Coming out of the Bipolar ‘closet’

I recently met someone. It is not serious at all yet and we are still very much getting to know each other, but for the first time in a long time I actually think that there is potential there. In the past couple of years I have had only messy non-relationship relationships and drunken flings. I’ve never been good at the dating game. Therefore I am naturally inclined to a sense of impending doom, but since I am in the best space I’ve been in since, well, ever, I am cautiously optimistic. But I really don’t want to skrew this up, especially before it’s even really begun.

Being the obsessive, anxious control-freak that I am, I am already worried about how, and at what point, I’m going to tell him that I have Bipolar Disorder. On our first date he mentioned something about a psychiatric hospital and I just laughed and said nothing, even though I felt ashamed at betraying myself. There are certain subjects I tip-toe around, and I constantly have to watch what I say and steer clear of certain topics. I am filled with anxiety about how he is going to react when he finds out. He is getting to know me at my best now, but what will happen when I inevitably hit rock bottom again? Will he even be willing to stick around until that happens?

I know my worries are very premature. Who knows if we’ll even get to a stage where it’s necessary to tell him about it. Still, it is a situation that all people with illness have to face at more than one point of their lives. I have been able to avoid this since I was diagnosed, only telling people who I know love me unconditionally and would not judge. It’s confusing and causes so much anxiety, thinking about how it will impact on the future, the possibility of rejection getting the timing wrong and losing someone you care about.

My plan is to just not think about it, take it one day at a time and deal with these situations as they arise, hoping that I will know when the right time is. I suppose I don’t want to be with someone who can’t accept me the way I am anyway.

When did you break the news about your illness to your partner and how did he/she react?

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3 thoughts on “Coming out of the Bipolar ‘closet’

  1. Despite dropping hints and joking around about it, I didn’t really address it until I had a big, bad episode of depression. We were already living together at that point (about two years in) and he watched me fall apart at the seams.

    I was really afraid because when we started dating I didn’t have a clear diagnosis (and hoped no episodes would come my way again), and my previous boyfriend had been an abusive asshole… someone who belittled me any time I expressed wanting to get some kind of help.

    That was all I knew, so I didn’t know what to expect from the new guy. Little did I know, he was very familiar with depression from his childhood and was EXTREMELY supportive of me getting the help I needed.

    I am very open with the people I meet now, but I sometimes wish I had done more to be upfront (or at least feel out his viewpoint by bringing up things in the news or general articles I’d read to get his viewpoint). Many people in my life have been more than willing to learn about bipolar disorder through the things I tell them, which has really helped shape many of my friend’s thoughts on mental illness in general.

    In the end, I think I got lucky with my current boyfriend. I started dating him six years ago, but if I started dating him today I would be much more inclined to be open and learn about his viewpoints before getting too attached to him. After all, why would you want to be with someone who makes you feel bad about things beyond your control? I’ve already been there, and it isn’t worth it.

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  2. I just told him upfront and I put it on FB, Now everyone knows and I do not have the stress of dancing around it. Since I acknowledged it, many people also came forward. By the way, my husband is finding it hard to accept it. Even though I have been living with it for over 30 years undiagnosed he found it a massive shock and trying to understand it. He says the past is in the past, leave it there. It is as if he wants to pull out a faulty part and replaces it with a “there there, it is working well now”

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