When Your Married to an Individuals with a Mental Illness

Life & your marriage can seem like a prison when someone you love has a mental illness or substance abuse disorder…

I’ve been there. 

The last two decades of my life have been spent researching mental wellness, trying to understand how to beat and cure mental illness and substance abuse disorders.  I have helped to create new policies around mental health and substance abuse services and have advocated for more and better services...


Because all my life I have been surrounded by individuals with serious mental illness (major depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) and substance abuse disorder.  As a child and teenager I saw those closest to me both attempt and complete suicide.  

I was part of interventions at substance abuse facilities.  I have visited family in jail because putting them in jail was easier and cheaper than actually getting them substance abuse and mental health services. I’ve seen the stark white walls and hard beds of psychiatric facilities and heard the screams of kind and broken individuals who felt like prisoners.

I have felt incredibly lonely – because no one could actually understand what I was going through. 

I have seen marriages and families be pulled apart and then slowly sewn back together through the graces of God.

All of this before I turned 18…

No, I didn't grow up in the inner city.  My family was not low-income.

In fact, I grew up in a safe, clean suburb in Western Maryland.  My family was considered upper middle-class.  I had food, I played sports, I had lots of friends, support and a future.

Now, I have an amazing relationship with my husband that has helped me overcome all of these challenges from the past – and has kept me sane when these challenges have snuck up on our families again…

I’m not telling you my story in hopes of sympathy. 

In fact, it’s a story of victory. 

My story has brought me to where I am today.  My past fights, challenges and nightmares have led me to life’s purpose.

Most people in my life, except for those closest to me – and now you – don’t even know this story.  I have always made the choice to focus on the positive things I had and have in life.  I know my challenges have made me strong.

I know my past experiences have fueled my passion for healing relationships and helping other find their inner happiness, strength and mental wellness.

I’m sharing this story with you today because I want you to know…


I know that 1 in 4 Americans experience a mental illness at some point in their life.  So, I’m guessing some of you have a partner who has a mental illness right now.

When you are married to a person with mental illness – you may often feel resentment, loneliness, stress, anxiety, overwhelm and hopelessness.

Remember – a mental illness is a disease – just like cancer.  It’s not the fault of the person with the mental illness and it’s not your fault either.  Try to remember this – but also be sure to gain as much information as you can and…

PLEASE, PLEASE – Take care of yourself!  Meditate, Be Mindful, Find Stress Relievers…

It may be hard to help them obtain the services that they need – or maybe you are just trying to understand what’s going on.

You have to become a detective – trying to find services, not knowing what is best, not sure what boundaries to set or how to “be” with your loved one.

So today – I want to offer you some resources – a place to get started…I hope it is helpful!



Remember, ACTION CREATES CHANGE.  I would love to hear what action you are taking to create change, comment below and I’ll make sure to reply back to personally!

Valerie Kolick, therapist and relationship expert has created this blog to help couples and individuals create happiness and joy in their marriages and lives. If this is your first time here, LEARN MORE here and don’t forget to Download Your FREE Extraordinary Relationship Workbook.