Anxiety and depression are struggles that many people face. If you’re in a relationship with someone who struggles with mental health issues, it may be hard for you to define your role. Sure you’re their best friend and lover, but when they’re really struggling what’s the best way for you to support and help them through their darkness?
You can feel helpless and uncertain when your partner suffers from depression and anxiety. They may shut you out, become quiet, isolate or become anxious, agitated and begin to feel out of control. If you ask them how you can help, they may say “nothing” or they may try to reassure you that they’re “fine” when you know darn well they’re not but fear to push them by insisting they need some kind of mental help.
Here are 5 ways you can be there and support your partner through their mental health issues.
- Educate yourself. Learn about depression, medications available and what anxiety might look like in your partner. Mental health issues can manifest in a lot of different ways. Talk to your partner, sit in on doctor visits if possible and learn all you can about what they are going through.
- Focus on small things where your partner can succeed. When people are going through mental health issues, everything can seem overwhelming. If you can help with some small achievable goals and give your partner a win, that can be extremely helpful.
- Encourage them to get help. Let your partner know that you fully support them and want them to get better even if it means professional or pharmaceutical intervention.
- Give them a safe haven at home. Make your home a caring and supportive environment where your partner feels safe and secure when they’re feeling emotionally fragile.
- Recognize the warning signs. Learn what suicidal looks like so that you can intervene if needed. Remember that asking is not always enough. Your partner may not want to tell you if they’re thinking of ending their life. You need to be aware of the red flags. One important misconception is that asking about suicidal thoughts
- will give your partner the wrong idea. THIS IS NOT TRUE !! Asking may be the open door to telling them,” It’s ok to discuss this with me.” It can be a life saver!!!
Above all, the best thing you can do for a partner that’s struggling with mental health issues is to love them and simply be there for them. Do your best to keep a positive outlook, let them know that their darkness is only temporary and that you are there for them no matter how they are feeling on any given day. You will love them for better or worse, and be there to support and help them in their time of need. Their value doesn’t change for you based on whether they’re anxious or depressed, happy or feeling strong.
Tell (and show) your partner every day that they are loved, they are important, and that their presence in your life matters more than anything. Show them that you love them; warts, wrinkles, depression, anxiety and all.