Talking to Your Partner About Your Diagnosis. Mental illness and addiction carry a heavy stigma. It can be hard enough just to talk about depression, anxiety, and relapse when you’re struggling. Maybe you’re embarrassed to admit the hurdles you face every day.
Even couples who have been together for years may struggle with sharing details of their diagnosis. And what if you are in a new relationship, or newly diagnosed? When should you tell your partner, if you choose to? How do you bring it up? There are no hard and fast rules, but we have some considerations to get you started.
Finding the right time to talk to your partner is an essential aspect of sharing your journey. If this is a new relationship, it’s wise to wait until you trust your partner. How your partner supports you may indicate to you whether this is a long-term relationship.
Ultimately, you want your partner to hold space for you, even if they do not completely understand. There is no perfect timing on when you should tell your partner about your depression, anxiety, or addiction, but there can be poor timing. Avoid telling your partner during sex or if one of you has been drinking. Make sure you both are in a comfortable environment where you have time and space to talk about your feelings, and hear your partner’s response and concerns.
It’s not only about sharing your diagnosis. It’s also about telling your partner how your diagnosis affects you. Everyone’s journey is unique, so personalizing your experience by communicating how your symptoms affect you is important. When do you struggle the most? How do you react when your mental illness or addiction becomes challenging to manage? What do you seek in terms of support?
Your best friend is your biggest ally
Your partner one of your best friends, right? Remember they should want to comfort you, and you should want to be open with them. When someone genuinely cares for you, telling them about your diagnosis should not affect the relationship in a negative way. If your partner does not handle the disclosure well, it is worth considering what you’re looking for in a relationship. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your therapist or sponsor for guidance.
If the relationship does end at some point, it is important not to blame it on your diagnosis or your self-worth. Relationships end for many reasons, and many of these reasons are not our fault. Ultimately, everyone deserves to be with someone who wants to be with them equally.
Stand against stigma
By talking about your diagnosis in an open manner, you are breaking down barriers and stigmas associated with mental illness and addiction. You’re also educating your partner and helping them see the reality of what these conditions look like, as opposed to the portrayals we see in movies and the media. You might be helping them become more open-minded.
When to get professional help
If you’re unable to cope on your own, your partner’s support may not be enough. If you are missing work or school, struggling to take care of your own basic needs, self-harming, having suicidal thoughts, or engaging in dangerous behavior, it’s time to take action. AKUA offers four different levels of care for mental illness, addiction, and co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis). We also have a strong alumni community for continued support after treatment.
Speak with an admissions counsellor today and learn about the options. Call (888)-258-2669.