One of the best parts of being a mental health advocate is the connections you make to others with a similar passion for life and mental health. I was thrilled when Julie Kraft, author of the incredible book, The Other Side of Me: Memoir Of a Bipolar Mind, agreed to share part of her story with me. She is both beautiful on the outside and on the inside. In this interview, Julie shares her journey with bipolar disorder and opens up about motherhood, love, stigma and how a move from her home in Canada to Germany gave her clarity in a world that made her feel so clouded. Thank you, Julie, for speaking your truth. Read more
I will never forget when my ex would grab the rolls off the table as I would reach for them, and say to the waiter, “She doesn’t need these,” or all the times he asked for a togo box after I took my first three bites of a meal at a restaurant. I am not looking for sympathy by telling you this. I already disposed of that garbage. I am letting you know this actually happens. Body image issues are heavily present among women. We are surrounded by things that make us question our reflection constantly. The last thing we need is for our guy to do the same. So I am going to help you guys out. Here are 10 rules to follow when talking about body or weight to your girl that could potentially save your relationship, get you a second date or even asked upstairs.
10 Rules Every Guy Should Follow When It Comes To Her Body… Read more
Josh FeliseWhen you want to impress a girl – communication is key. It’s always been the key, and it remains the key. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to reach out to someone you’re interested in. And, whereas, it’s quite okay to send her a message, more often than not, it will give you an edge if you call…
If you are looking for me to say how much I hate my life with bipolar 2 disorder, you will not find it in this post. It does not define me, but it is a major part of who I am. If you erase my bipolar disorder, you erase me as a whole. I am never going to live without it, and I want to give others a taste of my reality. I do not place pressure on myself to be perfect. I am honest. This is my mind; this is my journey. Here is a little bit of what it is like to live in the mind of a 28-year-old diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. Read more
Dating is hard enough with or without a chemical imbalance. 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 a girl diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, it is difficult to be vulnerable in love. I believe this is what she wants you to understand about her.
She was never crazy, she just didn’t let her heart settle in a cage. She was born wild,and sometimes we need people like her. For it’s the horrors in her heart which cause the flames in ours. And she was always willing to burn for everything she has ever loved. -R.M Drake
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. Mental illness is meant to be a mystery, and those of us who live with it are the only ones who can truly understand the world that exists within us. It is not expected of you to completely understand, however, it is expected that you support us on our journey. I mean that is a rule in every relationship, right?
2. Mental illness does not define her.
If her mental illness blocks you from seeing her beauty and individuality than it is best to leave her be. People with mental illness are professionals, educated, well traveled, creative, artists and individuals. Do not judge her character based on her 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.
4. Do not blame all you relationship problems on her mental illness.
This one is a biggie! Mental illness causes us to have emotional extremes, however, not every mood change or situation should be blamed on it. She is not a scapegoat. 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.
She is delightfully chaotic; a beautiful mess. Loving her is a splendid adventure. – Steve Maraboli
6. She is not pushing you away on purpose.
I am definitely a pusher! 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, but 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 hide your feelings from her.
Be honest about your feelings with her. Do not conceal your personal problems and feelings due to your fear that she will get upset. Relationships are based off of reciprocity.
8. Her way of thinking may be different than yours, but that does not mean it is bad.
You may look at a painting, she feels it. Accept and embrace this way of emotional depth. Just because she is different, does not make her wrong. Date yourself if you want to be with someone who is just like you.
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 or don’t move forward in your relationship. Save her from your ignorance. Not to be harsh, but anyone who does not believe mental illness exists is ignorant. If you love her 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 extremely sexual at times. I know some of you are like, Score! However, there will be periods where not much is happening between the sheets. It may be due to medication or simply she is going through an episode of depression. Do not be offended or insecure! Be patient and it will come at its own time.
There are parts of me that will always remain untamable, messy, and reckless; but I refuse to apologize for it anymore.- Kaitlin Foster
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 at times, but that is in every relationship. Trust me, she 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.
She had been through battle and though no one could her demons. They could see the face that conquered them.- Atticus
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. What makes her different, makes her beautiful.
What makes her different, makes her beautiful. Embrace it.
She never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battle she’s won.-Matt Baker
Last Halloween, a local costume shop was scrutinized, and banned from selling costumes of “mentally ill” people. I assume dressing up like Einstein was not generating enough profit, and therefore the store resorted to blood smeared hospital gowns. This incident came up in a recent conversation, and encouraged this question: Why are we so terrified of mental hospitals, and worse, mentally ill people? Read more
“Well…I have um..you know I am uhhh…it’s not a big deal (awkward laugh) it’s just I have this thing…I swear I’m not crazy…um, okay I have fucking bipolar.”
This was me when I had my first epiphany, “Holy shit, the doctors weren’t joking, I really have bipolar disorder.”
The image we project to our friends, family, co workers and peers is just a portrayal of how we are expected to appear, and expected to behave; the mask created to blend into guidelines of normal behavior. Read more
The day I arrived at the mental facility, the last thing I thought was ‘I wonder if there are any cute guys.” I don’t think these places have a location status on Tinder. I can imagine that status, “Hannah is located within 2 miles of you at the local mental hospital.” However, I did meet a guy, who was very ill at the time,and his scars told his story. His name was Jared, and we didn’t fall in love with each other, we fell in understanding with one another;two souls destined to meet, to help lift one another from the dirt under which they were so deeply buried. A type, and kind of a stretch of West Side Story; two kids from separate neighborhoods who were destined to collide right in the middle. This was our story. Read more
The older I get, the more reading has become a daily habit, along with dying my grey hairs (just kidding). Finding a book that suits your needs and/or current situation helps in more ways than you could imagine. After time spent in the hospital, reading became a positive outlet that allowed me to use my imagination, while expanding my mind. The following are my personal suggestions for some reads that you might enjoy. Some are entertaining, interactive and deep. These are great for when your feeling down, in need of some inspiration or just looking for a good read. Read more
There are two things in this world that inspire me: A good glass of Vino and Ted Talk’s on mental health. These listed Ted Talk’s helped me come forward about my own diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder. Each Talk is completely different, and gives you a separate outlook on mental illness. You won’t regret watching! I would love to hear your comments about these Ted Talks. I hope some of you can find useful information, and a little bit of inspiration from these unbelievable individuals. Read more