So, one of the more challenging aspects of this journey we are on has to do with mental health. Without going into specifics, we both have things to deal with that can be difficult.
There are a few keys to being in a relationship with mental health challenges. The first, of course, is to communicate with your partner. Don’t surprise them with the crazy, so to speak. Be up front about what challenges you face.
For the other partner, the biggest challenge is to realize that your partner’s mental health is not about you. It’s about them. Their brains are not normal. It is a partner’s responsibility to provide support, but the mental health is not your responsibility. Realizing that I had nothing to do with outbreaks of more severe depression was one of the greatest reliefs of my relationship. I found myself battling the need to ‘do something’ to ‘fix it’ – as a stereotypical husband would want to do. I also would search my own actions and words in the past hours or days, searching for what I did that set it off. It took me years to figure out how to accept that it wasn’t about me.
Of course, it comes back to communication. Treating mental disorders as an elephant in the room that we only address when it is rampaging will not work. You have to address them when you are functional enough to do so. And honesty – sometimes uncomfortable honesty – is the only method of addressing the topic.