I know that being close to someone who has mental health difficulties can be very hard. Not because I have experienced it much myself but because I've seen the faces of my family when they don't know what else to try and the face of my boyfriend when I've done something stupid to hurt myself, again. It's difficult for families, it's difficult for friends but I think it can often be most difficult and consuming for those who find themselves in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill. I think most people who suffer with their mental health understand that those who care about them are doing their best. We appreciate you, we understand that you are trying and that sometimes you won't get it right, and that's ok. I've put together a list of some ways you may not have thought of to help the person you love.
1. When they are having a bad day, nine times out of ten, it's not your fault- Try not to obsess over the reasons why, try not to worry about what you've done wrong or why they seem distant. If you really feel like it might be something you've done, ask them once and believe them.
2. Give them space- If you feel like everything you say is annoying them, you might be right, but only because they are feeling so anxious or depressed, everything is annoying them. This is probably a good time to let them know where you are if they need you and give them some time to themselves.
3. Reassurance- Someone with a mental health condition probably has low self esteem and they are probably not very good at believing their own self-assurance. If you want to help, try to remind them that they are loved, important and safe.
4. Listen- Even when they don't make sense and you don't understand, take the time to ask questions and really listen to the answers.
5. Be open about your own problems- Mental illnesses can make people selfish. You probably find yourself asking your partner how they are doing more than they ask about you. But when they do ask, be open. You need caring for too, and they probably care about you more than you think. It will also give them some much needed time away from their own difficulties whilst they are focussing on yours.
Have you ever had to care for someone who is mentally ill? Do you have any other advice for others who might be struggling?
"It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” -Stephen Fry