Everyone’s deserving of love right?
There’s no one on this earth that deserves to be alone but for people with schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses, love and relationships can be incredibly hard to, not only build, but also sustain for a variety of reasons.
First, and I hate to say it but there still exists a pretty unshakeable stigma around the ‘schizophrenia’ label.
A lot of people associate that word with danger, instability, or even violence, and while the fact remains that more people with schizophrenia, in fact, happen to become victims of violent crime than perpetrators, the stigma remains.
In my own experience, I can remember being out on a first date with a woman who, with a straight face, asked me if I had ever killed anybody.
This stigma can be one hell of a red flag for a good number of people who have no experience or knowledge of the reality of mental illness.
Being someone with schizophrenia, I’ve seen this first hand and for a long time I just completely stopped mentioning it at all.
I would change the subject when I was asked what I write about, and I would steer the conversation away from any mention of anxiety or even depression.
Mental illness being one of my core personality quirks left very little to actually talk about as a result.
Another major hurdle to finding love as a person with schizophrenia is that, with my paranoid delusions, I find it incredibly hard to trust people enough to open up and become vulnerable.
Trusting someone fully can take me months if not years, and when you’re dating someone new there comes a point at which you have to open yourself up and get to know the person.
I was never able to get to that point because I could never grasp the possibility that someone besides my family had my best interests at heart.
I was terrified that they would hurt me or leave with no explanation and because of that I’d always break it off before anything got even remotely deep.
I am a wounded soul and I need to trust someone completely before I even think about opening up.
I can imagine this is the case for a lot of people with mental illness and it’s important to understand that if you love someone who’s sick, it can take time to form that trust.
Finally, in my experience of having to relearn how to function in society after a major mental break, social interaction still remains to be one of the biggest challenges of my life.
I’m always hyper aware of things like eye contact, how I’m moving, what I look like to people and the way that I’m forming my words.
Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to portray natural human interaction that I either come off as fake or just get too distracted in how I’m acting to even keep up with the conversation.
I know the answer is to just relax and be myself but for a long time I was confused about who myself even was.
It’s for this reason that I’m pretty deeply introverted and choose to keep to myself most of the time.
I get most of my interaction online where it’s safe behind a screen to be the person that I wish I was in real life.
The point of all this is to illustrate how hard it can be to find love as a person with schizophrenia or other major mental illnesses.
If it’s not stigma, it’s trusting someone or even just interacting in general.
To my fellow sufferers, I know you and I see you and I want you to know that you’re not alone.
And to those who love people with mental illness, be kind, be soft and take the time to be there for your person.
I can guarantee that if you do, it will be one of the most fulfilling relationships of your life.