If You Don't Understand Your Significant Other's Mental Illness, Here's What You Should Know

If You Don't Understand Your Significant Other's Mental Illness, Here's What You Should Know

You may be trying to help and you care about the situation, but because you're not living through it, you won't be able to completely understand.


Content warning: mental health, depression, suicide

To the significant other who has not struggled with mental illness,

Every relationship has its difficulties, but there is definitely an added stress when mental illness is involved. I want to start off by saying that you are very lucky and very blessed—you should be very grateful that you have not had to deal with a mental illness of your own. Secondly, it's important to acknowledge that you will never be able to fully understand what it is like to live with a mental illness if you have not personally experienced it.

While navigating my experience with mental illness and attempting to create meaningful relationships amidst my inner struggles, there have been times where I have felt completely misunderstood because... well, I was. After talking with others who struggle with their mental health, I realized that a lot of these thoughts that I was having and the ways that I was feeling was a fairly common thing.

Because you're not living through it, you won't be able to completely understand—but here's what you can do to try to get a better idea of what your partner is going through:

The first thing that anyone with mental illness wants from their partner is acceptance. The best thing that you can do when someone opens up to you is to accept them. Don't see mental illness as extra baggage that you have to carry, it's a part of them just like an arm or a leg is.

After accepting your partner for who they are, it is necessary that you recognize that everyone deals with their mental illness in different ways and everyone is affected uniquely by their illness. Even though you may have seen someone else be affected by their mental illness in a different way, that does not mean that the way either person reacts isn't legitimate.

Some people seek therapy for their mental illnesses and others take medicine, among a lot of other options. Support your significant other by encouraging them to get the help that they need. This could be taking them to their appointments or just letting them know that you will help them to do whatever is best for their mental health. Many people don't believe that medicine can assist with mental health, but think of it this way: you take medicine for a headache or for allergies, so how is that any different than taking it for a mental illness? If it's healthy and it helps, then that's what's important.

There are countless times where we who struggle with mental illness will sit here and say that we're okay, but sometimes we want you to remind us that we're OK too. We know that this doesn't seem like much, but on bad days, your love and reminder that things are okay and that we are okay can mean everything.

Also, if your partner breaks out into tears and they insist that they don't know what's wrong, there's a chance that they genuinely don't know what is upsetting them. So many times in life I have just completely lost it, tears streaming down my face uncontrollably and no real idea of what exactly is bothering me. Don't get angry at your partner for not knowing what's wrong, instead tell them that whatever it is will get better and that you want to try to help them get to the root of the problem if they want to talk about anything.

Whenever your partner tells you, "I'm doing the best I can," it isn't them making an excuse—it's honesty. Some days are a complete struggle, and it takes everything that they have in them to do the bare minimum. This can even include eating, showering, and basic everyday tasks that you don't even think twice about doing.

Similarly, it's not laziness when they are putting off their work and refusing to get out of bed. Sometimes it is completely mentally draining just thinking of getting out of bed, and when you say that they are being lazy or irresponsible, it does the opposite of help.

Always remember that wanting to be alone is not rejection. It's trying to collect ourselves and understand ourselves before we make you try to understand us. Mental illness can be a very complex and exhausting thing, and needing a few minutes or hours to recharge is not anything against you. (However, know your partner's warning signs and triggers and if they are distancing themselves to an unhealthy degree, seek help).

Everyone has downward spirals every once in a while. Know that even on their worst days, they are still themselves deep down. They still love you, even when they struggle to love themselves, so love them a little bit extra on those days. And I'm sure that they are sorry that they are not the same person they normally are, but they'll be back soon.

Sometimes your partner just needs someone to listen to them. Even if what they are saying is irrational and nonsense, just listen. Also, don't be annoyed when they want to talk about the same thoughts, fears, feelings, etc. multiple times. If talking about it helps, then you should be willing to listen.

Other times, they don't need someone to talk to—they just want you to hold them, be there for them, and know that you are here though even the worst down-spirals. You don't have to try to "fix" them, just simply love them.

Importantly, you need to always remember that what your partner is feeling is not your fault. Even if they may seem more emotionally "fragile" or "unstable" (which they by no means are), you are not to blame. You did not plant these little demons in their head, but sometimes you may help to awake them. However, do not think that his/her depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. is your fault. No one is to blame.

Lastly, don't feel obligated to stay with them just because they have a mental illness. Yes, this can be a very very tricky and delicate situation that takes a lot of consideration, but you should not stay in a relationship because you feel responsible for an obligated to them. Breaking up is difficult in any relationship, and breaking up with someone who suffers from a mental illness is not necessarily much different from breaking up with someone else, aside from the fact that the way their disorder impacts them may be more strong after a breakup. While it is a very precarious situation, there are a lot of resources you can utilize to help you in finding the best way to end your relationship. This can include seeking out a counselor of your own, talking to their friends or family members, looking up tips and advice online, and many many more. It may seem like a very challenging feat, but I promise you that your partner wants what is best for you as well.

And remember, your partner knows that you will never be able to fully understand and that you can't do all of these things all of the time, but know that they appreciate every ounce of effort that you put into the relationship and into loving them despite their mental illness.

Much love,

A girl who has felt all of these things.

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

Subtle Ways You May Be Disrespecting Your Friend's Relationship

If they make your friend happy, you shouldn't be doing these things.


No ones significant other wants to tell them they don't like their friends. And trying to tell anyone not to hang out with the people they're closest too is a disaster waiting to happen.

Some people really just don't like their friend's partner, but others have no idea the damage they may be doing to the relationship. If you are more aware of some things to avoid, hopefully, you, your friend, and their partner can all get along in peace.

1. When you see your friend, make sure to acknowledge their partner.

To be honest, this is a basic courtesy. If you go to say hi to anyone in a group of people, it is polite to greet, or at least acknowledge, everyone there. If you completely ignore that your friend's partner is even there, it will make them feel awkward and neglected. Just say hi.

2. Don't be overly touchy-feely with your friend, especially around their partner.

Obviously, this mostly applies to friends of the opposite sex (for heterosexual couples). Look, there is nothing wrong with having friends of the opposite sex but just know your boundaries. You may think your friend's partner is being jealous for no reason, but are you doing anything that might make them uncomfortable?

You don't need to always have your arm around them or be leaned up against them. It is really inappropriate to kiss them on the cheek or give them super long hugs, even if that is something you did before they had a partner, and even if it is completely platonic.

You can still hug and be close to your friend, just be respectful of their boundaries. If you don't give their partner any reason to be jealous then they will have no basis to dislike you.

3. If you invite your friend somewhere, it is polite to also invite their partner.

Even if you assume your friend's partner is going to come, it is nice to make them feel welcomed. And if you don't want their partner to come, make sure they are not together or planning to be together when you invite your friend.

You don't have to always have their partner around, but don't make it a habit of not inviting them. If they don't feel welcomed around their partner's friends, then they probably won't feel as confident in their relationship.

4. Don't ever bring up your friend's past relationships, especially around their partner.

Even if they are on good terms. Even if you are still friends with their ex. Just don't bring them up. No one wants to hear about their partner's past relationships or flings. It is embarrassing and uncomfortable to have to hear about your partner's exes.

5. If you are all out together, don't try to separate your friend from their partner.

There is a good chance that if you are out with your friend and their partner, their partner does not know many people there. If that is the case, don't try to separate your friend from their partner.

There may be an exception if their partner has friends around too, or if they are outgoing and can talk to anybody easily, but otherwise, it is really awkward to be in that situation alone. They are with their partner for a reason, and it is nice to make their partner feel included as well.

Just don't make it a habit to always pull your friend away.

6. Don't put your friend in any awkward or risky situations.

If your friend is a cheater, that is not really any fault of yours. But don't be the friend who is known for putting your partnered friend in risky situations.

There is nothing wrong with going out occasionally with your friends, but it does not need to be a regular occurrence, especially if it makes their partner uncomfortable.

Along the same lines, if you know an ex-partner or fling will be there, you don't need to put your friend in that awkward situation. Just be aware of the situation and how it might make their partner feel.

To wrap up, you don't need to completely change your relationship with your friend just to make their partner happy; just make sure to be polite and respectful of their partner and their relationship.

These are some subtle things you may be doing that are hurting your friend's relationship that you don't even realize have negative consequences. Simply be more aware of some of these situations and how they could potentially make your friend's partner feel. After all, the best relationships are the ones where your partner's friends also become your friends.

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My BF And I Were 'Just Friends' And Now We're Celebrating Our One Year Anniversary

Dating my best friend was the best decision I have ever made.


In August 2017, Brendan and I met. A group of friends invited him and me to go to Wendy's after a meeting for a school club. We talked the whole time — the conversation seemed endless in the best way possible. Later that night, I called him to ask him what water balloons I should buy for a celebration the next day. From that day forward, I cannot remember a day where I have not called him. It started off as nothing more as a platonic relationship from my perspective, but he would advocate otherwise.

Fast-forward to January 2018, Brendan and I started seeing each other outside of school. We would make up excuses and white lies to our friends and parents, saying that we were going to the library to study when really we would just sit in the parking lot and talk for hours until he had to drive me home. He became my best friend. I wanted to tell him everything — good news, bad news, stupid rants, my blonde moments, random and unfiltered thoughts. However, day-in and day-out, I kept denying that it was anything more than a friendship. Again, he would argue otherwise.

On April 27, 2018, I gave in.

We were sitting in his parked Dodge Durango, listening to a pop radio station. I was leaning over the center console to rest my head on his shoulder, and we were waiting for the sun to go down at a park. Abruptly, I looked over at him and ironically asked if he would be my boyfriend. For some reason, we did not tell our family or friends for about a month (sorry, Mum and Dad). I wish I would have realized it sooner, but regardless of timing, dating my best friend was the best decision I have ever made.

Christmas 2018Olivia Zidzik

Since then, our relationship has overcome insane distances.

Being 12 miles away turned into 1,601 miles when he went on a service trip to Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic this past summer. It went back to 12 miles for a little while. However, at the end of the summer, it turned into 413 miles when I moved to the University of Kentucky. In October, we were only a few feet apart as I hid behind his car in his school parking lot to surprise him. After I have returned and left home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break, he decided it was time for him to come to Lexington in March 2019.

All the time spent together and apart brings us to our one year — April 27, 2019.

Hey, Brendan: Although we will be 413 miles apart for it, happy one-year. You have been my rock and my best friend for the past 20-some months, and there are not enough thank you's that I can say to express how thankful I am that God put you in my life. I am so beyond grateful and appreciative for everything you have done and sacrificed for me and for us. I cannot wait to see where our journey will go next, but until then — here's to me and you. I love you. See you very very soon.

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