When Mental Illness Strikes: Tips for Couples
Talkspace contributor Ashley Laderer explores the issue. Towne, LCSW, says, “I don't think that healthy relationships trigger mental illness. “Healthy couples don't allow mental illness to run their relationship but encounter diagnoses as just other challenges to the relationship,” Sumber said. That's when it hit me: My relationship was hurting my mental health. of your relationship, there's may be an underlying mental issue, too.
What I’ve Learned about Relationships and Mental Illness
Today you are loved, as you should be, and as you always will be. So go us Helen, Manchester, 35 Fourteen years ago, I found my flatmate and close friend almost unconscious, with an empty bottle of pills next to her bed.
I got her to the hospital. I stayed all night, until she was released in the morning. What came next was worse.
At the hospital I asked the doctor what I should do the next day. He drew a blank.
- Living with schizophrenia: 'There is a wall of doubt, stigma and pain'
- Opening Up About Mental Health
My other flatmate and I had no idea how to react. We were angry, we blamed her, we thought she was selfish.
We treated her like a stranger. I went to my GP, who suggested we focus on ourselves because finals were coming up. Within a week, we just left her — went to our respective homes to study, claiming that we needed peace and quiet away from university.
In the end we both apologised, cried a lot, and made peace. Partners also need to find some of their supports outside the relationship and not expect that all their emotional needs will be met by their partner.
How can we get help for our marriage when children are involved? Do couples therapists treat children as well, or are children best treated by a separate therapist? Some marriage and family therapists will treat the whole family as a unit, while others may see the children separately as part of the treatment.
Love and Mental Illness: A Survey of Psychological Well-Being and Intimate Partnerships
Still other therapists work just with the couple. When do I know that everything has been tried and that I should begin to look at a separation? Couples therapy can help the couple heal the relationship. At the same time, couples therapy can help spouses develop more awareness, and this awareness may include recognizing that the relationship can no longer continue. Healthy relationships serve as a buffer to help the individual ward off both physical and mental health conditions.Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships - Joanne Davila - TEDxSBU
The stress in the relationship can impact their physical functioning as well. An individual will have been struggling with one of these conditions for quite some time.
The partner may initially spend a lot of time taking care of that person and working hard to maintain the relationship. This pattern can go on for years. The result is that the partner may end up slowly retreating from the role of caregiver, or may react in angry outbursts. Meanwhile, partners who are providing care to their spouse with a mental illness have been found to exhibit signs of burnout identical to that found in nursing staff at psychiatric hospitals.
They may follow prescribed treatment programs that focus on healing the partner but ignore their needs. Their mental health often deteriorates, and they may experience changes in their daily functioning, including poor sleep and appetite.
When couple relationships are under stress, partners begin to physically and emotionally distance themselves from each other. The basic quality of working together as a unit to tackle common problems is torn apart as both partners feel an increased level of frustration and despair.
If one or both of the partners is struggling with a mental illness, these negative emotional reactions are often intensified. At a behavioural level, individuals tend to isolate themselves, may turn to alcohol and drugs to numb difficult emotions, and sometimes turn to having extramarital encounters. Sadly, many couples who go to couples therapy have been experiencing these dysfunctional patterns of relating to each other for a long time.
There are times when continuing on in the committed relationship is detrimental to the health of both people involved, not to mention to the children, if children are involved.
At one time, I was a mediator in the family court system. One of my central tasks was to help separating couples develop separation and parenting plans.
Mental Illness in Couple Relationships
These plans are meant to establish a post-relationship framework for how the two people will relate to each other in terms of separating resources and co-parenting children. In couples with mental illness, the same planning process applies.
Often, these clients are overwhelmed by the legal procedures involved in the separation process, and benefit from the support of therapists, legal advocates and other healthy family members.