“She is delightfully chaotic; a beautiful mess. Loving her is a splendid adventure.”-Steve Maraboli
Dating is hard enough with or without a chemical imbalance. A lot of people are heavily influenced by stigma, and get it twisted when it comes to building a romantic relationship with a girl who has a mental illness. As someone diagnosed with Bipolar II, it is difficult to be vulnerable in love. I believe this is what she wants you to understand about her. Here are 17 things you should know about dating a girl with mental illness.
1. It is not expected of you to completely understand mental illness
She does not expect you to be a book of knowledge about mental illness or a licensed psychologist. Do not feel overwhelmed or frustrated because you cannot comprehend your romantic partners pain. Mental illness is complex, and takes time to fully grasp.
2. Mental illness does not define her
People with mental illness are professionals, educated, well traveled, and have close relationships. Do not be fooled by stigma! A person’s character and accomplishments should be recognized before their condition.
3. Listening is more important than fixing
Mental illness cannot be fixed. It is not a broken table or flat tire. She does not expect you to know how to ‘fix’ her problem. It is more important to have someone listen and be present, than constantly trying to give advice. Professionals are obligated to give advice, not you.
4. Do not blame all you relationship problems on her mental illness
Mental illness causes emotional behavior, however, not every mood change or situation should be blamed on it. It is important to eliminate mental illness from the conversation, and reflect on your own actions, as well as your partners.
5. She is insecure about her situation or diagnosis
Duh! Remember that the stigma of mental illness leads to feelings of nervousness, guilt and shame in any type of relationship, especially a romantic one. When it comes to sharing information, she fears being judged by others. Keep this in mind when trying to get to know her on a deeper level!
6. She is not pushing you away on purpose
This is a problem I am continuously working on! People with mental illness can say hurtful things or act like they don’t care, however, it is meant to protect you rather than to hurt you. Speaking from personal experience, it is difficult to trust others, and let people in to that part of my life. This fear causes me to reject my feelings, and push him away. This does not mean these actions should be condoned, and should be confronted at an appropriate time. An apology will follow shortly after, and if not she may just be a bitch!
7. She does not want you to suffer the consequences of her problem
Be honest about your feelings with her. Do not conceal your personal problems and feelings, due to the fear that she will get upset. Relationships are based off of reciprocity.
8. Her way of thinking is different
When you look at a painting of a lake, you may see water and dirt; when she looks at a painting she may see emotions and depth. Accept and embrace this creative way of thinking. Do not make her feel ‘crazy.’
9. Mental illness is a disease, and should be treated as such
If you believe mental illness is not ‘real,’ then stop reading this blog post and cancel your next date. Mental illness is a real disease, and should be treated like any other illness. It is true some people may experience situational depression, however, many people are in it for the long run. In order for a romantic relationship to work, you have to put your personal bias about mental health to the side and educate yourself.
10. She can be overly sexual or not sexual at all
People with mental illness can be overly sexual at times, or not sexual at all. It may be due to medication or a specific situation. Do not be offended or insecure! Be patient and it will ‘cum’ at its own time.
11. Sometimes she ignores her internal pain
Contrary to what people believe, people with mental illness are usually the ones helping others with their problems. People with mental illness may try to cover up their internal pain by exerting themselves on the behalf of others. Just remember, do not always be deceived by her smile.
12. She wants to tell others about her situation
The stigma of mental illness keeps people to be very quiet about the topic. This means she wants to explain her diagnosis to friends and family at her own time. It is a topic that has to be dealt with very gently. Let me tell you, I immediately know when I walk into a room if it has been said already. The half smile, wide eyed, and stiff posture makes it obvious.
13. Like any relationship, there will be challenges
A major part of a romantic relationship is overcoming obstacles. Do not freak the moment difficulty arises in your relationship. Two chemically balanced individuals with no problems with depression, or any type of disease, still face challenges in their relationship. Always remember to separate mental illness from reality. Overcoming these challenges will only make your romantic relationship stronger.
14. It is not doomed from the start because she has a mental illness
Do not go into the relationship with the constant thought that it is going to fail. Everyone, with or without a mental illness, has issues to deal with. She can add a unique element to your life. It is difficult, and takes a strong person to deal, but believe that it is worth it!
15. Support is the best way to help her, NOT trying to save her
I have faced this issue in many relationships. My potential partner finds out about my diagnosis & BAM he rips open his shirt with a big ‘S’ on his chest. A great way to unravel your romantic partner is by educating yourself about mental illness, and getting involved in the conversation. You are accompanying her on this journey. Take time to read up on mental health or volunteer at an event pertaining to it. You might learn something, and be one step closer to getting in her pants;)
16. Sometimes she will withdraw or be distant
There is no doubt that at certain points she is going to be mentally distant from you. This has nothing to do with her love for you. It means one of two things-she do not want to bother you with her problems or she needs a moment to reflect. If it continues, there is the option that she is just not that into it anymore…sorry!
17. It is not all negative
The stigma of mental illness causes people to assume that the relationship will have more negatives than positives . This is not true! People with mental illness can contribute more positives to your life than negatives. They are capable of adding color to your life. There will be challenges, and difficult moments, however, I believe that you have to take the good with the bad, especially when it comes to love.
Spread Color. Stop Stigma.
If you are in need of support, please go to my ‘Support Page’. You are not alone.