In my experience, one of the most frustrating challenges about living with a mental illness is that the seemingly small things in life are often the most difficult.
Take a first date, for example… or just trying to get a first date.
She lives with bipolar II, schizoaffective disorder, and complex post-traumatic-stress disorder. When everything is uncertain and depends on how the chemicals in your brain are interacting with each other, the equation of trying to balance life with a mental illness is a messy one.
That goes for both love and relationships. While there is yet to be a dating manual for mentally ill folks, we can guide each other. I was fortunate to speak with several brave women who are open about their mental health.
They shared their stories and advice for people with mental illnesses who want a chance at love — of all kinds. Dating while mentally ill can be a positive experience, but, unfortunately, mental health stigma is real and definitely impacts the dating lives of mentally ill people.
Since these experiences, Hall has found and been in a happy relationship with a man also affected by mental illness. Their third anniversary is in October. The impact of those words and actions hurt, and their consequences are real, but the hatred and shame that these people are telling you to feel are not the reality of who you are. It is possible to find not just love, but the healthy, supportive, real love that you deserve. Initiating this kind of transparency in any kind of relationship sexual or not can be incredibly difficult, especially depending on what challenges your conditions present.
While there is no such thing as perfect timing, you can prepare for when you are ready… but how can you tell? Personally, my way of knowing when to tell someone my diagnosis is when I begin to trust them — not entirely, but enough to tell them this detail of my life.
I have also found it helpful to ask myself: Do I feel like it will get even healthier, or not? Do I feel safe with this person?
The best advice I can give is to listen to yourself and your feelings. Although these may be affected by your mental illness, your feelings and experiences still matter.
The more you have this conversation, the more you will be able to determine what you want in other people, and what Dating while mentally ill will not accept. In doing this, you are directly investing in not only your future relationship, but your own well-being. Whether you are seeing people or are partnered, it is entirely possible to Dating while mentally ill happy while dating with a mental illness, and to enjoy while things are good.
However, it is also important to account for what may happen, and how you want to go about those moments with the people you care for. Fan lives with dysthymia and anxiety. Recognize your own problematic coping mechanisms and toxic behaviors and work on them. We all go through them.