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How to tell your new partner that you're struggling with your mental health

We all need people, particularly when we’re going through a rough patch in our lives. 

And, whether it’s a friend, family member or romantic partner, very often turning to those closest to us can have a positive effect on our mental state. 

Having conversations about our mental health allows us to see that there are people we can turn to when we need support, which in turn helps us in the process of making an action plan for if things start to get worse,

Talking more openly about mental health issues such as, for example, depression, anxiety and eating disorders, can also help to lift the stigma that surrounds them.

By opening up and keeping the conversation going, we can increase awareness and contribute to education for ourselves and others. 

No matter how beneficial we may know it to be, though, starting up frank, open discussions around mental health is not always an easy thing to do. 

This is perhaps no more true than when you are in a romantic relationship. 

Mental health issues can significantly impact a relationship, particularly a new one, as Relationships Coach and author of Happy Relationships Sam Owen tells us.

‘They can take away some of the fun and lightness associated with a new romance,’ she explains. 

‘Mental health issues and mental illness can disrupt your perception of your partner and skew your self-image with regards to whether you see yourself as a “good catch” or not.’ 

But studies have shown that couples that tackle mental health issues together are stronger because of it, and that being in a stable relationship is linked to lower levels of stress and depression. 

Not to mention the fact that choosing to deal with mental health problems as a couple will go a long way in showing you just how resilient your relationship is.

As Sam explains: ‘If you still have deep feelings for each other during the lows, then the highs could be amazing.’ 

Clearly, then, there are plenty of reasons to be open and honest. But still, it can feel pretty scary. 

Especially if it’s still very new, it can be difficult to open up for fear of frightening the other person. You also never really know how they might react or how educated they are on mental health issues until you start the conversation. 

But in opening that door, you allow your partner to get on the same wavelength as you, which will help them to understand where you’re coming from when you’re feeling low. 

Remember that your emotions, however difficult or overwhelming, are there for a reason.

‘They are a feedback loop,’ says Sam, ‘and they tell us what needs to be addressed in order to feel good again.’

Really, any healthy relationship requires communication and understanding, so keep your partner informed and seek to work through any bumps in the road together. 

This could include telling your partner how you feel going into new situations or important discussions, ‘so that they know how to approach them and to give you the opportunity to share your feelings if things get tense or difficult,’ says Sam.

It can also be a good idea to engage in calming, mindful activities together such as meditation, as ‘research finds they can increase compassion, self-control, self-esteem, and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.’ 

Finally, taking time for yourself is important, too.

‘Allow each other plenty of me time,’ adds Sam. ‘It gives you time to recharge and helps you to replenish your resilience.’

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  • Posted on January 25, 2021