Part of the romanticism of mental illnesses is that someone who is mentally ill can be cured by love or that someone can be a cure for someone else’s mental illness. We see this in media and it seeps into real life to the point that people don’t understand why we can’t stop being depressed or anxious for them (How to Cope With a Loved One’s Mental Illness). What people need to realize is although being loved can make dealing with mental illness easier, love does not cure mental illness.
People Who Are Cured by Love Are Not Mentally Ill
I’ve been hung up on this lately because of Lady Gaga’s recent hit, The Cure. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the song is perfectly fine as it talks about showing affection and pampering a loved one to alleviate some pain and strife, but the chorus is what gets me. Lady Gaga sings if she can’t find the cure to her loved one’s woes, she’ll use her love to fix him or her, and then at the end of the chorus, she says she’ll be the cure.
I know she might not be explicitly talking about mental illness, but these ideas seep into the discussions and notions that surround mental illness too, so I wanted to address them.
Mental Illness Isn’t Cured by Love or Created by Love
Reminder: mental illness is an illness, plain and simple.
Mental illness doesn’t rely on love or lack thereof. As I said above, being loved makes it easier to get through the tough situations. Such as when you know someone has your back, will be there with you when you feel your worst, and will be able to walk with you on your journey. Having that love doesn’t make the mental illness go away though, and people on either side of the situation shouldn’t expect it to.
Stigma of Love as a Cure for Mental Illness Hurts the Mentally Ill
Expecting people or love to be able to become a cure for mental illness contributes to stigma because it presents people with this false idea of what mental illness is and how it can be treated. When that rift exists between what people think and what actually is, it creates a difficult situation for everyone involved, and those with mental illnesses face the consequences as people get angry and frustrated with them for not being or behaving how the person thinks they should.
It can lead to blaming the person with the mental illness for not trying hard enough to get better or for not being appreciative of the help being offered to them.
Stigma of Love Curing Mental Illness Hurts the Person Who’s Trying to be the Cure
In addition to the strife it can cause for the person with mental illness, trying to be a cure for someone or mental illness places an unfair burden on you, too, because it’s not your job to fix those things. It’s your job to be there for your loved one in whatever capacity is reasonable for you. That could be anything from sending a friendly text message every once in a while to helping out with the day-to-day tasks. It could be like Lady Gaga’s lyrics say when she sings about letting the person fall asleep in her arms or rubbing his or her feet.
But it shouldn’t be—and in my opinion can’t be—trying to cure someone of a mental illness with love because all that leads to is both parties being disappointed.