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The Dating 'Advice' I'm Tired of Hearing as Someone With Depression

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“No one can love you until you love yourself first.”

If I’ve heard one thing more in my years of dealing with mental illness, it’s that statement. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard it.

I’d be lying if I said being in love would suck right now. To have someone on the hard days to help comfort me and keep me in tune with reality would be wonderful. It would also be nice to share my life with someone who cares enough to want the same. People like to tell me the reason I haven’t found anyone yet is because I don’t know how to love myself yet.

I’m here to say this statement is completely and utterly false, as well as an absolute slap in the face.

For people like me who are now in their 20s but have dealt with mental illness from a very young age, it feels like our chances of fully recovering dwindle the closer we get to 30. I have to accept the fact that there is always a chance I may never get better. I have to accept the fact that I may not ever come to find love for myself. I may struggle with loving myself until the day I die. But, I might not. There’s no telling what could happen. But I know for a fact that I am not destined to be alone just because I may hate myself until death comes around.

This whole — “you can’t let someone else love you because you don’t know what love is,” or “you can’t be in love until you love yourself, because if you don’t love yourself, you won’t know how to love anyone else,” — logic is completely cruel. If anything, mental illness has taught me more about loving other people than self-love will ever teach me. Just because I don’t know what it’s like to love myself, doesn’t mean I’m incapable of loving other people. I am more than capable of loving other people. In fact, I’ve been in love while still feeling an incredible amount of self-hatred. I have an incredible amount of love flowing from my best friends and family, and I give an incredible amount of love back to them despite still hating myself.

When mental illness is gone, I will love myself. I don’t see how it’s possible to love myself when mental illness is present. But despite the fact that it may never go away, I am so deserving of love.

Every single person on this planet is deserving of the same amount of love as the person standing next to them. My mental illness does not make me any less deserving of love just because I happen to hate who and what I am.

Let me tell you something.

Someone is going to come along someday and love every inch of me. They’re going to be in love with my mind and the way it works, even though I hate the way it works. I make passive-aggressive jokes all the time about how I need a new brain — one that functions the way it was designed to. But someday, someone is going to put me in my place and help me fight to love the brain I was given, despite its malfunction. They’re going to love who I am as a person, and what I stand for. They’re going to love what I love just because that’s what I love. They’re going to love what I hate, just because it’s a part of who I am. They’re going to love me despite my mental illness, because they are going to know my mental illness does not define me as a person. They are going to provide the love I was never able to provide for myself. I know that’s a lot to ask or expect of a person. But somewhere out there, is a man strong enough to do just that for me. Someday, he’s going to find me, and I will guarantee you that it will be while I still hate myself.

I deserve love just as much as the people with healthy minds and self-love do.

If you are struggling with mental illness, self-image or self-hatred, you deserve love just as much as the next person. The next time someone tells you that you don’t deserve a love that takes your breath away, you tell them those things do not make you any less deserving of love.

I am not in a relationship because I do no love myself yet. I am not in a relationship and not in love yet because I choose not to be. I have chosen to surpass the opportunities that have come about in the past, because I didn’t feel like they could give me the love I deserve. And that is completely OK.

I am deserving of love. My mental illness and self-hatred does not make that any less so. It has taken me a long time to come to this realization, because with so many people telling me the same thing, I almost believed it. But I can’t wait for the next person to tell me the same thing, so I can tell them to read this.

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Unsplash photo via Zulmaury Saavedra

Originally published: January 26, 2018
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