My Boyfriend Made Me Feel Loved When I Found It Hard To Love Myself

My Boyfriend Made Me Feel Loved When I Found It Hard To Love Myself

I realized someone can still love me despite my mental illness.

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I was diagnosed with my first mental illness when I was 20. I saw my doctor, started taking meds, and briefly did some therapy before returning to college for my junior year. I met my now-boyfriend the first weekend back, and we instantly clicked. things were so easy. They just felt right.

The only problem was that I was terrified to tell him that I was struggling; that I was setting up appointments at the counseling center and with a psychiatrist. My friends at the time tried to talk me into keeping my anxiety a secret, that it would be too much baggage and that he'd want to leave when he found out I wasn't "perfect."

I decided to tell him anyway. He was so completely understanding it took my breath away. He walked me to my first counseling appointment, holding my hand and introducing himself to my therapist. I couldn't believe that I had this amazing guy who not only wanted to be with me, but also was so supportive of my struggles. I felt really lucky.

Things were not always easy, especially in the beginning when I really didn't have the words to speak about how I was feeling. There were many nights where I just cried, and he sat with me, so patient, even though he didn't really understand what I was going through. There have been times that we've gotten frustrated with each other because he can't help me if he "doesn't know what's going on." And yet, he never once left or made me feel more alone.

I think our communication has improved tenfold since I've been in therapy and treatment. We've both come to realize that he doesn't have to totally understand what's going on to be supportive, and I've come to recognize that he's my person, and telling him what I feel and what I need isn't a burden.

Through my most recent relapse this past winter, I really saw just how challenging and straining mental illness can be on a relationship. I was so scared to tell anyone besides my treatment team that I was struggling, so I kept things a secret from my boyfriend. He obviously was more intuitive than that, though, and knew I was having a hard time again with food. He'd call or text me throughout the day, asking if I'd had breakfast, what I had for lunch, how my day was going. This kind of gentle support made the biggest difference, where I felt like I wasn't alone, and I knew I had someone to keep me accountable to my recovery.

There are still the hard days. I think the most challenging part of dating with a mental illness is realizing that someone else can love you deeply, even if you're having a tough time loving yourself. This extends through my eating disorder, which constantly tells me I'm not good enough for anyone and that my body is not attractive to anyone, especially my partner.

Nick has been the best partner in crime through my recovery, assuring me that my eating disorder is lying to me and that he can love me enough for both of us, while I'm working on getting there myself. I know that my mental illnesses aren't the easiest to deal with, but I think we've become a stronger team because of everything we've conquered--together.

Three years later, I'm happily in love with this wonderful human, and in the best place mentally that I've ever been in. I don't think that's a coincidence, and for all of the support always, I am beyond thankful.

Cover Image Credit:

Photo credit: Charlotte Kurz

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An Open Letter To My Boyfriend's Mom

I know he must have been a handful growing up, and she deserves a million thank you's from me.
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I’m proud to say that I am one of the lucky ones. Although he isn’t perfect (and I’m glad he isn’t and I don’t want him to be), I’ve found a guy I never want to let go of. But no matter how charismatic and wonderful I think he is, I owe it all to the woman who raised him. I know he must have been a handful growing up, and she deserves a million thank you's from me.

Thank you for teaching him respect—not just towards women, but to anyone and everyone he encounters. Listening to him address strangers with “ma’am” and “sir” melts my heart just as much as him holding the door open for me at the restaurant or complimenting me with “beautiful” instead of “hot”.

Thank you for teaching him how to treat a woman. You and I both know that he puts up a front of being tough but he is honestly the biggest teddy bear anyone could ever meet. He has the biggest heart, and despite the many silly arguments he and I may have, not a day goes by that he doesn’t make me feel loved or special.

Thank you for raising him in Christ. Being with someone who shares the same love I have for Jesus is one of the greatest blessings. I’ll forever cherish sitting together in the church pew on Sunday mornings and our deep conversations about why God created the stars.

Thank for teaching him how to do laundry. I think you’ve saved me in the long run.

Thank you for teaching him the value of hard work. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with as much perseverance, drive, and dedication before, especially when it comes to washing the dishes.

Thank you for sitting through all those rainy football games. Thank you for giving up your weekends to watch basketball. Thank you for travelling hours to support his baseball career. Although I am most certainly not as much of a sports fanatic as he is, it’s nice being able to watch and learn about his passions, as well as hearing stories from his "glory days".

But most of all, thank you for allowing me to date him and always making me feel like a part of your family. You are one of the sweetest women I know, and you have raised a once in a lifetime kind of son.

I know to you, he will always be the messy little boy who loves to fish and catch baseballs, and I want you to know that I love him with all of my heart, and because of you, I have found someone I wish to love for the rest of my life. I only hope to do as great of a job of loving and caring for him as you have done for his whole life.

Cover Image Credit: Ashlie Lamb

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To The Boys From My Past, I Hope You Know...

I was fine before you and I'll be fine after you, too.

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That feeling. That stinging, throat-in-lump feeling. That feeling that you get when it finally hits you that you've lost someone. Your time with them has finally come to an end. They came, they served their purpose, they taught you lessons, but now it's time for them to go. I can think of them as wasted times, but that would be a lie. Through every ending I've had, I learned something new.

The first love with many lessons

You taught me everything. You showed me what I wanted. You were my first love.

You set my expectations so incredibly high, that it'll be hard to find someone that compares to you. We grew together for so long, that I could never forget you.

. . but you also taught me what pain is. You showed me what it's like to be broken. You were my first heartbreak.

By now I hope that you've realized that not a single girl you cheated on me with will ever compare to even half of who I am. I hope you realized what you did, what you gave up. But I also hope that by now you know that I have forgiven you.

I still wish you the best and I will always pray that you find someone and are able to love them the way you once loved me.

The best friend who I simply wasn't ready for

You made me laugh often. You showed me what I deserve. You were my best friend.

Through you, I learned that a relationship is work - it's effort, yet, you were always so willing to give it. Since we were able to build a foundation based on pure friendship, it just made our relationship that much better.

However, for the mistakes I made, I'm sorry. I didn't deserve you.

I wish I could've reciprocated the same feelings you showed me, but I know that someday you're going to find a girl that will. They're going to accept you and your love whole-heartedly. You will be happier with someone else than you were with me, I promise.

I know you're going to end up in the right place with the right heart.

The guy who will take my heart a thousand miles around the globe

You taught me how to validate myself as a person. You showed me that there is beauty in vulnerability.

Through you, I made some of the best memories. Some of the memories that I'll keep close to my heart for the rest of my life. In the year I've known you, I learned more about myself and the world around me than I have in my 19 years of living.

"We are just like the waves that flow back and forth. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning and you're there to save me and I wanna thank you with all of my heart".

I know you will love the right girl in ways she won't be able to fathom. I know you're going to make someone out there live a blissful life. I know that when the right girl comes around, you will be ready for her.

I want to wish you nothing but happiness on your brand new start. Always remember, I'm here for you.

The "what if" I'll never hear from again

You overlooked me. You didn't want me. You made me wonder, but you also made me have hope.

You showed me what it's like to want someone but not be able to do anything about it but pray, but trust God.

I have yet to know if you were really the perfect guy for me or if I made myself believe you were the perfect guy for me.

Love wasn't a priority for you, but I get it. We're all in different wavelengths at this time in our lives that I have no reason to be upset. However, that doesn't change the fact that I wish I could've gotten a chance with you.

There are many lessons I could've taught you, but I know that another one will come around and teach you themselves. I know that whatever girl ends up with you is going to be so, so lucky.

You made it hard for me, but I know you'll make it easy for someone else.

The ambiguous new adventure that's waiting

You're new, you're exciting, you're a whole new adventure ahead of me. I don't know what will become of us, I don't even know if something will become of us, but I'm so excited to see.

You are kind, you are gentle. You are patient and you are pure.

My friends see the smile I have on my face when I'm around you. They say I'm happier than I've ever been before.

I believe them.

Thank you for accepting not only myself, but those I love too. Wherever we may end up, I hope you know that however long or short our time is together, you are a blessing. You are my blessing.

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