We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share little ways their partners have helped them with their mental health. Here’s what they had to say:
Keep in mind that while you could potentially do a lot to help your partner through the tough times and maybe even help manage their symptoms, mental health is incredibly complex. Be sure to reach out to a professional if you or a loved one could benefit from it.
1. Make them feel safe and heard.
“My partner does a great job of reminding me that I’m loved and that I’m important. He makes it clear that I can come to him about anything, no matter what I’m struggling with. And even if I can’t go to him right at that moment, it’s very comforting knowing I can go to him at all.”
“The best thing my partner did for me when I got diagnosed was ask questions and sign up for classes at his work that discussed anxiety disorders and depression. I know it’s difficult for significant others because they can feel frustrated and powerless when they don’t know how to help. But my partner began to realize that he couldn’t understand exactly what was going on inside of my head all the time (neither can I), and even better than that, he accepted that that was okay.”
3. Help them do the things you know they really struggle with.
“My boyfriend will always order at restaurants for me because he knows how anxious it makes me”
4. Deliver their favorite foods to them when you know they’re having a shit day.
“When my boyfriend can tell I’m a bit cloudy, he’ll sit down next to me and cuddle up, then whispers, ‘I ordered you a blizzard.’ Not only does ice cream always help, but the fact that I don’t even need to say a word and he’s working to cheer me up makes me smile instantly.”
5. Remind them to take their medications and schedule therapy appointments.
“My girlfriend is extremely supportive and understanding, which is all I could ever ask for. She remembers the small things that I can’t, reminding me to take my medications and schedule therapy appointments. She makes me feel safe when I’m anxious. Having a loving partner will never change that, but with her, I feel comfortable to be anxious.”
6. Leave them sweet voicemails that they can listen to on those stressful days.
“My girlfriend will leave a message for me while I’m at work, saying she loves me or that she hopes I’ve had a good day. Work stresses me out, but those little messages make me a lot more relaxed and calm when I read them at night.”
7. Help them get things done around the house when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
“I have an incredibly stressful and demanding job that requires me to work 10 hours a day and commute two hours a day. Since my boyfriend lives with me and has more free time, he gets up early to help me pack my lunch and is always cleaning up after our kitty and taking out the trash. He knows my time is limited, so he always tries to make life at home easy on me. It definitely makes me breathe easier knowing I’ve got him there.”
8. Help them feel beautiful when they’re having trouble remembering how.
“I have systemic lupus, which manifested itself in my kidneys. My treatment included chemotherapy, which made me gain 30 pounds of water weight in about 15 days. I developed horrible stretch marks all over my abdomen and back. Seeing my body go through such a drastic change and having to deal with the weight gain, then trying to lose it all again, took a huge toll on my mental health.
Through it all, my boyfriend never failed to make me feel beautiful. He was so supportive. He bought me every oil, body butter, and lotion he thought would help my stretch marks and gave me so much positive reinforcement when I was going through a really tough time in my life.”
9. Let them vent when they need it and really, truly listen.
“When I’m really stressed or crying, my boyfriend just lets me vent and cry and holds me until I’m ready to talk. And sometimes, he takes me out to eat Chinese food, even though he originally hated it (but now he loves it!)”
10. Celebrate all their little victories with them and let them know how proud you are.
“My partner doesn’t understand depression or anxiety at all (and that’s okay, I wish more people would realize that). But he tries his hardest to listen, motivate, help, and love me. He understands that I don’t need to be told what I can/should do to ‘fix’ myself. He celebrates all of my victories, from taking my pills, to eating in public by myself.”
11. Give them a really tight hug when words won’t suffice.
“The best thing is a hug. And I mean a really tight hug. It’s still one of the best things my boyfriend does to help with my panic attacks and general anxiety.”
12. Hold their hand and try to keep them grounded during an anxiety attack.
13. Sing to them and try to calm them until the pain starts to fade away.
“I have pretty difficult gender dysphoria and anxiety issues that I deal with on a regular basis. When I’m in a really stressful situation, my girlfriend will wrap me in a blanket, make sure I’m safe and warm, and hold me and sing to me until it passes. Her voice calms me down like nothing else does.”
14. Try to get them to laugh when you can tell they’re struggling.
“My boyfriend helps me get out of negative mindsets by distracting me. When I’m having an anxiety attack, he does funny accents to make me laugh. When I’m catastrophizing, he asks me to plan a dream vacation. When I’m depressed, he sends me photos of cute dogs.”
15. Tell them that it’s okay to say no when they have too much on their plate.
“I had become the go-to girl in my department because I was super eager to please and said yes to almost everything. One day after work, I mentioned to my partner that a coworker had asked me to cover an assignment for them, and I was dreading doing it. He replied, ‘So say no if you don’t want to do it and it’s stressing you out so much. It’s their problem, and their responsibility, not yours.’ I had literally never been told it was okay to say no to something before. It was the most illuminating moment of my personal and professional life.”
—Emily Mason, Facebook
16. Help them get their mind off things and bring them back to the moment.
“If I’ve had an anxious day, my partner will take me outside and encourage me to breathe deeply and watch the sunset. Having someone that helps bring you back in to the present moment is really great.”
17. Make them feel special by showing them you remember the little things about them.
“I have fibromyalgia and sometimes the pain and soreness makes it nearly impossible to do more than go to work. On one bad pain day, my boyfriend came over right after work bringing a super plush blanket and food with him. He made hamburgers on the grill, took care of my dogs, and made sure I didn’t have to get up all evening. He even brought my favorite chips!”
18. Take them to a quiet, safe place and assure them it’ll be okay when they have a panic attack.
“My partner always makes sure to get me to a quiet corner somewhere if I’m having a panic attack. He’ll sit and rub my back until I feel a little bit better and then he starts naming all the things he loves about me.”
19. Find ways to be supportive of their recovery in any way possible.
“I have struggled with anorexia and bulimia for most of my life. When my then fiance, now husband, found out how badly I was struggling at the time, he plastered our kitchen with photos of everything that makes me happy, namely our kids and extended family. He also blacked out the nutrition labels with a Sharpie on every single item of food we owned. I went to inpatient treatment shortly after, and having those little reminders of how very much my recovery meant to my partner was the motivation I needed to stay well when I got home.”
20. Practice coping skills with them.
“My partner has taught me the importance of coping and how to use coping skills for myself during times of need. Whenever I’m struggling through panic attacks, major depression, PTSD triggers, or overstimulation, I think back to the mantras that they made up specifically for me, such as, ‘Getting over this is easier than jumping over the moon,’ and I can imagine them saying it to me. It immediately makes the situation better and makes me happier just thinking about them. It’s a little thing, but it really helps.”
—Caedyn Bushay, Facebook
21. Don’t focus on fixing their problems, just try to help them feel better.
“Instead of telling me how to fix my problem, my partner asks what he could to make me feel better.”
22. Remind them how wonderful and capable they are.
“I have anxiety and depression. I constantly panic about being a terrible wife, and thinking that one day my husband will find someone better and leave me. Whenever this happens he looks me in the eyes, holds me close, and reminds me how much he loves me and that I am a good wife.”
—Katie Ruiz-Leon, Facebook
23. And, above all, make sure they know they’re loved.
“I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, including suicidal thoughts. All of these negative feelings led me to turn to self-harm and alcohol to escape. Rather than being scared, angry, or trying to shame me into stopping, my partner stood by me and loved me anyway. He showed me through his actions that I was worth loving, even at my very lowest. I went from seeing myself as a lost cause, to respecting myself enough to get help. Now, whenever I’m having a bad day, I openly tell him and he listens and tells me how much he loves me.”
—Julia Clark, Facebook
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
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