5 Mental Illnesses VS Me

by - 3:00 PM


A year ago I started talking to a guy I liked. We met up in Rotterdam, hung out on the riverbank and soon realized there was more than just friendship between us. On the same day the king of Thailand died we officially became a couple. I was swept into his world, the world of mental health blogging and stigma-breaking. You see, this guy had several mental health issues and talked about them quite a lot. Because of him I met other mental health bloggers online. I thought they were doing a great job, but soon noticed no one ever wrote about what it's like to be a mentally healthy person in a relationship with someone suffering from a mental illness. I decided that would be my task, but couldn't put pen to paper after we broke up within four months. I didn't want my emotions to make this post sound bitter and angry. Now, a year since that relationship started, I feel like I can tell my story. It's not a fun story, it's one that is often overseen, but nonetheless I feel like this story needs to be told. Which is exactly what I'm going to do today.

When I met my ex-boyfriend he had a triple diagnosis of severe depression, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Me being me, I couldn't care less about that diagnosis. I quickly took a liking to him because we could talk about literally anything, so the diagnosis wasn't all that important to me. I just wanted to know how those mental illnesses affected his everyday life and I made sure I knew what to do in case his mental illnesses decided to mess with him while he was with me. My ex told me it was unusual for people to prepare themselves for meet-ups that way, but to me it seemed like the normal thing to do. Because of all this I always made sure I knew where the closest calm place in the city was so he could overcome a panic attack in a quiet place and always carried a bottle of water with me, as he'd told me he liked to have some water in case of a panic attack. Luckily nothing ever happened when we spent time together. No OCD ticks, no panic attacks, nothing.

For a while everything was fine. Sure, there were some difficult days when I woke up in the morning to a text saying he really couldn't get out of bed because of his depression, or that he'd cried for hours after I'd fallen asleep. That hurt me, because he lived on the other side of the country and I couldn't physically be there for him the way I want to be when someone I love is in pain. I did what I could, but was often met with texts saying things like "You have no influence on the way I feel".
Painful as those days were, they made me appreciate the good days so much more. It's funny how I celebrated my ex getting out of bed or achieving a goal on social media. I appreciated little things more, not just in his life but also in mine. I noticed myself being proud of small things I succeeded at, because they were so much more valuable when someone else's depression has so much influence on your life. It made the good days a weird kind of wonderful. But I think Emeli SandΓ© said it best when she sang: "When it was good it was amazing, but the bad was devastating."

Then the bad came. The serious bad. It wasn't just my ex's mental health that made our relationship difficult in December 2016. It was also the physical distance between us and me slowly breaking down. I was doing a degree course that made me unhappy, my internship school couldn't provide me with the time and knowledge I needed and there was a research project that stole every minute of my free time. My self esteem was crumbling, I was getting panic attacks myself and needed help and support. I didn't tell my ex, who had told me he wouldn't be able to be there for me if I needed him because he needed to take care of himself and his mental health. So I struggled on, mostly because a moment's hesitation would have horrible consequences for my college career. It made me unhappy, cranky and negative. It was the latter that got so bad that I was getting annoyed with myself, wanting to change because I was doing my own head in. When I told my ex he thought I wanted to make the change in an effort to convince him to stay with me. He annoyed me in that moment. To no end. I wanted to change for me, to make sure I could be strong enough for both of us. In that moment, it felt like he didn't want to...

Now you might be wondering why I'm telling all this, as it has very little to do with my ex-boyfriend's mental health. My point is that these circumstances affected us as well, in particular me. Around the same time my ex's diagnosis was topped up with post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. I was pretty relaxed under that diagnosis and thought I'd take things as they came.
Here it gets tricky for me, as I don't know what was caused by his mental illnesses, what was caused by his character and what wasn't. So I'll try to write this in a more observing way, looking back on the past without judging. I'm truly sorry if I fail though, but it's difficult to be objective about mental health in general as it's different for everyone.

So my ex was going through a dark time while I was struggling myself. Something seemed to have changed. He started saying: "I don't know if we can be together if my mental health stays the same." When I said I missed him he wouldn't say it back to me because he was depressed "and I'm not saying it if I don't feel it." His 'I love you's became less frequent, then almost completely stopped. He kept repeating he needed to be selfish and take care of himself before getting into a relationship, that we might have to end it soon so he could work on himself. There is nothing scarier than hearing your boyfriend say "I don't know what my true feelings are". Because how can he love you if that's the case? 
I felt he was slipping away. When trying to plan a small weekend getaway he'd say: "But that's still far away and I don't know if we'll still be together by then." He often said he couldn't text or Skype me because he was depressed, but tweeted for long stretches with other bloggers. It all confused me, and my at the time undiagnosed inferiority complex told me he was acting this way because I hadn't been a good girlfriend for him. I still tried to be there for him whenever I could, although I wasn't even strong enough enough to keep myself on my feet anymore by the time 2017 rolled around.

We broke up in late January of this year. He couldn't handle the combination of my inferiority complex and giftedness that was troubling me, because he already had enough to worry about himself. I ended up completely broken and alone, thinking I had only needed a break from him, not a breakup. I didn't get back on my feet until I was helped back up by some awesome people in the Thai jungle.

Looking back on the whole thing now, I'm glad I'm not in that relationship anymore. I'm not saying you shouldn't date someone with a mental illness. In fact, I think you'd be stupid not to give it a try when you really like someone. Just know that it'll be hard, very hard at times, and that it might end up in heartbreak. But still, if love comes your way and brings mental illness along, don't immediately slam that door shut; you might just miss out on the most amazing person you'll ever meet


x Envy

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18 Fellow Ramblers

  1. This is a fantastically honest post. It's good that you feel ready to talk about it now

    It can be so difficult, but worth it if it's the right thing for both of you. But if it's not right then you'll both just get hurt.
    Cora ❤ http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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    1. It took me so long to be honest with myself and the entire situation. That was partly because I had to admit I had some huge mental problems as well in order to tell this story and put everything into perspective.
      This guy and I weren't right for each other. It's sad because I really did care a lot, but I felt like I wasn't getting what I personally needed.

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  2. This is such a beautifully honest post and I'm glad you wrote it. Being in a relationship with someone with a mental illness is hard (I say that as someone who is mentally ill) and I find it so refreshing for you to post about your experience in your relationship. I wa spreviously in a similar relationship and I pushed my own mental health on the back burner to help support him and his and ended up being completely broken too. Thank you for being honest and I'm sorry you got hurt but I hope in the future it will be better for you xxx

    acupofwonderland.wordpress.com

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    1. Being honest is one of the things I value most in life, even though it sometimes hurts. I'm glad you could see the other side of the relationship without thinking I just blamed this guy. Like you, I put him first when I needed to take care of myself too. Who knows, maybe if I hadn't been so vulnerable we would have made it.

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  3. Wow. Gewoon wow. Als een complete buitenstaander kan ik alleen maar zeggen dat ik het heel knap vindt dat je dit met 'ons' heb willen delen en dan ook nog op deze manier (evenwichtig maar niet afstandelijk, persoonlijk maar toch ook 'universeel'). Merci!

    Liefs,
    Dominique

    www.fashionedbypluche.blogspot.com

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    1. Het kostte zo veel moeite om dit te schrijven, het doet me dan echt goed om te zien dat het gewaardeerd wordt! Ik heb geprobeerd het neutraal te houden omdat ik mensen niet het idee wilde geven dat ik m'n ex aan het afzeiken ben. Gelukkig is het bij jou niet zo overgekomen :)

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  4. I really liked this post. its true that I havent ever read a post about loving someone with a mental illness or what that is like. (I cant even imagine how hard it must be.) so I really appreciate your perspective.
    as someone with depression, I think its good for me to read about the flip side. yes, having a mental illness is hard, but loving someone with one can be difficult as well.

    Im so sorry that relationship ended the way it did. *hugs* but thank you for being willing to talk about it

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    1. I'm glad you liked it. It can be so hard to love someone with mental health issues (I've seen it again after this relationship when I was the one with the problem and everyone around me wanted to bash my head in when I had one of my episodes). I hope you didn't see this post as me being rude about people with depression not knowing with it's like for their partner. I just want people to know it can be pretty damn difficult to have someone's back when your own demons are winning your personal battles.

      I'm sorry about the way it ended too. I wish we'd had one last day together or tried once more, but I couldn't.

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  5. This is so beautifully honest, and I applaud you for opening up, for it is a thing bloggers tend to not do very well. I suffer from a case of anxiety, and I never really imagined how my loved ones may feel about it. *hugs* I'm so terribly sorry about the relationship, but better ones will come along. xx

    ~ Noor

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    1. Thank you. I took me ages to open up, but I felt this was too important not to share. DOn't worry too much about how others feel about your anxiety. If the relationship is strong and right everyone will find a way to deal with it. I'm sorry about this relationship too, because I really could see myself growing old with this guy, but I know that it's for the better.

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  6. This is such a wonderful and honest post. It's important to know what to expect when getting into a relationship with someone who has mental health issues but you shouldn't let the issues get in between you.

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    1. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I also can't say it bothered me when I met him. It was when the issues seemed to become the only thing in our relationship that I realized I wasn't up for this challenge at that moment in my life.

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  7. Brilliantly honest post and such a refreshing attitude to love. #bloggerstribe

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  8. Such an honest post, whether someone has mental illnesses or not relationships can break down for a variety of different reasons πŸ’•πŸ’•

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    1. Thank you. It's true that there are so many reasons. I'm not saying his mental illnesses were the main reason we broke up, but it did play a role in how I felt about the relationship. In the end I had to many struggles to keep up with his as well. No matter which guy I'd been with at the time, a break up probably would have been inevitable at the time.

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  9. Oh Envy, I'm so sorry about this, it really does sound like it was very hard on you! I can empathise with both sides to this story, mental illness can sometimes make you a bit selfish and it takes over your whole life in a negative way, leaving you feeling so overwhelmed that you feel you can't be there for others, but at the same time, a relationship has to have a bit of give and take, and both parties need to feel reassured, loved, and supported. I think it's incredibly powerful of you to be so candid about your experiences, I hope that if nothing else, this experience has taught you what you do and don't want from a relationship, and that you are worthy of a man who has the same amazing capacity for love and compassion as you do! You're a wonderful woman and I couldn't have more respect for you!

    Abbey 😘 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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    1. It's good to see you can empathise with both sides, because I really didn't want this to be seen as an accusation or slander about my ex (though I know people took it that way). I felt like that give and take had disappeared, that I was just giving and giving and not getting anything in return. And I know myself, I need something in return every now and then, even if it's just a muttered 'thanks'. Now I also know that I am not strong enough to be with someone who can't give me that. I need more space, and that's okay. We'll see what the future brings, though I'll always be convinced that we just had bad timing and things would've been amazing if we'd met two or three years from now.

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