10 Things You Need To Know When Dating Someone With a Mental Illness

Dating isn’t the most fun process in the world. You go into it not knowing if the date will go well, or if it will be the next Hindenburg disaster. But if the date does goes well, what happens when you find out your date has a mental illness? Do you stick around to see what could happen or do you get up out of the chair and run for the hills? Well, if you decided you wanted to stick around and start dating them, and seek some guidance and understanding, this blog is for you! I reached out to some of my friends to get insight, and to discuss the do’s and don’ts when dating someone with a mental illness. One of them is a fellow blogger, Rachel, who actually did an article on this subject that you may also enjoy. You can check it out HERE.

  1. First off, patience is key. Having someone you care about, who is having a hard time, needs you to be patient and understanding.
  2. Don’t back out on the person right away, once you find out they have a mental illness. It shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
  3. COMMUNICATION. Can’t stress how important this is. Find out what helps and doesn’t help when they are having a hard time; not everyone is the same in regards to triggers and symptoms.
  4. Give them a reason to fight their illness. When you’re fighting for someone you care about, it makes a whole lot of difference.
  5. Just like everyone else, they just want to be loved, despite their challenges.
  6. Remember that the name of the person your are dating is not Mental Illness. Although it is a part of their life, do not let it overshadow for who they really are.
  7. When they don’t want to leave the house, or even the bedroom, don’t make a big deal about it. They need time to rest and get their strength back. Maybe just lay with them and watch some Netflix, or read a book together.
  8. Don’t be the “just walk it off” person. Nothing adds more stress than someone who questions the seriousness of what that person is feeling.
  9. The person you are dating is not broken. They go out to eat, they go to movies, they go on vacation, they have fun.
  10. Last, but not least, believe in them. Believe they can go to school to get that degree. Believe they can be wives/husbands and mothers/fathers. Believe that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

In my own personal experience, I have found dating very difficult, due to an incident with an ex girlfriend.  I remember having my first episode in front of her.  It was so bad my mother had to come and get me.  Over the next few days her perspective of me changed.  I remember being on the phone with her and she told me I was a burden.  I was so distraught that I swore off dating for a long time.  Even to this day, I am still hesitant to put myself out there.  Always wondering if someone is going to accept me, for me, or if they are going to see me as a burden and then toss me aside.  I know not all people are like this. I don’t even hold any kind of resentment or hatred toward my ex for what she said to me; in fact, I even consider her a friend. But, there are people out there who see past all that, and just want to be loved, just like me.

There was this one girl I use to date where she did everything right.  We had fun, but she understand that some days I would have to stay in.  She would text and call to check in on me. She made me want to be a better person every time we talked.  I felt like we were actually a team, and she really believed in me.  I remember one day I had an episode while I was talking to her over the phone.  She was so calm and understanding, even though I thought for sure she would never talk to me again.  Our relationship grew even more after that.  So yes, I know without a doubt there are people out there who understand.

Listen, I am not trying to guilt trip anyone to date someone with a mental illness. No one in this life is perfect for everyone.  Dating is just hard.  Period.  But you will find that one person who understands you and you will understand them.  And together, you both will be capable of anything.  So join them on their voyage, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Like a Bow

The hunter notches his arrow carefully, so not to damage the fletching; he only had a few arrows left for his day out on a hunt. He’s been tracking the boar for hours now, and he finally had his shot. As the over sized beast snacked on some nearby berries, he began to draw back his bow, feeling the sweat falling from his brow and the tension in his arms. In a quick moment, a loud crack from the bow echoed throughout the forest. The boar vanished in an instant. The bowman was distraught. The boar was gone, his stomach was empty, and his favorite bow was broken. As he checked to assess the damage he realized he was bleeding from his hand. Seems the bow cut into it when it snapped unexpectedly. The bow had served him for just over three years. It was made out of yew and was carefully crafted to be able to handle countless hunts. But he knew he didn’t care for the bow as much as he should have; as he always did forget to unstring his bow after a long hunt.

The hunter experienced a hardship when his bow broke. Perhaps he was hunting for his family. Maybe he was hunting for himself. In any circumstance, the one tool that he depended on, for survival, broke. Having to make a new bow and track another beast takes time, and rightfully so. You want to make sure your bow is made to function as it was made to function. You don’t want to rush it, you want to perfect it as much as possible. So it is with your mind also. At one point in your life you may feel an overwhelming feeling of depression, anxiety, or suffer from other mental illnesses. When this happens, you will feel hopeless and may feel there is no way out.  But there is always a way out. Seeing a doctor, taking medication, finding an outlet for stress, and eating healthy. All these things can be instrumental to getting you back on the road to recovery.

I remember the day I started struggling to get out of bed. I remember feeling great one day and then wanting to die the next. I remember when I started feeling that everything that I was, was gone. But as I looked for solutions to my problems things got so much better. And yes, I do struggle from time to time, but I know how to get back on track. I know when I need to slow down and take care of myself. For me personally, I do yoga to calm myself down. After that I read my scriptures to remind myself on how important and loving my Heavenly Father is. I remember the atonement and how it can heal all broken things.

So my challenge to you, is to find something that helps you remind yourself on who you are. Don’t lose yourself to whatever you are struggling with. So many times when we think we can’t take it anymore, something or someone comes along to pull you out. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in that very spot. But I promise you, that there is always a healthy and sure way to get yourself where you need to be to live your life.

Entry One of a Voyagers Journal: Living with Tourette Syndrome; Life According to Jake

 

Not a lot of people have the grit to go to school full time, teach gospel doctrine at their local church, and put in 40 hours a week at their job. But for Jake Lofgran, it’s just normal everyday life, with one slight complication. You see, Jake suffers from a condition some of you may have heard of, but have never really seen in the real world. In fact, most of you have probably seen it in movies, but more in a comedic role. Jake has what doctors call Tourette Syndrome (TS). A nervous system disorder involving repetitive movements or unwanted sounds. But it’s more than that for my buddy Jake. He has a rare characteristic called coprolalia (cop·ro·la·li·a), which can cause involuntary obscene language. But from what I can tell, that doesn’t stop him from being himself. It took a while for Jake to get to that point. But now that he has learned to live with his illness, he decided to sit down with me and share his story. So everyone, this is life, according to Jake.

It started around a year ago. Jake was sitting on a school bench, watching some videos on his phone, when his head started to jerk to the side. Thinking it was some kind of chill he went on about his day. But over the course of the next few days the ticks started to get worse. After seeing some doctors, it was determined that Jake had TS. The adjustment was difficult. The ticks and sudden outbursts were a constant and very prominent factor in his everyday life. It’s not something he could escape and something he wasn’t sure how to handle. Support from family and friends was difficult to accept. They don’t see the worst of it. They don’t see him in a locked room being bombarded by severe ticks and outbursts. People don’t see him struggling, everyday, to not yell out those words no one wants to hear. It became demoralizing for him. But for anyone who knows Jake “Bad-Arse” Lofgran, knows he doesn’t stay down for too long.

Jake is one of the funniest and most positive people I know. He can take any situation, and turn it into something to be learned from. That shows when we got on the topic of online dating. While Jake was using a dating app, he realized that he didn’t want to be the guy that kept his disability hidden. Which is pretty unique, if you ask me. So Jake decided he would do something a little different with his profile. As he started to list his qualities, interests, and goals, he would add random words throughout, then stating at the end, “I have Tourettes, lets do this!” To his surprise he was actually getting a lot more matches than he had previously. He says, “people don’t care as much as we think they are going to care.” Although he never followed up on those dates (typical Jake), it was amazing to see peoples acceptance on something he was so worried about; something we would all be worried about.

According to Jake, honesty is the best way to go about your life. Being honest with yourself and with those around you. If someone has a question, don’t be offended by it. Educating the masses is how we erase the stigma on TS and other illnesses. You don’t have control of a lot of things in your life. But you can control how you react to those around you. Educate those who want to be educated and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

You can hear the full interview here. Please keep in mind that there were a couple of edits do to privacy concerns.