Loving Someone with a Mental Illness is Often a Lonely Job

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I know you.  You’re the mother whose kid has ADHD, you’re the daughter of the woman, who uses pills to solve all her problems, you’re the husband, who is still desperately in love with your wife even though she lost herself years ago, and she hasn’t been able to find her way back.  You’re a superhero.  You just don’t know it yet.

Rachel-Linton-Post-ImageLoving someone with a mental illness is often a lonely job.  When you get the life altering diagnosis, no one shows up with a casserole.  You don’t set up a Facebook page for support and invite all of your friends and family to walk the path to recovery with you.  It doesn’t matter that helping a loved one fight their battle with depression can be just as devastatingly hard as helping a loved one fight cancer.  When you are fighting cancer, you fight to stay alive.  When you are fighting depression, you fight to be alive.

An untreated case of depression can be just as deadly as any incurable illness, but people with depression are often expected to snap out of it instead of being encouraged to seek the proper treatment.  We don’t view people with diabetes as weak because their pancreas’ don’t make enough insulin, yet people whose brains don’t produce enough serotonin and dopamine are often viewed as weaklings who can’t control their emotions.

When you love someone with a mental illness, you often help them walk the path to recovery alone. You are their cheerleader, their advocate, their support system, you are their everything, and it can be an almost unbearable burden to carry.  The journey towards recovery is a long one that’s fraught with setbacks.  It is lonely and hard; its heartbreaking and devastating.  You spend most of it wanting to run like hell in the opposite direction, but you don’t.  You stay, and you fight.  You listen; you uplift, and in the end, you make a huge difference.

someone you love with mental illness

So here’s to the mom with the child who suffers from ADHD.  I’ve been watching your journey.  You’re amazing.  I’ve never seen someone be a better advocate for a child.  You never stop.  You went from doctor to doctor to doctor until you found one who listened and cared.  You ignored everyone who said your kid was just wild, and you listened to your heart because you knew something was wrong.  Trust me, when I say, you’ve given your child a life altering gift.  Thanks to you he will learn coping mechanisms for dealing with his disorder that will make it easier to thrive when he becomes an adult. You did it; you changed his life.  You’re a superhero.

To the daughter, who is desperately trying to get her mother to admit that pills aren’t the answer to her problems, keep trying.  It is a hard journey.  It’s one you may never win.  Trust me, I know.  Fight anyway.  You’re a superhero with more strength than you know.

To the husband, who’s still in love with a woman who can’t find her way back from the sadness, don’t stop loving her.   I know its hard, but that free spirit you feel in love with is still in there.  She never meant to go away.  Encourage her to come back.  You’re a superhero with a love story unlike any other.

To anyone who has ever loved someone with mental illness, I know you.  I’ve walked a mile in your shoes. You’re amazing; you’re making a difference.  You’re a superhero.