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2 members of support group for living with mental illness find love in Utah



Time now for StoryCorps. Today, a love story from Logan, Utah. Julianne Larsen had been living with schizophrenia since her 20s. Mar Fenix Nauta was managing her own bipolar disorder and PTSD. Both lived in Logan but had never met until one night when Julianne went to a support group for people living with mental illness and saw Mar.

JULIANNE LARSEN: I noticed how you carried yourself, your beautiful, gorgeous eyes. I just really wanted you to be my friend.

MAR FENIX NAUTA: We were friends for a couple years. Then there was that kiss. I don't remember anything except just completely melting into you.

LARSEN: I knew at that moment that I was hooked.

NAUTA: Oh, me too. I was a goner. And this July, we'll have been together for 13 years.

LARSEN: Lucky 13, right?

NAUTA: Lucky 13. Yeah.

LARSEN: Yeah. But, you know, I have hallucinations. And when I met you, I was really worried about sharing that with you.

NAUTA: I did not think any big thing of it at all. It was just another piece of information about you, like your favorite color or your favorite restaurant or something. I knew you, and you were just sweet as the day is long.

LARSEN: Well, I can't tell you how invaluable it is to have another brain in on my own brain because it's a bad neighborhood - right? - when you go in there alone. And you're always willing to come along. If I have a question like, hey, did you hear that? - you'll say, nope, nope, I did not. And then in 2014, I went and got cancer on you.

NAUTA: I told you I was really worried. And you thought I was worried that you were going to lose your hair 'cause you had this beautiful long hair at the time - not that it's not cute now. I said, I don't care if you go bald. I'm worried that you're going to die.

LARSEN: You're alive. Yeah.


LARSEN: You were so compassionate, and you took care of me.

NAUTA: Well, I get ups and downs. And the ups are really up, and the downs are really down. But when things flare up, you support me by telling me you love me and making me laugh.

LARSEN: And when I'm feeling high or low, you help straighten me out. So...

NAUTA: That's what we do...


NAUTA: ...Because we love each other.

LARSEN: Right. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

FADEL: That was Julianne Larsen and Mar Fenix Nauta at StoryCorps in Logan, Utah. They still attend the same support group where they met 15 years ago. Their interview is archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLES ATLAS'S "PHOTOSPHERE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Jo Corona
Julia Kirschenbaum