The Unedited Truth About What It’s Like To Date While Dealing With Mental Illness

For the longest time, I was under the assumption that I couldn’t have a healthy relationship, and trust, I’ve tried. Years of therapy, constantly trying to assess my flaws. I would try so desperately to find happiness and fulfillment in relationship, but it simply wouldn’t work. To that point, I was so desperate for love. Constantly searching for it, I can bet that in my week I would have more dates than you would in a month. The worst part was, I identified the vicious cycle I allowed myself to be a part of. “I feel lonely, I’ll go out with this guy, Oh meaningless sex? I guess… This makes me feel dead inside. Why did I do that? I hate myself. I want to be alone. I feel lonely, I’ll go out with this guy.” I hated myself, because the worst part of it all was knowing that I was only hurting myself. I felt envy for my friends who were in successful relationships, why couldn’t I have that? But who did I envy more? It was my friends who could be alone, who didn’t feel like they needed a relationship.

When I was able to get a guy to like me for long enough that he would keep seeing me, it seems like I got worse. They wouldn’t understand my anxiety, they didn’t understand the anxiety attacks or the constant fight I would undergo just to smile on a regular. They didn’t understand the depression, why I would lay in bed for hours and block out all the sunlight. They couldn’t feel empathy for what I was going through, and then it ended. I don’t even think I gave myself a fair amount of time to heal, to cope with the abandonment i would reach out to other people. I started seeing everyone as replaceable, it didn’t make me feel better though. Eventually I met a boy who also had a mental illness, like me.

When I had anxiety attacks, he’d get down on the floor and sit with me until I felt better. When I would push him away, he stayed. When I’d cry, he almost instinctively knows what to do to make me feel better. I finally felt understood, and I think I latched onto him for that reason. One day I received a message that we were over, for no fault of my own, but because he needed to tend to his mental health.

I don’t know what it was about him, but that pushed me to a really bad place. Anxiety attacks, depression, mood swings. I don’t know how he could put me into that scary place, when no other person could, but that’s what happened. I tried so desperately to hold onto him, I think to this day I may still be fighting to do so. But what come from that was an awaking, he made me realize that we weren’t ok.I wasn’t ok, and the path I was walking was guided by loneliness and not love. After working with my mentor and psychologist, I started to accept that I am a deeply traumatized individual. I began to accept and realize how my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder impacts every aspect of my life. I get panic attacks when I make mistakes at work, I am scared of being alone because of a fear of being abandoned, I dissociate during sex because I don’t think I always want to be there. My psychologist set up an appointment to see a psychiatrist, who I ended up dumping everything out to. I’ll admit, I wasn’t optimistic about medication. In my mind, it couldn’t take the trauma away, only numb it.

But, at this point I was willing to try anything, my mental health was declining and I was starting to fear for myself.

I was prescribed Zoloft, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which basically helps my brain by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is the chemical in our brain that helps us maintain our mood. Too much serotonin isn’t a good thing, but it turns out my brain has too little serotonin which more often than not results in depression. I think sometimes we forget that mental illness impacts our brain, it is an invisible disability that impacts every single aspect of our lives. The lonely feelings started to go away after medication, which in turn resulted in a decrease of my dates. I deleted my tinder and bumble, now I am a lot pickier with who I go out with. I don’t have sex as much anymore, and when I have it’s been amazing because it’s not driven by the desire to have someone there (I actually want to be there now). I feel like I can function like a person who isn’t crippled by mental illness, and that has been liberating for me.

I by no means am suggesting that everyone start medication, that’s between you and your doctor. But what I am suggesting is this:

Those with mental illness, I hear you. It hurts, and sometimes the worst part is that we can’t imagine a life outside of this. But we deserve so much more than the uncomfortable reality that we are faced with, and we deserve to get to a better place with help. If you are able to, I hope you would seek that help rather than stay in situations that no longer serve you. Please be honest with yourself.

To those who process information differently than us (me), please use empathy. Please sit down with us when we are scared, please stop using your brain processes to shame mine. Please understand that sometimes my decisions are influenced by imbalances in my mind, and more often than not I don’t know how to fight the demons I am faced with. Please go outside of yourself.

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