt.
If you’re stuck in a dull moment, don’t hesitate to reminisce about the good times you or both have experienced. Focus on happy times and good memories.
Remember the feeling of what it was like to live in those moments and remind them of the reasons why they should not give up on themselves and their circumstances.
This approach is a healthy way of maintaining your relationship with someone under these conditions and a great way to start the flow of meaningful conversations.
Encourage the other person to continue seeking treatment and stick with their treatment plan, especially if they seem less than enthusiastic about meeting their doctor or therapist for another session.
This way, you are not only making a conscious effort to connect with them, but also let them feel that their illness isn’t something to be dismissed. In terms of medication, you can save with bipolar disorder drug coupons available for common prescriptions.
3. Respect Boundaries
Creating boundaries is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with someone with a mental illness. It is good to be aware of what the person is going through and be kind and considerate to them.
It is commendable to make an effort not to inflict pain on anyone given the circumstances that they are in, but it is also important to set boundaries for self-care.
Boundaries aren’t meant to forge distrust or exclusion; rather, they are a form of guarantee to yourself that you are a person worthy to be understood and cared for as well.
Healthy boundaries shouldn’t prevent you from exploring your passions, participating in activities, or going out with other friends. Maintaining healthy relationships involves not just exchanging kind words or hello’s, it also means respecting and accommodating each other’s needs.
Don’t just talk about the good things that life could offer for both of you, rather start living those moments in simple ways – go out to the park, enjoy a smoothie, or ride a bike and enjoy your moments together.
Get free online counselling for depression, relationship counselling, career counselling and more on AskSHEROES free online counselling chat helpline for women.
About the author:
Kathy Meyer is a freelance creative writer who collaborates with various healthy lifestyle enthusiasts to share her experiences through the written word. She especially loves writing about health and the various ways to become healthy. Kathy worked as a content marketing specialist in her formal life but recently left to pursue a full-time freelance career.
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