Loving someone is already a task, however loving someone who has a mental illness is even more of a challenge.
Now I am not saying that it is not possible, but it isn't easy either. It is not for those who tend to give up easily or just walk away when things get difficult. It comes with its own challenges outside of your typical relationship drama. There might be days when you wish to protect the one you love from the outside forces of the world to wanting to take care of them on their low days or even contemplate giving up due to your frustration but then feel guilty for that thought even coming across your mind.
I personally cannot tell you what it is like to love someone who has mental health issues, but I do know what it is like to be loved and what I only ask from my significant other because of my mental state.
I personally suffer from manic-depressive illness, also known as bipolar depression and anxiety. For those who do not know what that is, bipolar disorder is a serious brain disorder in which a person experiences extreme variances in thinking, mood, and behavior. This causes me to have severe mood swings, the need to have order or control in my life, I have terrible insomnia, I say or do things impulsively. Then there are days where I just want to lay in bed all day, withdraw from social life, I stress over the smallest details, worry constantly by struggling with self-doubt and having a lack of energy to do anything. It is a lot, I know.
Being in a relationship with someone like me needs someone who does not try to fix the illness but rather support and be there when the illness becomes too much.
There are some days when my bipolar just becomes too much, as if my second-self pushes me out of the driver's seat and takes full control of my mind. When I get upset I lash out and say horrible things to the one who means the most to me just because they are right there in reach. But I promise it really is not me saying those appalling things, my true self is somewhere in the back of mind afraid and ashamed of what is coming out of my mouth and all I want to do is hug you, cry and say sorry for every mean word I spoke to you.
I know when I lash out I am slowly pushing you away when all I want to do is pull you closer. I am not doing it on purpose and as soon as I realize what I have done I will apologize over and over again. There are days when this illness takes control of me but I am learning on how to let one know when I get these nasty mood swings and to just let me have a breather for myself.
However, I am not saying that these mood swings are okay because they aren't and it is okay to address it when I have been too harsh. In these moments, just let me be, give me space even if I do not ask for it. I will thank you in the long run.
I have panic attacks, sometimes more frequently than others. I could be perfectly fine but then something might happen and overwhelm me and I go into full fight or flight mode. For example, meeting your family, especially when you come from a big family unlike me, it makes my anxiety go through the roof because my brain starts thinking of all the different possibilities and scenarios in my head.
I want nothing more than to be approved by your family but my brain is in constant self-doubt mode when these scenarios happen, especially when I am left alone because I am worried I'll say or do the wrong thing. I'll keep it together until I get us alone and I freak out and have a mental breakdown. In these moments I just want to be held as I cry and tell you all my worries and doubts. Comfort me, tell it is okay.
Reassurance is key. It's not that I do not trust you because I do. But sometimes my brain doubts everything and everyone. There are going to be days when I am not confident with who I am, who we are as a couple, and even what I am doing with my life. This is when words speak louder than actions come into play. There is something peaceful when it comes to reading or hearing the words from someone I love assure me that I am what they want and that they will love me through the good and bad times. Because at the end of the day it is you who matters most to me, and knowing that you are still here through it all means more than anything.
Because of my illness, it makes me feel like I rarely have control over my life at times. So I exert my energy in areas that I feel like I can have more control over. I will stress over my future because I want to be able to have it all planned out. I like to have ordered with my work, my living, and everything in between. Sometimes I may come across as a control freak or what not but it is because like I said, sometimes I feel like I only have a small control over my brain since I never know when I can have another low but that is because I think differently than others. I see things in a different light than most and all I want is for my view to be taken into consideration and not neglected or shot down.
I am broken, but that does not mean I am damaged.
I have scars both visible and invisible and each one is a symbol of all the hardships I have faced while dealing with my illness.
I am going to have my good days where I am strong but then there are going to be days when I am tired of being "strong" and for once I just want to be able to let all my walls down because it just becomes too much for me to handle at times. I just want to know that it is okay to not have to be strong every day. That my illness is not a burden or a negative impact on your life. I am not wanting you to save me, but rather be there when myself is not enough support. I want to feel accepted and not shamed for the way my brain thinks because we do not think alike.
I do not want to feel like a burden, or someone you feel the need to "take care of." I want to be seen as your equal. Sometimes listening is more effective than speaking or actions because we try our best to say what is on our mind no matter how hard it is due to my anxiety.
Loving someone with a mental illness requires patience and strength at all times; when times get tough you cannot just run away or need time away for yourself because we know how hard to love we are. But when I find the one who stays through all the bumps in the road, I will love them so deeply and fiercely.