dating someone with a mental illness

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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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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You've Heard Of 'How To Be Single,' But Let's Talk About 'How To Be Romantic'

For some of us, it takes work to be cutesy and romantic.

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Okay, I'm probably the least romantic person anyone has ever met. Not to say that I'm a bad girlfriend or that I'm not caring. I just find love in simple things like knowing what to order for them at restaurants, doing their laundry, planning unique dates, or cooking for them. It's not that I'm opposed to being arduous, I've just never been a chocolate and flowers kind of girl. I'm more of a Mongolian hot pot and "let's walk across the Brooklyn Bridge!" kind of girl. I appreciate some effort, tailoring something to fit a person's idiosyncratic personality or general spontaneity, not how flowery something looks. Not saying that I'm not feminine, I'm just my own entity, so to speak, and that translates into my love life. Needless to say, I thought I should learn how the other half lives, so I've challenged myself to take a course on being a classic/hopeless romantic just to understand how others think and who knows I might change some of my habits!

1. Leave notes

I think it's a really cute and simple idea that I will try to do because it makes everything very personal.

2. Write them a poem

I've had this done for me but I've never actually done it, because believe it or not, I didn't like to read or write poems up until this year.

3. Cuddling

Okay, so I'm not a cuddler, I have no idea why — it's more or less a personal space and attachment issue, I guess. I love hugs though! I guess I just have to be in the mood to cuddle and at times I can be. Other times it just makes me nervous.

4. Dedicate a song to them on the radio

It seems like the people on the radio that do this are crazy in love and honestly, to be able to have the ability to go on the radio and just declare your love for someone else is really inspiring.

5. Surprise them!

I personally cannot stand surprises, but I love to surprise other people and just be spontaneous, so I sort of do this already.

6. Carve your names into a tree

I've thought about doing this, but I've never got around to it, so I promise one day I will.

7. Go see a romantic movie

Nope, nope, I'll barf! Not happening, strictly horror movies for this girl, sorry!

8. Make them a care package

See, this makes me think a lot about what really defines romantic, because I do this all the time, but I don't consider it romantic, I just think it's sweet.

9. Take a walk on the beach together

I've done this, but I have to be doing this while looking for seashells or I feel like I'll be bored.

10. Make a CD for them

"THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER," CHARLIE IS QUAKING.

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