A Letter to Those Who Think They Can’t Be Loved With Mental Health

You are more than a diagnosis.

Written by Sarah McKinnon

A Letter to Those Who Think They Can’t Be Loved With Mental Health

01 Sarah grew up with OCD and generalized anxiety.

02 Her mental health made her distance herself from being in a relationship, until she met her current boyfriend.

03 After learning to imagine the possibility of love rather than against it, she encourages others to do the same.

Dear Mental Health Sufferer,

You can love and be loved even when you struggle with mental health.

Perhaps that seems like a simple statement to you, but two years ago, that seemed impossible to me. Growing up with mental illness created intimacy separation — I believed I was a burden to society and avoided, at all costs, a sense of bonding or trust with another person. ​​Especially after a major mental health collapse and a long-overdue OCD diagnosis, I decided I was destined to be unlovable. 

My core fear was that I felt like a ticking grenade. That with any panic attack or mental health collapse, I would explode onto a helpless individual. So with every guy that turned my direction, I further zipped up my hazmat suit for their protection and continued on with my day.

Towards the beginning of the pandemic, I was focused on isolation and healing after recovering from an OCD collapse a few months earlier. Amidst that focus, was the encouraging words of my mother who believed what I needed in my healing was a companion. And while I felt I had the courage, I also had the dating skills of a sixth grader.

My core fear was that I felt like a ticking grenade.

Thankfully, I saw the perfect opportunity. During the pandemic’s beginnings, I wouldn't have to meet anyone in person, just vet and talk to them online. I let my various subtypes of OCD and generalized anxiety drive my internal dialogue. So I made a dating profile, then prayed to God — literally. 

In my healing journey, I was finding spirituality in Christianity. I leaned more into the word “companion” than “boyfriend.” I figured I’d find some hip mentor, second aunt, or college graduate friend who can walk with me in my various needs of exploration and healing, still convinced that my inbox would remain empty. I was trying to be artful to my mother, but God saw right through that. The next day, I met the guy who I eventually fell in love with and would become my now boyfriend. 

From our relationship, I learned that you don’t have to limit or hide yourself when you have mental health struggles. If you believe that the only lovable parts of your identity are the “non mental health” parts, you're wrong. You, as an entire being, are lovable, and there is someone out there who needs you to love them the way that you do. 

Nobody is perfect, and everyone has fragments of themselves that need extra mending or attention. Our minds do not always conjure up our realities of what we think we deserve. As creative as I am, God gifted me with a beautiful person I could not have thought of myself. 

He sits on the bathroom floor with me when I’m kneeling over the toilet, dry heaving in anxiety shakes and nausea. He gently takes my hand in public when I start wringing the skin off my fingers during stressful intrusive thoughts. He even reads about my conditions to make sure he’s not feeding into reassurance compulsions of my OCD. He has always calmly waited while my mental health episodes passed, knowing I was still me the whole time. I was a worthy and loved human being, more than a diagnosis, acronym or statistic. 

I will not be untruthful, mental health touches every aspect of life, especially if you walk the more severe side of your diagnoses like I do. My Harm OCD attacks my love and relationship on a daily basis. However, with proper communication and mindfulness, you can coexist with your mental health conditions and still maintain a happy and open relationship. And yes, that includes all of the intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, doctors appointments, crying sessions and caretaking.

My advice is to prepare the grounds for love. What limited me before was being impatient with myself. I was unforgiving, and always imagined that I was unworthy of joy and healing. Yet in all that imagining, I didn’t once imagine the possibility of me being the person for someone. I want you to do that for yourself today.

You have immense beauty beyond and because of your suffering. Don’t forbid yourself from love because you think your condition makes you undesirable. You can love and be loved even with severe mental health.


A Fellow Sufferer



Instagram: @sunwithsundays 

Website: www.sunwithsundays.com

Professional Art Director in Health and Social Advocacy, Mental Health/OCD Advocate

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