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6 Things That Make My Relationships Work With My Mental Illness

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I’m blessed with a handful of significantly wonderful people in my life. People who don’t run away from my diagnosis. People who haven’t given up on me. People who see the good, the light, the beauty every day. People who love unconditionally. People who remind me why life is worth living. My “we.”

And there are a few key things that make our relationships work.

It’s OK when they get upset with my diagnosis.

Mental illness is bigger than me. It affects my people on a daily basis. They must constantly adjust and adapt. Sometimes they get upset. And that’s OK. They explain why they are upset. Together we work through the new changes, the medication adjustments, the therapy breakthroughs. We’re a team and we all have valid feelings.

They seek out the root of my reaction, not the superficial reason.

I’m not actually upset because our plans changed. I don’t actually care that I have nothing to wear. There is always more. It usually boils down to sheer exhaustion from having to make it through the day, faking it when it’s needed. And they always work to find that reason, the real reason. And we talk about that. We address that. And we let the superficial freak-out go.


I wouldn’t get through the day without the snarky remarks and the little things we find to laugh at. I can even be in the middle of a complete breakdown and the sarcasm lightens the air. Life is too short to not laugh. We don’t let a diagnosis get in the way of life. We find the humor.

They allow me to have bad days.

Bad days are the worst. But sometimes we need them. Sometimes we need a day to lay in bed and cry our hearts out. And they let me have my bad days. Instead of a cold shoulder, I get a friendly hand. Instead of frustration, I get loving remarks. I get comfort. They are always there. They don’t quit on the bad days.

There is never a lack of appreciation.

I’m not more “work” due to my diagnosis. I do not appreciate my friends for “putting up with” me. But I do appreciate them for being my friends. I do make sure I am there when they need me. I do stick to commitments even when I don’t want to leave the house. I do say thank you, I appreciate you, and I love you. I love hugs, high fives, and genuine smiles. We appreciate each other as friends, loved ones. And we always make sure that appreciation is known.

They don’t see me as my label.

I am not a walking talking mental illness to them. I am me. I am not just a label or a list of symptoms. Not everything I do and say is due to my mental illness. And that’s the most important piece. They see me.

See the people around you and love them for the beautiful people they are. Become a “we“. Because a “we” can be pretty great.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 21, 2017
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