Being In A Relationship While Mentally Ill, by Emma Watts

This story may be triggering for its mentions and descriptions of eating disorders and mental illness.


I still struggle with my body image. One of my medications made me gain 23 pounds and I was horrified. It was the heaviest I’ve been in my entire life and I was still just 130 pounds at that point. I’ve been trying to get back to what my normal weight was before I got very sick. When I succeed, I know that I’m going to have a hard time stopping when I’m there. My appetite suffers and I find myself restricting calories when there’s no reason to. At the very least, I haven’t gone back to purging. My boyfriend makes sure I eat at least a couple of times a day. He can’t control what I eat while I’m not at home, but when I am, he’ll cook for me and not let me leave until I’ve eaten at least a little bit of it. Maybe that’s not the best way to go about it, but I suspect it’s the reason that I haven’t been losing more weight faster than I already am.

My boyfriend and I met in a weird way. I had a friend who I had known since 4th grade. She went to summer camp with my boyfriend when they were young and they sort of kept in touch. Well I, despite my really desperate attempts at flirting with the guys I liked, never had anyone show any interest in me. So she vowed to find me a boyfriend. One day, she told me she wanted me to talk to a guy. We first spoke in a chat room on AIM with a bunch of other people. Then we started texting and then talking on the phone and finally we decided to meet. My friend’s boyfriend at the time had had his license so they drove me to meet him and we kind of hit it off immediately. That was seven years ago and I’m so glad that we met.

Communication and honesty are a must, especially where mental illness is concerned. Let your significant other know the things you need and be honest if you’re having symptoms, especially high risk ones. Keep in mind that not everyone is equipped to handle a relationship like that. It takes a patient, understanding person to deal with the ups and downs of mental illness, so if you’re dating someone who dismisses you, belittles you or downplays the importance of your mental health, you may want to break it off.

At the same time, try to understand when you’re being unreasonable. For me, I sometimes get irrationally angry at my boyfriend for the silliest little things and that taxes our relationship so I need to work on recognizing when that’s happening and minimizing my reactions. You also have to try to be aware of whether your feelings are rooted in your wise mind or your mental illness. For example, I sometimes become obsessed or infatuated with other people, and that, combined with my fear of being alone, led to me cheating on my boyfriend for a little while. I could blame my illness, but it just set the stage for me, and I got carried away. He forgave me, but that’s something I can never take back, so consider your actions carefully.

This post is cross-posted on


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