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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    How Can I Provide My Girlfriend With Mental Health Support?

    Dear eNotalone: I have a complex issue that I'm hoping to get some advice on from people who have experienced something similar. My girlfriend and I have been together for about a year now and things have been going fairly well up until recently. A few months ago it became evident that my girlfriend was struggling with mental health issues that she had been trying to ignore for years. She opened up about her struggles, which included extreme anxiety and depression.

    Unfortunately, things between us have changed since then. We still love each other and both want things to work out, but the difficulties that come with mental health issues have made it difficult to maintain our relationship. She's frequently overwhelmed and scared by her own emotions, and finds it hard to be around me during her episodes of anxiety and depression. We've talked about breaking up, but both of us don't want things to end this way. I want to stay with her and help her through this difficult time, but at the same time, I'm afraid that I'm not able to do anything to help her get better.

    We've talked about getting professional help, which we both agree would be beneficial, but I find myself feeling helpless in this situation. I care deeply for her and just want things to go back to how they were before. Is there any advice anyone can give that could help us? How can I be a better support system for my girlfriend while she gets help? What should I be doing?

    * * *

    It sounds like you are in a difficult situation, and it's incredibly commendable that you want to be a supportive partner to your girlfriend as she fights through her mental health struggles. These kinds of issues can be extremely challenging to navigate for both sides; however, knowing what to do is an important part of providing your girlfriend with the support that she needs.

    The first step is to make sure that you have an open and honest conversation with your girlfriend about her mental health. You need to discuss with her what she wants and needs in order for her to feel supported. This could include giving her some space during her episodes of anxiety or depression, making time to listen to her vent, and coming up with a plan for how to handle it when either of you start getting overwhelmed.

    Your girlfriend's mental health is ultimately her own responsibility to manage; however, it's important that you can step in and provide her with comfort and understanding when needed. It's also essential that you take care of your own mental health as you navigate this new and difficult terrain together. Seek out any extra help if you need it and make sure to find ways to decompress when things become too overwhelming.

    If neither of you feel comfortable having these conversations yourselves, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. A mental health therapist can be an important resource in helping you both understand what you're going through and provide constructive tips for managing the emotions that come with the mental health issues.

    We wish you and your girlfriend the best of luck.

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