After writing a blog post on some of the difficulties of being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness, I thought I should clarify and write about why a person shouldn’t fear pursuing a relationship with someone who is mentally ill. The term “mentally ill” or “disorder” isn’t exactly attractive or inviting due to stigma, but it isn’t always a deal breaker either. It is important to be open-minded and accepting. If you hear or find out that someone you’re dating lives with a mental illness, try educating yourself first before backing away and calling it quits. Yes, there can be various obstacles when dating someone who has a mental illness (some greater than others), but there are difficulties in any relationship. It is utterly important not to define a person by their diagnosis as it only will feed into the stigma. People who live with a mental health condition can still be caring, loyal, and genuine people. My fiance would most likely agree that I can be a handful to live with at times, but that I’m also one of the sweetest people he has ever met. While I don’t wish to glorify mental illness, there are even a few positives to dating someone who has a mental illness. They can be the life of the party at times, funny, successful, intelligent, and creative. They can also be highly intuitive, sensitive, and observant individuals. Having a mental illness does not always mean that the relationship is destined to fail or that the person is “crazy.”
For those who are skeptical about dating someone with a mental illness, please take time to educate yourself a little on the topic for we are all imperfect beings. The person who you once feared or questioned might just be the person that will end up changing your life for the better.
This is not to say that I don’t understand or acknowledge some cases where it may be beneficial to end a relationship with someone who is mentally ill and unstable. I understand that there are certain circumstances where it may not be wise to remain in a relationship with someone if there are severe issues such as ongoing abuse (verbal, emotional, physical etc), refusal to get help, or drug/alcohol abuse. If a mentally ill person refuses to get help, there is only so much the partner can do. It is ultimately up to the mentally ill individual to seek and accept help and if they don’t, sometimes walking away from that relationship is the best option. Like any relationship, there is definitely a line that needs to be drawn and certain, severe behaviors, like the ones listed above, should not be tolerated.
The purpose of this post was just to point out that those with a mental illness should not automatically be feared or rejected based on their diagnosis alone. There are so many wonderful people out there who live with such conditions and are able to be loving and supportive partners despite the obstacles.