Majority of individuals believe that mental health issues are a foreign concept and happen to someone else. However, these mental health concerns are common and widespread. An estimate of around 7.5 percent of Indians suffer from mental health conditions in a year.
Most relationships and family dynamics are often not prepared to learn that their loved one is suffering from a mental illness, as they’ve always assumed it to be an alien concept, thus, leading to ignorance of the potential warning signs.
Research indicates that, in a relationship, an individual with a mental illness may negatively impact their partners mental health as well. There can be instances when both partners might suffer from symptoms of a mental illness which originally developed due to the illness of one of the partners.
Therefore, it is imperative to look out for signs in times of suspicion of a mental illness that your partner might be suffering from, as it might be difficult for them to open up or even identify.
There is a difference between having a persistent mental illness and a temporary reaction because of a stressful situation.
In the case of a mental illness the symptoms become consistent and lasting for most of the days. Here are some of the warning signs to look for.
• Changes in Appetite:Which may include either eating too much or too less. Not enjoying eating what they used to love.
• Feeling tired: They have been feeling more tired than usual. Going to bed early and waking up late. High levels of lethargy.
• Space: When your partner requires more than usual amount of space from the relationship, there is a sense of detachment.
• Not acting as their usual self: When they have always been organized, on time never forgetful and suddenly they are now all of those things, without a significant reason behind it.
• Intake of intoxicants:Your partner is indulging in more than usual amount of alcohol, smoking and the like.
• Uninterested in physical intimacy: As many mental illnesses lead to a lowered self-esteem, they might not feel comfortable in being physical.
• Complaint of not feeling well physically:When there is a more than usual complaint of not feeling well without any apparent cause may be seen as a warning sign since there is a strong mind and body connection.
• Don’t seem in the present: When they feel lost like they are not living in the present moment and do not want to talk about the future.
Well, these may be some of the signs to look out for when in doubt, it is also important to know how to deal with this kind of a situation in the best way possible.
• Listen to their experience and validate them.
• Support their therapeutic journey and respect their privacy.
• Asking your partner how you can support and help them.
• Don’t pressure yourself to solve things.
• Have your own support system like friends and family with whom you can talk to.
• Practice self-care, as the partner of someone suffering from mental illness you may take up more responsibility than usual to support them, but to effectively help them, it is essential to take good care of your own self.
• Honour the relationship outside the mental concern, the symptoms and the mental illness in itself may be all consuming but, it is important to do things outside of this realm, like before.
• Spend quality time together, expressing love for each other and open the gates of communication.
Being in a healthy relationship with someone you admire and love may be the most beautiful thing, however, it can also be difficult due to the struggles of everyday life. These difficulties increase two-fold when your partner is suffering from a mental illness, which can become intense for the both of you. Understanding the needs of your partner in this situation may be challenging but imperative. Thus, look out for early signs of change and support your partner in every step of the way.