The Challenges and Strategies of Living with Someone with Mental Illness

Read about the challenges of living with someone with mental illness and discover the strategies to help you cope.

Mental illness touches many lives, more than we often realize. It’s not just something that happens to “other people.” It could be your neighbor, a friend, or even someone in your own home. Living with or close to someone facing these battles brings its own set of challenges. However, knowing the right ways to help and coexist can turn a tough situation into a manageable one. And it’s not just about making it easier for them; it’s about making life better for everyone in the house. We will help you create a balance while living with someone with mental illness, find patience, and nurture a supportive environment to help your loved one get better.

How big an issue is mental health in Washington?

In 2016, a survey by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) found that about 12% of adults in Washington felt their mental health wasn’t good for at least 14 days in the month before they were asked. Think about that: more than 1 in 10 people you might pass on the street could be going through a tough time mentally. It’s about real people who might be your neighbors, friends, or family members, dealing with challenges we might not always see. It shows us how important it is to have good support and help available. Understanding this helps us all be a bit more kind and supportive of each other.

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What is mental illness?

Living with someone with mental illness is tough, and it helps to understand what it means. Mental illness covers lots of different conditions that change how people think, feel, and act. You’ve probably heard of some, like depression, which makes people feel very sad, or ADHD, which makes it hard for people to focus.

When you know more about these conditions, living with someone who has mental illness is easier. It is easier to understand why your friend or family member acts the way they do. Doctors and therapists use a mental health assessment to find out if someone has a mental illness and what kind. These tests are important because they help figure out the best way to help.

A person facing the challenges of living with someone with mental illness
Living with someone with mental illness brings many difficulties.

Myths about mental illness

Lots of people have the wrong idea about mental health issues that affect living someone who has mental health illness. Here are some common myths:

  • It’s rare. Actually, lots of people deal with mental illness at some point.
  • Just try harder. Mental illness isn’t about not trying hard enough. It’s like being sick in your body—you need the right kind of help.
  • It shows weakness. Not true. Mental illness has nothing to do with being strong or weak. It’s about stuff like your genes, your brain, and what’s happened in your life.
  • Bad parenting causes it. That’s not fair or right. While families can affect how we feel, mental illness comes from many different things.
  • It’s just an excuse. Really, it’s not. Mental illness can make life very hard for people and change how they see the world.
  • Therapy and medicine don’t work. That’s not true. Many people get a lot better with the right treatment.
  • You can’t treat it. While some mental illnesses are harder to handle than others, many people live well with the right care. If you are living with someone with mental illness, you should be aware of this.
  • People with mental illness are dangerous. Most are not. They’re more likely to be hurt by others than to hurt someone.
A person feeling stressed due to challenges of living with someone with mental illness
You might feel stressed and exhausted while living with someone who has a mental illness.

The challenges of living with someone with mental illness

Living with someone with mental illness brings about many challenges. It’s key to understand these difficulties so you can deal with them effectively.

Let’s explore the emotional and physical impact of living with someone who has mental illness:

  • Feeling swamped: It’s common to feel overwhelmed by the added responsibilities and constant concern for your loved one.
  • Stress and exhaustion: Caring non-stop can lead to high stress and even burnout, harming your health when living with someone with mental illness.
  • Guilt and annoyance: You may feel guilty for being annoyed or tired, which makes you feel even heavier emotionally.

Also, living with someone with mental illness has effects on family life and connections:

  • Changing roles: To support the family member with mental illness, roles within the family may change, sometimes causing tension.
  • Trouble talking: It might get harder to communicate without misunderstandings or hurting each other, especially in challenging times.
  • Money worries: Costs for treatment, medicine, and maybe earning less money can put pressure on the family’s finances while living with someone with mental illness.

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Challenges in everyday life happen as well while living with someone with mental illness. Mental illness can make day-to-day life unpredictable, disrupting plans and making it hard to keep things normal. Also, you might find your family more alone, as friends or extended family may not get what you’re going through.

Handling specific conditions when living with someone who has a mental illness

Specific conditions you should know about include the following:

  1. ADHD
  2. Mood disorders
  3. Depression
  4. Obsessive compulsive personality disorder
  5. Borderline personality disorder


ADHD stands out due to its main signs: trouble paying attention, being overly active, and acting without thinking. So, is ADHD a mental illness? Yes, it is a condition that makes everyday tasks hard, often causing upset in both personal and work life. But, with well-planned daily routines, using tools like calendars, and maybe getting help from therapists who know about ADHD, dealing with it can get easier. It’s about making sense of the mess.

Mood disorders

Emotional disorders cause big changes in feelings that can impact day-to-day life. The hard-to-predict mood changes can harm relationships and make keeping a stable work and home life tough. Building a steady life with therapy, medicine, and strong support from others can help deal with mood disorders. Adding mindfulness and ways to handle stress can also offer stability.

A person experiencing symptoms of depression
Living with someone who has mental illness such as depression can be tough.


Depression shows up as ongoing sadness, not caring about things you used to enjoy, and feeling worthless. Depression in the elderly is especially tough, and it can make your loved one feel alone, which makes it hard to ask for help or do everyday things. Pushing someone to get professional help, helping them with simple daily tasks, and urging them to take care of themselves can be key steps in dealing with depression.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder

OCPD is marked by a strong need for neatness, wanting everything to be perfect, and wanting to control everything. These are some of the obsessive compulsive personality disorder signs. They get in the way of being flexible and efficient. This need for everything to be just right can cause a lot of stress and trouble in personal connections. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help those with OCPD change how they think, helping them be more flexible and less stressed.

Borderline personality disorder

Living with someone who has a mental health illness such as BPD is not easy. BDP is known for severe mood changes, fear of being left alone, and trouble keeping steady relationships. This can cause a lot of emotional pain and rash actions. Dialectical behavior therapy has proven to be really effective for those with BPD, focusing on managing emotions and getting better at dealing with others. Also, if you want to help someone with borderline personality disorder, you should make sure they have a steady and understanding group of people.

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Strategies for living with someone mentally ill

Sharing a home and living with someone who has a mental illness isn’t just about patience. It’s about diving deep into a pool of understanding and swimming through it with proactive steps. Here’s a mix of thoughtful strategies for a smoother life together:

  • Learn about mental health. First up, hit the books (or the internet). Getting a grip on what mood disorders, ADHD, and OCPD really mean will change how you see the challenges your loved one faces. And don’t keep all that enlightening information to yourself – share it with the family. When everyone gets the picture, you will have a more supportive environment together. This will make living with someone with a mental illness easier.
  • Talk it out and set boundaries. Open communication will solve many things while living with someone with mental illness. It’s about sharing your heart, your boundaries, and sometimes, the hard stuff, all wrapped in kindness and respect. Also, setting boundaries will help with mutual respect.
  • Encourage treatment. Whether it’s CBT for mental health in Washington or another healing modality, your support can light up their path like a runway at night. There’s a treasure trove of resources and experts ready to lend a hand from the heart of Washington to the edges of the map. Keeping them anchored in their treatment is like being the wind beneath their wings – essential for their soar to wellness.
A person learning about living with someone who has a mental illness
Learn about mental health to make living with someone who has a mental illness easier.

Seeking and providing support when living with someone who has mental illness

Besides learning about mental health and strategies that will make living with someone with mental illness challenging, you should seek support and look for mental health services in Spokane Valley WA. We give you these at our We Level Up facility in Washington. We are here to offer you therapy, counseling, and personalized treatment plans. Also, they are here to give you the support you need to help your loved ones while still taking care of yourself and your family’s needs.

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Connect with other people living with someone who has mental illness.

The importance of self-care when living with someone with mental illness

You need to take care of yourself. Only then will you be able to provide support to your loved one and make living with someone mentally ill possible. Taking care of yourself is crucial because it ensures you have the energy, patience, and emotional strength needed to support others, especially someone dealing with mental illness. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, or stressed, it becomes much harder to be patient, understanding, and supportive.

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Coping with crisis

Dealing with a crisis when living with someone with mental illness demands both insight and readiness. Here’s a blend of steps and insights for those critical moments:

  • Spotting a mental health crisis: Sometimes, the signals are loud and clear—sudden, stark changes in behavior, self-harm risks, or extreme mood fluctuations. Other times, they’re whispers of despair, feelings of being cornered or without hope. Catching these signals early is key to stepping in effectively.
  • Reacting in a crisis: If you’re facing a crisis, stay calm and collected. Your priority is ensuring safety—for your loved one and yourself. Talk gently, showing that you’re there for them, steering clear of any confrontation or argument.
  • Seeking professional help: Often, a crisis goes beyond what friends and family can handle alone. This might mean reaching out to a mental health hotline, getting in touch with a therapist, or, when safety is at stake, dialing emergency services. Communities everywhere, including Spokane Valley, WA, have specialized teams for these very situations.
  • Creating a safety net: A safety plan is like a map through the rough terrain of a crisis, made in calmer times with your loved one and their healthcare team. It lays out steps to follow, key contacts like mental health professionals, and crucial details like medication routines. A solid plan can turn chaos into manageable steps.
  • Calming the storm: Keep cool, opt for open, non-threatening body language, and listen—really listen. Validate their feelings, offer your support, and let them know they’re not alone. This will help you a lot while living with someone with mental illness.
  • Emergency toolkit: Arm yourself with a list of go-to contacts—crisis hotlines, therapists, and allies ready to jump in. Having this information at your fingertips can make all the difference when every second counts.
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Healthcare professionals will help you with living with someone with mental illness.

Patience and compassion: Prerequisites for living with someone with mental illness

Living with someone with mental illness requires active engagement, patience, and compassion. You need to be ready to adapt and learn how to be understanding, patient, and proactive. Besides that, keep in mind that professional support is a must if you want to be successful. Our team at We Level Up Washington will guide you and help you manage the challenges of mental health issues. We will help you stay strong, adapt, and support your loved one during the most turbulent times. So don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always there, ready to answer your call.

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2018 Washington State Health Assessment: Mental Health .” Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Health,

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