It can be quite challenging to have a mentally ill partner. Marriages and relationships require regular effort and communication as it is; when a mental health problem is present, things can go horribly wrong very quickly. Relationships affected by mental illness are put under a great deal of stress, and as the spouse, you frequently find yourself acting as the carer. According to statistics, 1 in 5 people experience mental illness, therefore if your spouse is one of those five, know that you are not going through this path alone. It takes time, effort, and assistance to learn how to manage a mentally ill partner. Read our guide to find out more about how to handle this challenging relationship situation.
Signs Your Spouse May Be Having Mental Health Issues
The symptoms of mental illness might differ from person to person and are not necessarily what we would expect them to be. The symptoms can appear gradually at times or suddenly at others. Without a psychiatric assessment, it is impossible to know for sure if your spouse is having problems, but the following are some general warning signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- Excessive or abnormal amount of sadness
- Symptoms of insomnia
- Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
- Suicidal ideations, plans, and/or thoughts
- Anger and irritability
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Extreme mood swings
- Increased or decreased sex drive
- Appetite changes
Some of these symptoms might be mistaken for character flaws or personality traits, but they also could be symptoms of a mental health condition. In order to learn more and assist your partner in receiving an evaluation, if you notice these symptoms in your spouse, get in touch with a mental health professional or treatment facility.
Mental Illness Development Risk Factors
A mental health condition is more prone to occur in certain people than in others. It may not be a preventable sickness if a person is predisposed to having a mental problem. It is advisable to get therapy from a doctor or facility as soon as you can in order to stop the disorder’s progression and manage it better. Among the risk elements are:
- A history of mental illness in the family
- Childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse
- Abusive or unhealthy relationships
- Traumatic incidents like sexual assault
- Previous mental health diagnoses in the past
- Stressful life circumstances, including moving, getting divorced, and losing a loved one to mental illness
How To Deal with a Spouse with Mental Illness
It can seem like an enormous effort to learn how to deal with a spouse who suffers from a mental condition. Helping your spouse who has a mental illness can be incredibly challenging and unpleasant. The lives of both you and your partner can appear to be taken over by disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. There are certain methods you can use to simplify your life and the life of your spouse.
Learn About the Mental Illness of Your Spouse
Learning and comprehending the diagnosis of the person you are living with who has a mental health condition is one of the most crucial things you can do. You can learn more about the symptoms and indicators of their condition so that you can better comprehend what they are going through. You can also discuss your partner’s own experiences with them. This can assist you in understanding their difficulties as well as the warning indications that their mental illness may be getting worse. It is also crucial to look to medical experts with experience in treating your spouse’s condition for help and recommendations.
Communicate With Your Significant Other
In a relationship, practising effective communication is always crucial, but it becomes much more crucial when your spouse is battling a disease. Find out what you can do to support your partner by asking them. Make sure you discuss and handle your spouse’s hurtful actions if they occur. Remember that you are not a therapist or mental health expert, and refrain from being an enabler. Although your spouse needs expert medical assistance to manage their mental illness, you can still offer support. Your partner is in charge of their own care and well-being. It’s critical to offer consolation and support, but refrain from acting as a “crutch.”
Finding the correct support system is essential to understanding how to deal with a partner who suffers from a mental illness (such as post-traumatic stress disorder). For people and families who are caring for a loved one who has a mental illness, there are many different kinds of support groups available. You can process your own experiences in these groups, and they can also give you advice on how to deal with life going forward. They might provide group therapy that emphasises coping mechanisms, family therapy, good relationships, and behavioural health. Additionally, it’s critical to seek professional assistance, work with your individual therapist, and participate in family counselling with your spouse. If you want to prevent divorce and possibly abusive behaviour from your spouse, your own mental health should be just as important as theirs.
Continue To Work On Your Relationship Despite The Mental Illness
Keep in mind what’s essential. It can be simple to let your partner’s mental illness dominate your relationship, but this is not a healthy way to proceed. Maintaining things like quality time, similar hobbies, and in-depth conversations will prevent mental diseases from ruining your marriage. When coping with a mental illness, it’s critical to keep in mind that your spouse is a complete individual, unaffected by their problems.
Working on the relationship could entail improving communication, integrating the whole family, getting professional assistance, or even going to individual counseling to discuss your own feelings in order to maintain your own well-being. Another option to assist you in developing your own coping mechanisms is to join a support group. To prevent mental health disorders in other family members, treatment programmes for a spouse with a mental disease or who is experiencing mental distress may be helpful.
This is especially true when one partner is mentally ill and the other has bipolar disease. When warning signs of mental illness and marital problems begin to emerge, maintaining a healthy relationship may require more than just group treatment. People who suffer from mental illnesses could experience anger, panic attacks, depression, difficulty focusing, or problems with self-control.
Embrace a Routine That Works for You
Caregiving and juggling life’s obstacles when your spouse is unwell tend to disrupt your regular pattern, which is crucial, in my experience, for maintaining your own health while providing care.
Self-care articles frequently expound on the virtues of getting a massage or enjoying a bubble bath. The fact of the matter is that a life that is out of balance cannot be fixed with a single massage or bubble bath. Instead, you should create daily routines that will support you.
I’ve discovered that working out makes me feel more energised and balanced. I follow this up with a daily devotional that consists of reading spiritual writings, praying, and occasionally thinking. Making time for these things every day helps me manage my stress and complete my to-do list more successfully. I also go for daily afternoon walks and make sure to schedule a time during the week to speak with a relative or close friend.
I stick to this routine even when my husband is ill because it makes me feel fulfilled, relaxed, and inspired. I urge you to develop the routines that will keep you going and to stick with them even when things get tough.
Find Your Circle
Creating a community of trusted individuals who can assist you in caring for your spouse is another crucial step in maintaining your personal well-being. This group needs to be aware of your spouse’s health situation and ready to help if you do. You cannot and should not be expected to provide all the care. You won’t burn out and your marriage will be strengthened by splitting the workload.
It can be hard to find and grow this inner circle. The people in your life must be told the truth; let them know what’s going on and what you might need. For me, this circle includes family, a few close friends and religious leaders. If my husband and I are struggling, I can reach out to them
Recently, when my husband was having trouble, I had to shoulder more household duties in addition to caring for him and juggling a demanding work schedule. My family’s visit added to the workload, which was already heavy. I thus requested my mother to assist me for a while when she came. She was delighted to assist, and I felt some of my burdens go away.
Asking for assistance when you need it is part of relying on your trusted group. Although this could make you feel helpless, you’ll often find that there are others who want to assist you but don’t know how. Making them aware of your situation in full aids their assistance. Additionally, it’s crucial to keep in mind your loved ones.
You’ll need to share your experiences when your spouse is having a hard time and you’re taking on the majority of the caregiving duties. Fears, ideas, and even resentments can become even more potent and destructive when they are suppressed.
Sharing with a dependable family member or friend is one alternative. You can discuss how the situation is affecting you if you don’t want to betray your spouse’s trust by going into detail about their health and struggles. Your emotions are real and deserving of consideration.
The appropriate therapist, however, may be the best source of advice and support. The reason I say “the right therapist” is because some will fit you better than others. To determine which practitioner relationship works best for you, you might want to gather recommendations and meet with a few of them. Personally, I discovered that my ability to support my husband significantly increased when I sought spravato treatment for my anxiety through counselling and medication. I still faced the same challenges in life, but I felt more equipped to deal with them.
10 Ways for Coping With a Spouse Who Has Mental Illness
The relationship effectively becomes solely focused on managing sickness when the stress level reaches a crisis point, according to research.
People typically want to discuss how their family, particularly their parents or the child, is impacted by their mental illness. However, it is a much more significant issue. A person’s marital life may suffer unfavourable effects from mental illness and become in crisis.
Mentally ill people can negatively affect their spouse’s mental health, and the reverse is also true.
People can take a leap of faith and learn how to keep a healthy relationship while coping with a spouse with mental illness confronting these difficulties.
5 Signs your Spouse has a Mental Illness
Here are 5 signs your spouse may have a mental illness:
- Your spouse with mental illness frequently makes negative comments about themselves or others, seemingly without reason.
- Your spouse has difficulty maintaining stable relationships, including family and romantic partners.
- Your spouse exhibits a pattern of irrational or inappropriate behaviour, often relating to their emotional well-being.
- Your spouse may be exhibiting self-destructive behaviours that are harmful to themselves or others.
- Your spouse appears to be showing signs of emotional distress and isolation from family members and friends.
What are the Risk Factors for Developing a Mental Illness?
Do you think, “My husband or wife is mentally unstable?” There are many risk factors for developing a mental illness. Some of the most common include genetics, family history, stressful life events, substance abuse and mental health disorders.
Approximately, 30-50% of the risk of developing a mental illness can be attributed to genetics. This includes both genetic and environmental factors.
Stressful Life Events
The chance of getting a mental disorder can also be increased by traumatic experiences like the death of a loved one or being subjected to physical or sexual abuse. Negative life events like bullying, prejudice, or challenging relationships can also contribute to the emergence of treatment resistant depression and other mental diseases.
A person’s likelihood of acquiring a mental illness may be increased by a family history of similar problems.
Drugs and alcohol use can alter how the brain works and make it difficult to think effectively, which can result in anxiety and sadness.
10 ways to Deal with a Spouse with Mental Illness
So, how to deal with a mentally ill spouse? Here are 10 ways to maintain a healthy marriage while dealing with a mentally ill spouse:
Educate Yourself First
Many people still lack fundamental knowledge of mental illness or hold false information about it in high regard.
Find a reputable psychological and medical specialist as your first step before learning how to handle a partner with a mental illness. Next, look up relevant articles and online resources on the specific diagnosis.
Pick from trustworthy websites that have been recommended by your therapist and have a solid reputation.
For the average person, it is exceedingly difficult to notice the signs of mental illness. It is simple to assume that your mentally ill spouse is an unmotivated, sluggish, distracted person.
These “character defects” have certain symptoms as well. But you must understand the fundamentals of mental disease in order to recognise those signs.
Therapy and medicine will be part of the most successful treatment. To educate yourself, speak with a mental health practitioner. You must play a crucial role in your spouse’s medical care.
You can visit websites like those for Mental Health America, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (MHA). These are some of the top resources for useful knowledge, tools, and assistance.
Spend Time Together as Possible
Stress would be a typical problem that would have an impact on your relationship if you were living with a mentally ill spouse.
No matter how much stress you are under, you should feel compassion and support for one another. a strong, loving connection that might lead to a long-lasting union.
You two can discuss your needs and plans for the upcoming days while sitting down for a few minutes. Tell your mentally ill spouse how much you care for them. Tell them how much you value even their smallest characteristics.
Your connection will remain strong and your partner will remain at ease if you do this.
Your regular sex life may be harmed by mental health difficulties. It might occur if your partner is a mental patient and often takes medicine. Talk to your spouse or your doctor if your medication use is causing a disruption to your regular sex life.
Make sure you are not taking any medications that your doctor has not prescribed. Additionally, never stop taking your prescription medications without your doctor’s consent.
Maintain Positive Communication
According to my observations, couples who express their feelings on a daily basis by exchanging a few sweet words like “I love you” or “I miss you,” whether through text messages, phone conversations, or face-to-face interactions, can keep their relationship more energised.
Maintain both your mental illness and your marriage as though you were just wed. As much as you can, try to speak with your partner.
Whether or not your spouse experiences workplace depression, you should still take care of them if they have a full-time job. A person may experience workplace depression for a variety of reasons.
One in 20 employees, according to Mental Health America, experiences depression at work on a regular basis. As a result, there’s a potential that your mentally ill spouse could be suffering from workplace-related mental health issues.
So what is the answer to this problem?
At least twice every week, find some free time to go on dates. The only person who can relieve them of their suffering is you.
Whatever makes them happy, whether it’s going to a concert, a movie, or a fancy restaurant, you should do it. Keep mental illness from destroying your marriage.
Regularly practising self-care
You should cope with this vital issue if your partner has a mental illness. When you are married to someone who has mental health challenges, self-care is crucial. Your physical health and personal cleanliness are equally important, and if you neglect either of them, your lives are in danger.
Start with the fundamentals: drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and engage in regular exercise like jogging, cycling, running, aerobics, etc.
Additionally, you should spend time with friends and loved ones, avoid bad food, take breaks from your routine, and go on vacations.
Avoid Blaming Each Other
Blaming one another for trivial reasons may go too far and exacerbate mental illness. Your relationship will progressively become dysfunctional as a result. I would advise you to foster an understanding between the two of you.
Make sure everything is understood, acknowledge your actions, and carry on. Avoid passing judgement, learn everything, and then respond.
You can ask questions regarding illnesses and hear your spouse’s responses. Even if you disagree with the responses, you must acknowledge that your spouse is ill.
They may become agitated during a heated argument. No matter how hard it gets, you have to comprehend them.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol or Taking Drugs
When a marriage is severely stressed or traumatised, many partners start drinking or using drugs. This addiction may also affect both you and your partner.
These drugs may be used to help you cope with mental stress or negative emotions.
These behaviours can ruin your marriage in addition to harming your health. Try yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise, etc. if you’re having trouble abstaining from alcohol and drugs. I promise it will work.
Give Proper Focus to your Kids
Naturally, children could believe that it is their responsibility to solve their parents’ issues. But they can’t really resolve your mental health problems. You must therefore help them see their limitations.
You should let them know that it is not their obligation to treat mental illness.
Make contact with your children. Let them know that even in trying circumstances, they can still count on you. Spending enough time participating in family activities is preferable.
Let them Talk Openly and Honestly about their Feelings
Dealing with mental illness is a very serious and challenging subject.
However, it is crucial for them to communicate their sentiments and how they are feeling in order to cope with a partner who has a mental condition. By doing so, you will be better able to comprehend their situation and comfort them that they are not suffering it alone.
Seeking Professional Support
You can also ask your friends and family for support in dealing with your spouse. It’s crucial to have friends and family who you can confide in about your worries and who will support you during this difficult time.
Get help with your Finances
If your spouse’s illness prevents you from working, your family will need to provide financial support for you while they recuperate.
This is also an excellent time to talk with your spouse about how you want to handle your money going forward.
Looking for the Good
My last piece of advice is to focus on the positive aspects of your life. It can seem like your life has unfolded differently than you had anticipated if your partner is battling a disease, and this revelation can be devastating. But there will always be little success and unanticipated joy. You can stay strong by keeping a gratitude journal and searching for the little blessings. This offers a special chance to identify your spouse’s positive traits and strengths.
I’m hoping that you, too, have an “origami flower” to cling to when things are tough and you’re hoping for a better day.