As we continue to fight the stigma of mental illnesses, more people are speaking up about their personal struggles. And even though trying to normalize mental illnesses is a great step forward for all of us, it's also a step in a different direction for some: a step that might make some questions surface. One of the biggest ones: when should you tell your partner about your mental illness?

This all begins with one question: Should I even tell my significant other about my diagnosis? Whether you choose to share this information with your partner or not, it is up to you. No one who understand your relationship with this person or knows your illness better than yourself. For some, this might be a huge step that you aren't sure you are ready for just yet; for others, this might expose them in a way that doesn't make them comfortable. Whatever it is, it's okay. This is your decision to make.

However, if you do choose to tell your partner, know that the right person is going to accept you, as well as your diagnosis, and support you regardless. So, when should you tell your partner about your mental illness? Actually, there's no specific moment, nor is there a time frame that I can guarantee will yield a positive response. Nonetheless, there are a few pieces of advice and opinions I can give you to will help you know if this might be the right decision and time for you. 

It might make things easier for you

You might not be able to see it, but when you're honest about your mental illness, it's a lot easier for your partner to understand your diagnosis. For instance, if you have bipolar disorder and your partner is aware of this, she/he will be a lot more understanding of your current mood when you are cycling from a manic episode to a depressive one.

The same goes if you are experiencing other mental illness, like depression, PTSD, or anxiety. Your partner can be part of your support system instead of just someone who sits there wondering why you suddenly act differently. The more honest you are, the easier it is for everyone who loves you to help.

You have to feel comfortable 

You might be telling this person intimate details you've never told anyone before. Speaking up is tough and it requires bravery, so be sure that you feel 100% comfortable being honest and vulnerable with this person. As I said, there's no "right moment" to bring this up, so whether you feel like you're ready after the third date or the first year, know that as long as you feel good sharing it, you're probably at the right time.

Additional advice? Don't wait for the relationship to get too serious before you say something. If you think things are going pretty good and you are happy in this relationship, it might be time to talk about it. 

Your S.O. might need space, and that's okay

Maybe your partner is going to take it well and is going to be instantly curious about ways to help. Or you might have to give them another a day to think about it. That's okay.

There is no specific way or rule as to how she/he should deal with it, so just know it's not a bad sign if your partner needs time. This might've caught her/him by surprise, or maybe your significant other just wants time to do some research and to think about ways to help.

Be open to support

I've also believed that I could figure it all out by myself, and that I didn't need anyone else to look after me. And I can't stress enough how untrue this is. Once you open yourself to someone, you might find a support system that's always going to do you good. This is the person who's there to help you deal with and channel your emotions and episodes in a positive way.

Your partner might also help you go through life with your illness more easily, even though she/he can only offer support and a safe space to talk. Because sometimes, that's really all you need from someone else. 

Know that it's not a big deal, but it's important

When should you tell your partner about your mental illness?Here's a tip: don't build it up for weeks like you're about to share something incredibly big. Yes, this is important and personal. But we all have to work to normalize mental illnesses, and you must know that having a sick brain is just like having any other sick organ.

You can try to introduce the topic by saying that you want to share something now that the relationship is going so well, and you feel things are heading in a more serious direction, or now that you really feel comfortable with this person. If you know this shouldn't be a big deal, don't try to make your partner think it should be either.

If you do decide to share this with your partner, know that she/he has no right to doubt your diagnosis or to judge you for it. If you are brave enough to build up the courage to expose yourself to someone and they don't show support for you, maybe you are better without that person.

Most importantly, don't forget that you are more than your diagnosis. You are a person, with a history and a personality and you shouldn't be judged by your brain chemistry. You are you, and we are proud of you no matter what.