The Top 4 Realities of Dating Someone
with a Mental Illness
In recent memory, mental illness was a subject routinely brushed under the carpet at best; or stigmatized with all sorts of wildly inaccurate misconceptions at worst. Thankfully it is a topic which is now broached openly, and nowhere is this mature attitude more important than in relationships.
What if you've really hit it off with a new partner you met while looking for love online, only to discover they suffer from a mental illness? Do you think of some excuse and ditch them? Actually, if that thought crossed your mind for a moment you really need to attend some kind of course in empathy management. The sensible option would be to assist your new partner in managing their condition. So when it comes to dating someone with mental health issues, here are four realities you should be aware of.
Mental health conditions are normal
If you are dating someone with mental health problems, the most important thing to appreciate is there is absolutely nothing unusual or different about the situation. Statistics reveal somewhere in the region of one in four of the population will suffer some form of mental health issue at some point, a figure likely to be more akin to the tip of an iceberg considering many people remain reluctant to admit they are undergoing any stress or trauma. While these conditions can be serious, the majority of sufferers can still lead perfectly normal lives with the advent of medication or other forms of therapy, and especially the support of loved ones.
Communication is crucial
Despite the advances in the way mental health is discussed in modern society, as does still remains stigmatized in so many ways. There are as many preconceptions about what it is like to experience wavering mental health as there are ways of understanding the situation. It is therefore of paramount importance you make your partner feel their episodes are something which can be talked through, and that you understand enough about their condition to appreciate the appropriate action to take. In order to be in the best position to maintain their health and wellbeing, it is crucial you keep open lines of communication. Episodes can sometimes be nipped in the bud before they escalate, so you need to recognize signals and triggers. Being a reliable pillar of support for the sufferer is so important.
You are a partner, not a carer
If you have a partner undergoing any form of mental health problem, it is important to be able to draw a line between your natural, loving feelings for them, and a more objective outlook. Much as you might feel you are in the best position to provide assistance, you should never get drawn into assuming the role of the primary carer. There are people whose job it is to offer optimum support for anyone undergoing issues. These qualified professionals know exactly how to get anyone back to a position of ‘normality,’ while your unilateral intervention may well have a negative rather than positive impact on the situation.
Different ways to deal with the situation
Finally, another fundamental aspect of being in a relationship with someone who has psychiatric issues is to treat them as an equal partner. Never allow their condition to define your relationship. Perhaps you can make them laugh at aspects of their behavior, although this must be handled with tact. Be prepared highlight what they are going through, rather than shy away from ever confronting the reality. So never be tempted to think of excuses when questioned by third parties. Your partner is your partner, through thick and thin.