How to Communicate Mental Health Issues in a New Relationship

How to Communicate Mental Health Issues in a New Relationship

By Aurora McCausland

Entering a new relationship is always nerve-wracking. It’s a vulnerable, yet exciting, place to be in. You’re opening up your world to this new person, and they’re welcoming you into theirs in turn. You have no idea what the future holds, and have no way of knowing or predicting. All you can do is move forward with the best intentions and try to communicate your feelings accurately. However, there are certain elements that can make navigating a new relationship even more difficult. One of those things is mental illness. Whether it’s an illness you’ve had to deal with your entire life, or it’s something new you’re having to work through, it can be difficult to communicate your mental health issues in a new relationship.

Approach the situation with care

Being in a new relationship, amid all of the butterflies, is an underlying tone of unknown. Unknown of the future, unknown of how they feel, and honestly, unknown of how you feel. It’s all a new world, no matter how many relationships you’ve been in in the past. So when it comes to relaying your mental health and concerns to a new partner, approach the situation with all of the care that you need. It’s often difficult to talk about, so have grace with yourself.

Be patient

New information, especially that with the magnitude of mental illness, can be really hard to talk about, and equally as hard to receive. When you’re sharing something as intimate as mental illness, remember to be patient with your partner, and yourself. Take as much time as you need. With the right person, they’ll be patient with you. Despite how difficult it can be, remember what your end goal in reliving your trauma is: a loving and fulfilling relationship, with someone who knows your triggers and is willing to make accomodations for your comfort.

Don’t do things before you’re ready

When it comes to the timeline of when you should approach the subject of mental health within a new relationship, there is no right time. Some people will tell you to lay everything out on the table immediately, before things get far enough for any serious attachment to develop. Others will say to wait until you are much further in the relationship, and fully comfortable baring your soul to your new partner before letting them know any of your qualms or past. The answer is, there is no right time. You know yourself better than anyone else, so set your own timeline. Don’t have a conversation you don’t want to have before you’re ready to. Yes, you should have those conversations, but it doesn’t help to have them before you are comfortable. You can let your partner know that there are conversations you want to have, but that you just aren’t quite ready yet. It’s hard to hide something like depression or an anxiety disorder from someone you are romantically involved with, and you don’t have to. You can let them know that you have depression and not go into details. As long as you relay this information in a gentle way, so it doesn’t feel like there is a big bomb waiting to drop on them, they should be patient and willing to wait. And if they aren’t, then they may not be a good match for you.

No matter how things transpire, remember to put yourself and obviously, your mental health, first. Take the time that you need, give yourself grace, and be patient with yourself.

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