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 Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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To The Friend I Rarely See Anymore

I wish you nothing but the best.

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When we graduated high school, we thought it was the end for us. The distance would ruin us and we wouldn't be able to call ourselves friends. Thankfully, you were my rock for the first year of school. You were the one I turned to when the adjustment was hard or when I needed someone to talk to and just listen. We never lost our connection for a whole year. We proved that nothing could pull us apart no matter how far the distance, no matter the different schedules. We were still best friends.

Another summer came and we only got stronger. We went on countless beach trips, late night hangouts, and Starbucks runs. I didn't even think it was possible to be this much closer to you than we already were. If we weren't together, we would Snapchat or text to never stop the conversation.

Now summer ended, we didn't think twice about losing our connection this time. We had a bond stronger than anyone could fathom. We once again went our separate ways and kept our texting and Snapchat habits.

But something changed.

It must've been the comfort level of sophomore year. It must've been all the new friends we got. It must have been the boys who entered our lives. We don't speak anymore. I haven't seen you since winter break. I haven't texted you since New Year's Eve. Our connection, one that was once thought to be indestructible, came crumbling down with sophomore year. I am not going to lie, sophomore year was the best of my life, but I knew you were missing the whole time. It wasn't the same without you.

I'm not upset you chose to focus your time and life on your new boyfriend. I am happy for you. I am not upset you spend more time with your school friends. I am happy for you. I am not upset you don't text me anymore and killed our streak. I know you're living a happy life. And I am too.

We may have gone our separate ways like we never imagined, but I am happy you are finally happy. Don't forget for one second that I will always be here for you. I will still always answer your text. I will still always be your shoulder to cry on even when no one else is there for you. I wish you nothing but the best, and I hope you're doing ok.

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