What is your favorite mental disorder
How & when you should tell your partner about your mental health problem
Photographed by Refinery29.
Do you want to get married someday? Do you want to have children Do you want to move in with me?
The conversations that follow these questions can have a huge impact on your relationship. And in the worst case, they can even lead to you breaking up because you have too different ideas.
People with mental health problems also have to face another, potentially momentous, conversation: At some point they have to tell their partner what is going on in their heads and why they are just shitty on some days (or in some situations).
Psychologist and dating coach Kate Stewart generally recommends talking about it sooner rather than later - especially if you can envision a long-term relationship with the person. Your first date may not be the best time to go. But you should try within the first month to at least carefully approach the topic. Because
if you do not mention it relatively early, the other person could believe that you have deliberately kept it a secret from her * him
When and how you conduct the conversation naturally also depends on which illness you have and at what point you are. For example, if you have been suffering from an anxiety disorder for years but can now deal with it well thanks to many years of therapy, you don't necessarily have to tell your partner everything directly. But if you've just been discharged from the clinic or have recently started outpatient treatment, things will look different again.
“Let's assume someone has type 1 diabetes but can live with it quite well. Then she / he should tell it at some point, but it doesn't necessarily have an impact on the partner's life, ”explains Stewart. “It is similar, for example, with a person who can deal with their depression (through therapy and the like) well. It belongs to her and should therefore already be addressed, but maybe not in the first or second week ”.
Tips for starting a conversation
It can be scary to tell someone about your mental illness - especially your loved one. But Stewart has a little tip for you: Just watch how she * he reacts when the topic of mental illness comes up in a film, a series or in conversation with others. According to Stewart, if you're dating someone who reacts very negatively and makes uninformed comments or says hurtful things about them, there are really only two options:
Option 1) Be very careful about the topic.
Option 2) Think about whether you really want to be with this person.
This approach not only gives you a good idea of how your friend might behave when you talk about your personal situation. If the topic comes up in a film, you can use this as a great introduction and tell directly about your problems. For example, you can say straight ahead: "I can empathize with the character because I suffer from XY myself" or you can initiate the conversation with:
I think it's great that our society is finally starting to speak openly about the topic of XY.
If mental disorders and illnesses are not brought up in a conversation or a series by chance, you may just have to jump into the deep end - even if it feels a bit bumpy or uncomfortable.
Stewart recommends that you tell not only what illness you have, but also how the disease progressed and how you are living with it. How long have you been suffering from it? Have you been in therapy or are you doing one right now? What influence does the illness have on your everyday life and, if applicable, on your friend? Perhaps the other person is afraid of contact and does not dare to ask the questions of his own accord. So just tell everything that could be helpful and important.
If your friend does not respond directly in a supportive manner at first, it may simply be because she / he has not had so many experiences with mentally ill people. But if she * he does not even try to understand you or does not support you after you have explained everything in detail and given her * him time to digest it, then you should reconsider your relationship. You may then have to have a completely different conversation.
Coping with a mental disorder is difficult enough as it is. So you shouldn't have to deal with people who are not behind you and are not there for you when you need them most. You should be with someone who supports you - even he or she cannot put himself in your shoes and can understand 100 percent what is going on in you.
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