When you are living with a mental health condition taking care of yourself is a priority but since no man is an island, we often have to rope in our loved ones into the journey. It’s not always easy for Black folks to admit that they need help, let alone ask for help. However, once you’ve passed the stage of denial and accepted your situation, it is very important that you find or become the kind of partner who will know how to correctly love you - anxiety and all.
This generation of young Black women and men are lucky. Not only is there a movement to help us recognise mental health as an important factor towards living a happy and successful life, but there is also an abundance of information available to help us live great lives even when we live with things like anxiety disorders or depression. While loving yourself enough to ensure that your mental health is as good as can be, you need to learn how to be a better partner or lover to your partner who carries his/her own bag of anxiety.
If a relationship is going to work, one has to do more than recognise that their partner requires TLC when it comes to certain things that influence their mental health.
“It is worth trying to see if you can’t up your game and tailor-make your love to embrace your partner and the kind of anxiety they have.”
Sometimes all you need to do is keep your own anxiety in check so that you can better love your partner through theirs, especially when things get tough for them and they seem to be struggling to claw their way out of a “dark” or difficult mental state.
Listen And Observe
It is important to listen to your partner so you can hear what anxiety looks like to them. They will often tell you and paint the picture for you. The more you listen, the more you will understand where their anxiety is rooted and how exactly you can play a part in helping to get anxiety to ease its grip on them. Please don’t confuse this with trying to be their therapist. If you are not qualified, leave that to the professionals, but lending an ear will never steer you wrong.
You may also be in love with the “quiet and shy type” that takes a while to open up and talk about feelings. Here it is best to then observe your partner, sometimes people say more when they are not speaking but if you are not observant, you may miss it.
Ask Specifically About Their Triggers
Sometimes you need to have a difficult conversation with bae. Ask him or her, what is it that triggers their anxiety and perhaps that may open up a bigger and also important conversation of why that particular thing is a trigger for them.
It is important to navigate life with someone you love, knowing how to protect them. If you know that certain things act as an anxiety trigger for them, then you know what to avoid.
Don’t Take It Personal
People’s anxiety often has nothing to do with you. The root of their mental health issue often goes back years before the two of you meet, so don’t take it personally.
Don’t be offended by what makes your lover anxious, be sensitive towards them and try to find ways to help each other avoid situations that may trigger that anxiety or worsen it.
As much as you can, encourage your partner to speak to a professional and speak to one yourself if you have your own mental health issues to address. Looking after yourself will help you look after and love each other better. From a place of understanding and a desire to eventually heal as individuals.