Deep Bench: Navigating a mental illness conversation in new relationships

(WZAW) -- When you're in a relationship and one of you has a mental illness, it can sometimes add pressure or create frustration.

Even the most developed relationships struggle, but what about new ones?

Judy Lemke, a licensed professional counselor with Behavioral Health Clinic in Wausau joined the Deep Bench on NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Thursday.

While a new relationship is exciting, it can bring worries to those who are beginning one, who live with a mental illness.

"We want to present ourselves our best, and mental illness plays a very important role and so that debate about when to share that information is very important to figure out, whether this person is going to be supportive of you," Lemke explained.

She added that there's no 'one answer fits all' about bringing up your mental illness in the very beginning, even on the first date.

"Timing isn't as important as making sure that you are not intentionally withholding that information because you're afraid to share it," she said. "Because as we know, there's no reason to be ashamed of mental illness."

Lemke said there's a three step process she encourages people to take. The first is the process talk. "There's something I'd like to share with you that's kind of uncomfortable. I'm not sure that you will understand, but I'd like you to listen.

The second step is to share only what you're comfortable with. She said to be specific about what your mental illness is and what those symptoms are for you and even give a couple examples of how mental illness impacts your life.

The third part is to be specific about how that person can best support you. "Obviously communication is a big key."

She said when developing a new relationship, things can turn onto different paths. Either the person will be comfortable and supportive, or they will be uncomfortable and end the relationship.

"The third one is they may say they are comfortable, but over time they may make a slow fade out of your life," Lemke added.