By Alexandria Brown
I’m scared my mental illness makes me unlovable.
It’s a statement I hate writing and a sentence I hate thinking about. But it’s how I feel. And as my depression and anxiety become more chronic, my thoughts about falling in love become more negative and my belief of the chances of it happening for me start to grow slim. While I know this is a small part of me, I can’t help but feel as though there is a giant neon sign following me, warning people away.
The truth is, when I tell the people I’m dating it usually starts out OK. They seem to understand and accept this is a part of me, but it isn’t all me.
But the further we get down the path of being together and the more they realize how much it actually affects my everyday life, that is when I see them start to look for the exit.
I’ve had exes tell me they can’t make me feel better because I’m letting these “issues” consume me. I’ve had exes tell me they don’t feel as though they can tell me the truth about things because they’re worried it’ll send me into a tailspin. I’ve had exes try to tell me how to manage my illnesses even though they’ve never experienced it themselves.
I don’t need someone to tell me what to do or how to do it when it comes to depression or anxiety. All I want, all I truly want, is someone just to love me through it. That’s the part that is sometimes lost on potential partners. I don’t need someone to fix me. I go to therapy. I take my medication. I work hard each and every day to ensure I am doing all I can to prevent the bad days from occurring more often than not.
What I do need is for someone to just be there when things get hard. When those bad days come on and I can’t think of a reason why I should get out of bed, I want someone to be there to just tell me I can do it. I want someone to hold me when, in the middle of the night, I can’t breathe because my anxiety is out of control. I want to be able to tell someone my deepest darkest secrets when it comes to my illness and not have them look at me like I have three heads.
I know it’s not easy to ask someone to be a part of my life when most of the time my moods are a little unpredictable. I know it’s not fair that I’m going to let someone down because I just can’t help myself from wanting to hide from the world on really bad days. I feel it’s not reasonable that sometimes my problems become their problems because I just need someone to shoulder a bit of the weight that comes with depression and anxiety.
I know all of these things but it doesn’t mean I’m unlovable or incapable of giving love. Because I so am. I know I am.
I will love the shit out of people despite the fact it’s sometimes hard to love myself. I am able to listen and accept criticism when things just aren’t working for my partner. I am able to just be there for someone when they’re having a really, really bad day. And I’m able to empathize, not sympathize or compare, when talking to someone about their problems.
So, I’ve been with people who don’t get me or my mental health. I’ve been with people who have told me that my mental illness makes it so it’s difficult to love me. I’ve also been the person pushing people away in order to protect myself from them potentially leaving me when it gets a little too hard to deal with.
But no one is perfect, and I am no exception.