Now Reading: How To Love a Person With a Mental Illness


How To Love a Person With a Mental Illness

June 6, 20174 min read

This slam poem is dedicated to all neurodivergent people anywhere – no matter what the thoughts say, you are not unlovable. You are pure of heart and wonderful. Keep looking.

It starts with a search.

“I think I might be sick,” you type, fingers hesitant because each word, each letter you feel like, is crying out to the world, with the quietest of voices. Look at me. Look at me.

The internet thinks you mean the physical, and it provides ailments to choose from, plain white sentences that remind you of the hospital walls that you can already picture yourself surrounded in-

“I think I might be mentally ill.” Warning signs appear, as if you are a sharp turn on the road, as if there is an unexpected cliff waiting as you swerve to the side.

Warning signs include, withdrawal, drop in functioning, problems thinking, increased sensitivity, apathy, feeling disconnected, illogical thinking, nervousness,  unusual behavior, sleep or appetite changes, mood changes-

Sadness – !

“I think I might be mentally ill.”

Who are you?

You bring yourself back in time, to your childhood. To the happy-go-lucky person you once were. To the person who never had to think once, twice, three times about what she was going to to say before she actually said it.

To the person who always got it right.

“I think I might be mentally ill.” Words, replaying in your mind like a slaughter.

A list comes before you and you want to go back to the ABCs, the ABCs of you and me, A, B, C.

Apples and bananas. Not anxiety and bipolar.

These very words are scaring you to the point where you cannot breathe, to the point where you feel neck deep in the two things your family never wanted you to have: flaws, and imperfections.

  1.      Anxiety. You think it might be this because of the pounding you get in your heart when your only parent doesn’t answer your calls
  2.      Bipolar, you think it’s this, because swimming in your own tears can turn into cold laughter in seconds, you think it’s this, no, that, no this, no-
  3.      Claustrophobia, I am suffocating in this very moment
  4.      The big one! The one I cannot bear to say, the one that dubs me as an outcast, the one, the big, depression.


How to love a person with mental illness:

Step 1: Make us feel safe, and loved, at home with you, because this most likely is not something that we are used to but something we have dreamt of for years.

Step 2: Know that there are a billion things that we wish to say to you but we may need a little help getting there. Be there to guide us through our own maze.

Step 3: Things that may seem ridiculous to you are strings to us; strings that bind them to the fabric of who they are so do not ever force them to change.

Step 4: Do not ever try to hit them where it hurts because they’ve been doing that to themselves on their own.

Step 5: There will be bad days and bad nights. Stay.

Step 6: Come to terms with the fact that there are people in this room right now who are thinking that the answer, to “How to love a person with mental illness”, the answer is “You can’t.” “It’s too hard.”

Step 7: Be the person who can.

How to find someone who will love you with your mental illness?

It starts with a search.

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Catherine Horkay

Cat is a 5'0 senior in high school with dreams that reside much higher than her height. Her passions include academia, berry smoothies, and LGBTQ+ rights. (IG/TWIT: @catnipscarlet)

Tagged In:#mental health, #poetry,