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Real Love and Mental Illness: What You Need to Know

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Love is unconditional at the core. In its most pure, true form, love does not rely on conditions or exceptions to manifest itself. Sometimes, thoughts trudge around my mind, stomping the idea that my mental illness makes me unworthy of love and affection deep into my brain. And more often than not, I believe it. I believe the stigma that unfortunately still surrounds mental illness hovers around my head and like a force field, repels people away from my presence. Before they even know me, I am labeled as a “crazy” unstable girl whom one could never fall for. I look too broken to fix, too much of a mess to get involved in.

I know this is a common worry of people living with mental illness. I barely like myself, so how could I expect someone else to like me? Not to mention that any past experiences with relationships, rejection or repeated traumas can heavily influence self-loathing thoughts.

What all must realize is that how others act and function is not any reflection of them, their abilities, attraction or personality, because at the end of the day, some people are just idiots. Unable to dissociate one characteristic flaw from a person’s level of worth.

Another’s inability to see what you bring to the table, the gifts you’ve been blessed with or the character inside that make up who you truly are, is not your fault. It’s theirs.

As cliche as it is, the phrase “it’s their loss, not yours” speaks a great deal of truth. What others don’t acknowledge about mental illness is that it makes you strong. It demands you to rise to the occasion or sink. It makes you bold, as you need to overcome the voice that says everything is wrong and a disaster to live your life, to complete the everyday tasks others mark complete by simply waking up each day. But for you, waking up each day is a victory. You are lovely because you see people’s demons and ugliness, but choose to love without condition. You wish people did the same for you, but all you can do is make sure you do all you can to see the best in other people.

These attributes — strength, boldness and loveliness — are gold, solid gold. For when that person comes along, the one who can see beyond the flaws and shortcomings, they will be greeted with a strong person who is bold and capable of the kindness and generosity people read about in books or see on movie screens.

Others in this world choose to apply conditions to love, which ultimately take away the graceful freedom and beauty that love is. Love — real, full of grit love — is unconditional. It is not something that flutters away at the first sign of a storm. If someone says it did, well then screw them. They only know conditional love, where everything must be endless sunshine and happiness. At the slightest crash of a wave, they flee. They are cowards, too afraid to face the uncomfortable moments or difficult times to reach the joyful moments. Why would you want them to even have your love? They are clearly not deserving of such a gift.

So, hold out for the people who make you feel grounded — a person who not only recognizes your shortcomings but embraces them with arms wide open. A person who makes you feel not only safe in your skin, but radiant and beautiful in your entire being. Someone who could easily walk away in order to make their lives a little easier but stays because, in the end, they know staying will yield so much more joy than they ever will find walking selfishly alone. When someone accepts you for everything you are and everything you aren’t, then that my friends is unconditional love. Not even that — it’s real love, the love our world desperately needs.

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Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Originally published: October 11, 2017
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