I am not a mental health professional, and in this case, I am also not a relationship expert. I write according to my own experience and share it because I feel it can be helpful. It’s helpful for me to get it off my chest, and might help others to know that someone else out there is going through something similar. As always if you are having serious struggles mentally, or with your partner, I highly recommend seeking help from someone more able to give it than I.
I don’t know if my husband will be comfortable with me putting this out publicly, so it may never go beyond a word document. That being said right now it’s on my mind, and I need to get it out. I hope to share someday, but we will see.
Being in a relationship where both people have mental health issues is hard. It’s a damn struggle. The problem is no matter how on top of things you think you are at some point you will both hit a rough patch at the same time and it can be a drain on the relationship.
When you are together long enough and build a strong enough relationship, you start to depend on each other. My husband is a great help for me. When I am in my lows he is reassuring, he is comforting, he doesn’t judge me, and I often joke that he is something of a security blanket. Without him, in my lows (and even my more leveled out times) I wouldn’t ever leave the house. When I am going through mania, he helps to reel me back in. He tells me when I am being reactionary, rude, and hateful. He stops me from not going mad and spending all our money, or shaving off all my hair, or other things in that vein. He is also there when my mania inevitably gives way to something darker.
He is also there for me on a day to day basis. He is my main editor. He is, as I lovingly say, my Twitch channel producer. He encourages me, drives me, assures me. He is my rock, my best friend, and more often than not the best thing in my life.
I hope that I am something good for him as well.
Depending on my husband is not always a good thing. When we both have our lows at the same time, it can turn bad quickly. It pressures one or both of us to hide symptoms. It leaves us feeling like our major rock is not completely available because we don’t want to put too much pressure on one another. We can spiral together or close off from one another.
It’s a struggle.
It’s a struggle that is worth it, but a struggle none the less.
I would caution people with mental illness when entering a relationship with others with their own issues. In some cases, I would even say “don’t.” I know people that would not be capable of maintaining a healthy relationship with a partner that had mental health problems. As much as it pains me to admit this openly, I have family that struggled (and still struggles) to deal with me because of our shared mental health problems. I think it’s something you truly need to consider when looking for someone to share your life with.
There are benefits as well. Ben understands me better than most people in my life. When I am struggling, he can listen to me, and understand what I am going through. Even if he doesn’t understand it completely, he certainly gets closer than many others.
But there is a clear need to make sure to work through these issues not only for yourself but with each other. Learning how to offer support even as both of you are in a dark place. Learning how to care not only for yourself but for each other. Learning how to lean on each other, but not so much that you risk either or both breaking. And learning that you can always come to one another, that you don’t have to shut down or hide symptoms.
I am so grateful to have Ben, even with the difficulties. I worry about what my problems do to him and to us. I worry about whether or not I am supportive enough for him. I worry about if I make his issues worse. But I don’t want to quit or give up. I want to be healthier for him, and I want to continue to learn and fight with him. Learn to be better together and learn to help each other through our struggles mentally and emotionally.
All couples have problems; all couples have challenges to overcome. Couples with shared mental health problems need to be aware of theirs and work through them constantly and together.