Supporting a loved one with mental illness can be trying. I’ve witnessed the toll it takes on my husband. I’ve experienced it as a daughter of a mother and father who both had psychiatric conditions. A chronic mental health condition is like addiction. Even when well managed, its presence is still felt in the relationship.
My husband has taught me a lot about what it means to support someone. With practice, I do it more and more for myself. Some I already knew, some I only discovered by being with him at my most vulnerable, my most messy.
Think psychosis. Think oozing self-loathing. Think unrelenting anxiety. I know. Yuck.
- Walks beside me on the journey
- Watches a movie with me
- Can stand my company even when I can’t
- Listens without fixing
- Listens and helps me problem solve
- Sets boundaries and let’s me know when he’s reached his limit
- Reminds me it’s ok to take my beta-blockers; that I DON’T always have to tough it out
- Talks with me about ‘trivial’ things that have nothing to do with how I feel
- Requires honesty
- Tells me to un-pretzel myself when I’m in my most challenging yoga pose. You know that one of navel gazing and head up my butt. It’s surprising how long I can hold that posture.
- Helps me name things I’m ashamed of – like when he asks ‘peeled grape’ day? Yes – that’s how I feel, frequently, more frequently than I’d like to admit.
- Explains naps are good medicine and gives him a break too!
What does your partner do that helps you when you’re in struggle mode?
What do you do as a partner to help your loved one?
© Victoria Maxwell
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