Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Bipolar Dating Game

For those us of us out there that live with a mental illness, telling someone that you have a mental illness can be one of the tougher things to deal with when it comes to any relationship.   When it comes to dating someone new it can been so stressful due to the concern of how the person might react.  It can almost give you so much anxiety that you do not even want to bother.  Dating can be very tough but when you live with a mental illness it just makes it that much harder.   I am now married to a wonderful, very supportive man that is always there for me during my break downs.   Even after nearly four years of the tough mood swings, suicide plans, and saving me from three suicide attacks he still is just as supportive as the day I told him I had Bipolar Disorder.  He never even blinked an eye when I told him and he never saw me as a  broken woman but sees me in my true light.  This was the first time in a romantic relationship that anyone had ever done this.  I often feel guilty about him still be married to me.  I have even told him a few times that I would not hold it against him if he wanted out because he had never truly seen just how bad the mood swings could be.  Of course he shakes his head at me at such a silly idea and always says "why would I leave my best friend and the love of my life ?" However my relationships in my past have not been this healthy nor understanding.

I can not even keep count on how many men could not handle my bipolar disorder.  I do not blame them for that because it is a tough illness to live with.   I know I would not choose to live with it if I had a choice so I am not sure why anyone would choose this.  There have been many boyfriends of mine who honesty did try but just could not handle it.  I think my illness has always been a factor in my very low self esteem and I am positive it was one of the reasons I married my first very abusive ex-husband because I did not feel worthy of love.  However there have been a ton of men who ran as fast as they could when I did tell then of my medical condition.  The stigma and the misinformation out there is just too great.  I even had one guy who told me he was in love with me but after "consulting" his friends at work thought I was some deranged lunatic.  I believe his friends exact words were "you better be careful man  because she will kill you in your sleep."  Well for men that cannot not even have an open mind then I am glad they took off running.  This goes for some of my so called friends who could only be there in the fun times.  So thus comes to the question I have been asked many times... When is the right time to tell someone that you are dating that you do have a mental illness????

While there is no perfect formula because everyone is different, I will share what I think worked best for me.  As I have said many times that I am still heavily guarded with telling others that I have a mental illness, I think a romantic relationship with someone is completely different.  I think it is only fair for the person to know the truth once it is getting serious.  Now while you are just casual dating and there is no hint of it being serious I think it is fine to not tell them and let them get to know you and see you for who you are and not just see your illness.  Throughout the past 8 years before I met my husband I used dating services online.  I found it a great way to meet people, get to know them through deep conversations and just see if they might be a possibility. Of course having social anxiety did not help going out to meet new people but talking to them for awhile online seemed to make it easier.   I was always safe with it and met them in public several times before I went on any official dates.  I of course never walked up and said oh yes and by the way I have Bipolar Disorder.  I always waited until it was exclusive, they had a chance to get to know me, and normally after they told me they were falling in love with me.  I think that is fair and it seemed to work for me.  I also made sure they knew the facts and if it was serious enough have them meet with my psychiatrist.

I have learned quite a bit about myself in the last 8 years and my time of dating after getting out of my extremely abusive difficult marriage.  I learned that I was worthy of love and that my illness should not keep me from pursuing that.  I was blessed enough to find a man that only sees my mental illness as a medical condition that requires treatment just as if I had diabetes.  So while my way of going about the dating game with a mental illness  might not work for everyone or anyone else, hopefully it has left you with more insight on how I have handled that dreaded part of sharing that highly guarded part of my life.


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  3. Hi Elaine, I wondered if you could provide some insight to a very confusing and hard break up I've experienced with my ex-girlfriend. I'm 33 and she is 28. We met online and at the time she was in hospital for blood tests. Once she returned home we started dating and we hit things off really well. We had a lot in common and were both very physically attracted to one another. She would stay with me a lot and would bring me gifts for my house and cook me wonderful meals if I had a hard day at work. Our conversation always flowed and she was always either in an upbeat engaging or relaxed mood with me. In October last year she got her own place and was excited about me coming to stay with and arranged a night with me after I had helped her move house. She invited me to her Christmas dinner and asked me about going on a short break way somewhere in the new year. A few days before I was due to go to hers we were sending flirty texts and the next thing she asks if we can chat.

    We speak on the phone and she basically breaks up with me saying she can't do this anymore and she will only end up hurting me. After a week we chat and she says she feels horrible for the way she handled things and said there are things too difficult for her to talk about. Eventually near Christmas she says she couldn't tell me the truth before but that she is manic bipolar and had a turn for the worse while staying with her mum. She said she attempted some very stupid things resulting in her being hospitalized. So she said she had to end things with me or else she will end up hurting me. At this time she also found a new guy and posted up pics on her facebook page which crushed me. This just a month after we split.

    I want to believe she is telling me the truth about her bipolar - surely no one would lie about something like this just to scare someone away if they have a new person on the go? If she was so worried about hurting me then how is it so easy for her to start a new relationship and wouldn't the same be said for the new guy getting hurt also? We only dated for 4 months but she showed me an incredible amount of love, affection and attraction over that period and then literally did a 180 and ended it. Is this normal for someone with manic bipolar? I wish she felt she could have trusted me that I wouldn't have judged or thought any different about her condition.

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for your comments and questions. I will try to help you but since I do not know your ex-girlfriend I will just share with you what has happened in my life.

    When you have Bipolar Disorder it is not easy to share and I would think no one would make that up. When I met my husband I was always telling him things like I would make his life harder and I would be a burden. I even broke up with him at first because I did not want him to have to deal with my mood swings. The one thing he did that no other man has ever done was fight for me. He kept in touch with me and won me over and has always been there.

    Also, sometimes with Bipolar Disorder your mood swings can make you act out of character. So if you truly had a connection with her that take another chance at it and find out for yourself. I know you said she has another guy in her life but maybe she really had strong feelings for you and truly did not want to cause you pain living with someone with Bipolar Disorder. I would ask her if it would be ok to talk about what happened and ask her if she truly does not want to hurt you that she will tell you the truth. I have had to do this with a boyfriend and he was lying that he really did love me anymore and did not want to tell me and made up an excuse.

    Just know that Bipolar Disorder is a tough illness to keep under control. There will always be changes in mood and you need to figure out if that is truly something you can live with in the future before you talk to her. I hope you read my post on here with my struggles and find out all you can about the illness. It is a tough illness but some of best and brightest people in this world have it.

    To this day I still tell my husband that he would be better off with out me but he always tells me how silly that is.

    I hope I helped but if anything I feel you need to get closure on this and I hope she can be honest with you.

  5. Hello Elaine,
    I would be very happy if you could read my ebook about bipolar disorder and may be even review it on amazon or on your blog.
    Please let me know, I can even send you a free copy

  6. I have been married for 8 years to a man with BPD. When we married nobody , including my spouse, told me of his illness. I found out when he went into his first episode of our relationship 6 months after our wedding. It was scary and difficult. He also has paranoid schizophrenic behaviours in a bad manic episode. It was scary and at times dangerous. I have come to a place where I deal with them pretty well now but it was a hard learning curve. I recently found a book that I couldn't put down. It was like reading my own story. It is called Balancing between the poles, supporting and surviving a spouse with mental illness.

    Maybe it can give you insight as well, or someone reading this. I found it on amazon ebooks

    Here is the link:

    Good luck

  7. I’m not sure how to contact you and I feel as though I’d rather email you than post, in case you don’t want me to post an advert on your blog.

    Like you, I’ve had Bipolar for over 20 years and I began writing before I was diagnosed. The only way I could explain what I was feeling and the intense confusion it caused me was by writing. And, 20 years later I am publishing an ebook under a pen name to protect me a bit. I’m using my Grandmother’s name, C. C. Neish, a lady I’ve never met but by all accounts she was really lovely.

    The ebook is being published in time for Mental Health Awareness Week 12-18 May 2014 and it is free on Amazon on 14-18 May … next week! I’m a bit nervous I can tell you!

    Claudia Hammond, Radio 4 presenter of ‘All in the Mind’ and 9 charities supporting its publication in time for Mental Health Awareness Week 2014: Bipolar UK, International Bipolar Foundation, Mental Health Foundation, MInd, Sane, Relate, Rethink, Time to Change and Young Minds.

    The story is an analogy about feeling trapped, anxious, depressed, hopeless and based on the limitations, in this case of a bumblebee, to understand the nature of her crisis. The reader becomes attuned to the process of hope and recovery and hopefully the realisation that mental health problem doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no chance for recovery. It presents recovery as living with life’s ups and downs, it’s not about being completely ‘healed’ or ‘protected’ against all kinds of suffering.

    Please, please send this email to your member and contacts. It would be great to think it could help people who experience stress-related illness and their supporters and that they have the offer to download it free.

  8. I was sent a great link about an article that was written about someone that is in a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder. Please check it out:

  9. Great Post this is. I was also read a great post on Bipolarism and wanted to people read. very nicely described about bipolar and its types, about treatments all important things.