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How Mental Health Affects Relationships by Woodland Psychological Services

How Mental Health Affects Relationships by Woodland Psychological Services

2017-07-13 
| by Editor | Posted in Telford Wellbeing

Our fantastic community partner, Katie Woodland from Woodland Psychological Services in Telford, is back with the next instalment of mental health advice. 

Well, this is a tough old subject – but one most definitely worth tackling.

Many of the people I support have struggled with mental ill health for many years.

Often, when talking about people with mental ill health we all seem to gloss over the effect on the family members.

Supporting someone with any health difficulty is hard, but there’s a special type of difficulty when supporting someone with a mental health difficulty because unless you’ve struggled yourself you just can’t understand it.

At some point we’ve all been in pain, we’ve all been sick and we’ve all spent far too long on the toilet after eating something spicy…

We can, to some extent sympathise with someone who is in pain or someone who has a very visible difficulty.

We understand why they’re struggling.

& with understanding comes acceptance.

& with acceptance comes support – no matter what.

However, for someone with a mental health difficulty, finding someone who understands is hard enough, let alone someone who accepts and someone who supports no matter what well, as far as I know, they’re as rare as unicorns.

OK, maybe not quite that rare but I’m sure you understand my point.

But, please know I’m not trying to berate anyone living alongside someone with a mental health difficulty.

It’s hard.

& I when I say hard I mean; frustrating, impossible, exasperating, maddening, infuriating, upsetting, wearisome… and a whole host of other long words expressing similar emotions.

You see, one moment things can be great and you remember why you fell in love with the person sat next to you and then as if a light switch has been flicked and they’re not really there.

You don’t know how to help.

You try, but everything you do seems to make it worse.

If you ask them how they are you get a one-word answer or a blank stare, but if you don’t ask you're accused of not caring.

They go from unable to get out of bed to bouncing off the walls.

Terrified to do anything and trapped in their own negative spiral with no way out.

But, if it’s this frustrating for you – imagine how they are feeling?

Imagine not knowing what’s going on inside your own head, as if you’re not in control of our life.

As if you’ve woken up one morning and every time you tell yourself to do something nothing happens.

Something as simple as getting out of bed is the same as climbing Kilimanjaro.

As the morning wears on they can sense your frustration and the call of the duvet is far more inviting.

Sleep is tranquil because you don’t have to do anything, think anything or be surrounded by anyone.

But, I digress.

I have moved far from the subject at hand – how mental health affects relationships.

In all honesty, there’s no hard and fast rule.

It depends on the person with the mental health difficulty, it depends on the mental health difficulty and it depends on the partner.

It can be great with a few ups and downs much like any other relationship, or it can be so toxic that neither person comes out healthy.

If you are with someone who is struggling you need to let them know you’re there for them and are ready to support them but you need them to tell you what you need to do.

This enables them to feel in control and safe.

But, you also need to let them know that they will need to reach out to someone in a professional capacity when they’re ready to move forward.

This is important.

If they’re not ready then it doesn’t matter who the therapist is or what type of therapy is on offer it’s not going to work.

You’ll have to accept this fact.

& you’ll have to make sure that you are looking after yourself so that you are in a position to support them when they’re ready to move forward.

In fact, by supporting yourself you will take the pressure off them and they’re much more likely to reach out sooner.

Look after your physical and mental health by eating healthily, getting exercise and do something every week that’s just for fun.

When you look after yourself you become a positive influence and it will start to show them that life can be fun.

Now, I know that this whole post has been quite general and different mental health difficulties manifest in very different ways but for anyone in a relationship with someone who is struggling the most important thing you can do is to look after yourself so that you can support them without resentment, frustration or anger.

If you’re reading this and you’re ready to take back control of your life why not click here to see if we may be able to help you.​

Have a good week & I’ll catch you soon.

Best wishes, Katie.

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