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What It's Like to Have a Mental Illness and Also Be in Love

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Love is a word that every person has a different definition for. Some people are bitter about it. Some people are hopeful about it. Some people are indifferent. Some people think it’s useless. Some people think you’re better off without it. Some people think it’s all you need.

Love on its own is so many wonderful things. It’s happy, it’s passionate, it’s honest. It’s the ache in your chest when all you crave is the presence of the person you love. It’s the smile on your face that you can’t seem to get rid of. It’s the way your heart drops during a kiss, when you forget about everything else in the world, when nothing else matters except for that exact moment. It’s the warmness that your whole body feels when someone’s arms are wrapped around you. It’s the feeling that you are taken care of, just as much as it’s the feeling that you have someone you need to take care of. It’s the tears of laughter and the tears of insecurity. The tears when you fear you might lose the best thing you’ve ever had. It’s a connection you make with someone that is unlike anything you’ve ever felt before, and quite possibly unlike anything you’ll ever feel again. It’s getting lost in someone else’s eyes, but then realizing you aren’t actually lost and that you’ve never felt more at home.

But what about being in love when you have a mental illness?

For me, my mental illness tore my relationship apart in so many ways, but yet now it is stronger than ever. I suffer from clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I started my relationship with my boyfriend before I was diagnosed, and my constant mood swings and over-worrying took its toll very quickly. Before long, we were fighting every day, neither of us able to understand what we were even fighting about. Although things were tough, he never gave up on me. We had to take breaks, but he always came back, and for that I am forever grateful. When I first realized I needed help — a time when I was at my lowest, and having intrusive suicidal thoughts most hours of the day — I sat my boyfriend down and tried to explain to him how I was feeling. It was hard for either of us to understand. But he held my hand, with tears in his eyes, and he told me everything was going to be OK.

To this day, having him tell me everything will be OK is one of the most calming things in my world. Through all the ups and downs, all the fights, the misunderstandings and the hospital visits, he did not give up on me. At times when I had no love for myself, when all I could see was darkness, when I wanted everything to end, he took the time to take care of me — he never stopped loving me. This is not to say he is perfect, or that love is perfect, or that relationships are ever perfect, but it is to say that being in love and having a mentally illness is incredibly hard, but it is worth it. Love doesn’t die when faced with hard times, it just changes, and both people have to learn to change with it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Allan Filipe Santos Diaz

Originally published: December 4, 2017
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