With more than half of adults developing a mental illness at least once in their lifetime, it is always important to remember that just as much as relationships can affect our mental health, our mental health can also put a strain on our relationships and make communication and intimacy difficult. Let’s unpack some of the biggest ways our mental health can affect our relationships, so that we can be aware of when these issues arise:
- Feelings of shame surrounding one’s condition or mental state. Mental illness can be very isolating and cause partners to try to hide their conditions or downplay the impact it has on their life, which can cause their partner to become frustrated and confused. Partners may feel especially disconnected by a lack of emotional availability or if they feel that their partner will not accept their help and support.
- Lack of intimacy both physically and emotionally. Physical intimacy may become strained or may be triggering for you or your partner. When battling anxiety disorders or depressive disorders, it can also be daunting to become emotionally vulnerable with your partner, which prevents relationships from evolving into their fullest potential and may create resentment.
- When our mental health suffers, we are more likely to find ourselves in a codependent relationship- where we base our self-worth on how much we are “needed” and make inappropriate sacrifices to our own time and goals. Codependent relationships are especially common among those battling addictions, where a partner will support or partake in the other’s addictions or poor mental health.
How to Foster a Healthy Relationship
- Research your condition(s) with your partner so that you can both become more understanding and become aware of how your condition may manifest in the relationship.
- Communication is key! You and your partner should practice and become comfortable with discussing emotions and needs, setting boundaries, and actively listening to one another.
- Practice self-care. Taking care of your mind and body, whether that is through journaling, exercising, etc., will help you manage your symptoms and help you become more mindful of any mood shifts.
- Do not be afraid to reach out for help! If you and your partner are not able to resolve issues in the relationship, consider couples therapy or individual therapy for you both.
Here’s to healthy and uplifting relationships! 😊