I am only a young guy at 28 years old. I have had 2 past serious relationships and I am currently in another. My mental Illness has spanned for around 15 years which has encompassed all of these relationships. I have taken different approaches with my mental health in each and had mixed results every time. Let me run through what I did.
This one was in my first relationship and in fairness to me I didnt really understand my own emotions, my own views or my mental health. Having said that I was very up and down during that time and passed it off as general life and relationship stress (which sounds ridiculous given that I was 17-20 at the time). This approach is not at all recommended.
Blame the other person
Ok so this is arguably worse than the first one, and when I say arguably, I mean – its worse than the first one. Now by this stage I knew I had issues and was in a bit of a bind as to who to tell and when to tell them. I chose to not tell anyone (terrible decision) and to blame any mood swings – good or bad – on the other person. This approach is not at all recommended.
Be open and honest
This is my current approach (you probably guessed from the honest blog). My girlfriend already knows what I am going through and I’ve been as open as I can. I still don’t fully understand myself so it can still be difficult but it has left me less isolated, more comfortable with my issues and able to develop in ways I didn’t think were possible. This approach is highly recommended.
There is one mitigating factor in all of these approaches and also for any number of other approaches – the partner. They have to be many things, they have to be understanding, empathetic, strong, patient, a good listener and brave (amongst many other things). This is not something that is easy to find, so for me I don’t know if it is just that I am in a time of my life where I can be open with my feelings and issues or that I have just met the perfect person to draw that out of me. This is obviously not something which is immediately accessible to everyone, I mean had I met this person earlier would I have just been more open and honest sooner? Who knows.
Whilst this is a semi trivial look at the matter, there are obviously serious issues abound, such as; burden. It can be a huge burden on another person. They have to carry the weight of this with them and often confidentially, so they cannot talk this through with other people. Do you want your partner to be burdened in this way? I know it’s something I have thought about a lot. I would never want the other person to carry that or end up becoming my therapist.
This means for me its about two things; how you tell the person and who you tell it to. As so often is the case in life, the way you express something is just as important as the thing you’re saying. I try my best to explain my illness as something which is just there, it happens, just like the weather. We have to deal with it but the weather is not your fault, neither is it my fault. And as I alluded to earlier; the person, is important. Now I am very fortunate to have an amazing person who I can share this with and I know thats not always possible, but that says all you have to know about your relationship if you cant talk about your feelings and issues (in my view).
So the short answer is yes, you should. The long answer is always more complicated but either way talk about your issues with anyone is almost always a good thing. Even feel free to tell all in the comments. I’d love to listen.