We have all been there at one time or another. In a relationship (friendship, romantic, or otherwise) where the other person has had some sort of mental illness and has become reliant on you to help them, to fix them, to save them. Whatever the case may be, there are a million reasons why this isn't healthy for either person involved. And I'm sure some people will disagree, but let me say this loud and clear for all the people in the world:
Just because someone you love is mentally ill does not mean you are obligated to be part of their life.
I wish I could say that these things always turn out for the better, that being with someone or caring for someone with issues like anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc. works out for both parties, but there's usually something involved that needs to happen in order for this to be a successful end-game. The person who is suffering from mental illness needs to want to help themselves just as much as you want to help them. Both parties have to be willing to make sacrifices and meet each other, agree to certain things before this can even become a healthy cycle.
The reason most people feel obligated to stay is usually of a moral dilemma. And I get it. I've loved someone with all of my heart and wanted nothing more than to fix them, to care for them, to get them to the end of the line unscathed by the demons that their own mind was creating for them. The problem was, the person I loved didn't want those same things. In fact, that person was just more often than not caving into all the insecurities and never seeking secondary aid for the issues at hand. Which in turn put more of a strain on me to fix everything that was going on.
Mental illness is not something that makes someone unlovable, by any means. That is not what this article is here to tell you. This article is here to tell you that while you are required to respect people and never judge them for the things that are wrong, you do not need to feel trapped where you are. I know the fear there, I know the worry that you go through when you think about detaching yourself from that person. As a matter of fact, the thought process still happens even after you've cut ties.
One of the bigger problems we all have subjugating ourselves to situations like this is that we give so much of ourselves to the person and their issues that we begin to lose little pieces of ourselves here and there. Sooner or later we start to feel pretty low. And by the time you realize that you're getting stuck beneath the surface, shoved down by the monster weight of an incapacitating disease, you're barely left above the water and you find yourself facing two possible routes. Call in for outside help, or break free.
For some of us, calling in back up is as easy as calling in a therapist. A family member. Friends who are willing to devote as much time as you do tending to the fragile garden of someone else's psyche and working out a schedule so someone is always available to talk. A daunting task in of itself.
And sometimes it works, sometimes there's someone there who knows exactly what to do and how to handle what's going on while you give yourself time to recuperate and give aid to your own mental faculties. But I'll level, there's a lot of times where this isn't necessarily the case.
The mental roundabout we have goes like this. "If I leave, who's going to take care of them? Will they hurt themselves? Is there anyone who can be here for them? What if they do something stupid?"
And these, these are all valid worries. But they are worries that you have to put aside in order to take a step back to be able to breathe. Because what about you? I know that in the entirety of this whole situation, that thought has scarcely crossed your mind but what about you?
Again, this is not an article saying that you cannot love someone with mental illness, this is an article telling you to not feel guilty for choosing yourself first if you realize there's no helping the person you love. Not to feel guilty for wanting to be happier alone than with that person, not to feel guilty for having to take time for you so that person can get better. Not to feel guilty for wanting to stay above the water. I think people put so much pressure on themselves because the media glorifies all these things now.
We glorify being the hero, saving people, we glorify the fact that these diseases cause people to hate themselves and hurt themselves. We watch these movies and TV shows that tell us it's cool to do these things because sooner or later someone will come along and fix it. That someone will make everything better. We become so reliant on the idea that we forget the best hero we have is ourselves. Who needs the knight in shining armor, when you can wear armor of your own?
I guess what I'm saying is that both sides of the coin have to remember that you are not obligated to stay. You are not obligated to be somewhere that doesn't make you happy. The world is full of all sorts of challenges and taking on the challenges of two people is not something anyone should ever have to go through, especially doing so alone.
Remember to always put yourself first. Because at the end of the day, no matter how much you love people, you are all you've got.