Written by Taylor Jones.
Dating with a mental illness isn’t always easy; between mood swings, and sex drive changes, it can be a whirlwind of emotions, that usually results in heartache. Sometimes, however, you meet someone who can keep up with your emotions, who helps balance and regulate your thoughts, and who can make you feel like you’re up in the clouds. You may start fantasizing about ski trips, and you may hear wedding bells; but in the back of your mind you might wonder if they’ll run for the hills when they (inevitably) find out you have a mental illness. So when is it the right time to tell your partner you have a mental illness?
Your mental illness does not define you.
Being straight forward with people is always your best option; but you don’t have to be blunt, and you don’t have to tell your life story to someone you’ve just recently started seeing. This can make the person you’re seeing uncomfortable, but also puts you at risk of being uneasy with yourself as well. It’s also important to remember that your mental illness does not define you. It may make up part of your biology, but it is not who you are. Unless you have a STD/STI you are not obligated to tell someone about your medical flaws on a first date.
Telling your partner about your mental illness is not a one way street.
However, it is an important conversation couples need to have. It’s not an easy one because not everyone is built to support someone with a mental illness. This does not mean the person is weak, or a coward.It just means they are not equipped to help you. It may feel like it’s selfish,or your being abandoned, but the person is doing you a favor by avoiding inevitable heartbreak. Telling your partner about your mental illness is not a one way street. Yes, you are opening up about something you struggle with, and it’s something that’s private, but it’s also a choice on your partner’s end if it’s something they can handle. A great way to see if someone is interested in being in a relationship with someone with a mental illness is by offering support. NAMI is a great national support group for family and caretakers of those with mental illness, as well as those affected with mental health problems. Come prepared with some information you found online, write a list of what to expect, and what can help you, invite your partner to a therapy appointment to better understand what’s going on.
There’s no shame in being crazy.
The truth is, there’s only one good time to tell someone you’re romantically involved, and that’s when you’re ready to be open with them about your illness. You don’t owe them an explanation, but it is important for the person you’re inviting into your life to understand what you’re going through.The sad truth is that not everyone is going to want to stick around,and that’s fine.That just means there is someone else out there who will understand,and help you.In the meantime, you always have your wonderful,beautiful self.There’s no shame in being crazy, and everyone deserves a life full of love.
“Are you dying, or do you have a mental illness?”
As for me coming out to my husband about my diagnosis? It happened the first night he slept over when we were dating.He was up,drinking coffee,walking around my apartment while I made him breakfast (and an entire package of bacon) when he noticed the GIANT pill box on my office desk.He pointed to it and asked, “Are you dying, or do you have a mental illness?” I felt comfortable enough to tell him the truth, and he’s been a fantastic support ever since.
It is possible to find love with a mental illness. You might have to kiss a few frogs, just like anyone else, and some days you will be the frog. But meeting the person who understands every bit of you is worth the wait.