Ever since I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety over two years ago, the one thing that I severely struggled with was maintaining romantic relationships. As it turns out, a lot of men don’t want to be bothered with someone they consider to be “crazy.” Even though my depression and anxiety is not a constant thing that is affecting me all of the time, they hear the words “depressed” and “anxious” and immediately assume that I want them to carry my baggage for me.

It’s hard to find someone who understands, and almost just as hard to try to make someone understand. I feel unlovable most of the time, and that’s perpetuated by the men waltzing in and out of my life simply because they don’t want to put in the extra effort of loving someone with a mental illness. What they don’t realize is that loving someone with a mental illness really isn’t any more work than loving someone who’s mentally healthy. Because there are so many misconceptions about loving someone with a mental illness, I felt inclined to lend some helpful tips

Be Patient

Please be patient with us. We’re going to have our good days, and we’re going to have our bad days, but you’ll make our bad days a little brighter and our good days even better by sticking by our side. Please understand that sometimes we’re not going to be up for doing things or even just hanging out, and that’s not your fault.

Be Okay With Knowing That You Can’t Fix Us

Sometimes we get into a funk that we just can’t shake off no matter what we do, and there likely isn’t anything you’ll be able to do to help us. I know that it can be hard to watch someone you love suffering from that kind of pain, but you have to learn to be okay with sometimes being the quiet cheerleader in the corner. And when you try anyway and still can’t fix it, please don’t take that personally.

Know That It’s Okay To Do Your Own Thing

Just because we’re having a bad day doesn’t mean that you have to cancel your plans with your buddies to make us feel better. The only thing that will make us more miserable is that you canceled your plans to be miserable with us. It’s okay to still maintain your life and be happy even when we’re feeling depressed and anxious. We still want to see you be happy, too.

Know That It’s Okay To Voice Your Frustrations

There’s a lot of shitty things about mental illness, and you’re bound to feel some frustration eventually. It’s okay to tell us. Just don’t come off as if you’re blaming us because we already feel insecure about the situation. Remind us that you love and you’re here because you want to be, but tell us what is bothering you. We know that sometimes we don’t accomplish a lot, especially when we’re in a relapse, but please don’t acknowledge that we haven’t done anything. We are painfully aware.

We Appreciate You So, So Much

Just knowing that you’re sticking with us even when we’re difficult to love means the world to us. Nobody is making you stick around but the fact that you are is seriously amazing because it means that you’re putting someone other than yourself first, and that’s an incredibly selfless thing to do.

Don’t Compare Your Experiences Or Tell Us It Will Be Okay

If you’ve never dealt with depression or anxiety yourself, you likely have no idea what it’s really like. Please don’t tell us that you know what we’re going through because your dog died when you were 13. Depression is not like being sad. Or even really sad. It’s just… meh. It’s trying to exist in a space where existence just isn’t possible. Don’t tell us that things will get better or that we’ll be okay if we just stop thinking about it because it really means nothing to us.

Remind Us That You Love Us

You may not be able to fix us or make things completely better, but reminding us that you love us is going to make a difference. We might already know it, or you might think we do, but it’s always nice to hear it. If you’re proud of us, tell us, and be specific. Say, “I’m proud of you for never giving up and always fighting this battle” or “I’m proud of the way you are managing your depression today.” Hearing it is what will help motivate us to keep going.

The only difference between us and someone who doesn’t battle a mental illness is that sometimes, we have a few more things to work out. Sometimes, we need to do that on our own and, sometimes, we need a little help along the way. It might be a little more work for you on some days, but it’ll be worth it because no one knows how to love and support you quite like someone who knows how important it is to be loved and supported.

Feature image via WeHeartIt