Valentine’s Day is weird. Nearly everyone falls into two camps when it comes to feelings about the day- you either adore it and spend all day wrapped in bliss or you hate it and spend all day lamenting about how awful love is.
For ten years, I thought that the only boyfriend that would ever stick around would be depression; we had a horribly unhealthy relationship, but he always stuck around even when I tried to date someone else. When I was ready to take (yet another) break from dating, I just happened to match with a smooth talker who convinced me that he deserved a chance. On one of our first dates, I could not stop myself from spilling every detail of my struggle with mental illness with this introverted, quiet man that had no idea what to expect from the loud redhead that he met through online dating. For some insane reason, he asked me out again and again and again- even after that embarrassing lack of constraint on that date.
About three months later, I woke up with high anxiety and knew that I was close to a breakdown. He could tell something was wrong just by looking at my face and soon found himself holding me as wrapped myself in a blanket burrito and sobbed uncontrollably. With a tear streaked face, I asked him if he thought I was crazy and if he still wanted to be with me. I had been through this before- meet a man, start to fall for him, and then the depression and anxiety scares him away. But this time proved to be different; he pushed the hair out of my face and said “I have been waiting for this. I want to see the real you- all of you. The perfectly imperfect you.”
I fell in love with someone who sees my mental illness as just another thing that makes me unique and wonderful. On the days that feel impossibly hard, he encourages me to try to take one step- get out of bed- and then another- make coffee- and another, until I feel confidently enough to take on the day. He reminds me to take my medication every day- he is a pharmacist after all- and tells me to focus on breathing when I feel an anxiety attack creeping in. I brought my mental illness to this relationship, but that doesn’t mean that it has control over us. My mental illness is a challenge that we embrace together, every day.
In October, we are getting married. My anxiety tends to be a party crasher and will probably show up without RSVPing, but we are ready. In life and love, there is nothing that is impossible when you have the hope and fight in you to keep pushing on.
PS Check out Ryan & Alyssa Photography! They took this amazing picture of us.