News

5 Tips For Dealing With a Partner Who Has Mental Health Challenges

Here are some helpful tips for dealing with mental illness in a relationship.

As Valentine’s spurred endless photos of red roses, hearts, and wedding rings, us single people spent the day reminiscing about the ups and downs of relationships past.


I remember dating a beautiful Afro-Caribbean brother. He had a neatly cut beard and dreamy eyes. In the beginning, the hearty laughter, the glances, the endless possibilities meant romantic bliss. This didn’t last. Rapid mood swings and episodes of stoic calm took over and it soon became clear that he was suffering from something bigger than both of us—depression. Dating a person with mental health challenges can be daunting. It can make you feel helpless because you want the person to get better.

Here are five truths I came to, while dating someone facing mental health challenges:

1. It’s not you OR them. It's the mental illness.

After two years of dating this man, the most vital lesson I learned is that neither of us were to blame. My ex-boyfriend would go through episodes of uncharted emotions—his waves of enthusiasm one hour would turn to being a brute the next. It left me frustrated and ready to end our relationship. My emotional reactions did not help. In fact, they did the opposite by hurting him and causing him to sink deeper into the abyss.

2. Seek Professional Help.

I was overzealous in my efforts to help my partner cope with his symptoms of disinterest in his everyday activities and restlessness. I tried financial support, sex, motivational talks, prayer, comfort food, healing oils and crystals—none of this kept him happy. A moment of relief swept through my heart when his closest friend called me one day. “He has mad issues,” he said to me after recounting his own stories of my exe’s unusual behavior. For the first time in our relationship, I felt supported in my intuition that my partner’s mental health was declining. However, his friend, like myself was unsure how to help him. Watching him become consumed by his thoughts, lost in his anger, and unable to control his mind was eye opening.

You need to get help,” I told him during one of his stoic episodes. We were sitting in silence for nearly two hours. He was lying down on his bed, with his eyes fixed on the ceiling only blinking a few times. He would later agree to apply for medical insurance—the first step in receiving the professional help he desperately needed and deserved. I was relieved because he agreed to get help. This feeling quickly left me because for weeks, I noticed the signed application on his dresser had not moved. This was the last straw for me!

3. Do not be afraid to leave.

At first I felt guilty for not trying harder to find him help as I am not a professional. Although, the decision was hard to make, I knew it was time to go. There were too many failed attempts to get my partner professional help and he was unwilling to get the help for himself. Within myself, I started to notice that I was embodying his whirlwind of emotions. I became irate when he was irate, anxious when he was anxious. I loved him, but I had to grew to love myself more. My mental health was also at stake and I could no longer have anxiety attacks worrying about him. The deal was sealed; I was done.

4. Give positive energy.

Many of us are too quick to judge our partners for their unusual behavior. I have witnessed men call their girlfriends “crazy” and women call their boyfriends “fuckboys” and so forth. Yet, I have not witnessed enough people willing to admit that their lovers may have serious mental health issues and may need professional help. Spend the same energy you use to bash your exes on social media and offer them a helping hand.

5. Handle your relationship on your own terms.

My friends and family berated me with comments like, “He’s not the one” or “why are you with him? He’s not treating you right.” None of them understood that I was not foolishly dating a “madman,” but I was in love with someone struggling with mental health challenges. I admit I was dangerously in love, perhaps as I found myself living through his unpredictable emotions.

Through this tumultuous relationship, I did learn that love cannot (no matter how hard we contemplate it), be conceptualized or understood. Love defies logic. Think of a parent standing in front of a bullet for their child? Isn’t that essentially considered crazy? Who would literally end their own lives for another? Only an insane person, some may say. Society’s concept of love or how we’re supposed to love will often leave one questioning who's worthy of love? The answer is everyone is worthy.

Arts + Culture
Zlatan "Zanku (Leg Work)" music video.

Is Zanku Set to Be the New Dance Craze of 2019?

Breaking down what could become the year's new dance craze.

With last week's release of the video for "Zanku (Leg Work)," Zlatan Ibile has consecrated himself as the originator of the newest dance craze in afropop.

The specific origin of the name 'zanku' is uncertain but the dance itself, says Ibile in this interview from December, is one he noticed from his visits to The Shrine in Lagos and refashioned into a trend.

The best zanku, so far, works best in beats combining repeated foot tapping or pounding, with hands held aloft, and finished with a flourish—a stylised thrusting of one foot as if to knock down a door. Variations include a faster footwork, mimicry of slicing and screwing hand motions and the brandshing of a white kerchief, all of which is done with vigour and attitude.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
WurlD. Image courtesy of the artist.

WurlD: Nigeria's Most Inspired Star?

We talk to the Nigerian artist about creating a sound that connects to the quintessential Afropolitan mind.

WurlD, the blue-haired singer with a killer voice and deep songwriting, is a wonder. His music sits at the intersection between African vibes and Western delivery. 2018 has been a huge for him, with a deal with Universal Music ensuring that his art has received consistency in release.

Born Sadiq Onifade, the Afro-Fusion artist has had an inspiring journey, moving from the streets of Mushin in Lagos, to the US, from where much of his music has been conceived. The complete creative embrace of that cross-cultural influence has become his strongest point, with songs such as "Show You Off" and "Contagious" offering a unique angle to his sound.

"Moving to America for me gave me the opportunity to learn music and I fell in love with songwriting," WurlD says of his influence. "Atlanta (where I lived) is a creative hub when it comes to songwriting and producing, some of the biggest songs in the world were produced in Atlanta, people round the world go to Atlanta to go meet producers and songwriters in Atlanta. There, I fell in love with music and songwriting."

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Still from YouTube.

France Still Doesn't Know How Racism Works and the Vilification of Nick Conrad Proves It

The French rapper is currently on trial for his music video "Hang White People," which depicts what life might be like if the racial tables were turned.

When the music video "Pendez les Blancs" ("Hang White people") by French rapper Nick Conrad was released, the backlash was intense. The video shows what life would be if black people had enslaved white people. "Hang white people… arm them and let them kill each other" Conrad raps. He is not the first artist to think about a life where Black people would dominate white people. Todric Hall's music video "Forbidden" and Malorie Blackman's novels "Noughts and Crosses" did it before. But in France, a country that still tries to stop Black people from organising as a community, Nick Conrad had to pay the price.

First, he received countless death threats and lost his job at a prestigious French hotel. Everyone, from French personalities to the government called him out. And then, two anti-racist and anti-semitism organizations, the LICRA and L'AGRIF sued him. His trial happened last week. French journalist Sihame Assbague was there to witness it, and what she reports is baffling.

To the prosecution, Conrad is encouraging his audience to kill white people. They believe that anti white racism or "reverse racism" is just as bad as any type of racism and that Conrad is using a "black supremacist language" with words like "queen" "king" when he mentions Africa. In their mind, once Black people stop trying to integrate and start organising themselves, it's just as bad as white people being racist. Ethnocentrism is dangerous.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.