On Monday, I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to start dating again. Since I said it aloud, it must be true or at least close enough to my conscious mind for it to spill out of my mouth. Though I’ve had a few bad dates, I haven’t had a relationship since before my bipolar diagnosis. So brimming with self-awareness off I go back onto the market…but what am I looking for?
I, like other singletons suffering from mental illness, harbor a little fear about dating, and about telling a new paramour about our disease. No matter how you feel about yourself, you can’t help but recognize the stigma associated with bipolar and other mental illnesses. Clearly I’m awesome, but I know there are millions of potential suitors who think I might be stupid, dangerous and otherwise untouchable from a relationship standpoint. For Pete’s sake, what if someone “normal” married me? Our kids might have a psychatric illness and then what would we do?!?!
Relationship Compatibility: Maybe it’s in the Serotonin
Please note: the opinions I’ll express in the next paragraph do not represent the views of any mental health authority, and may not actually represent those of this blogger. The following is for entertainment purposes only, and will hopefully give even those in the midst of a depression a reason to laugh, if only at ourselves.
An interesting solution to the stigma problem is to date another person with a mental illness, preferably a compatible one. For example, I might date someone with Bipolar I because they tend towards mania and I, with Bipolar II, tend towards depression, so we’d balance each other out. Actually, not so much with the balance, since mania can be a little irritating to someone who’s stable. Personally, my mania has lead to anger, cursing and inappropriate sexual behavior. Not exactly the stuff of good relationships no matter what your diagnosis.
Like Begets Like, or, Dating Your Disease
Maybe I should look for someone who shares the exact same affliction so that we can compare notes and we’ll be supremely compatible. Then again, my disease is pretty well managed, and I’d want my partner to be similarly “in control”. Not that I wouldn’t support someone who was in the midst of an episode and needed hospitalization. But I’ve found that my particular brand of clinical misery loves company, and I’ve really only been psychiatrically stable for about a year and only a few months at this medication dosage…ok, perhaps one serious mental condition per participant is would be best. There goes my idea for DateYourDisorder.com.
But, seriously, I use sarcasm and humor to mask the fact that dating has always been stressful for me. And now, being older, wiser, and in search of a healty relationship, dating seems like a monumental task. I’m pretty much afraid of rejection – either before or after disclosure - and just afraid of getting involved with a man who’s bad for me and bad for my disease. Still, I’m going to try meeting someone new. Somehow. Maybe I’ll write about it.