Living with a mental illness presents a variety of challenges for both you and your loved ones. Starting or maintaining a healthy relationship is hard when it feels like you’re at the mercy of your symptoms. You may feel affectionate at times and distant at others. Communicating these shifts may feel impossible at times. That constant internal game of tug-of-war not only affects you but your partner as well.
You can’t build a healthy relationship when you’re deep in the throes of mental illness. Symptoms tend to get more severe with time. Unless you have a plan to manage them, you’ll leave your partner feeling like they’re walking on eggshells. Both of you must feel capable of and comfortable expressing yourselves without fearing an intense reaction.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy relationship while living with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition. Millions of people with mental illness enjoy happy, authentic relationships. However, creating a successful partnership requires a combination of treatment, awareness, and ongoing practice. Whether you’re already in a relationship or looking to start one, creating a checklist for a healthy relationship is a crucial step in that process.
What does a healthy relationship look like? How can you set yourself up for success in your relationships while living with mental illness? Learn more about the signs of a healthy relationship, how mental illness plays a role, and what you can do to make sure your relationship flourishes.
Creating a Checklist for a Healthy Relationship
Relationships involve two people coming together to experience life together. Having a partner to walk next to is one of the many joys of the world. It’s exciting to share things with someone who understands you and wants to support you along the way.
Every person is a little bit different, though, and effective relationships require compromise from time to time. You’re not going to agree with your partner in every situation that arises. Healthy relationships consist of a few crucial elements that allow you and your partner to reach an agreement without betraying your values.
The following aspects should be on your checklist for a healthy relationship.
Healthy relationships consist of respect for both yourself and your partner. You need to have the self-respect to adhere to your values and beliefs. You also need to have respect for your partner so you can take their opinions and ideas into consideration, too.
You and your partner must know how to communicate effectively if you want to have a relationship that lasts. Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of communication. It’s going to create problems over time if you can’t express your opinions or feelings without the conversation escalating.
Compassion is a key component of a good relationship. This means compassion not only for your partner but for yourself, too. Compassionate partners allow room for the other to make mistakes and misunderstandings without fearing the relationship will come to an end.
Healthy relationships consist of equality between you and your partner. Placing one partner above the other creates a power imbalance that can lead to exploitation or abuse over time. Equality is an important component if you want to build a strong relationship.
Every healthy relationship requires a sense of trust. Partners try to control one another when there’s no trust in the partnership. Lack of trust generates feelings of doubt, fear, and uncertainty which tend to get worse as time goes on.
Consensual Sexual Decisions
Your checklist for a healthy relationship must include consensual sexual decisions. Having a partner who pressures you to do things, or pressuring your partner to do things, is a form of abuse. Healthy relationships involve two people who communicate and make consensual sexual decisions free of demands.
Relationships are made up of two individuals coming together to share their lives with one another. You’re both still separate people, even when you’re in a committed relationship. Setting boundaries and allowing personal space and alone time is vital if you want your relationship to last.
Honesty is one of the essential conditions of a healthy relationship. Laying the groundwork for a respectful, trusting, consensual, and compassionate relationship requires honesty. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you or your partner are unwilling, to be honest with each other.
Making a Relationship Work with Mental Illness
You can still have a healthy relationship while living with mental illness. Your diagnosis doesn’t mean your relationship, or your chance at developing one in the future is doomed. Making a relationship work while managing your mental health is possible, but it requires commitment and work from both you and your partner.
Recognize Symptoms that Threaten Your Relationship
Certain symptoms of mental illness make it challenging to connect with your partner. Some conditions are more complicated to manage than others. For example, someone living with depression or anxiety may lean too heavily on their partner when they’re feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder may have difficulties forming an intimate bond with their significant other.
However, just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. If you want to have a happy, lasting relationship, you need to recognize the ways your mental illness impacts your partner. Your partner also needs to understand how to interact with you effectively when you’re having difficult days. When both of you are willing to work together through the hard times, you’re going to build a healthier relationship.
Foster a Calm and Relaxed Home Environment
Fostering a calm home environment is an important way to limit the intense emotional shifts that are symptomatic of many different mental illnesses. Talk with your partner about things you can have at home that help you feel at ease. The more relaxed your home life is, the less likely you are to experience something that triggers your symptoms.
Practice in Effective Communication During Crises
You can’t blame everything on your mental illness. Even when you’re feeling overwhelmed you must take responsibility for managing your symptoms. Practicing effective communication makes it easier to let your partner know when you’re struggling instead of shutting down or lashing out. When you can communicate effectively during crises, you give your partner deeper insight into what you’re struggling with.
Have an Ongoing Treatment Plan
Make sure you’re involved in an active treatment plan. This could consist of an outpatient treatment program when symptoms are more severe or weekly therapy once things settle back down. Staying connected with a therapist who helps you unpack disagreements and identify room for improvement is helpful. They can serve as your sounding board when you need to work through your challenges.
If you find yourself feeling more on edge, choosing to attend a higher level of care can help. Residential or day treatment are two choices that offer intensive programs that provide you with the support you need. You’ll learn skills and strategies and develop greater control over your emotional regulation.
Finding Help at Clearview
Clearview Treatment Programs is a network of mental health and dual diagnosis treatment facilities in the Los Angeles area. We work with individuals who live with a variety of mental health conditions. Our programs enable clients to manage their symptoms so they can live happy, fulfilling lives. We offer informed, comprehensive care using a variety of modalities and tailored to your specific needs.
Are you interested in learning more about the help available at Clearview Treatment Programs? Give us a call or fill out an online request form today and we’ll be more than happy to speak with you. We’re here to ensure you never feel alone in managing your mental illness – you have support available every step of the way.