This post for me is so very different to my normal posts as I have a co-writer joining me! My boyfriend Nathan. Today we are going to look at another side of mental health and the aspects behind it. We are going to look like what its like to live with a partner who suffers from mental health. So I didn’t want this to feel like an interview so all text in black is Me! All text in colour is Nathan.
Let’s start with a little bit about past relationships. In the past with guys I have dated I have had such mixed reactions. I’ve had the “It’s okay!” But when I actually feel low it’s not okay. At all. I have had disgust, I have had people who are not willing to even learn and tell you to “Just get over it” and I have even had “Shall I tell everyone about your suicidal little ass?” Yep that’s what inspired that previous blog post title “All About My Suicidal Little Ass”. When it comes to telling new partners about your mental health like with all illnesses it is scary. The stigma behind mental health makes it feel shameful and just confusing. There is always that fear of the unknown, that fear of how someone will react. You personally have to educate that person about something you probably do not 100% understand yourself because mental health is something nobody actually teaches you about. People don’t care to listen until it’s too late and that goes hand in hand with educating. So now you don’t just have to tell someone about your illness, you have to explain your past, what this means for you present and future. You have to tell all of the dark details but yet try to make yourself seem attractive and datable. I have broken up with people in the past because sometimes you feel like a hindrance. Like your relationship for that person has become a chore.
Que Nathan. I met Nathan last year on Tinder and I suppose a girlfriend with mental health was not something he was thinking about signing up for when he joined the app and started swiping right. So then it’s the whole, when is the right time to tell someone? Nowadays I like to get it out-of-the-way, honesty is the best policy. And well you don’t want to be wasting your time on something. You want to be living your life. But there can be good and ways of telling someone and there is also good and bad ways of dealing with it.
I was quite lucky because I had literally wrote my blog post early October so when I decided that I actually liked Nathan I literally sent him a link to my post and was like, hey read this. So when I first read Iya’s post I didn’t really know how I felt, I was taken back a little, I had never been with or really known anyone with depression. I didn’t know what to expect or really how to respond. I basically just said okay without no understanding of her mental health, it was a lot to take in. This makes you feel unsure about things because you just don’t get educated on these kind of issues. Waiting for someone to respond to those kind of messages are hard. But it’s just best to get it out-of-the-way and kind of ‘come clean’ about yourself.
The first way we handled situations was well.. poor. So I decided to just ignore situations and keep my mental health and my relationship with Nathan completely separate because I felt like at the time he wasn’t handling things as well as I’d like him too. This literally just made me feel shit. I didn’t know what was going on in her head or day-to-day life. In a standard relationship you talk about things and share problems but because sometimes people who suffer from depression they don’t know how they feel or why they feel low she had decided to shut me out all together and I am the type of person who literally just wanted to help. Soooo that was not working for us. We decided after a lot of arguing that this was not going to work. Well not if we kept it this way. And that’s when we decided to talk about things. Yep that simple thing they tell you to always do, relationship 101. Talking. So I did what I do best and we spoke about every single thing in my past regarding my mental health as I hadn’t really directly told Nathan and let’s be honest I did not share all my life and family history in that post. This was an opportunity for him to change his mind if he wanted. This was one way he could exit. This gave me a better understanding. I knew where I stood and I knew where she stood. The honesty was what I wanted however I didn’t realise what Iya had gone through in her life and in her mental health journey and I literally just wanted to hug her and make everything okay but that isn’t how it all works.
Being in a relationship with someone with mental illness for me is looking after them/looking out for them but you do it in a way where you are acting out of love and not doing it because you just have to. If you feel like it’s a chore it’s not for you. You can’t always fix things but you can show support by just being there. Reassurance is everything. You need to reassure them that things are ok because sometimes even when it is they just don’t believe you. People with depression and anxiety make up the worst case scenario in their heads so you have to be ready to deal with that, most of the time there is nothing wrong and they need to know that, being next to them and going through things together is important. Be ready to deal with debates and random arguments when they try to push you away because they act out of fear. It’s constantly reassuring them that you’re not leaving and you want to be there. You need to be ready to actually put someone first. Having a girlfriend with mental health is being prepared to get on a train at 11pm to sit with them when they have anxiety. It’s sometimes going to theirs more because they can’t get out of bed. Its hard but if you actually want to be with that person you can make it work.
We both just want to add that these are the hard parts when it comes to mental health, we also go out, have a laugh, chat normal boring stuff and just chill too hahaha. Like I have said before with illnesses such as depression you have bad and good days.
I guess here are out top tips broken down?
- Tell that person from the start you have mental health (Well maybe not day one but get through those first few dates or Netflix and chill depending on your dating style #nojudgment).
- Learn to tell if you are actually in the wrong about something or whether the argument is random and could be from something else. (But don’t use their mental health as to get out of an argument if you actually didn’t do something or were in the wrong.)
- Dont Judge.
- Take it upon yourself to educate yourself.
- Maybe write it all down if its hard to say (You don’t have to do it publicly like me but you can write a letter).
- Be ready for late night phone calls and journeys.
- Try to get the person motivated on low days.
- Although sometimes movies in bed, food and hugs are also the answer.
- Answer all questions they have, even the tricky ones. Because let’s be honest not everything on the internet is accurate.
- Being with someone with mental health is hard. Unless you are both on the same page just don’t bother. If you aren’t ready to be there for the hard times then you don’t deserve to share the good ones.
- Reassurance is key.
- Patience is important.
- Remember that this is a genuine illness. Sometimes they can’t just get up and go.
Together lets #EndTheStigma