Any tips for being in a relationship when you have a mental illness?
1. Take care of yourself first! That’s why people always use the phrase “you can’t love someone else if you don’t first love yourself” because while we can care for others, and love them, if we don’t put ourselves first, that love and care isn’t coming from a healthy or secure place. Doing this can even create fights and issues in a relationship where there shouldn’t be any.
2. Process through our past! We can inadvertently use this relationship to try and work through our own struggles instead of taking the time to figure out what’s upsetting, process through our past, and try to act in a more healthy way. It’s normal to have bad habits in relationships – we all were raised with some bad habits. This could be not talking openly about how we feel (most of us can relate to that), or we could have come from a home with addiction so we struggle with enabling/codependent behavior, or we could have come from a home where we yelled and fought about everything whether or not we were even really upset.
Whatever the behavior, it takes time outside of a relationship to figure it out and work to act in a more healthy and happy way. If we just jump from one relationship to another we are never forced to be alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our behaviors, and really work on them.
3. Giving yourself “ME” time & Healthy boundaries – you shouldn’t ever be at someone’s beck and call. Make time for yourself, your friends, and your hobbies.
4. Teach them or have them teach you about their illness and seek to fully understand. It can help to know what it is that they are going through, what it can feel like, and what warning signs to look out for (for example if they are bipolar you would want to know their warning signs of mania)
5. GO SLOW! Give yourself time to get to know someone, ensure they are trustworthy, and let them in. Moving too fast can leave us feeling more vulnerable than we want, and can create a false sense of intimacy. Make sure you take your time, because any relationship worth having will slowly grow and develop over time.
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