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5 Reasons Why Mental Illness Couldn't Get in the Way of My Relationship

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When you meet someone and fall in love, it generally happens when you least expect it. The second time I fell in love, I wasn’t really looking. I had been separated from my abusive husband of almost seven years for all of two weeks before I was on a destructive path to nowhere. I was calling off work, drinking more than ever before and sleeping with whoever gave attention to me.

Yes, all of this happened in two weeks. I was on every dating app and talked to complete strangers. Then one day I became attached. Neither of us knew what would come of it and we certainly didn’t believe it would last. You see, not only had I just escaped my abusive marriage, I was also struggling with years of depression and debilitating anxiety. What made it even more unbelievable was that he had extremely bad post-traumtic stress disorder (PTSD)  from serving in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Soldier. Usually two wrongs don’t make a right, but here are five reasons ours did.

1. He understood I needed space while I understood he needed comfort.

When we first started dating, neither one of us was in therapy. We just coped in our own ways. Oddly one of those ways for both of us was sex. But sex didn’t fix everything. Sometimes I just wanted to be left alone. He could sense when those times were and knew to give me space. When he had his days of horrible depression, I noticed by his body language that he needed comfort. Those days we would snuggle and relax on the couch. We just complemented each other in ways some people would find odd.

2. He never got tired of my ‘what ifs.’

I have severe anxiety. I am a horrible overthinker and it will send me into horrible fits. One second I can be fine, then two seconds later I add “what if” to anything and everything. Surprisingly, he understood. He would calm me down with the two words: “Have hope.” This is his simple answer to everything when he knows I can’t comprehend a more complex answer.

3. I helped him get the help he needed and vice versa.

Lying in bed with someone who has combat associated PTSD is awful when they haven’t gotten any help. He had extremely bad night terrors and would shake most of the night. With my experience in the medical field and knowledge of paperwork, I helped him start seeing a psychiatrist at the local VA and he began receiving treatment. While I was doing this, I began taking him with me to my local family doctor. Though I wouldn’t admit my depression and anxiety were getting out of control, he did it for me. Since then, I’ve been on medication that helps me. I can safely say I still have bad days  — sometimes horrible days –but there are a lot fewer than they use to be.

4. We weren’t scared to say exactly how we felt.

I cannot count how many times we have had shouting matches with each other, but they always end the same. We end up snuggling and feel a million times better. We weren’t scared to say when we were feeling off or when we needed space. Honestly it was the most freeing feeling ever knowing we could just be real with one another.

5. We needed each other, forever.

In April 2016, he proposed to me. We knew we complemented the best and worst in each other in a good way. We are getting married on December 31, 2016. Why New Year’s Eve you ask? Because we want to start our year off with the biggest supporters in our lives. We wouldn’t be where we are without our families and friends. We could both be dead but instead we are very much alive and have them to thank as well as each other.

You see, anxiety, depression, a horrible previous marriage and a combat tour in Afghanistan could have ended both of our lives. We could have looked at each other and thought there was too much baggage. Instead we looked at the possibilities and the future. We took what we thought would be just a one-time thing and turned it into a lifetime. And we couldn’t be happier.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: December 2, 2016
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