Love is Not a Cure for Mental Illness

By: Logayna Kadry

I’m sure many of us heard the news last Friday, Mac miller an aspiring artist and singer, died tragically of a drug overdose at the tender age of 26.I’m sure many of us also witnessed the world pointing its finger at Ariana Grande , his ex-girlfriend and as of now, the internet’s favorite person to hate. When the news of Miller passing away came out , her instagram comments and twitter mentions instantly became flooded with gender slurs and hate messages blaming her for the rapper’s death and his mental health deteriorating. She has since disabled her instagram comments and took to grieving privately, out of the public eye.

Grande is not the first person to have to carry the weight of a partner’s demons and mental illness on her shoulder. She’s not the first person to be blamed and paraded for choosing to walk out of an emotionally draining relationship for the sake of her own sanity, but she needs to be the last.

 

I want to start off this article by reminding you all that you can’t love someone’s mental illness away. You can’t ‘fix’ them or make them ‘whole’ again and they shouldn’t expect you to. Mental illness is a condition that affects people’s ability to relate to others and function each day normally . Being mentally ill is just as dangerous as being physically ill and both require medical attention and professional help.

It can feel incredibly draining to have a relationship or even just a friendship with a mentally ill individual. You’re consumed by guilt every time you put your phone down or take time for yourself. You feel helpless and lost and you feel selfish whenever you talk about yourself and your own problems because they seem so trivial compared to theirs . They exhaust you , you feel so worn down you can’t eat , sleep , socialize or focus at work or school. This does not mean you’re a bad person, on the contrary, it simply means you’ve been trying to take on a job that is not your own . The reason therapists and trained professionals don’t feel overwhelmed when talking to clients and dealing with their problems is that they’ve spent their whole lives learning how to process people’s issues, how to redirect these negative emotions and tame them, so they don’t affect their personal lives and their objectivity.

Normal people, however ,have not been trained and can easily feel drained and exhausted by a loved one’s more serious issues and  mental illness. It’s good to give what you can, but also to know where the line is when concern for others is at your own expense.

Blaming  Ariana because she left Mac Miller at a low point,  perpetuates a very harmful ideal that women and people in general  should stay in toxic emotionally draining relationships to ” save” the person involved . When someone’s lowest becomes toxic and potentially harmful , you have every right to leave and the results are not your fault and you shouldn’t be blamed for them. This belief is usually followed by cries of outrage arguing that ‘one should stick by their partner no matter what’ and ‘ one shouldn’t give up so easily and “betray” their loved one . And trust me , I get it. I fully believe in committing to your partner and supporting them through everything ; however, I don’t believe you should commit to being abused by someone you care about. There are a ton of abusive, toxic relationships that damage both parties and people expect others to stay no matter what, to be a ‘ride or die’, but this notion that you have to stay in a relationship that exhausts you and wears you down until you can’t function properly in order to “save” your loved one  ,is majorly unfair and downright cruel . Commitment doesn’t mean stay through anything. It just means you’re dedicated to someone enough to stick around within reason, but there are limitations to how much a person should deal with. It’s not selfish to put yourself and your mental health first. It’s not selfish to end a toxic relationship if you feel like it’s emotionally and mentally draining you. Helping your loved one through a tough situation is a wonderful and noble thing to do, but it only works if you’re mentally in a place to do so. If you’re dealing with issues or mental illness of your own or feel simply too drained to help, you’re not always going to be capable of being someone else’s shoulder to cry on . And that’s okay. You can’t help someone else if you’re a mess yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

And I know how hard it is to walk away from someone you deeply care for. I know how hard it is to lay all of that love down, to close your heart off to all that it sees in another human being, but you cannot be the one who makes your partner decide whether or not they want to live or die. That is up to them. If you’ve made the effort to improve your relationship, and see to your partner’s health, but things still aren’t working out, you can walk away without guilt. You deserve to take care of yourself  as well. The best analogy I’ve been given is that having a mental illness is like drowning, you can try your hardest to pull the sufferer out but if they aren’t willing to at least try and kick their way up, they will pull you down with them.

You are not a therapist You are a human being with your own thoughts and emotions and problems. You can’t  treat yourself like an afterthought. It is not your job to disregard your own pain so you can help take care of someone else’s. We all go through life with the weight of our own problems and responsibilities weighing heavily on our shoulders and that alone threatens to overwhelm us , we can’t take on someone else’s weight as well, it’ll destroy us.

Take a break, take a step back, take care of yourself and your mental health , don’t force yourself to stay in an unhealthy situation for the sake of someone else. You deserve a chance at happiness, too.

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