Love is critical to help us keep faith with life and rescue us from severe mental illness.
In fact, anyone who has ever suffered from mental illness and recovers will do so because of love, whether from a friend, a partner, a child, or a parent.
When we are sick in our minds, we have this punishing sense of how terrible we are, even if we often can't point to a specific crime. We are appalled by, and unforgiving of, who we are.
In this situation, a loving companion can make all the difference. They don't try to persuade us of our worth. They make pleasant conversation about something that won't make us anxious. They can tolerate how ill we are and will stick by us. They love us for who we are rather than what we do.
Patronising pity can make the attention of others oppressive.
Loving companions do not judge us as beneath them. They don't oppress us by clinging to their belief in their own solidity and competence. Our companions indicate that they too might one day be in our place and suffer with and for us.
Many mental traumas are the result of abandonment, and the neglect has thrown us off balance ever since. We may find it hard to depend on others.
A loving companion is ready to fight to earn our trust. We may try to incite despair and frustration and say some awful things to a carer we love. A wise companion will remain unruffled because they understand they are tested.
The mentally ill person is continually worried about ongoing and limitless torment. What if someone wants to take them away? What if the voices in their head never go away?
The loving companion does their best to quieten the panic. They present the future as unknowable but that the future will be fundamentally safe and bearable. They insist that they will be there.
When mentally ill, we may want to return again and again to the subject that should normally have been dealt with.
However, the loving response is to take the worry as seriously as possible and address it head-on without scoffing or denying the scale of the concern.
A loving companion looking after a mentally sick friend doesn't care very much about what other people may think. They don't care if they are in a minority when loving us.
We are not loved for anything we have done, but simply because we exist.