Why Love Is the Same, With or Without a Mental Illness
You’re a guy, dating a girl. She makes you smile and laugh; you love the way she flips her hair and the way she looks at you when you tell a story. She makes you happy, even when she’s not trying. You are in love.
However, some days, she is not that person that you love so much. Some days, she is a wreck; she can’t keep it together. Some days, she is negative and can’t see any good in anything. Some days she cries for no reason and she gives you the cold shoulder. Sometimes, she comes home from work and just wants sleep, not your company or affection.
Whether you know it or not, wherever she’s told you or not, she struggles with depression. Her mental health makes it impossible for her to cope sometimes. She feels useless, weak, helpless. She can’t help it. She tries to be strong, have control of her emotions and harness her feelings. But some days, she’s going to be down. She’s going to have hard times. She is going to cry, scream, say things she doesn’t mean, or she might ignore you and sleep away the whole day. She can’t control what’s going on in her head, and it’s killing her.
What you need to know is this: she does love you. When you’re in love with someone who has depression, you have to prepare for those moments of despair. You have to understand she is struggling. She is trying. She is trying so hard to be that loving, caring companion to you. She is trying to support you and put as much into the relationship as you are. And she is trying to keep her head above water. Depression is tough, but love is tougher. And if you’re a girl dating a guy who has depression, this is all the same. If you’re a parent with a depressed child, a brother or sister with a depressed sibling — this is all the same. If you’re a friend to someone who struggles with depression or if you’re a plain old human being — it is all the same. No matter the condition — be it depression, anxiety, mood disorders, addiction — it is all the same. Love is the same no matter what.
Loving someone with depression or any other mental health condition is not about arguing with them when they’ve had a bad day. It’s not about taking what they say or do personally. It’s not about feeling like they don’t care about you. To love someone who is suffering, you need to understand that they don’t want you to suffer too. It actually hurts to know you’re causing someone else pain. Loving someone with depression is comforting them and embracing them, it’s reassuring them and wiping away their tears. It’s holding them tightly and telling them it will all work out. To love someone with depression, you need to love them for who they are, their mental health and all. Love isn’t one-size-fits-all, and every relationship is different. But knowing how to help someone with their mental illness and knowing the right things to say really helps.
We have such a stigma about mental illness in this world. It’s 2019 and we still feel we cannot openly tell others when we go to therapy for fear of being judged. We don’t talk about what happens in our personal lives as a result of mental illness for fear of being judged. We can’t be honest to others about medications we take and the side effects because we’re afraid of being judged. Loving someone with any mental illness means accepting they have different challenges, and encouraging them to seek help. Encourage them to go talk to someone. Encourage them to do what brings them peace. Loving someone with depression means never judging them for their “flaws.”
Love is meant to be unconditional. It’s meant to hold us together, and to make us feel safe. Love is pure and it is strong. Love is caring, staying by someone and committing. To love someone with depression, you need to love them wholeheartedly, without conditions. That means loving them with their illness.
Always know that no matter what you struggle with, your mental health does not make you less of a person. Your mental health is a part of you, and you should not feel pressured to change for others. Love loudly, love strongly, love happily. Love with all you have; love like there is no tomorrow. If your partner has a mental illness, love them all the same. Love is blind. Live like that.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash