Loving Someone With Mental Illness

Please-Like-Me-Josh-Arnold-Kiss

Yesterday, I came across a video of one of the YouTubers to whom I’m subscribed. Now, although he’d uploaded this video about a month ago, this was actually the first time that I was seeing it. Anyway, in this video, he spoke of his struggles with body dysmorphia. Mind you, this is a guy who seems able to make a joke out of everything around him, yet he here he is hounded day after day, year after year (for several years, evidently) by this mental disorder. I’m bringing this up because mental illness has actually been on my mind for some time now.

Recently, I found myself rewatching the season finales of two of my favourite shows: Shameless and Please Like Me. Oddly enough, I was rewatching them both on the same day, and both episodes dealt with characters finding themselves in relationships with someone who suffered from some sort of mental disorder. In Shameless, the character suffers from bipolar disorder, while in Please Like Me, the affliction is severe self-deprecation. Now, both of these seem like major issues, and possibly immense barriers to forming and/or maintaining romantic relationships; however, the writers have done it so that both those characters have found someone who is not only aware of the situation, but completely willing to proceed.

I have a friend who suffers from a few disorders – mentally and physically. When we first met, one of the fears of his that he kept bringing up was that he would never find someone who would be willing to overlook these issues to love him. Of course, as we grew older, he found himself in several different relationships, seemingly proving that his fears were unjustified… or, at the very least, extreme.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who, if faced with such circumstances, wouldn’t turn around and flee. And, while it isn’t the best response, I don’t think it necessarily makes them bad people. Everyone has different capacities for challenges; everyone has different thresholds for struggle; everyone has different levels of comfort for difficulties. I, personally, would love to believe that, if put in such a situation, I would be able to love my partner unconditionally. However, hypotheticals don’t really cut it here, and without actually ever having been in such a situation I really don’t know what my response would be. Truly, cases like these are what sometimes make us see the kind of people that we really are.

That being said, to all those who are strong and loyal enough to stare their partner’s mental illness in the eye and say “Shove off”, and still love with everything in you, I sincerely applaud you. You’re some of the best kinds of people out there… because this shows not only how great you are… but also how good.

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