Talking to your partner about your mental health is vital in any relationship. It is by no means an easy one, though. It can be super hard to bring up heavy topics like that, and it can even be a literal nightmare for someone struggling with their mental health. I truly encourage you to do your best to talk about it. A good relationship will be able to support you at your worst and help you make it out of your darkest times.
The hardest part
In a perfect world, discussing your mental health wouldn’t affect your relationship negatively. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, and sometimes the people we want to support us aren’t able to, whether because they choose not to or just don’t know how.
When you’re talking to your partner about your mental health, it can change the way they view you. If it’s a good relationship and they truly care about you, they will do whatever they can to support you. No matter how much love is in a relationship, it can be hard to support someone struggling with their mental health.
Not everyone understands the best ways to support someone with mental health struggles and they may not always act in helpful ways. Not everyone has the emotional skills yet, and there could be a learning curve. If they do lack those skills, it will take a while before things get better. The best thing you can hope for is that they try to learn and do better, even when the process is frustrating.
It can be pretty hard to open up about your mental health to someone, even to people you love. The easiest way to start talking about it is to share whatever you’re comfortable with. You don’t need to bring up all of your deepest and darkest thoughts immediately. Just gradually let your significant other know how you’re doing.
That can mean starting by talking about feeling a lot of stress lately or admitting you’ve been feeling down for no discernable reason.
Talking to your partner about your mental health can begin by easing into it. You don’t need to force yourself to talk about something you don’t want to.
If it’s easier you can also start by texting. Sometimes it’s easier to tell someone something when you don’t have to see their face and can think long and hard about how to word things. You and they will have time to process before responding, which can help avoid negative gut reactions that could hurt you or your partner.
Do some research
If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with mental health struggles, it can be helpful to provide them with resources.
Do some research on the things you’re struggling with and pass that along to your partner. It can help give them some context on what you’re feeling and show them that what you’re dealing with is perfectly normal. It may also help the whole conversation feel less personal if you’re not ready to open up about it yet.
Bringing some research to the discussion can also help your partner get ideas on how to research mental health independently without needing you to hold their hand through the process. While having someone with first-hand experience is helpful, it can be incredibly draining to coach someone while also dealing with your own issues.
If you aren’t sure where to begin your research, look into NAMI. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has many resources and can even help you and your partner get an idea of how to best support someone who is struggling.
It might get awkward
Things could be a bit weird between you and your partner during and even after the initial conversation. After being so vulnerable about what you’re struggling with they might have trouble understanding how to treat you. Don’t hold it against them, though; hopefully, with some time, they’ll adjust, and things will be back to normal, if not better.
Being open and honest with your significant other is important for any relationship, and someone who truly cares about you will want to know about your mental health. They won’t want you to hide your pain just to avoid burdening them, and they’ll be more than happy to share the load if they love you.
Wanting to share the load doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to share it. Especially if they haven’t personally experienced what you’re going through.
With a little time, things will get easier, and you’ll learn to navigate the best ways to support each other. Talking to your partner about your mental health is a huge sign of trust. It may not go the way you expect it to, and you may have a lot of questions to answer, but with a bit of luck it will be a good experience for you both.
It might go poorly
If it doesn’t go the way you hope, give your partner some time and let them know how their words are affecting you. The first conversation is just the beginning of the process of improving both your relationship and your mental health.
Mental health is a tricky subject to talk about. Sometimes the people who love us just don’t understand and have difficulty grasping exactly what we’re going through. That doesn’t mean they love us any less, even if their dismissive attitudes make it feel that way.
It will take a lot of strength to be vulnerable about how you’re feeling and where your head is at. If you need more help getting the ball rolling, I encourage you to look at our blog on mental health resources. We’ve compiled helpful websites, organizations, and even apps to help you get the ball rolling.
How would you start talking to your partner about your mental health?
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