It’s estimated that one in four people in the world will deal with a mental illness at some point in life. And although those disorders don’t totally define us, they are still a huge part of our lives, often affecting the way we relate to other people. To deny that would be to deny a piece of ourselves and the relationships we build with people we love.
But we also can’t ignore the way those disorders can complicate things — especially when it comes to getting close to someone else. On top of that, when we’re in the grips of a panic attack, manic episode, or serious depression, it’s hard for our partners to know what’s really going on or what they can do to make it easier for us. Often, it turns out, less is more: All we need is someone to listen in a nonjudgemental way and remind us that everything will, actually, be okay.
So we asked 21 people what they wanted their partners to know about dating them, the challenges that their mental illnesses can bring up in their relationships, and how they hope their partners respond to the inevitable rough patches. Click here to read their anonymous responses.