I never thought I could find someone who could handle me. So many have left me, some scrutinized me, and then there are those who sit back and watch.
This changed when I met my girlfriend. She is a solider, a warrior, and a conqueror of demons. She has been by my side through unimaginable circumstances, standing tall, and taking it all in stride. She's everything.
I was 7 years old when I was diagnosed with ADHD, and by the time I turned 12 I had developed major depressive disorder. I was labeled with psychosis, bipolar depression and dissociative disorder by age 16. All I have learned thus far has been through the lens of uncertainty and instability.
My parents took it hard, but rallied around me. Through drug addiction and breakdowns, my parents and my girlfriend became my heroes and pillars of support.
Being with someone who has a mental illness is a rollercoaster. Some days the inertia is good, smooth, and enjoyable. We will find ourselves laughing, smiling, and enjoying the ride.
Other days, the inertia is bad. We are sick, nauseated by the the sudden drops and rattling. We develop migraines from the constant screaming and suffering. Once it's over, we vow never to go back. But that vow means nothing when it comes to something so out of your control.
Living with mental illness, I have grown in love with constants. I love the fact that I can be wrapped in someone's arms as they reassure me that they understand. Yes, I (a 6 foot, 220 pound man), like to be held from time to time.
The constant need for support through warm, intimate moments is how we are reassured that it will be OK.
On the other side, I think that it is hard to leave someone with mental illness because they grow attached to the emotion and feeling of being the rock someone depends on. I have only known the side of the illness.
The love that is grown and cultivated with someone who has a mental illness, I believe, is deeper and more passionate than any other love that one can experience with a "stable" person.
A person's worst is a side that most stable people can hide. You have no choice but to take on a person's worst when they have no choice but to reveal it to you.
Picking them up and seeing the deep gratitude and infatuation you gather makes the heart melt and emotion unravel. No matter how bumpy the road and no matter how dark the tunnel, the light winds up showing through. This leaves you feeling stronger than ever.
As with any love, it's hard to leave your partner. Humans become intertwined and to untangle that is a process of pain and uncertainty.
It's hard to leave someone with mental illness because of the imprint they leave. The feeling you're walking away from is an intense and almost surreal one. The feeling that you can only get out of an unstable relationship.
Living with mental illness, I have taken things for granted a lot of the time. I have pushed people away and lashed out on those closest to me. The fact that they have seen me push them away and have still stuck around is something I will forever be grateful for.
I am not sure where I would be without any of them, in the same way I am not sure where they would be without me. Leaving is always an option and people do, more times than not, choose to walk away.
One of the reasons it's so hard to leave someone with a mental illness is that no one will love you in the same way we have.