When you start to date someone you ask all sorts of questions. Do they like me? Do they have any weird habits? Will they get on with my family? What are they looking for? A question I never asked -or thought of asking- is: How is their mental health? Yes of course I am aware of how common it is that people struggle with their mental health, but I suppose in all honesty I didn’t associate it with young people. Young, funny, outgoing people. People like Mindfump.
When I met Mindfump I literally thought, this is it, the perfect guy. We spent all our time together, laughing, chatting, and just generally having fun. Proper wow-is-it-that-time-already fun. I knew this was the feeling people talk about when they say ‘when you know, you know’. I described the feeling to friends as “Asking Santa for a guy with 10 things that I desire in a partner and Santa actually delivering my request!” That was, and still is very much true. I’ve never laughed as much or gotten so lost in conversations. I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have him in my life.
The thing is, Santa was feeling extra generous this year and I got an 11th gift, my boyfriend’s brain. Now, this one is one I’m still working out. Mindfump’s brain is a big part of the reason I fell in love with him- I’m sure you get from his writing his very dry humour and the fascinating ways he sees life; he’s a very interesting and special person. He wouldn’t be Mindfump without it, and I would never want it to be gone, but the other side of it- the depression, anxiety and desire to spend time alone- well that is something different.
I find it challenging at times. As with any healthy relationships, there are, and should be, times of disagreement. Generally we don’t argue, but how we spend free time is something we sometimes disagree on, particularly in relation to spending time together, or with friends. I’m very lucky that I have some fantastic friends, and it is true that I am a very social person. I love the random coffee, the last minute drink plans or calling by a friends house. More than this, I love to bring my other half- I love him very much and want everyone else to too. Mindfump will join sometimes, however I dread asking at times for fear of an argument. I think how to phrase it, so it doesn’t sound like a big deal, just a simple proposition. I align my points of argument and persuasion, and I prepare myself for a fight. But there are no harsh words, no arguments. I am simply met with a ‘No’. And this is where I am lost. Do I argue? Fight? Insist? And regardless I know it will come back a “No, I’m sorry, I can’t.”
This can make me often feel angry, I want to storm out and tell him how much I do for him, how small what I ask for is and how difficult it is for me at times. But of course, then I feel sad, because it must be sad to have your head dictate so much of your life, and my job is surely to help, not add to his pain. I try understand, sympathise, and console him- although pity is something that I am learning does not help (I try donuts instead). Finally I’m left feeling hopeless and tired, and so everything is dropped. I am left upset, for him, for me and for us.
What I have written I’m sure looks in a way selfish, but I really don’t feel I ask any more than I would of anyone else. I often take his lack of ability to spend time with me or others as rejection. My issue is that line- where does mental illness lie. How far can I push him? Should I make exceptions because of the illness? But if I do so am I really treating him like ‘normal’?
I think the answer lies in understanding. I learn every day to be more open to understanding and try to see the way he sees and feels the world. This is difficult, my brain is wired differently, and I fear I will never really understand it. I am a strong girlfriend but his brain is stronger. I can not defeat it. My hope is that with time and help one day he and I can defeat it together.
My love for Mindfump is endless, he is the most amazing person I know. Santa’s 11th gift doesn’t take from all of the rest, I’m just hoping he comes back some year with the instruction manual. Until then, I’m simply making it up as I go along.