A Letter to the Next Person to Love Me Despite My Mental Illness
To the one who will love me next,
I’m so glad you’re here. This life hasn’t always been easy for me, but I feel less lonely knowing I now get to walk through it with you. Thank you for choosing me.
I consider myself brave. It’s brave getting out of bed each morning and living my life despite the desperate cries that sound in my brain begging me to just give up. The only person more brave than me is you. It takes a brave person to love someone who doesn’t always love herself.
The ones I’ve dated before you came in fiercely but left as cowards. They viewed my depression and anxiety as a weakness and refused to see the strength it takes to live in my life for a day. They never thought I would beat it, and most days I feel like I can’t. It’s even more difficult without support. I fight a battle each day to control my conditions, and even though I sometimes win the daily battle, I always know they will be just as big a part of me as my blue eyes and silly laugh. The cowards before you left me because they didn’t understand that loving someone means loving all of them, not just the pieces of them that aren’t as difficult to understand.
Relationships are not always easy, but I wouldn’t want to spend the hard days with anyone but you.
On the hard days, remind me that you love me. This doesn’t have to be shown through grand gestures. Give me a hug. Make me a cup of tea. Fix me a spot on the couch with a big blanket, and let me rest my head on your chest.
When I start to have doubts, reassure me by kissing my forehead or reminding me of how much you care. Hold my hand when we fall asleep.
On the days when I don’t feel worthy of your love, tell me I’m beautiful all the way down to this broken soul of mine. Remind me you feel lucky to have me and that you’re thankful I’m in your life, because I’m sure thankful for you.
If I ask you the same question 20 different times, please remain calm and answer 20 different times. This is not due to me not trusting you. It’s my anxiety playing tricks with my mind. Know that I feel just as bad asking again as you feel answering again. Your answer calms me until the next round of confusion and doubt pushes through.
Understand that after a long day, my brain is absolutely exhausted from analyzing every situation we have been in. Know there will be moments when I want to spend time with just you. I’m not trying to keep you all to myself, but it is a lot less overwhelming to sit and talk with one person than 10 people.
Tell the truth. Lying to me will only make me doubt more. Honesty goes a long way for someone with depression, as our world is often too honest.
Be prepared for panic attacks. They are terrifying for me, and they will be for you too. Please just sit with me and remind me to breathe. Get a glass of water ready and bring over anything that usually brings me comfort. Remind me I am safe. When it’s over? Hug me and tell me everything is OK. Forgive me if I can’t get words to form as I am still trying to figure out what just happened with my body and mind.
Lastly, be there and mean what you say. I have been left before from people who said they would never leave only to turn around and see them walking away. Some days, I may not do much other than stare off into the blackness of my room. Other days I might get dressed up and want to go out on the town. It’s important that you’re here for all of the different types of days, not just the easy ones.
When you tell me you’ll be home at 10, please let me know if anything changes. It is not that I’m being overly attached, but I automatically think something terrible has happened. I will worry constantly about you — but try to view that as a positive. I care enough about you to make sure you’re OK when a lot of the time, I’m not OK.
There will be moments that are difficult to understand, and truthfully, I’m not sure if I even understand them yet, but as long as you keep an open mind and practice patience, we can work through this together. I know the path to loving me won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. You’ll never find someone who appreciates you being a part of their life more than me.
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