Every relationship requires some personal investment. Usually, the greater the investment, the stronger the relationship. When the other person has a mental illness it requires some specific kinds of investment if your relationship is to weather the ups and downs that come with chronic illness. Here are some ways to build a strong and healthy relationship with a loved one with a mental illness.
1. Be Knowledgeable
Learn all that you can about your loved one’s condition. Knowing what is going on inside of them and what to expect usually breeds greater understanding and realistic expectations.
2. Be Trustworthy
Everyone needs someone safe to talk with and in whom to confide. Be the kind of person that can be trusted with personal information. Having said that, if you fear that the other person may engage in self-harm, you need to be prepared to call for help in protecting that loved one’s safety.
3. Be Healthy
Being in a relationship with a person who has a mental illness can be emotionally taxing so do all you can to stay strong and healthy yourself. This includes getting regular exercise and regular sleep. It also means that you develop your own support network for those times when you need encouragement.
4. Be Human
Your loved one doesn’t need you to be superhuman – you can’t be anyway. Being human means that there will be times that you can’t take a phone call or drop everything to meet. It means that sometimes you need a break or a little space. Be the best you can be for your loved one – but remind them, and yourself, that you are human.
Family Guidance can be a support to you and your loved one. We also offer support groups to loved ones caring for someone with mental illness. We want to help you both forge a relationship that will stand the test of time and illness, because it can be done.