With mental illness being as common as it is, it is very likely that you or your loved one will experience mental distress at some point in life. You might even find yourself with a partner that struggles with their mental health. When these situations occur, it is helpful to have useful advice on how to be the best that you can be for both yourself and your partner.
One of the most important things you can do for your partner that may be struggling with their mental health is to become educated about their diagnosis. This will help you to better understand where their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are stemming from. It will give you useful information on how to show up for your partner, especially during the times they may need it the most.
If Your Partner Has Yet to Utilize Treatment
If your partner has not yet utilized professional support, guidance, or treatment, it can be especially challenging to know how to empathize with their symptoms of distress. You might have noticed abnormal behavior from them from time to time but are unsure how to address it. Your partner might have even voiced that they do not need help.
If this sounds like a familiar experience, there are ways that you can learn how to introduce the conversation about mental health and treatment. It is important that you avoid putting blame, shame, or guilt on your partner for their behavior. Instead, recognize that your concerns are coming from a place of genuine love and care for them.
It is important that you are transparent about your mental health and struggles if you expect your partner to do the same. Understand that your partner will seek out treatment when they are ready, but encouragement can go a long way in the process.
If Your Partner Has a Diagnosis
If your partner has received a mental health diagnosis after a thorough evaluation from a professional, it is a step in the right direction for healing. If your partner has diagnosed themselves with a specific illness or diagnosis, encourage them to get an opinion from a professional.
No matter what the diagnosis might be, it is essential that you and your partner understand that your partner is more than their diagnosis. There are great benefits in receiving a diagnosis, especially if they have been struggling alone for so long, because:
- They are able to give reasoning to their abnormal, challenging, or harmful thoughts, behaviors, and emotions
- They may be more open to receiving professional treatment
- They have much more specific treatment goals, targeted at reducing the symptoms associated with their condition
Follow Through After Diagnosis
When your partner feels comfortable and vulnerable enough to share their diagnosis with you, it is important that you find the motivation to learn about their condition on your own.
Do thorough research regarding your partner’s condition, including:
- What symptoms they are likely to experience
- How often or when their symptoms might occur
- Understand what symptoms your partner might not currently exhibit but could exhibit in the future
- How their diagnosis effect’s their interpersonal relationships or other areas of functioning
- Effective treatment options for their condition
- Ways to show support for your partner with their diagnosis
If you have not experienced their diagnosis yourself, or if you have not experienced mental illness yourself, it is even more important that you learn to understand what they are going through. Although some information might seem like you couldn’t possibly understand what they are going through, you are trying, and that is the most important part of showing support for your partner.
Understanding Dual Diagnosis
One challenge that learning about your partner’s diagnosis may pose is if they have a dual diagnosis, meaning more than one diagnosis present at a given time. Dual diagnoses require comprehensive treatment because of the complex and unique needs that pertain to each diagnosis separately, even more so when they are experienced together.
If your partner is experiencing a dual diagnosis, such as having major depressive disorder (MDD) and substance use disorder, learning about each condition becomes even more necessary. You might notice that certain symptoms overlap in your partner. You can help them to bring awareness to unhealthy habits or otherwise harmful behavior that is keeping them from achieving healing.
As you initiate conversations about mental health with your partner and learn about their diagnosis, you will feel more in-tune with their energy and behavior. You will understand that your partner is working to become their best selves as you work to support them on their journey.
Be patient and kind with your partner as they go through treatment and recovery, as it is a journey that no one should go through alone. You play a vital role in your partner’s willingness and ability to heal, and that does not go unnoticed.
If you have not experienced mental illness in yourself, you might struggle to understand your partner’s diagnosis. Whether you do not quite understand their motives for behavior, or struggle to empathize with their emotions from time to time, it is essential that you become educated about what your partner is experiencing. Your support is vital while they go through treatment and recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers is a mental health and addiction treatment center that treats a range of mental illnesses and associated distress. We understand how challenging it can be when you feel like you do not understand what your partner is going through. We offer useful resources and education about mental health and mental illness that can make all the difference in supporting your loved one both inside and outside of treatment. For more information about our treatment center, or to learn more about your partners diagnosis, call (760) 492-6509 today.