7 Steps for Loving Someone With a Mental Illness

Are you constantly worried about your partner’s mental illness? Are you afraid that things will never get better?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental illness this year. 1 in 17 people continue to live with chronic mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. The chances are pretty high that you will fall in love with someone who suffers from a mental illness or mood disorder. It’s also extremely likely that you’ll both find unexpected obstacles on the road to happy endings. No love story is complete without a few bumps in the road, but mental illnesses can throw a lot of unexpected hurdles into the mix.

That said, I’m here to deliver good news.

Your relationship is not doomed. The very fact that you’re reading this article is a sign that you care deeply about your partner, and that is immensely valuable. You are taking time to do your research. That’s important. The more you know about mental illness, the better off you’ll be in overcoming it together.

More good news:

If your partner suffers from a mood disorder or mental illness, this does not make them weak. Behind every “I’m fine” lives a special kind of strength that’s not common for the average person. That said, If your partner is not aware of their own mental illness, or you feel they are endangering you or themselves, stop reading and help them find professional help immediately. If your partner is emotionally, mentally or physically abusive toward you, get as far away as possible.

This article is not meant to diagnose or treat mental illness. It’s about loving someone in active recovery. I’m going to assume, for the sake of this article, that your partner loves you and wants to make you happy. Your partner wants to overcome their illness. And they’re trying.

I’m trying.

The morning after a difficult night, my brain sounds a little like this: I feel so ashamed of my [meltdown/episode/panic attack/etc]. I wish he didn’t have to see that. I want to be better. I want to make my partner as happy as he makes me. I would love to go the rest of my life without this happening again…but what if it does? What if I never get better?

And then my partner wakes up and says he loves me. And I find strength. My mind discards my toxic thoughts and decides: I will keep fighting – for both of us. Opening my heart to my partner and committing to making him happy was the biggest decision I ever made. I worried my issues would make me unlovable, that it would become too much for him. I still deal with those fears. But time and time again, my partner proves me wrong. He reminds me that he’s in this, with me.

Mental illness has not made us weaker than the average couple. I think it’s made us stronger.

Now, you may be wondering –If your partner struggles being happy, how can you be happy together? If your lover is afraid to leave the house, how will you go on adventures? If they suffer panic attacks when you feel everything is going well, what’s going to happen when life throws in new challenges? 

It’s a learning process. My partner didn’t always know how to cope, and in many ways we’re still learning. But in spite of the struggles we’ve faced, our relationship has been overwhelmingly happy.

Many people confuse need with neediness. Know the difference: If a person has an asthma attack, you give them an inhaler. If a person has a panic attack, the antidote is equally important. This may be my battle, but I’m not the only one fighting. And that has made all the difference.

As the partner of a person with a mental illness, you are also at war. Here are your weapons.

Step 1: Know your enemy.

Understand your partner’s illness – causes, symptoms, and recommended treatments. Most mental illnesses can be overcome. Your partner most likely isn’t “crazy” – they’re a regular person who needs help overcoming trauma or negative childhood programming. Understanding this can be the difference between alienating your partner and growing closer with them. If they go to therapy, show your support by encouraging them. Talk with them about what they’re going through. And if you both go to therapy, that’s even better. For your partner, knowing that you’ve got their back is a huge deal. And the more you know about the monster, the better equipped you’ll be to fight it. This means becoming familiar with your partners emotional triggers, coping strategies, and what they need in moments of crisis.

Step 2: Don’t leave your partner in the battlefield – but make some distance if you need to.

If you’ve graduated Step 1, you know what they’re dealing with. You understand the monumental effort it takes for them to cope with their pain, and you know that support from you is critical for their recovery. So if (or when) the battle gets too intense and you’re suddenly unable to cope, make it clear that you love them and that you’re not leaving. Then step away. Why? Read step 3.

Step 3: Take care of you.

To play on a team, all players need to develop their strength individually in order to work well as a unit. This is ultimately their battle. They know this. On airplanes, when the oxygen masks come down, you’re told to put yours on before helping anyone else. Here’s why: you can’t help anyone if you’re suffocating. Once you’re able to breathe again, you’re strong enough to assist your partner.

Step 4: Reassure them. A lot.

With anxiety and trauma-induced disorders especially, we worry. A lot. If you told your partner you loved them this morning, by the afternoon and they might be falling into a spiral of doubt. They may believe you when you say you love them, but certain mental illnesses can make it difficult to retain the feeling. It might feel ridiculous to reassure them so much, but it’s better to say ‘I love you’ too much than too little. Think of your relationship as an hourglass. Flip it over with reminders every once in a while, so the love keeps flowing.

Step 5: Don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay to give them space.

It’s important to separate yourself from their illness. If they’re unhappy because of you, you’ll know. But if they’re dealing with the symptoms of their mental illness, it’s not your job to feel responsible for it. I love my partner, but when I’m unhappy as a result of my illness, it actually makes it worse if he blames himself. Guilt and fear go hand in hand – one exacerbates the other. Your only job is to be supportive and understanding. Relationships are a two-way street, and you can’t do all the work, all the time. Just like drinkers at the pub like to say: know your limit, play within it. It’s not always your fault. Sometimes they need space to recover, just like you do. If you’re struggling with guilt, go back to Step 3 and repeat.

Step 6: Let your partner love you.

Your partner is not helpless. They can take care of you, too. Let them! Spend quality time together and see each other for what you are – two people in love. Mental illness is like having a physical ailment – if you spend every waking moment worrying about it, you miss out on life.

Step 7: L-I-V-E.

Mental illness thrives on fear. It eats fear for breakfast, it drinks fear at night. Lucky for us…Love is stronger than fear. In my favorite film, Harold and Maude, Maude says: “Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go!” All you can do is your best. Do that, and let love take care of the rest.

*Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Acting Constructively During Textual Panic

So what do you do when waiting for a text that may never come?

Texting. At the dawn of its existence, it was called Short Messaging Service (SMS for short), and the first one ever sent was in 1992, from a 22-year-old engineer named Neil Papworth in the UK. It simply and benignly said, “Merry Christmas.” People wrote it off at first as another eccentric tech development that would never fly.

Oh how far we’ve come from Christmas 1992. Not only is texting a commonplace form of communication, it is an integral part of our daily connectivity. It has even become the bane of most people’s existence.

Can Texting Have Etiquette?

For me it’s hard to understand what is so difficult about texting etiquette; you receive a message, usually one or two sentences, you open it, and you reply. Done. So why is it a source of excessive stress for so many people I know?

Well nowadays, not only do people wish each other happy holidays through text, they’ll also express love, divulge gossip, break up, or send birth or death notifications. You can ruin lives with texts! Technology is amazing!

(For the purpose of this article, let’s agree that the term “texting” is synonymous with any kind of direct message via any social media platform, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.)

I for one have a pretty strong philosophy about this. I like to be very organized about my communication. If I receive a text, I try to answer it immediately. If I receive a text warranting a more thoughtful response than usual, I leave that message unread so I know to get back to it later. Sure, some slip through the cracks on busy days, but it happens to the best of us and it’s never intentional. However, once in a while, there comes a text that I don’t leave unread, but I don’t reply instantly. It’s no coincidence that these texts usually come from former, current, or future romantic interests.

What Should You Do If Your Friends Have Dropped Off the Face of the Earth and You’re Worried?

Sometimes your friend doesn’t text you, or says no to all your invites and you decide to stop trying. But, I assure you, your depressed friend who dropped off the face of the earth is not always terrible.

Reach out to them.

Love is a verb. Maintaining relationships can be a challenge because we’re taught to think, “what’s in it for me?” but sometimes kindness for kindness sake even when it doesn’t make sense to others is good enough. Here are some ways you can reach out and help them out.

And don’t forget, if you are feeling depressed because your relationships have been lingering in limbo for a while, join LOVE TV and we can help speed up your success.

1. Help Them Clean Their Room

help your friend clean up if they are feeling depressed

Sometimes your depressed friend finds leaving the house taxing. They may call it being introverted, they may call it anxiety, they may call it exhausting. If you’re friend denies your request to meet them go to them. Meet them where they are.

If they’re like me, they don’t want anyone to come over because their place is an absolute mess. If they use that as an excuse offer to help clean their place. You can spend the whole day together, talking, but also help them deal with the overwhelming weight of dread they have about the mess, and listen to music, and eat.

Hanging out is not just about where you go, but about being together with someone you care about.

2.   Check in on them during tragic incidents

check in on your friend if they are depressed

Sadly, there are so many tragic incidents in the world, that Facebook asks people to check in if they are safe. If you’re friend has dropped off the face of the earth, you might not be the only person they are isolated from.

So, if something happens, ask them if they are alright. Believe me, they will feel grateful that someone somewhere remembers they exist, because I’m sure they probably feel forgotten.

3. Ask them what they want to do

If you find yourself telling a depressed friend what you should do, where you should go, try asking them what they want to do.

Having the choice might make them feel more inclined to go. They probably won’t bail because it’s something that they put into motion. Sometimes people say no, because it makes them feel out of control. Let them have the power every once in awhile and they’ll have to keep their word.

4. Invite them over for the holidays

surviving holidays as a couple

Some of your friends may not enjoy hanging with their family on the holidays, or they may live too far from/can’t afford to/didn’t book the flight soon enough to visit family. So, please, please, if you’re having a big holiday get together, invite your friends. Don’t assume that they have plans. Maybe they won’t ask to join because they don’t want to be a burden or impose themselves, so ask them.

Even if they say no, most people will notice the effort eventually and say yes. Trust me, you don’t understand the brutality of being alone on the holidays if you’ve never been alone, so invite them if you can.

5. Pay for their dinner.

if your friend is depressed pick up their dinner check

I’ve experienced this kindness that people will just pay for my meal. I can’t tell if it’s because I portray myself as a downtrodden damsel, because they appreciate my invite, or what, but oh, man, it feels good when people buy you a drink, or buy you an appetizer, or buy you a whole meal.

I think it’s best as a surprise when the bill comes but doing it before works too. On occasion I’ll pay for things even if I think I’m a downtrodden damsel because I understand that my friendship is sometimes more important than my need to play that role.

There are tons of other ways to keep friendships alive but I wanted to give you a taste of some things that have made me feel special. Relationships, like gardens, have to be nurtured. Even if the garden will not bear anything you don’t have to let it die.

It’s beautiful existing as is. And your friends are beautiful even if you don’t speak to them or see them everyday. If you can try once a month to reach out to friends who have drifted away but whose company you enjoy. Friends come in many forms so keep the good ones around!

Why I’ll Never Let Anxiety Get the Best of Me Again

Last January, my anxiety landed me in the hospital. Now I know to never let it get the best of me ever again.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety my entire life. In grade school, I hid a birthday invitation in the back of my desk because it was a roller-skating party and I didn’t know how to roller-skate. In high school, I skipped a choir concert one year because I was on a top riser and kept getting nervous about falling off while singing in front of people. I struggled with IBS my entire life. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 27 because I was too scared—I still prefer not to today. All the while, I was still a happy and optimistic person. I never let on how in knots I was at times.

How I ended up in the hospital last January

My boyfriend ended up contracting a nasty cold while traveling to my parents’ house to be with me for New Year’s Eve 2017. Of course, I ended up getting the cold when we got back to our apartment. Afterwards, when things cleared up just a bit, I went for a massage to loosen my post-holiday tight muscles. The massage was the last in a series at an old massage therapist’s office that wasn’t my usual one.

Needless to say, between the massage and post-cold stuffiness, I ended up getting a terrible case of vertigo. For those who’ve had it before, it doesn’t come often but when it does it is debilitating. I woke up at five in the morning and the room was spinning, reminiscent of my early 20s post-drinking nights. I staggered to the bathroom and instantly had to go back to bed.

I later called my parents, since my dad had suffered from a bout or two of vertigo growing up. He told me what type of medicine to get from the doctor’s and my mom said it should clear up within three days.

In my typical fashion, I couldn’t sit still by the third day. I was getting extremely anxious about losing piano lesson money and freelance money, since I am essentially an hourly employee. Not to mention, my boyfriend was leaving on a business trip and I’d be caring for our dog alone while still not feeling 100 percent.

My boyfriend left for his trip that Saturday and I asked my piano lessons to come to my apartment to avoid me having to take the (nausea inducing on a good day) Metro. All seemed well on the surface but I was still not feeling all that great. I was not only anxious about me not feeling well, I was worried as it was a new year—taxes were looming, I was still in debt and I’d have to endure more questions about why my boyfriend and I weren’t engaged yet.

That evening, I went to get the mail down at our mailboxes then had plans to get ready to walk to church. Before I knew it, I ended up waking up on my apartment floor with my dog looking down at me, quite concerned. After phone calls to some friends and my apartment, I called my parents. They told me to go to the hospital, no questions asked. That frightened me even more, especially since I was still too dizzy to actually stand up.

I was beyond embarrassed having to call an ambulance. When I was finally on the stretcher after leaving my poor worried and barking dog, I instantly felt a lot better in the cold January air. I began to wonder if a lot of it was anxiety.


Diagnosing and getting past the stigma

After every test under the sun, I (thankfully) didn’t have anything wrong with me. It was most likely fainting caused by vertigo exacerbated by a panic attack/severe anxiety. My parents picked me up from the hospital the next morning after my two best friends stayed with me until 10 the previous night. They whisked me home to Pittsburgh for the entire week afterwards.

It was there I had a “come to Jesus” moment with my parents. They asked me flat out about my anxiety—how bad it was, what made it worse, etc. They reminded me I’m always welcome home if I wanted to start over. They were happy to help me no matter what. The truth is, I am happy with my current situation freelancing and teaching piano and living with my boyfriend of nearly seven years. Would things be easier if I worked at a full-time job with a salary and benefits provided? Sure. Would things be easier if my boyfriend and I were married? Of course. I joked that I always like to take the hard way with things.

My parents recommended I see my primary care doctor and start a low dose antidepressant for my anxiety and possibly start therapy. I had adamantly denied antidepressants in the past when I was having anxiety at my full-time job—I was happy and not depressed, why would I need them?

My parents helped me realize that taking antidepressants doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re depressed. People with anxiety take them all the time. I reluctantly agreed and got on a low dose of an antidepressant specifically designed to help with anxiety. I was deathly afraid of any side effects, particularly weight gain, as I have always been bigger my whole life.

After almost a year on the medication, I have rarely had panic attacks or bouts of anxiety. I have gained a few pounds but the way I see it is, if my anxiety is under control, it doesn’t matter. I’ve begun realizing how much the U.S. makes mental health such a stigma. Among the people of my generation though, we have definitely been working hard to make it less shameful. Wellness is so important.

Working toward self-love

Part of my journey with my anxiety is to learn self-love. I have gotten so much more comfortable with just saying no, especially if I don’t have time for something. My IBS has gotten better through lots of meditation/breathing sessions, praying, massages (thanks boyfriend for the Valentine’s Day series!) and stopping work for breaks to just get outside and get some air.

I often work through weekends and I know now if I do have a busy weekend, it’s essential to spend a morning or afternoon during the week with a couple of hours to myself. I’m slowly learning to love all my quirks, no matter how big or small (anxiety included!).

As they say, the world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same, right?

Author Kate Oczypok is working on not letting her anxiety win.

It took a trip to the hospital for author Kate Oczypok to realize she needed to address her anxiety head on—and learn a little bit about self-love in the process.

Cozy up. Did you know fall is the best time to find someone? Click here for more.

How to Date When You Have an Anxious Attachment Style

Because playing hard to get isn’t an option.

“You don’t need someone to be happy.” I’ve heard over and over from my friends but I’ve always felt the exact opposite.

When I’m alone I feel incomplete in some way and I know that’s not healthy. And worse than that, I’ve always clung to partners, even partners I know are not good for me because I convinced myself it was better to have someone — even if they don’t care about me — than to be completely alone. It’s a vicious cycle that I keep allowing to repeat, like my existence is useless without someone to share my life with, and friends just don’t do it, I need that ‘romantic’ connection, even if it’s just me begging for attention and feeling validated every few days.

I never knew this had a name until I was asked, “do you know what an anxious attachment style is?”

I didn’t.

So, I bought (and completely indulged myself in) Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller and my world changed.

I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this gross, off-putting clinginess and I felt more understood. I felt like I had answers and was more aware of what I was doing. I felt like I might finally be able to change my behavior.

Standard dating tips don’t work when you have an anxious attachment style. You can’t pretend you’re uninterested, unavailable or that you don’t want a relationship because that’s total bullshit.

Here’s what I’ve learned about dating with an anxious attachment style:

1.  Wait before reacting to small things.

People with anxious attachment styles are more in tune to changes in others’ emotional expression and can have a higher degree of accuracy and sensitivity to other people’s cues. This essentially means that we tend to jump to conclusions very quickly and can often self-sabotage our relationships. I once dated a guy who lived two hours from me and I invited him to come camping for a weekend and he said yes. I was thrilled! Then he texted me shortly after that he couldn’t make it because he got called into work. So we adjusted and made plans to hang out on Sunday since I was driving back past his town. When I started driving Sunday morning I had a three-hour drive ahead of me to get there. I hadn’t heard from him so I texted him to tell him I was excited to see him only to find out he couldn’t hang out because he got called into work, again. I was convinced he was lying and that he just didn’t want to hang out with me before my (much more reasonable) friend told me that I was going to self-sabotage the relationship if I started acting short or accused him of lying.

2. Don’t mistake the anxiety, obsession, and the short bursts of joy with love.

Mixed messages from your partner, or potential partner, often lead us to believe we are in love but it’s more often than not our attachment style activating. Every time you get mixed signals and you’re left guessing your attachment system is activated and you become preoccupied with the relationship. Then when he compliments you it creates validation and you tell yourself he’s into you after all. You’re activated attachment system is confused with passion. I never realized before why I was so attracted to people who mostly treated me like they wouldn’t have cared if I died, but now it makes sense. It’s the one little comment or gesture that makes it feel like they care. It creates that feeling of reassurance and makes me feel loved, even if it’s short-lived.

3. Acknowledge and accept your true relationship needs.

There have been so many guys I’ve dated who have made me feel “needy.” I always felt like I was asking too much from them or that I was the reason that things never worked out but I realize now that there is nothing wrong with me and that more often than not I’m dating guys who have an avoidant attachment style. These two attachment styles tend to cling to each other. I realized I didn’t need to change myself to please my partner, I just needed to find someone who is secure and can give me what I need.

sexy couple

4. Avoid dating someone with an avoidant attachment style.

Like I just mentioned anxious and avoidant attachment styles are often attracted to each other. I’m almost certain every guy I’ve dated has been avoidant. Now that I’m aware of my attachment style, I’m aware that I need to avoid avoidants. Avoidants typically send mixed signals, disregard your emotional well-being, suggests you are “too needy” or “too sensitive,” gives the indication that he’s still looking for “the one,” doesn’t care what you’re saying and ignores things you want/say that inconvenience them. If you have an anxious attachment style, avoid people with an avoidant attachment style at all costs because they’re never going to be able to give you what you need or change (seriously, it takes five years to completely change your attachment style, and it’s rare to do so).

5. Express your needs.

In so many relationships I’ve tried to be exactly who I thought the other person wanted without any regards to myself and what I wanted. I’d try to change, make myself uncomfortable to make them slightly more comfortable and I’d hide what I needed so that I wouldn’t get called “too much.” I wanted to be the cool girl, which doesn’t fucking exist, btw. I’d hide my wishes, wants and needs because I thought it would make someone else happy. Now that i say that it sounds insane, but for so long I did it and the sad part is I will probably still do it because I still have an anxious attachment style but I have got better at expressing my needs and wants without worrying about if they’ll think I’m needy or not because the right person won’t make me feel that way at all.

6. Give “boring” people a chance.

I’ve gone on a decent amount of dates and I walked away with the same immediate text to my friends, “he was SO boring!” I recently learned that those people I go on dates with who I find “SO boring” are usually people with secure attachment styles – the kind of person I should be dating. But with secure people, there is less drama so my anxious attachment style isn’t activated the same way that it is with someone who is avoidant. It’s typically to confuse the calmness and stability with boredom and lack of attraction. I’ve learned it’s important to give secure people a chance, especially because that’s the ideal partner for an anxious attachment style.

Understanding your attachment style, especially if you’re anxious, is really crucial for having healthy romantic relationships. Learning more about your behavior, why you do the things you do and feel the way you do when dating will finally make you feel not alone, which is exactly what I felt. Relief. Understanding your overall attachment style when you’re anxious will help you find that happy, fulfilling relationship we’re all longing for.  

Recommended next story: 8 Ways to Stop Letting Your Insecurities in Relationships Outweigh the Good.

15 Things People with Anxiety Want Their Partners to Know

I, like many other people in this world, have anxiety.

My generalized anxiety disorder can get super frustrating at times. I imagine it can be even more frustrating for my boyfriend.

Here are 15 things people with anxiety want their partners to know.

1. You don’t need to understand—just respect what we have.

My boyfriend has a retinal disease. When I occasionally find myself getting annoyed at him being slow while we’re out walking somewhere, I stop and think about what it must be like to have his disease. I’m not ever going to understand it completely, but I have to remember to respect it. That is exactly how I feel about my anxiety. I don’t need my boyfriend to understand it at all, he just needs to respect why I might be feeling a certain way.

2. We miss you more than ever during your business trips and we call often because we worry.

My partner travels fairly often. I can’t tell you how often I miss him during his business trips. Our dog passed away a few months ago too, so when he’s away it’s even harder without anyone here to keep me company! Granted, the alone time is nice for a bit but then I start getting anxious and wondering how he’s doing. I call him often because I worry about whether or not he’s enjoying the trip, getting dinner okay or occasionally, (in the darkest corners of my mind) if any woman is hitting on him.

3. Sometimes all we really need it just a hug—nothing more, nothing less.

There’s nothing better than a hug from my boyfriend when I’m feeling anxious. Sometimes having the person we love just simply hold us is all we need to feel calmer.

4. We’re so grateful for what we have, particularly our significant others.

Being an anxious person, I am so grateful for my boyfriend. He is someone I can always ask for reassurance when I’m making big decisions, or even little decisions. Sometimes, all the reassurance we need is just a simple hug, as I mentioned before.

5. We know we shouldn’t be scared of our fears but part of us still is.

Sometimes, a lot of people with anxiety have irrational fears or phobias. There’s lots more information about this here, but in the meantime, I know that my boyfriend understands my fears and phobias are mostly illogical. We know they are illogical, but part of us, that irrational part, is still frightened beyond belief.

6. Anxiety is a part of us but isn’t all of us.

Anxiety is a part of who we are yes, but it isn’t all of us. We don’t let it define us nor do we let it hold us back in any way (if we can help it!). I know that I am a writer, a teacher, a good friend, former dog mom, movie lover, magazine devourer, book lover, dog lover, sunshine lover and more. Anxiety is just a small part of the bigger picture of me.

telling him your anxiety

7. We often worry about anxiety being a burden.

A lot of times when I have panic attacks, the first thing I always do is apologize to the person I’m with (which is almost always my boyfriend or a family member). We often worry about our anxiety being a burden on our loved ones. Apologizing for me helps me feel just a little less worried about being an annoyance to my loved ones.

8. Anxiety, and many other mental illnesses all depend on the individual.

Anxiety can be helped through medication and therapy, as well as meditation and trauma therapy (for those with trauma-related anxiety, the book The Body Keeps the Score could be an interesting read). Exercise and yoga are also great stress and anxiety relievers. Perhaps going to a yoga class or for a walk or run with your partner could be a great way to spend some time together and lessen some of life’s stresses. The bottom line is, mental health problems are very individualized. You wouldn’t treat someone the same way for other physical health issues, why should mental health be any different?

9. Sometimes we may not experience anxiety and other times have full-blown panic attacks on the daily.

This piggybacks off of number eight. Just like life’s ups and downs, anxiety has its terrible times and not-so-bad instances. It all depends on what’s going on in our lives at the moment. For me, the months of June and December are always just a bit worse because those are transitional in terms of a lot of my students leaving for the summer (I teach piano as well) and then the December holiday break where as a freelancer, I don’t get paid.

10. We absolutely need you to communicate with us.

My boyfriend and I are still working on this, seven years later! Where I love to express my emotions every time I have them, my boyfriend tends to guard his. I am working on gently reminding him that I need to sometimes be reminded that things are all good between us. Sometimes I also need him to express why he’s being quiet a certain day. He may be tired but as an anxious person, my mind tends to wander if it’s other reasons involving me.

11. Change is really hard for us.

I’ll never forget the day I moved in with my boyfriend. He was downstairs with the movers and I just slumped against the wall in the empty living room and cried. I was so unsure if I was doing the right thing and was absolutely terrified of the change. Now, no matter what happens with the two of us, I’m glad I did. Partners just need to remember that change can be really hard for us, no matter how big or small.

12. We know we’re not being logical, and it’s hard for us.

Our worries and neuroses are not logical most of the time and we know that. The thing is, anxiety defies logic and we are always constantly trying to overcome that. Partners who have a spouse or significant other with anxiety should never yell at them for “not thinking straight.” We’re trying to!

13. Remember anxiety can give us physical symptoms.

I am just recently discovering this. I grind my teeth at night and have TMJ. I have suffered from IBS throughout most of my life. These physical symptoms are manifestations of my anxiety. I am starting to recognize and acknowledge this, because when my anxiety is controlled, my TMJ and IBS are a lot more controlled as well.

14. You can’t fix us, but therapy might be able to help.

Sadly, mental health still is somewhat treated poorly in our country. We don’t have adequate access to mental health professionals in our country. Many see those in therapy as weak. If your partner seeks out help for their anxiety that’s a good thing! If you can make it work, even if it means less dinners out or you maybe taking on a bit more of the rent for awhile, it’s be worth it in the long run, trust me.

15. We always welcome lots of questions, if you promise to be patient with us.

We love helping you learn about our anxiety! We just ask that you promise to be patient with us. Sometimes it can take a bit of time for us to open up about our issues. We’re just grateful you want to listen.