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When People Ask What It'd Be Like to Date a Person With a Mental Illness

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To date me is to be with me, not just me when my mental illness is under control.

To date me is to love me for who I am.

To date me is to be willing to be there for me, through thick and thin, and to know I’ll be there for you.

I’ve been asked several times what I think it would be like to date or even be friends with me. The answer is simple: It’d be dating a person. People are flawed. People are selfish. People love and care and save. People hurt each other. People build each other up. People are people. I am a person.

Dating someone with depression, anxiety, eating disorder not otherwise specifified (EDNOS), and other symptoms can be hard.  Co-occurring disorders are difficult to handle, so it seems kind of obvious to say that sometimes dating someone like me can be hard. Other times, it can be the best choice you make.

On bad days, I will try to hide from the world and everything in it. That includes people; that includes you. I love you, and I don’t want you to take it personally. Sometimes, handling the world is hard. I especially don’t want to show you my pain because I feel like my pain is ugly and should be hidden. You can coax me out of my shell and comfort me, but it will take a lot of effort. You can tell me I am beautiful, but I may not believe you. You can help me, but I may still resist the assistance. It’s hard to love me on those days, but I promise you it is so worth it.

On good days, I will snuggle up against you and love you and give you almost all of my attention. I will hold you and dance with you and laugh with you. I will still be me, but happy. I will be open, I will give you everything, my whole world. I will be the happy girlfriend easy to love and easy to be around. I may not always be this way, and there may be long stretches where I am not. With your love and support, though, I will thrive and will love you and support you in return.

Dating me… dating me is dating someone who will love you unconditionally, but it is also dating someone with co-occurring mental disorders. That can be challenging. I will try to be there, I will try to be likable, to be lovable. If I fail, I apologize. Please, know I am a human being. I am not my disorder, it does not define me, but it is a deep part of who I am. It is something that comes with the package. I will need you to be there, to help, to urge me to seek help when you can’t do it all. I will also do the same for you.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 30, 2016
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