5 Challenges Any Relationship with Mental Illness Faces

Maria Yagoda, contributor for Glamour Magazine, expressed the wildly anxious thoughts that have run through her mind before disclosing to her partner that she has a mental illness. Here is an excerpt from her story: “How much should I tell him? I wonder. Does he need to know about the week last year when depression left me unable to leave my bed…what about the three medications I take each day?…Trying to navigate what to say when is a constant concern.”

Whether one or both of you have a diagnosed mental illness, there are some challenges and communication barriers that will need to be overcome. Mental illness can inhibit a relationship from blossoming to its fullest potential if both partners are not willing to work hard for each other, but that cannot begin to take place if you and/or your significant other are not open and honest about your lived experiences. If you feel safe to do so, it’s an excellent idea to open that conversation up to your loved one. There will be challenges that you’ll both need to work through, but they will likely make your relationship stronger.

Some examples of challenges you may experience include:

  1. Expressing what each other needs at varying times
  2. Understanding and being compassionate with one another when symptoms of mental illness hit hard
  3. Learning triggers and understanding boundaries of one another
  4. Changing old habits to better fit the needs of the relationship in order for it to thrive
  5. Being patient throughout the entire process, as it does take time to find a firm foundation as you work through this beautiful journey together

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests that if you haven’t disclosed your mental health concerns with your partner yet, you can do so by first telling them something positive about the relationship, then disclosing the disorder, and finishing by speaking positively about treatment you’re seeking and other steps that have proven successful in your recovery so far. If both you and your loved one can work together to understand mental illness, you can find a strong, firm grounding for your relationship in the long run.

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