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Talking to your partner

“At first, I had a lot of judgment from my husband’s family. There's a lot that wasn’t accepted or dealt with appropriately. But because we’ve been so candid and honest about our experiences, they have actually changed.” 

– Catherine

Whether you've been with your partner a long time or have just recently started a relationship with someone, it can be freeing to talk to your partner about your mental health challenges.  

Whatever you're going through, your partner may not realise something is wrong. Or, if they have some idea, they may not be sure how to ask you about it. They may even make guesses about what is happening, or blame themselves, which can lead to misunderstandings. If you start the conversation, it can be a good first step for you and for them. They’ll be relieved to know what’s going on, and you can tell them how you would like them to support you, what you find helpful, and what doesn’t feel helpful. Your partner won’t always get it right, but clear communication helps

“My husband is very supportive and he's there when I need him. He understands when I have days where I can't do anything and he encourages me just to go in the garden or paint.” 

– Leila

How to have the conversation 

Everyone’s relationship is unique; only you can decide how to talk to your partner about your mental health, and how much you want to tell them upfront. Knowing your partner’s attitude towards mental health and mental illness will help you figure out what you're comfortable telling them at first. If you’re not sure how they’ll react, you can try practising what you want to say beforehand with someone you trust.  

If you’re already working with a health professional, you can ask them to talk to your partner and answer any questions they may have. You can also point your partner to a suitable website, pamphlets, or any other material that might help describe what you’re going through. This can be especially useful if you are not sure how to describe what you’re experiencing, or if you want your partner to reflect on the information in their own time. It can also be a great way to promote further conversation between you both.