When your partner has a mental illness

Columnist Maya Porter. Photo courtesy Porter

I bring a lot of baggage to any relationship I am in. But not physically.

In a healthy relationship the rules are simple: Don’t lie, don’t cheat, and be nice. But what happens when one of these people is wired just a tad bit different?

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, many couples or “situationships” may be anxious about proving their love for their partner(s). The usual flowers, chocolates and dinner date may not be within budget or just may not seem “enough” for your significant other, especially if they have a mental illness.

In 2017 a study done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revealed that approximately 792 million people in the world have a mental illness. To put that in simpler terms, that’s only 9.3 percent of males and 11.9 percent of females from all around the world. So that means if your special someone has anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you’re a lucky duck!

The common misconception when the term mental illness is mentioned is the usual “crazy” or “unstable.” Both of which are two of the worst words to use when referring to your partner(s). As defined by the Mayo Clinic, “Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.”

So what does that mean and how does it affect you? Simply respect your partner WITH their condition, not just their condition.

Ways to express your love to your significant other may seem like walking on glass but I promise it’s an easy code to crack. Listen, be there, be empathetic, and understand that their moods and/or thoughts are sometimes beyond their control. So in short, be a decent human. If you are still uneasy about your approach, try researching your partner’s mental illness.

Personally, I am aware of my mood swings that many would call over dramatic or over sensitive. Being able to identify my episodes makes it so much easier to communicate with my partner about how to love me. The best way that I feel that my partner can show me their love is through quality time and words of reassurance. So if you’re clingy and you compliment me, you’re good.

While love may be difficult, loving someone with or without a mental illness doesn’t always have to be.