To Love and Be Loved – My Brain’s Not Broken

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This post is the last part of this series “Dating With Depression”. You can read the first post about how you are out here, the second post about how to talk to your partner about mental health, and the third post about what your partner should know about your mental health here.

As I was reviewing this series, I was looking at different stages of a relationship in chronological order, and that was done for a reason. Each part of a relationship requires different advice, knowledge, and tips, and romantic interests while living with mental illness can make these parts even more complicated. But to wrap up the series, I’d like to think about something for the readers to think about, and that’s it (potentially hot attitude): For people with mental illness, it’s possible to give and receive love in a romantic relationship. Not only is it possible, but who you are can actually improve the relationship.

For a long time I was afraid of being in a romantic relationship. To be fair, it wasn’t like someone was breaking my door down to meet me. But I was afraid that the day I actually met someone I was in touch with, I wouldn’t be able. I wouldn’t be able to emote well enough to maintain a healthy relationship. I wouldn’t know how to receive compliments from my partner. My fearful brain kept forgetting important things. I projected all of this self-loathing and self-loathing towards myself and my own mental illness onto an imaginary partner, and the more time went by, the worse those fears grew.

In some ways, I always knew these feelings were a little ridiculous, but I tried to qualify them because I was different. It’s easy to qualify things in the name of depression and anxiety, and no one has ever really pushed me to do it. But then I heard other people’s experiences, their fears of not being able to feel something deeper, and I began to understand that this is a human problem too. And, as in other areas of my life, I was able to start healing knowing that I was not alone in my struggle (although it was by no means over).

Living with mental illness can get in the way of so many things in life. It can steal moments, experiences, relationships, whatever you call them (and it has done more than once for me). Sometimes it even robs us of the ability to feel as human. But we are human. Just like everyone else. And we deserve the good things in this world just like anyone else – no matter what our brains tell us. People who live with mental illness are capable of romantic love and can accept that romantic love.

A long time ago I wrote a blog post about the possibilities of our mental health where I thought about everything we can do in life despite having mental illness. But I’ve always qualified for romantic relationships because I didn’t think I was capable. What I learned was that just like in other areas of life, something is happening and these events prohibit an honest, human response. I hope you know that there will be ups and downs as you walk these romantic waters, but that those ups and downs are no different from those of any other person or couple. Dating with depression is sometimes not always easy, but it can help create a strong, stable connection with the right amount of communication and understanding.

Writing this series has helped me understand some of the more complex parts of living with mental illness. What topics should I write a similar series on? Let me know in the comments!

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