Diane M. Moore Guest Columnist

Everyone dreams of finding their soulmate, but what happens when you find them and they have a mental illness? Do you love them through it or do you cut and run?

Loving someone with mental health issues is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work that takes patience, understanding, and perseverance.

What many do not understand is how those issues can change a person into someone unrecognizable. Depression, especially in its deepest form, can take a once active, vibrant, involved person and turn them into a withdrawn, quiet, and solitary being.

I speak on this from personal experience. Last year I went into a deep depression for nearly eight months and it affected every aspect of  my life. I stopped taking care of my home, family, friendships, my relationship and myself. I didn’t realize at the time what was happening until it was too late, my life as I knew it was turned upside down and forever changed.

I wound up spending time in a hospital where I finally got the help I needed to deal with the trauma I have experienced throughout my life. Through intense therapy and medication, I am well into my healing journey and I am a far better person for it.

Having someone to love you when you are at your worst and to support you despite it can make all the difference. I’m not saying it will be easy but I can promise it will definitely be worth it.

People, like me, who have lived through trauma aren’t the easiest to love because we are deeply scarred and most times are living in survival mode. This mode makes us constantly live in a state of fight or flight that those who do not suffer from mental illness cannot understand.

Choosing to love that person means life will not always be sunshine and roses. There will likely be storms and tribulations to navigate but your love and support will help pave the way to calmer seas. Everyone is worthy of love and that love of a lifetime – some just need a little extra.

In being candid with my mental illness, I have come to learn that more often than not people try to deal with it alone even when they don’t need to. Oftentimes, people that you would least expect to help you are the ones you can reach out to and they will hold your hand throughout the entire journey. The strangers that I met during my stay showed me an endless amount of others that make it their life’s mission to help others, and I came to love them and be loved in return.

There is hope, and there is healing. Once you take that first step on your healing journey, although the road will be rough, you will find you are not alone, that you are worthy of happiness, love, peace and all the good things in life. I am proof positive that healing from past trauma is achievable when you work for it.

If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues you can call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis hotline, or text BRAVE to 741741, or call Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital at 850-763-0017 for 24-hour available help.