*Content Warning: This article contains references to suicidal ideation, which may be triggering to some.
I was twelve years old when I remember first wishing I was not alive. I didn’t think I could physically do anything about it myself, but I went to bed most nights wishing and praying I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
My home life was not the greatest. My mother was struggling with addiction, single parenthood, and getting over an ex that had been aggressively ripped from her. I felt she was putting more attention into the family of that ex than into me. Pile that on top of generally terrible middle school children and the fact that my parents had divorced about a year earlier, I was at my breaking point.
I would like to say that I went into therapy and I was helped a bit then, but that wasn’t the case. Truthfully, I’m not sure how I kept going, that is, until I got to high school. It got a bit better then. I still struggled and still had times where I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.
One thing that did help though, was finding a role-playing community online when I was sixteen. Writing with other writers in random magical worlds gave me a sense of family, as well as grow my love for telling stories. Through the endless worlds upon worlds, I wrote and wrote for years and then I eventually found him.
A month or two before I turned twenty-one, I met John*.
His personality was infectious. He was smart, funny as all hell, quick-witted, and could take my sarcasm and give it right back without blinking an eye.
I was hooked.
At first, we wrote together, and even and wrote a story where our characters fell in love — but then it evolved. We got to know one another IRL and we started talking every single day. Soon, it wasn’t just our characters who were in love, it was our real selves.
With falling in love and talking every day, comes getting to know one another on a deeper level. One of the things that I learned about John was that he had BPD.
Some (including myself) might think that meant bipolar disorder, but it actually stood for borderline personality disorder. There are many similarities between the two disorders aside from their acronyms. Both are mood disorders where proper regulation of mood comes from the assistance of medication and talk therapy and they are both pretty common. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 3 million cases a year of each disorder in the United States alone.
John felt everything strongly. He loved strongly and hated strongly. He was passionate and he had the biggest heart I have ever known a person to have. But he had his own demons to battle, and as we grew closer, I did everything to help him fight those battles.
As I helped him fight his demons, he helped me fight mine. He made me feel truly loved for the first time in my life, and I loved him even more for it. He showed me that I was worthy of love and that I should love myself just as much as he loved me.
While we are no longer together, John is still very much in my life. When he went back to school to advance his life, I was inspired to do the same. If it weren’t for John, I know I wouldn’t be wrapping up my degree in a couple of months. If it weren’t for John, I would have stayed in a job that made me hate my life from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep. If it weren’t for John, I wouldn’t have become brave enough to start going to therapy.
If it weren’t for John, I would still be going to sleep wishing and praying that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and being upset with myself for being too much of a “coward” to do anything about it myself.
Most people would think it wouldn’t be smart for someone who suffers from mental illness to date someone who also suffers from mental illness, but John is proof that such a thought is nearsighted and dangerous.
People who suffer from mental illness aren’t broken individuals who don’t deserve love. They are some of the strongest people in the world because they wake up every day at war with their own mind.
He is my hero and I will always be thankful that he came into my life.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned.