It may sound like the worst thing you can say when you are battling a situation where you just cannot handle the stress any longer. How do you leave someone with mental illness? You may feel you are a horrible person, abandoning someone who is struggling. Yet there are times when it is necessary for you to step away. Understanding your role and your rights in mental illness with another person is critical here.
Consider the Comparison with Drug Addiction
People who use illicit drugs sometimes force their loved ones to walk away. In these situations, staying in the relationship may mean enabling them to continue to use. By walking away, you are helping them to see their options are limited and forcing them to get help. Is the same true for mental health disorders? Can and should you leave?
Being in a Relationship with Someone with a Mental Illness
It’s important to recognize what you are facing. It’s not always obvious that a person has a mental illness when you begin a relationship with them. Many times, they didn’t seem to have a problem managing their mental illness when you first started dating. You didn’t know it would become a problem.
This type of relationship is very difficult. It is even more difficult to manage when your loved one is struggling with getting help to stabilize their mental health. Your first step, then, is to realize this isn’t your fault. It is not something you can control, and you have the right to make the right decisions for yourself.
I Can’t Leave Without Hurting Them
When you leave someone with mental illness, there is an incredible amount of guilt on your shoulders. That’s because you care. You don’t want them to struggle. Many times, you want them to get help and to just be “normal” again. The reality is, this isn’t going to change.
You may fear that leaving someone you love who has a mental illness will hurt them, and you may also worry that they will hurt themselves. Yet it’s important to recognize the toll that remaining in the relationship is taking on you.
How to Know It Is Time to Leave
Only you can determine what the end result is here. However, there is one key question to ask yourself right now: Does the fear of the relationship ending keep you in that relationship?
If so, that is not healthy for anyone involved in this situation. It simply cannot continue for your well-being or that of your loved one. If you are still unable to make the decision to leave, it may be time to take a step back.
Have You Exhausted All the Options Before You Leave?
Leaving a spouse or anyone else with mental illness that you are close to is difficult. To help yourself to make this decision, consider what steps you have taken this far. Have you done everything you can?
It’s important for you to seek out couples counseling as a good starting point. This is a good place to express all of your thoughts and fears as well as to really let all of your anxiety and frustration out. When you do this, you allow the other person to really understand what you are facing. They may be able to do something more about it.
However, it’s important to know that the job of the therapist isn’t to simply remain a neutral third party. Instead, you want the therapist to help you both to understand each other and your needs. You also want to open a dialogue that allows your loved one to share their thoughts. There may be enlightenment for both parties in this situation.
Learning how mental illness affects relationships in this type of environment can be empowering for everyone. It provides an opportunity to open communication and to make a subject that may seem out of bounds to be clearly understood.
It’s also important to talk to your loved one about the treatment he or she is getting right now. Are they seeking help? Should they be? Be frank and open about what you believe they should be doing and why.
It may be hard to hear this, especially if your loved one is battling a mental illness that involves depressed thoughts and negative emotions. Yet, it’s important for them to realize that treatment is an option for them and that they to seek treatment so you can remain present.
It may not be possible to offer a simple ultimatum here. Be clear with them about why you think they need help. Tell them that mental illness devastates families, impacts many people and limits overall well-being and health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one out of every four American families is dealing with mental illness in some form.
Recognizing the reality of the condition can help your loved one see that help is necessary and beneficial. This may be a step you take together.
Discuss the Impact
A key component to getting help is speaking openly about the impact of mental illness on you. Be clear about what is happening in your life. For example, are you having trouble sleeping at night? Perhaps you are having a hard time handling the intensity of situations. You may be thinking about taking a break to think about your life.
Determine if an Intervention Is Best
Talk to a team that offers mental illness interventions. Do this first before speaking to your loved one. Discuss what is happening within your day-to-day life, and open up about your desire to leave the situation. In a mentally abusive relationship, you have no requirement or personal responsibility to intervene here. Yet, if this is your spouse, you may need to take this step to ensure they get the help necessary.
If the interventionist thinks treatment is warranted, they can help you to get them that help. Interventions do not have to be family events with numerous people. It can be a meeting just with you, your loved one and a professional to discuss what is happening and what the options are. This sole step can help you to make your decision to stay or leave, too.
When Is It Time to Walk Away?
If you are in a mentally abusive relationship or struggling to manage any type of physical harm, leave. If you fear for your life or that of your children, leave. In these situations, your priority is to leave to keep yourself safe. Go to a friend’s home, call the police to alert them and, if possible, contact their therapist for guidance.
In other situations, it is best for you to make the decision to leave when you have exhausted all options. If a person will not seek mental health care and you cannot get them the help they need through a court order, it is time for you to leave. The key here is to do so safely.
Leaving in this situation should be about helping yourself to step away from what can become mental health concerns for yourself. Yet, it may be necessary to provide your loved one with help along the way, such as counseling support and tools to help them continue to get care.
Seeking Help for Your Loved One at FHE Health
In some situations, it is possible to get a person to see a therapist to learn more about their mental illness and what options are available to help them to avoid the negative outcome. That is what we can offer at FHE Health. Contact our team today at (844) 299-0618 to speak to our counselors 24/7 about admission and your options.