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How do you look after your own mental health if your partner is struggling?

AifeAife LondonPosts: 2,319 Community Manager
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Hey everyone,

It's really important to look after yourself, but this can sometimes be hard to do. How you make sure you look after your own mental health if your partner is struggling to cope?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. :)

- Aife
Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤

Comments

  • MirabelleMirabelle Owl Whisperer Kensington.Posts: 1,020 The Mix Regular
    Though my (new) partner is not needing looking after, I am my sister's carer because she cannot be left alone.

    Though Mandy has PTSD she is much improved, so I make my presence passive and unnoticeable when needing self-care. In this I can be quietly colouring art books, or reading, or listening to music though open-ear headphones. My headphones are electrostatic so allow conversation to be heard, but are not intrusive to her.

    Our self-care is sometimes shared. Like going together to the beach in search of glass pebbles. These are frosted from being tumbled by waves along the coastline; or collecting brightly coloured shells and abalone, or gnarly bits of silvery sun-bleached driftwood. We take them home to make jewellery such as bangles and necklaces which Mandy sells to raise money. Or sometimes I self-care on my own composing music and lyrics in strumming my acoustic guitar. Its sound box comforts me as reverberates against my chest, and this is an unusual but a pleasant way of looking after myself.

    Mandy self-cares, too. She collects pictures of sunsets out of magazines and I trim them so she can put them up on her bedroom wall - now, floor to ceiling and very awesome. :thumb:

    Other times I self-care baking while Mandy sits and watches. My new partner loves our sisterly interaction enlightening. And always gets something to munch on.
    'If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance'.

    - Howard Gardner
  • Tee ATee A Posts: 123 The Mix Convert
    Hey @Aife !

    ​I think that we need to look after are own mental health first before we can even consider looking after someone else's. It can be almost impossible to give someone who is struggling the 'right' advice when you're not in the right frame of mind. There are many ways people could go about doing this but I also think the best way is through talking-therapy. Communicating with others who are also struggling can help both people cope. Each partner in the relationship can share coping strategies and will also be able to see that they are not alone. *hug*

    ​A problem shared is a problem halved!

    -Tee A:wave:
  • AifeAife LondonPosts: 2,319 Community Manager
    Hey @Mirabelle[/USER] and [USER="102722"]Tee A

    Thank you both so much for sharing your thoughts. Self-care is really important! It sounds like you both have some great techniques that help you look after yourselves.

    @Mirabelle that's nice that some of your self-care is shared with your sister, this sounds like a really good way to look after yourself and still spend time with her.

    @Tee A you've talked about some really important things here, particularly communicating with other people who are also going through something similar.

    How could someone have this conversation with their partner or family member if they were trying to support them but needed to take some time out of the day to look after themselves?
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
  • PositiveAuraPositiveAura Posts: 150 Settling in
    Hey everyone! :wave:

    ​I think you all have some good thoughts on this and I have to agree - you have to look after yourself before you can help somebody else.

    ​You can kind of think about it like the situation on aeroplanes. In an emergency, you have to put your oxygen mask on before somebody else because if you don't help yourself, then you will suffer and won't be able to help them anyway. And likewise, if you help yourself then you are more equipped and have more experience to help others. So sharing your own self-care can help others too!

    ​That said, if someone you love is struggling, we want to help them and this can take over and distract us from our own mental health. In this situation, it's best to communicate this with the other person. If you are having problems then they are likely to understand as they are going through something similar. Making them aware of this shows them that you care but you're not necessarily in the best position to help them.

    It might mean something simple like you need to put aside some time for yourselves separately to deal with your mental health or it might mean that you both need to look for someone to help you each separately. Like another family member, GP or counsellor. And whilst you are both healing and learning about how to deal with your mental health and self-care then you can come together, share thoughts and tips and help one another in the long run. :)

    ​As soon as you start struggling with your mental health, it's good to talk about it. Here is a good article on how to open up and who best to tell: http://www.themix.org.uk/mental-health/looking-after-yourself/how-to-talk-about-your-mental-health-5622.html

    -PositiveAura:rainbow2:

  • Candlestick56Candlestick56 Posts: 90 The answer to life, the universe, and everything
    Hi Aife,

    I just wanted to add to this because it's something one of my friends has been going through for a while - her partner suffers from depression and has done since they've been together. They were together for nearly two years and in that time she put so much of herself into supporting him through it but unfortunately he is still far from recovery and still hasn't reached a point where he's ready to accept any professional help. I could see that over time all the support she was putting in to hold him up was starting to drain from her and instead of pulling him out of the depression, she seemed to be getting sucked in.

    Recently she made the brave decision to end the relationship because she realised it was no longer making her happy and it didn't seem like it was making him happy either. I say it was brave because she still loves him very much and to others this may seem selfish but I wanted to bring it up here because it ties into what @Mirabelle and @Tee_A were saying about it being important to help yourself and make sure you're in the right mental state to help others. Sometimes it's not black and white and sometimes even when we really want to help others we need to take a step back and ask if we are even capable of doing so.

    I'm really glad my friend felt she was able to confide in me about her decision because as you guys have said, talking to others, especially friends, really is the key!

    -Lizzie
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