In the past few days, I have seen several posts and articles written by authors hoping to find love/partner after a mental health diagnosis. All of the authors have said that they want to find someone who can love them as they are. I don’t think that is unusual I think most of us long to find someone who will accept us – good and bad – flaws and strengths.
As someone with one of the most stigmatized of the mental illnesses who is happily married and has been for almost twenty years, I can say finding that someone is possible. But is it likely? I think it is if the person looking can think about what they have to offer instead of what the other person has to give.
If we concentrate on building our world and our lives, the more appealing we will be to a potential partner and the less they will have to bring to the relationship. Building our world can be everything from reading more books to working at hobbies (or picking one up), attending classes, working a full or part-time job, getting out more, traveling, exploring the city or town you live in, etc.
There are times when our illness can be a pit where care by the person we love is needed 24/7. I assume this is the reality that most people fear when they think about becoming a couple. Will he/she be willing to stick with me through the really hard stuff? Will he/she leave me when things are mostly dark, and the signs of light might not be obvious?
It is difficult to say how any one person will behave when they are in the role of caregiver, but anyone can become disabled at any time, and that is a risk we take when finding and committing to a partner too – to care for them in sickness and in health. If you can imagine yourself caring for someone who had a stroke, had a heart attack, or develops Parkinson’s or cancer, then why is it so hard for you to imagine that someone would stand by and care for you when depression, or psychosis overtake you?
What have I learned as I’ve gotten older and been married for almost two decades? Life is fragile, health is fragile, circumstances are fragile, but love is strong, and there is no reason why everyone can’t find a love to survive all of the fragile parts and give them strength to get out of bed every day, keep going, and put joy in their hearts against all odds.