Understanding and Living with a Loved One Who Has Mental Illness

drowning

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

Mental Health is a Critical Issue

Nearly half (46.4%) of the American population will experience a mental illness throughout their lifetime. And only 41% of those people are receiving care for their mental health needs. I’ve written before about the need for access to affordable therapy, and the sobering statistics on mental health in the Millennial generation was a huge reason I wrote my book.

Mental health is a critical issue in today’s world, which is why I was interested when I received a pitch for a guest post from a writer who lives with a neurotic husband and wanted to share her tips for living with a loved one who has mental illness. Her words are an important reminder to treat our loved ones with compassion, especially when they are fighting battles we can’t always see or understand.


People who have a mental illness may have difficulty dealing with daily stresses and may be in depressed moods. These types of individuals will usually feel a lot of guilt, anxiety, and anger at different times. Here are some ways to help you deal with a loved one going through mental illness. 

Identifying Mentally Ill Behavior

Symptoms will vary depending on the type of disorder the person has. The important thing to know with most mental illnesses is, the person is usually connected to reality. There may be signs of the following symptoms:

  • Constant anxiety
  • Sadness or depression
  • Anger in the face of stress
  • Low self-worth
  • Avoiding situations
  • Perfectionism
  • Negative attitude
  • Compulsive behavior

Whereas if they have a psychotic disorder, they may exhibit hallucinations or delusions.

How to Respond

The first thing to do is realize that many triggered mental health responses stem from fear. Anxiety can be a massive part of the life of a person with mental health challenges. They may believe that people will always leave them or that they must do things perfectly to stay safe. That means their behavior revolves around avoiding getting hurt.

As per Mike Hudson, a psychology writer at OXEssays and Paper Fellows, “this person might be cold or distant but in reality what they need is reassurance and a feeling of personal connection. It’s important to reassure the person that you’re fully committed.”

Give Them Time to Open Up

You’ll want to give this person the necessary time to open up to you. Whether they seem shy at first or fun and outgoing, they’re probably keeping all their thoughts to themselves. The reason they’re keeping things inside isn’t because they don’t trust you but because they have not opened up before, or they were not well-met when opening up in the past. For them to open up, stay with them and show that they can trust you. 

Be Patient

When living with someone who has a mental illness, it can take practice to be patient when learning how exactly your partner’s mental illness affects their communication and behavior, especially during conflict.  There is a lot going on inside their mind and sometimes it can be a struggle to maintain a mentally well state of mind while dealing with a conflict or stressful situation in your relationship. Getting to a place of acceptance that your partner’s mental health issue is part of them as a person will reward you both. 

Caitlin’s Note: Don’t be afraid to establish boundaries like pausing a conversation that feels too heated or stressful, or communicating via email to help collect your thoughts if in-person conversation is too stressful or leads to high anxiety symptoms. Remember: If a partner is abusive, mental illness is no excuse. Be sure to establish healthy boundaries to avoid codependency and see the next topic in this blog to make sure you are both supported in navigating life with mental illness. 

Encourage Your Partner to Seek Help

Encourage your partner to seek treatment. Someone who is has a mental illness will do really well with therapy to move past the negative beliefs they have about themselves, such as the idea that they are unlovable. Options include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, art or music therapy, medication, and even relaxation exercises or meditation. 

Be direct with your partner, if they aren’t taking their mental health management seriously. Share your valid concerns and your expectations that they manage their health. Offer what help you can, such as helping to make phone calls if they have phone anxiety, driving them to appointments if you can, etc.

You may also want to speak to a therapist yourself. It will give you a good place where you can vent about your frustrations and you can get advice on how to handle each situation specifically. Jeanette Peterson, a relationship blogger at Academic Writing Service and Assignment Help, says, “you should be patient with your loved one, and offer to go with them or share that you’re also seeing a therapist. It may make them feel better about going to therapy themselves and it’s not a solution for sick people but just a way to handle life’s challenges.”

Understand Diagnoses

Get more familiar with the diagnosis process. Diagnosing a mental illness means that you need a professional assessment from a mental health professional according to specific diagnostic criteria from the DSM. 

It’s not always easy to live with a loved one who is struggling with their mental health, but there’s no reason to go through it alone. It’s important to have open communication and to let them know that it’s okay to seek help. Be patient with your loved one but also with yourself, it’s a difficult process for everyone involved.


Beatrix Potter is married to a neurotic husband and they have lived happily together for over 4 years now. She enjoys helping people navigate difficulties with marriage and mental health. Bea writes for Assignment Writing Service and Professional Writing Service as well as creating writing programs for Essayroo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m tired of being tired

I’m tired, y’all.

stress photo

I’m the type of person who will hold it when I need to use the restroom so that I can start a load of laundry in the washer and get my dirty dishes out of my lunchbox so that my time in the bathroom is not wasted. As if taking care of something as basic as peeing is a waste of time if I’m not also doing something productive. I’m the type of person who can’t read a book anymore. I have to be taking a bath and reading, or driving and listening to an audiobook, for me to feel like I’m not wasting time by doing something as indulgent as reading a book without accomplishing anything else at the same time.

When I scroll through my Facebook memories, I see that I have been tired for years. When I was in elementary, middle, and high school, I was tired. During college, I was tired. I got married, entered grad school, had a part-time job, and was tired. I got divorced and I was tired. I moved into my own place and had my first full-time job, and I was tired. I moved again and got a new job and had a freelance side business and I was tired. I worked on my exercise and diet habits, lost a bunch of weight, got married, tried to have a baby for 18 months, gained weight, stopped talking to my mom, got on antidepressants, realized I was in an abusive and controlling relationship, moved out, got divorced, stopped talking to my dad, and I WAS TIRED.

September 28-29, 2018 I completed a Ragnar Relay race and I was tired. Like, really really tired. I got 3 hours of sleep on Thursday night, 2 hours of sleep on Friday night, and various naps in a van during a two day 200-ish-mile race. Also my book was due to the publisher on October 1. And I was tired.

Now, the race is over, I have an extension to finish the book so I feel confident in what I hand in to my publisher, and I am looking forward to finally not being so tired.

But there’s one problem: I don’t know how to not be tired.

Overworking myself is not a temporary season of my life. It’s habit I’ve developed since childhood. It’s instinct. I’m always going, going, going, taking on new projects, trying to creatively solve problems, and looking ahead to the next to-do.

It’s exhausting.

I keep hearing stories of people in their 30s and 40s having strokes or heart attacks brought on by stress and I know without a doubt, that could be me. I know I need to slow down, to rest, to be still, to stop being so damn tired. So I’m going to learn.

Decision fatigue

One of the reasons it’s so taxing and exhausting to have so much going on all the time is because of a little thing called decision fatigue. Just having a bunch of stuff to think and make decisions about is a mental stressor. Something as seemingly simple as choosing what to wear in the morning can throw your whole day off if you open your closet to face a bunch of options. We get paralyzed by the decision. It’s one more thing to do.

Gina from This Family’s Journey writes about decision fatigue and how simplifying your life can help reduce stress and boost overall productivity since your brain doesn’t have to have so many tabs open just to make the basic decisions of the day anymore. I recommend you check out her post! (Her email to me was in my inbox for nearly a month, marked unread five different times, while I waited for the motivation to write a post about this topic.)

Reducing my stress impact

I am dedicating the next 6 months toward learning new “lower impact” habits to reduce the stress in my life, focusing on the following areas:

  1. Rest
  2. Food
  3. Movement
  4. Schedule
  5. Creativity
  6. Home
  7. Finances
  8. Work
  9. Social media

If you are also tired of being tired, stay tuned. I’ll be blogging my way through this process as I start over from scratch to learn the basics of human existence. How to eat things that make me feel good, how to get enough sleep to feel good, how to create a home that makes me feel good, and how to do work that makes me (you guessed it) feel good. I want to feel good.

PS. I’m on Facebook hiatus, so follow me on Instagram @caitlinfisherauthor for social media updates.