Social Question

Jude's avatar

Would you date someone who is Bipolar (or had some other form of mental illness). Why or why not?

Asked by Jude (31966 points ) August 11th, 2011

Was discussing this with a family member the other day.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

94 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Nope. I bring enough crazy to the table on my own, thanks.

Jude's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I couldn’t do it either.

Blackberry's avatar

Probably not, I don’t like dealing with emotional rollercoasters.

MilkyWay's avatar

I would. One of my friends is Bi-Polar and he’s an extremely nice person. I could even see me going out with him. I think it depends on how well I know the person. If I spend time with him and know him quite a bit, then yes, I would. If it’s someone completely new, then I don’t think so.

Jude's avatar

I guess that it would depend on the person, the relationship, how self-aware they were, how much they were willing to work at taking care of themselves, etc.

flutherother's avatar

I would, I am fatally attracted to people with extreme personalities.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If he was aware of his illness and was taking measures to prevent mood swings, yes. If he were undiagnosed and preferred to stay that way? No.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, I’m bipolar, and I take myself out all the time.

linguaphile's avatar

If the person has done enough self-work to be able to manage his bipolar issues on his own, and not expect to glom onto me, sure. It would depend wholly on the other factors in his personality in that case.

Unmanaged bipolar? Glommy bipolar? no, no, No, NO NO! To clarify, no.

I lurve you Jake!

[edit: As for other mental illnesses, again, it depends on whether the person has self-managed the illness or not, but I won’t get serious with anyone with a borderline personality disorder.]

Cruiser's avatar

Yes….it is the ones who deny they have any mental issues are the ones I try to avoid.

marinelife's avatar

If I knew early enough on in the relationship that I was not yet really attached that someone was bipolar, I would really hesitate to get further involved with them.

I have known too many people who had bipolar family members and how they were affected by it.

With other forms of mental illness, it would depend on what it was. Schizophrenia? No.

Jude's avatar

Thanks for your honesty.

RareDenver's avatar

After losing a mother to (suicide) mental illness and having a brother with rapid cycle manic bi-polar disorder I don’t think I would have the strength to date someone with bi-polar too.

Love_Story's avatar

I’ve gone out qith a guy that was some what bipolar, it worked out good at the beging but it was over sooner then i thought .

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes, because far be it from me to talk.

Judi's avatar

I married someone who was, although it was not diagnosed at the time. If I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t. Not only was the marriage a constant roller coaster that ended when the disease finally took his life, he passed the disease on to my children. My son got out of the hospital yesterday after one of many suicide attempts. It is a hard life to live, constantly worrying if your mate will be successful in his threats, living with delusions of grandeur, loosing jobs as soon as things seem stable.
No I wouldn’t choose it this way again.

wundayatta's avatar

If I were single, I don’t know if I would consider anyone other than someone with bipolar disorder. They present a lot of challenges, but damn! When you click, it is the most intense thing ever.

Let me qualify that a bit. A bipolar person is not necessarily going to be intense, and someone without bipolar can be incredibly intense. However, I believe it will be easiest to find what I’m looking for among the ranks of the supposedly mentally ill.

Of course, I don’t know how long I could stand it. I do need a roller coaster in my life, but I wouldn’t want to destroy my life. I don’t think. Sometimes I do, of course.

The thing is, I believe they would understand me almost instinctively. They would know when I was pushing but didn’t mean it. They would know when I was denigrating myself but only because I was depressed. They would know when I was attacking them because they loved me and wouldn’t be bothered by it.

Well, they might know. Even knowing the personality, it’s hard not to take these things personally. If I couldn’t train my wife to know when she shouldn’t think I mean what I say, I wouldn’t be married any more. But it hurts her to be pushed away, even though I don’t mean it. I haven’t done it to her since my first episode, but it could always come back, despite my best efforts.

tinyfaery's avatar

Of, course. Normal people are so boring.~

Kardamom's avatar

Absolutely not. Some of my relatives have bi-polar and it is not a picnic in any way. I’ve also worked with several people that wreaked havoc at work, each one of them ultimately ended up getting fired for doing something really, really stupid (completely different stupid things). I don’t know about anybody except for the folks that I knew personally, but the bi-polar people went from being charming and talking too fast and making impulsive decisions to being super, super mean and selfish (sometimes all on the same day). Not someone I’d like to date.

I dated a guy with extreme OCD once, for quite a long time and it was a nightmare for both him and me. I loved him dearly, but his illness almost took us both down.

A few of my friends/acquaintences suffer from chronic depression and although I like (most of the time) and love (some of them) they are such downers and energy suckers that I couldn’t possibly see myself spending more time with them than I have to.

Somebody that had something more severe like schizophrenia would simply not be enough like a normal adult for me to want to date them.

I have dated a one sociopathic narcissist and that situation almost made me want to leave this life.

My cousin dated, got pregnant by, and then married a man who was a chronic liar and physical abuser. That situation ended up with our family having to extract her through an intervention.

So I’m going to go with no.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This thread is actually quite depressing for someone with a treatable mental illness.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@hawaii_jake it is for mom/wife of mental disorder, too. It’s why I asked my question. I saw this thread, saw schizophrenic used to replace the word “volatile” and lost it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

It really depends. It’s definitely not a straight no, but they have to be getting treatment and that treatment has to be effective. If they’re making sure it doesn’t take down their entire life, and really making sure it doesn’t hurt other people, then it’s just baggage, same as everyone else has. I don’t mind the diagnosis so much as how it effects that particular person and how severe the treated version of it is. Volatility, no, diagnosis, so fucking what.

Also, that’s using the definition of mental illness that people are using on this thread. Learning disorders? Sleep disorders? So do not care. Anxiety disorders? Depends on severity and how much it’s under control. Eating disorders, same. Some of the somatoform ones would be fine, too.

nikipedia's avatar

If the person is self-aware and demonstrably open to treatment, I don’t see any reason why not. Everyone’s got something.

Judi's avatar

Well… I have a divorcing bipolar (but not if you ask him) son who is 28, handsome, a great poet/musician, very charismatic, a lot of fun, and prone to mood swings who needs a strong stable secure woman in his life who doesn’t get jealous if girls get crushes on him when he is a rock star. Any takers?

wundayatta's avatar

I think if you have poor boundaries and don’t have a clear idea of when to say no, then you shouldn’t be dating someone who can manipulate you without even wanting to, or even knowing they are doing that. Some people are just too nice for their own good. They want to help very badly, and so they keep on giving and giving until all of sudden they find themselves in way deep and with no way to get out.

We all need to be able to take care of ourselves with anyone. We need to be able to not let ourselves be pushed around. We should never depend completely on someone else to do the right thing. We need to be able to say no. If we can’t, we’ll be in trouble anywhere, but especially with someone who can be desperate for love and safety and finding a sense of worth the way people with bipolar disorder can.

Most every bipolar person I’ve talked with about this is like me. I need love in order to be a whole person. I have a place inside me that is missing so much, I can never fill it. I need love to fill it. There is no way on earth I could love myself. I just don’t believe I’m lovable unless someone loves me and I can feel that love.

So when someone appears who seems to love me and who I love, we suck our souls together like two black holes joining. The whole point of love, for me, is to go outside my boundaries and to feel that I am not alone. I am constantly seeking to cross that barrier that separates me from the world and especially from other people.

This is very dangerous for people who can’t say no. You will experience me as needing too much. As being too intense. As thinking too much. But you’ll already be in love and you won’t know how to extract yourself.

Eventually, I’ll give you a way because I’ll become convinced you are lying somehow, and I’ll need to test you and I’ll push you away. Maybe you’ll take the hint and leave. Maybe you’ll think you can save me and you’ll try to help me. But if you don’t have good boundaries, it’ll be a mess. Ending up a disaster. You’ll really be hurt.

Now I’m on meds and I’m in therapy and I’ve been stable for a while, but I still start falling off the deep end fairly regularly. Usually, I pull myself back and I don’t do anything really stupid, but I might hurt myself or someone else in the process. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I try not to hurt anyone and mostly I don’t. But there are times when I lash out—when I get hurt, and it’s unfair and I thought someone had respect for me, or that we had a special bond (which I cherish even if I can’t do anything about it).

Then I don’t know what might happen. I hope I can stabilize myself quickly. But if it’s a person who doesn’t know how to say no, it’s harder. I want what she seems to be offering. If I’m depressed, and I let myself go and she can’t say no, it could be pretty disastrous.

So, if you’re a person like that, then I think you should really think twice before getting involved with someone whose emotions are so intense. But if you really know who you are and you know what you want and you won’t do what you don’t want to do, then I think you’d be equipped to be in a relationship with someone who can push you hard at times.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Judi Is this the same son you basically described as abusive a couple months ago, and who keeps landing in the hospital? Then no, because he’s not got his shit together.

jca's avatar

No, not if I knew they were. Relationships are hard enough without that added issue thrown in.

Judi's avatar

@Aethelflaed ; That’s why I said, “a strong woman.” although he’s not physically abusive, he is very smart and can justify just about anything. He will twist reality and have you thinking the sky is green. I love him dearly (as I did his father,) but I know that anyone in a relationship with him will be in for a tough road. He has no problem finding girls. His looks and his charm are like a magnet.

Seelix's avatar

Sure; I’d totally date me.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Judi Yeah, I think strong women aren’t so interested in getting with a guy that’s gonna treat them like crap.

Judi's avatar

@Aethelflaed ; in his lifetime he had 1 girlfriend that didn’t take any crap from him and he actually did thrived. It was High School, so it wasn’t going to last forever.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Judi Yeah, but it’s still having to go through the process of repeatedly setting boundaries you really shouldn’t have to. Why not go with someone who treats you with respect the first time around?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Let me see if I can sum up from what I’ve read in this thread so far.

Would you date a person with bipolar disorder? The answers have been no across the board except for the people who identify themselves as bipolar.

Well, that pretty much correlates to my own life experience. I’ve been in long-ish relationships where I haven’t started by announcing my diagnosis. I’ve been stable in those relationships. I’ve been on my medication and in therapy. When I finally did reveal my illness, the men left. All of them. Every last one.

Hmm. this give me plenty to think about.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@hawaii_jake It reverts back to the discussion a few days ago about labels & should people use them…Apparently, not.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@hawaii_jake I think the problem is that people have really bad experiences with a) people who had bipolar but didn’t have it under control and b) people who were diagnosed with bipolar but were, in fact, misdiagnosed and had something else (perhaps something more severe), so it was really not under control. It then ruins it for everyone.

Kardamom's avatar

@hawaii_jake Unfortunately the people that I knew had these particular conditions, not a one of them was willing to get any treatment.

The boyfriend with OCD had no health insurance and could not afford to pay for any kind of treament. It was so sad.

One of the guys at work with bi-polar had been diagnosed and given medication, but he decided on his own to stop taking it because he said it made him feel weird. I’ve also heard that the meds for bi-polar can make men impotent, so some people stop taking it for that reason. The other guy, simply never took meds from the get go, although he was diagnosed with bi-polar. Instead he drank (which was part of the reason for his dismissal, he started coming to work intoxicated). Both of these fellows got into trouble with sexually harrassing women at work (probably during their manic phases).

The friends with the depression, simply won’t seek treatment, because the condition of being depressed makes you not want to get up and go to the doctor. Instead they drink or just stay in their homes.

My cousin’s boyfriend, then husband, with the lying problem went to marriage counseling hoping to solve the problem. Guess what? He lied to the counselor. Then he started beating the children. My cousin didn’t even know about this, until the littlest one, at aged 3 told her that “Daddy hits brother.” the 5 year old. When my cousin told us about this situation, that’s when we decided to mount an intervention, because he had almost completely isolated her form all contact (he moved them to another state, wouldn’t let her use the phone or the car etc.)

Not sure what do do, when the people who _need_treatment won’t accept it, can’t afford it, or it causes other problems that the person can’t deal with.

I feel a tremendous sense of pain for people with mental illness, but if I knew that I had a mental illness, I would not be seeking to find a mate. I would not want to subject anyone to that. And for my own well being, I will not choose to date someone with a mental illness because of my own personal encounters. That doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t be friends with those people or accept them as family members. I do that every day.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@hawaii_jake in all fairness, my response is certainly not limited to bipolar. I have dated people in the past with mental illness, and when combined with my own mental illness, we have a big, unstable mess. I’ve always been pretty open about my OC tendencies here, and I once dated a guy with OCD. What a train wreck we were.

Seelix's avatar

@hawaii_jakeThe answers have been no across the board except for the people who identify themselves as bipolar.
I answered in the affirmative, and I have dealt with depression in the past and presently deal with anxiety disorder. No bipolar here.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Seelix : Sorry about that. Thank you for clearing up my mistake.

I’ve over-generalized in my response. I’m sorry to all.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Kardamom : You wrote, ”...if I knew that I had a mental illness, I would not be seeking to find a mate. I would not want to subject anyone to that.” That’s harsh. I understand your reluctance to subject yourself to the vagaries of mentally ill people given your experiences, but to tell a whole class of society that they’re better off as hermits seems counter productive. Very often, people with mental illness need more social interaction, not less.

I happen to be mentally ill, and I’m unable to work because of it. In my way of thinking, my job is to stay out of the hospital. I do that by keeping my appointments with my caregivers like my caseworker and my psychiatrist and my therapist. I exercise. I eat healthy food. I meditate. I practice saying affirmations to myself. I am very aware of how I live my life.

I know a lot of people like me. I know a lot of bipolar people who are able to work. There’s a whole spectrum of bipolar disorder and mental illness. Please, don’t dismiss us all.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Just want to say this: I don’t know if what @hawaii_jake and @wundayatta are like on Fluther is in any way representative of how they are in real life. Their bipolar may be a much bigger thing in real life than it is on Fluther. But if they’re pretty much the same in real life as they are on Fluther, then it sounds like both of these men are prime examples of what bipolar can look like when treated properly, which is to say, pretty much undetectable. I’d date both of them. I mean, not really, because aside from some age and location barriers, one’s happily married and one doesn’t like the ladies so much, but you know what I mean.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

For the record, Fluther is where I “let it all hang out” so to speak. I’m even more outspoken here than in real life, because it’s mostly anonymous. (I say mostly, because I have befriended a few jellies on Facebook. A very few.) I come here so that I can speak candidly about issues that I feel are close to my heart and ones that I may have some knowledge about.

Only a very select group of my dearest friends in the real world know about my diagnosis, because of the same preconceived ideas and prejudices that have been shown in a few comments and threads on Fluther.

Kardamom's avatar

@hawaii_jake I did not mean to offend you in any way. I never said that people with mental illness should live like hermits. I specifically said that I, personally, would not even consider looking for a mate if I knew that I personally had a mental illness. There’s a whole host of other reasons for why I would not consider looking for a mate, such as if I was not in a financial position to live independently, then I would not want to subject a potential mate to my neediness. Or if I knew that I was going off into the military and might not make it back home, I would not consider looking for a mate and subjecting them to that. That is me, personally.

I also said that if I knew someone had a mental illness, I would not get involved with them. If I ended up involved with someone, and then later found out that they had a mental illness in which they were being effectively treated, that would probably be OK. But I would never consciously get into a relationship with a person (as a mate) because the potential problems would almost always outweigh the potential good things. At that point, I would likely not have already fallen in love with them, so I still have that choice to make. Just like I would never date a smoker or someone that I knew was an alcoholic, or someone that I knew was bisexual. Because there is a pretty good likelihood that I’m going to end up with the short end of the stick in those situations.

And like I mentioned before, the people who I knew that had these particular mental illnesses, were not getting any treatment for them, which is unlike what you are doing. But if I met someone tomorrow, who seemed attractive to me, but then they let me know that they had bi-polar, I can tell you right now, that I would not consider dating them. I would probably be their friend, because that’s a whole other situation, but being someone’s mate or SO or husband or wife is quite a different kind of comittment and I’m simply not up to the task.

Try to look at it from the other side of the coin, since you don’t want people with mental illness to have to be hermits, and it’s been determined on this thread that most non mentally ill people simply don’t want to take on that kind of situation, how would you think about asking the folks with bi-polar only to hook up with each other. I think most people with bi-polar (except @wundayatta who already said that that situation is better for him) would choose not to date other people with mental illnesses either. Trying to maintain a relationship with someone who does not have a mental illness is difficult enough without adding another (huge, in my opinion) problem into the mix.

If you had a child and they had two different potential mates to choose from (everything else being equal) would you prefer that your child choose the person with the mental illness? If they’ve already fallen in love with someone and then they later find out that the person has a mental illness, that’s a whole different story, but to purposely go into that kind of a situation, when you don’t have to seems like a really bad idea. I’m only saying this because the people that I have known to have mental illness have created a lot of painful problems for me in my own life at work and in my personal life. So I would never knowingly choose to create bigger problems for myself. It just wouldn’t make sense.

I have nothing but compassion and sympathy for people with mental illness, but dating me isn’t going to help them or me. Being friends with me might help both of us.

DominicX's avatar

I would not go looking for it and if I found out someone was before I dated them, it would probably discourage me from dating them. Probably. This situation has not come up, so I honestly cannot say for sure, but that is most likely how I would react. If I were dating someone and I later discovered they were bipolar or had another mental illness, I would try and make it work, it would definitely not be an automatic “oh shit, time to get out”, but I could only do so much. In general I am not looking for someone with that much…I know people hate this word but I can’t think of anything better…baggage.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Kardamom I don’t think people with mental illness who date you are looking for dating you to be some kind of cure or treatment to their mental illness. They’re thinking “damn, this Kardamom, she’s cute, she’s smart, I enjoy spending time with her and want to do more of that”.

The idea that people with bipolar should only date other people with bipolar sounds shockingly like a “separate but equal” policy.

Kardamom's avatar

@Aethelflaed I never said that mentally ill people should only date each other, I asked @hawaii_jake if he thought that would be a good idea, since most of the non mentally ill people on the thread said that they won’t put themselves into that situation, and he didn’t think it was fair that the mentally ill people should have to be alone.

I only said that I, personally, would never get involved in that kind of a relationship, knowingly, and since most of the rest of the non mentally ill people have said the same thing, would it be better for the ill people to date each other, or not date anyone at all. I’m just throwing that out there because I don’t have a good solution. The peole that I knew to have mental illnesses, were not being treated and therefore they are not in the realm of possibilities as a mate for me. If I end up dating someone who later on ends up with a mental illness, that’s a whole other ball of wax, and I don’t know what I would do, but it would most likely depend upon whether they were willing and able to get effective treatment. Of if I ended up dating someone with a mental illness who was getting effective treament, and I never knew about it, then I guess it wouldn’t matter at all because I wouldn’t have to deal with all of the problems that I’ve encountered before with the untreated folks.

But like I said before, I wouldn’t want to put myself out there as a potential date or mate for anyone, if I knew that I had a mental illness.

For me, personally, dating a person that I knew to be mentally ill would be much more than I could effectively handle. I know this because of the mentally ill people who I have known personally (and dated and worked with) ended painfully and badly for all parties.

AshLeigh's avatar

It really depends on the person. If they’re trying to deal with it, and get it under control, and it’s working, I think I could do it.
I’ve got problems of my own, so why can’t they?

Facade's avatar

It’s not likely. I already have mental issues; no need to bring more to a relationship.

woodcutter's avatar

Maybe, for a while, anyway.

SuperMouse's avatar

For me bi-polar or another mental illness would only be a deal breaker if the potential mate was unwilling or unable to face the reality of their
situation and get the required
treatment. I am actually
surprised at the responses
here and by how many jellies
would automatically rule out
dating anyone living with mental illness.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@SuperMouse It surprises me, too, since this community is normally so love and peace and openness and acceptance of all things. Bestiality we have to have a discussion about, but mental illness can just go straight to hell.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve shared before on this site that I have been diagnosed with PTSD after a shit pile of bad things happened to me. This didn’t manifest itself until a situation that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I was married with 2 children.

I would never have wished for my family to go through what they went through as I crashed and burned and desperately sought out help through a largely indifferent mental health system. But I kept seeking and I finally found a good psychiatrist that worked hard with me rebuilding a trust that had been obliterated.

The thing is, though, that as bad as things got (I had multiple hospitalizations) my husband stuck by me, stuck by our kids and stuck by our life together. We’ve been together for 18 years now. I absolutely marvel at him. I know that most people could never have done what he did. He was a pivotal part of my getting better. I have a deep love and respect for him.

But I also know that I never blamed him for what I was going through. I knew they were my issues and I needed help with them and it was my responsibility to get help with them.

That being said, only my closest friends know what I’ve been through because many people react like I just sprouted a second head if they find out about my history.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Yes, I certainly wouldn’t exclude them.

But really, it would depend on how I was doing emotionally. Could I handle it? That can change by the day.

There have definitely been sparks between those who were mentally ill and myself, but I don’t really care if some doctor says you aren’t right in the head. It depends on if you are crazy in a way that suits my crazy. And if you want the same things as me. I have high standards for romantic relationships. I don’t put up with as much as I once did.

beccagolling's avatar

Yes I would. I am bipolar myself in fact. And I would love to be there for someone else who is as well.

Bellatrix's avatar

I hope I would judge someone as a whole person and not as a mental illness. As long as the person is aware of their problem and is using and accepting treatment, I would judge them and any potential relationship with them based on who they are. Being bipolar is part of who they are, not the whole.

wundayatta's avatar

Like @tranquilsea, I had a wife who got me treatment and stood by me even when I was abusing her almost as hard as I knew how, hoping to get her to dump me. She probably saved my life. So did another friend. So did my psychiatrist. Maybe not literally (I’m not sure if I would ever actually have jumped), but it terms of all the things in life I enjoy and don’t want to destroy, my kids not being the least of them.

Part of the reason that mentally ill people are reluctant to “come out” is because people don’t know what it is all about. In many people’s minds (including mine, before I got sick), the mentally ill are scary and dangerous. They might kill you for no particular reason at all.

And they you see their erratic behavior and how they seem to be trying to hurt you voluntarily and it’s easy to confirm the myths about how we are. And what can you know? You can’t read our minds. You can’t know the torment we are in and how that makes us act the reverse of how you would act in the same situation. How when we want love more than anything at all, we attack the people who love us because we don’t deserve to be loved and how can they not see that?

Well, if they can’t see that, we owe it to them to show them, so they don’t make a big mistake and ruin their lives by being with one of us. In some kind of upside down way, we are trying to be kind to you by pushing you away. By attacking you. How can you know that? How can you even believe me that this is true? I wouldn’t believe me, much though that hurts me to say, but maybe that’s because of my own deep inner mistrust of myself. I’m telling the truth as I know it and I wouldn’t believe me because it sounds crazy. Shit! It is crazy!

Can a normal human being understand this? Of course they could. But would they want to? Not in my experience. There are very few normal people who can get past the myth and who are willing to try to make sense out of our upside down reverse inside out logic. It is logical. It’s just not the logic you are used to. But I ask you to try to put yourself in our heads. It really isn’t so bad.

Oddly, I’ve had several people play out the story that they were walking around inside my head—one even wore high heeled shoes. That wasn’t all that pleasant, lol. I think that people are genuinely curious about what it’s like to be inside my head. All I can do is try to explain, since you can’t really take up residence there, even if you take off your heels. Yeah, I would only let a woman in.

In my last meeting, we had a PhD psychiatric nurse give a presentation to us. Her big point was that the medical people work for us! We have to tell them what we want. But most of us are intimidated and think we have to do what the shrink wants.

So, the shrink gives us prescriptions and then they make us woozy or our hands shake or we become impotent or we sleep all the time or we feel stupid or, or, or…. The biggest reason why we don’t comply with our drug regimen is the side effects. She told us we need to tell the shrink what we want, and if we don’t want side effects, to find something that does work without side effects.

She said there are 268 different combinations of meds for treating bipolar disorder. Holy shit!

Another reason why we stop taking the drugs is that it takes too long to find the right set. People get so frustrated. They are trying their 12th or 20th or even 30th combination before they find something right. Would you go back that many times for a tweak? Can you say you wouldn’t get frustrated and give up?

I got really lucky. I got it right when the third drug was added. I never had to stop one. Lithium—well, that kept me from killing myself and dampened my mood swings, but it left me depressed and my fingers shake so annoyingly. Welbutrin—it brought me up a bit, but I was still always depressed. Lamictal—finally! Finally I felt stable and could even feel happy.

Lithium is a mood stabilizer (reduces the ups and downs) that works mostly on the highs—the manias. It can keep you from getting manic—which is most dangerous—but it doesn’t help with depression. I didn’t quite understand why this was important for me, since my mania is a hypomania—i.e., not very manic. All that happened was that my brain sped up. Well, once I was inappropriate to a student, but all I did was touch her arm.

Welbutrin is an anti-depressant. My shrink gave me that to try to address my depression. Like I said, it helped, but not enough.

Lamictal is another mood stabilizer, but it works more on depression than mania. So my moods were bracketed by lithium and lamictal, and I got a little boost from Welbutrin.

Oh. I forgot. At the beginning I was given Klonazepam, which is… I forget.. maybe an anti-convulsant that is given for anxiety. It helped that jumpy feeling in my chest, but it also knocked me out. I stopped taking a whole pill, and eventually found that I could tolerate a quarter pill. But it’s addicting and I didn’t need it any more, so I left it in the drug cabinet, but I carry a few quarter pills around just in case and I gave the rest to a friend who really liked the stuff.

Normal people know nothing about the meds and the feelings and that makes it difficult to understand us. But unfortunately, bipolar people don’t know about the issue with the meds and they give up quickly, even when there is every possibility that a good drug regimen might be found.

The same thing is true for therapists. If your first therapist doesn’t work for you, most people give up on therapy. Most of them didn’t “believe” in it in the first place. What most people don’t understand is that there are as many different therapy methods and therapist styles as there are drug combinations. You may have to try a number of them before you find one that works for you.

Many bipolar folks’ first experience with the disorder is in the hospital. In the hospital, it is impossible to be a consumer that advocates for yourself. First of all, you’re manic and all over the place, thinking-wise. You may be hallucinating. You are very likely to be paranoid (with justification, I might add). The medical personnel think the only thing they can do is control you. You lose your status as a person. Once this happens, you tend to feel that’s the way it is. Your only option is passive resistance because otherwise they will force you to do what they want. A few people grow up and learn to be self-advocates, but I don’t know how many.

The way the medical system is set up and the way people react to us is just set up to make us feel like permanent outsiders—misunderstood and disliked. And then when we tell our friends, most of them drop us. It’s a great way or sorting out who is a real friend. Then we have questions like this one and it becomes clear that most people don’t want much to do with us in the most important way. They’ll be friends, they say (really?), but they won’t fall in love with us.

You won’t fall in love with us? What is that all about? I don’t get it? How do you have any control over that? It sounds so cold to me. I fall in love and I can’t help it or stop it. It is much more powerful than anything else I know. Maybe that’s what gets me into trouble. People look at me and see someone who is irresponsible and out of control—control that I should have, but don’t. That must mean I don’t want to control it.

You won’t believe me when I say I have no choice. Love takes me when it takes me, and I can’t not respond to it. And it is true that I don’t want to control it because it is what gives my life meaning. But even if I wanted to control it, I couldn’t. I just have to hope that no one comes along who will make me feel that way again. I have to stay away from situations where I might meet someone and get to know them well.

I’m responsible for what I do (which is a problem in itself—when I do something that hurts someone, I beat myself up into depression if I can). I am responsible for the consequences of my actions. But there are things I can’t control. I don’t mean to hurt you. I know that doesn’t matter when I hurt you, but it does help me stop that script that sends me into depression.

So I feel like I don’t belong here because so many people don’t accept me or like who I am. I feel like an alien—not really human, somehow. It is a horrible feeling. It’s like it’s so easy for everyone else to be normal, and yet I can’t do it no matter how hard I try. So of course I want to be around people like myself. It’s the only place I feel at home. The only place where I can relax a bit, and even then, I worry about what happens if this gets back to people in the real world. I could lose everything, I think, if they knew who I really am and what I really do. I’ve already lost my best friends. They say they like me but they never call any more. I nearly lost my wife and kids. I haven’t told my parents and siblings, nor have I told anyone at work who isn’t like me (we can tell). I don’t want to lose my job.

I’ve been incredibly lucky. My wife stood by me even though I slept with other women. I got one of the best shrinks in the area, a highly respected and well-published researcher. I got the drugs right the first time around. My therapist was perfect the first time. I had a job where I could do the minimum and still do a good job. I have one of the best support groups in the area. I have learned to appreciate the incredible gifts this disorder has given me.

But this difference is still alienating. That’s too bad. But I take it as a badge of distinction and I appreciate it anyway, and that’s some consolation. Yes, I’m different. I hope you can see past that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I would, and I have. Twice. The first was a rather tumultuous relationship in high school with a girl who had been physically abused by her father and mentally abused by her mother. The second was a fairly “normal” relationship with a woman who was mD on the bipolar spectrum.

Judi's avatar

@RareDenver ; I haven’t processed that song internally yet. Not quite sure what it says. I looked up the lyrics, and I am a little wierded out about why I’m crying because I don’t really understand what it means.

Judi's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I admit, my son can be an ass hole. I think it is related to his illness. I’m a bit sensitive about it right now as he just got out of the hospital after yet another suicide attempt.
Anyone who thinks I’m judgmental by saying I would not choose this life for myself had I know what being married to someone who suffered with bipolar would be like, has never walked in my shoes. Not only is the disease as potentially as fatal as cancer, but the world judges you when they die, “Why didn’t you do anything?” I tried damn it. My mother in law even said, “If it was that bad, one of you should have left.” Well, I think if I would have left he might have died sooner.
And when the disease is passed on to your children? “If only you had better discipline” “Your child is out of control, what kind of parent are you. ”
Then, there are people who don’t see past the ugly symptoms of the disease to the hurting child inside.
Before I ever had kids, I always had a heart of hurting children. I may have been one of those parents judging the skills of a parent with children like mine.
Of all the things that I am most grateful for from my children is that they have taught me humility.
I don’t regret the life that the influence of mental illness has brought me, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It is a very tough road.

RareDenver's avatar

@Judi The Stone Roses lyrics are always very cryptic, I’ve always seen that song as about dating someone that is both hard to please yet eager to please others, and your comment about arguing the sky is green reminded me of it.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve known people with no mental illnesses who are supreme assholes. What’s their excuse?

@Judi I feel for you. It is a hard life with extreme periods of crushing uncertainty. In an ideal world every family would be able to access exactly the help they need to get through situations such as yours and mine.

FWIW, some of the most interesting and deep people I’ve ever met have been ones who have struggled with some form of mental illness.

Judi's avatar

@tranquilsea ; and the hardest part is, I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting my son help. I have “access” to the best there is, but he looks good and talks a great game and believes it. Most people instantly love him. He has energy and charisma and people are attracted to him. It’s only those of us who know him well who know the darker side. After his darkest episodes he feels better, almost energized while the rest of us are left feeling like something vile has been spewed all over us, thinking, “what the hell just happened?” The same was true of his father Who died when he was 4. Even with vast resources, the prognosis can be grim.

DominicX's avatar

I just find all the guilt-tripping interesting. I’m sure there are people here wouldn’t date someone because they were overweight, a smoker, the wrong religion, just not that physically attractive, etc. and yet somehow it’s “evil” to avoid dating someone because of a mental illness, which unlike many superficial qualities that prevent dating, can actually make maintaining a relationship very difficult. A lot of people have enough to worry about in their lives and don’t want the additional stress that could result from being with someone with a mental illness. That said, I applaud people who would find it easy to get past that, but I don’t condemn people who would find it difficult.

RareDenver's avatar

@DominicX well fucking said

wundayatta's avatar

@DominicX What do you mean when you say “guilt-tripping” in the context of this discussion? What things do you consider to be guilt-tripping?

DominicX's avatar

@wundayatta

The comments from some people who have talked about how “accepting” Fluther “usually” is and how it’s disappointing to see people turned off by the idea of dating someone with a mental illness. No, it’s not the same as saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves”, but it’s the next best thing. It is implying that a regular accepting, loving person would be open and willing to date people with mental illness and I think that’s bunk.

nikipedia's avatar

@DominicX, I don’t know, I think I have the same reaction to “I’d never date a smoker/overweight/etc” person. It seems prematurely prejudicial and harsh. There’s a difference between “I absolutely won’t do it” and “it’s a hurdle, but I might be willing to cross it for the right person.”

Plus, being a smoker or being overweight are both qualities describing unhealthy decisions a person makes. I think categorically refusing to date a bipolar person is more similar to saying you refuse to date someone of a particular race.

DominicX's avatar

@nikipedia

I agree, there is a significant difference between “I absolutely won’t do it” and “I might be willing to for the right person”. I suppose I was leaning more toward the second, but it was more of “I probably won’t, but I won’t rule it out”. Still, I am not condemning someone for seeing the possible challenges in a relationship with a mentally ill person and maybe going for someone else because of it

I disagree, however, with the comparison between mental illness and race. Mental illness can often make a relationship more difficult. It can change a person depending on the circumstances (as was the case with my schizophrenic uncle. Sometimes it seemed like nothing was wrong at all, and other times he would wander away from home for weeks at a time and be found in the woods confused later. I know that’s a relatively extreme example, but still. It’s not like he never dated). I don’t see people’s skin color doing things like that. I don’t see people’s skin color making a relationship difficult to maintain in that way. Race is not an “obstacle” the way mental illness could be.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@DominicX I’m actually in the camp of “everyone has preferences, and that’s ok”. I just think it’s hypocritical for everyone here to always be talking about how amazingly accepting they are, and how we should all be more accepting, except for this thread. If you don’t want to date someone with a mental illness, then that’s your prerogative and I would never dream of forcing you to change. Just don’t pretend like it’s the most accepting thing in the world, because it isn’t. I have my preferences, and they’re there to stay, but I don’t go around pretending like it’s the same thing as having my arms wide open to every possibility, because it’s not. Preferences and standards are usually opposed to totally acceptance. Be honest and call a spade a spade. And seriously, because Fluther is sooooo hell-bent on being accepting that we have to have a discussion on whether or not bestiality is, in fact, actually not ok, and giving everyone permission to not be cool with it, but mental illness the line is very easily drawn. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?? How is that not even a bit effed up?

Vunessuh's avatar

^ In other words, no one is saying anyone’s answers here are wrong. They’re saying they’re ironic.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Vunessuh Irony. YES! That’s what I was going for. The irony. Omg, I’ve never been so hipster in my life.

wundayatta's avatar

@wundayatta What do you mean when you say “guilt-tripping” in the context of this discussion? What things do you consider to be guilt-tripping?

@DominicX The comments from some people who have talked about how “accepting” Fluther “usually” is and how it’s disappointing to see people turned off by the idea of dating someone with a mental illness.

*****************************************************************************************
I see. Actually, I find those comments quite interesting, because I don’t find people here to be very accepting at all. There are many very strong judgments, and I’m not sure where they come from. I asked a question about it yesterday.

But @Aethelflaed mentioned the bestiality discussion, and I assumed she was talking about a question that was closed yesterday. In that question, just about everybody assumed, without question that a certain act was wrong. When I questioned that, people couldn’t believe I was serious.

Well, the act may or may not be immoral, but what struck me is that no one could provide a reason for thinking what they thought, except in the few minutes before the discussion was cut off. I don’t know what happened after I left but before the discussion ended.

But I’ll question any judgment. I want to know why people think what they think. Sometimes I get the feeling people think I’m crazy for asking the question because isn’t it obvious? Well, my gut instinct may agree with them, but that’s not good enough for me. I want to know the logical or data supported reasons for some belief or prejudice. Far too often, I find that people’s reasons are emotionally based, which disturbs me, because I like things to be based on principles.

That’s what we’re struggling with here. Are there principled reasons for not dating someone who is bipolar, or are these reasons emotional? I think we are seeing both here, which makes it difficult to sort through.

A lot of people talk about personal experience. Some say that based on that experience, they will never do it again. Well, that’s understandable, but it isn’t really principled. It makes the assumption that all bipolar people are the same and that the normal person has not changed one bit. Obviously, neither is true.

I guess people like to think they are non-judgmental, but that’s not how I see it. So I am not at all surprised when even jellies don’t want anything do with us. I don’t even know if regular accepting people would data bipolar folk, but since jellies aren’t like that, as far as I can tell, there is nothing to debunk here.

Also, I do not blame anyone for being prejudiced based on personal experience. I don’t expect any “better” from anyone. I think it is reasonable to act on your prejudices. We don’t have prejudices for nothing. They are designed to save our lives. However, they are unreasoning, and often we seek to justify them after the fact and it is pretty lame.

I could have told you what your answers would be before you even asked the question, @Jude. But it’s better that people see it for themselves. This is what mentally ill people face, and perhaps they should face it. Or maybe moral imperatives don’t matter. It’s just the way it is.

For me, it shows how far there is to go for people to understand the mentally ill. Frankly, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I think movements to have us come out are very naive. Prejudices are inbred so deeply that we don’t even know they are there. The “other” is always scary and dangerous. Stay away.

Some people with mental illness will come out. Others won’t. Some will let a relationship progress before coming out. Why not? None of us knows where something is going at the beginning.

So you normal people. When you date someone, don’t expect them to announce they have mental illness until the relationship is pretty far along. Don’t expect to be able to stay away. If you’re attracted to that kind of person, you are going to be able to detect them without words. In fact, you might as well assume that anyone you are attracted to is mentally ill. That’s who you like. You have good taste. The mentally ill are often interesting. They often think differently and more creatively. They often have ideas that lead the pack. With bipolar people, in particular, you are usually talking about someone who is more intelligent than average.

If you find yourself attracted to a number of people who end up being bipolar, it just shows you have a taste for this kind of person. I’m not going to say good or bad taste. It just is. Maybe, instead of vowing to stay away from them, you might think about learning how to make the relationship work better. It really isn’t that hard. But like all relationships, it requires good communication, and good communication, in my opinion, requires fearlessness.

DominicX's avatar

@Aethelflaed

Then in order for someone to be that “accepting”, they must throw their preferences and standards in the trash. If that’s what being “accepting” means, then it’s asking too much and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is actually that “accepting”. I wouldn’t claim to be that accepting if I admitted that I’m generally turned off by things like smoking, being overweight, etc.

I keep putting the A-word in quotes because I’m not entirely convinced that’s what it means to be “accepting”, but I’m having trouble defining the term myself.

Aethelflaed's avatar

There’s a difference between being tolerant and being accepting. I cannot stand the taste of licorice, and am not accepting of it. I am, however, glad that it exists for others to partake in and enjoy. I appreciate that I live in a world where licorice exists for people who like it. And I am hard pressed to find someone that accepting, which is why I’m not a huge fan of all the pressure to always be endlessly accepting. I think it’s a subtly harmful dialogue.

bob_'s avatar

Whoa. Long thread is long.

Nobody’s perfect. I guess it would depend on how manageable (and managed) it was.

MilkyWay's avatar

When I said I don’t think I would go out with a bi-polar person if they’re completeley new, I meant I needed time to estimate if they were datable and the right person for me. If they have a severe Bi-Polar situation, and are doing nothing to treat it, then I wouldn’t. But as I said before, people with Bi-Polar in my experience and who I’ve met are very nice people and just need the right medication to control their mood swings.

Symbeline's avatar

Sure I would. I mean, if I felt something for them and wanted to be with them, I’d deal with their issues as best I could. I wouldn’t base my criteria on their illness. I have a friend who’s bipolar. She really isn’t that bad to be around. She does have some medication, but still. I also knew this guy a while back who had Asperger’s. Now he was a little hard to deal with, but he was a great guy. We had so much fun.

So yeah I would. If I wasn’t able to deal with it, I’d sit down with them and tell them about it. See how we could tackle the issue. But I wouldn’t decide against dating them when learning they’re bipolar. See what happens down the road, I guess.

Mind you, I don’t really know about disorders like this.
Still though…a lot of people have illnesses like this, and sometimes it’s never been diagnosed and we don’t even know they have it. Some people aren’t even aware of having a disorder. Yet, we hang around people, we date them, whatever, and that’s that. These people are parts of our lives everywhere, I’m sure.

DominicX's avatar

@wundayatta

Everyone judges.

Everyone has preferences.

If I met a person who claimed they were entirely free of such things, I would not believe them. It goes against human nature and for me, I am not condemning those who do judge and assume based on such things. I am also learning that “accepting” may be an overly idealistic term that few people actually fit with.

I agree that some people’s judgments are a little harsh. To completely close yourself off from the possibility of dating someone bipolar seems a little extreme to me. But for someone to assume that dating someone who is bipolar would cause added stress in their life that they could avoid and thus would be discouraged from dating someone who is bipolar…I don’t look down on people who think that. And I don’t think that wanting to avoid such stress and making the judgment that dating a mentally ill person would be stressful automatically disqualifies this person from being “accepting”.

I think we are all thinking too much of people. When someone says they are “accepting”, I don’t assume that they have no preferences and make no judgments. Everyone does. What I assume is that they actively try to judge and discriminate as little as possible, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t do it at all.

What I was commenting on in my comment about guilt-tripping was the fact that I was assuming that people who condemn others for being discouraged from dating bipolar people are probably the same people who won’t date a smoker or an overweight person. Meaning that, we all have preferences, we all have judgments, and none of us are saints and we shouldn’t be condemning others for doing what we also do. It seemed hypocritical to me, I don’t know. Maybe those of you looking down on people who are turned off by the idea of dating someone mentally ill really are open to dating almost anyone and have few preferences. But don’t expect most people to be that way.

And sure, not all bipolar people are the same. Not all of them are going to cause significant added stress. But I’m not going to condemn people who assume that it would be something difficult in their life. It seems that many people here are basing that on personal experience. It’s not an easy task to toss your personal experiences’ influence aside.

Kardamom's avatar

@DominicX You have summed up my thoughts perfectly and in a much more eloquent and succinct manner than I was able to. Thank you.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

In my opinion, this thread reinforces how hard it is for the mentally ill to reveal their disorders to others. We don’t seem to be able to do it even on an anonymous website let alone in real life.

@wundayatta wrote: “That’s what we’re struggling with here. Are there principled reasons for not dating someone who is bipolar, or are these reasons emotional? I think we are seeing both here, which makes it difficult to sort through.”

I find a lot of truth in that. Some of what’s written here seems to be based in emotion, and some of it is based in principle. Where I personally have difficulty is dealing with the emotional responses, because I deal with them in my own life. I was in a loving relationship with a man for 9 months once before I felt safe to reveal my diagnosis of bipolar. During our time together, I was stable on medication and seeing a therapist. I was active in life. I had interests and hobbies. I had friends that I saw regularly. When I told this man about my diagnosis, I never saw him again or heard from him. Phone calls and emails went unanswered. Instead of taking the time to talk to me about what I’d told him, he left.

It hurt. His emotional response was to skedaddle. Some would say it’s his loss, but it’s mine, too. I had developed an attachment to him.

Since then, I’ve had relationships where I’ve mentioned my bipolar disorder up front and been surprised at how open and interested the person was in wanting to discover more. I’ve had the opposite where I’ve quite literally been left at the table in a restaurant alone.

The result for me personally is that I tell only a very select few about my diagnosis. I am open about it on Fluther, because you people don’t know me. If you leave or if I leave, the pain of separation and rejection will be fleeting. (Please, don’t jump to any conclusions. I’m not saying that I’m leaving.)

The result is also that I date very little. That makes me sad to say the least. At times, it makes me downright depressed.

As for the ideas from @DominicX, I really don’t think it’s logical to equate prejudice against dating the mentally ill and persons who choose to smoke or are overweight. You are indeed correct to state that we all have our preferences, but I think the point of this question and the thread is that the mentally ill are not that way by choice. Smokers and overweight people are that way by starting habit forming actions. They can alter those.

The mentally ill can alter their circumstances to a degree by learning to advocate for themselves in their care. That is an extremely hard thing to do, and honestly, it’s above the abilities of many.

What I find fascinating about this discussion is that some people will rule out a whole class of society due to one facet of their lives.

I’m a father, an actor, a poet, a reader, a spiritualist, a teacher, a volunteer, a citizen, and so much more. I’m more than my diagnosis, and I don’t think it’s wrong of me to expect to be treated that way.

tranquilsea's avatar

@hawaii_jake Great answer especially this part, “I’m a father, an actor, a poet, a reader, a spiritualist, a teacher, a volunteer, a citizen, and so much more. I’m more than my diagnosis, and I don’t think it’s wrong of me to expect to be treated that way.

I am so much more than my diagnosis. I have great friends, a great husband and wonderful children in spite of the fact that I had an incredibly difficult time in my life. Or, perhaps, because of it.

DominicX's avatar

@hawaii_jake

The point I’m making is there are so many things that discourage people from dating, this is just another one. I am not buying that people who are open to dating mentally ill people don’t have some other factor about people that discourages them from dating those people. It’s true, maybe the key difference between the examples I keep citing and mental illness is that the others were choices and can be “fixed”. However, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to fix and can we blame people will addictions? I’m not going to get into that, but how we about we cite another example? What if you’re just discouraged from dating someone because they have a tendency to anger easily. It’s not a “mental illness” per se, that could be “managed”, but I don’t think that person chooses to be that way and yet that knowledge still might discourage some people from dating them.

It’s not that I would hear someone is bipolar and think “run away! This is a train wreck of a relationship!” but I might think “Hmm. Is that going to make the relationship difficult? Is that going to cause stress? Am I going to be able to make this work?”. Some people would say “I think I could make it work”. Others might say “I don’t want to take the chance.”

I’m starting to feel like I’m just saying the same thing over and over and I’m just reading the same thing over and over. This might not be going anywhere…

Aethelflaed's avatar

@hawaii_jake Ok, this is where I think “mental illness” becomes a totally useless designation. Because bipolar is rather permanent (as best we know), and appears to have a genetic compenent. But eating disorders and addictions are also mental disorders, and not exactly mild ones at that, and many times they have a genetic component as well. But it’s not accurate to say that they’re the same as bipolar, because they aren’t. Always talking about “mental illness is and isn’t this” from the acceptance and activist side tends to be just as inaccurate as the stigmatizing side, because each individual disorder needs to be examined on its own.

@DominicX people who are turned off by the idea of dating someone mentally ill really are open to dating almost anyone and have few preferences. I think this is a key issue, the idea that you aren’t ruling out that many people by not dating those with mental illness. Because it’s really more like one in four people that you’re ruling out, not one in a thousand.

I get the idea of trying to avoid someone where you’ll have issues down the line. But this seems so ideologically unrealistic. Everyone has hardships in their life, absolutely everyone. So maybe you don’t end up with someone with a mental disorder. But you do marry someone who’s a workaholic, or who gets in a car crash a few years down the road and is paralyzed from the waste down for the rest of your lives. Or your kid gets leukemia when they’re sick. Or your partner keeps going after factory jobs, which are then quickly outsourced, and the partner gets laid off, so you are always struggling for money. A lot of times, saying you won’t date someone who has a mental disorder sounds like you’re having an especially hard time accepting how much suffering life has.

I think the thing that strikes me most about this thread is that, aside from the people saying that they’re already bringing some mental issues to the table so they don’t want to add more, most of the people saying no don’t really seem to know that much about mental illness. Or rather, they have a false sense of understanding. That idea of “I’ve read some articles about it on MSN.com, maybe watched a tv show or two in which a character has bipolar, and had a couple exes with it, so I know how that shit is.” This is especially problematic, because it’s something of a noted issue how inaccurately mental illnesses (and especially bipolar) are portrayed in the media, in family doctor’s offices, and even in the offices of therapists who don’t really specialize in bipolar and the disorders it’s commonly confused with. So then there’s a lot of “omg, bipolar is soooo bad” and it’s like, well, no, what they’re talking about is bad, but it’s not actually bipolar.

DominicX's avatar

@Aethelflaed

Yes, everyone has hardships, but you don’t know about those things before the fact, and if you did, you might avoid dating them in the first place. The difference is that if you find out someone has a mental illness, you know they have something that A) has caused hardships for other people whether it’s based on personal experience or not and B) has the potential to cause hardships in your life. You don’t know if someone is going to get in a car crash or will later become an alcoholic or if you will later have a kid with leukemia. Everyone has hardships and they can often be unpredictable. What I am talking about is people trying to avoid something they know can cause hardship in future.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@DominicX I guess my point is, if you rule dating someone with mental illness, you rule out dating a lot of awesome people. People who’ve oftentimes been forced to learn how to deal with hardship, and how to persevere. So if this person is pretty much exactly who you want to spend your life with, except that they have a mental illness that may nor may not cause issues down the road, how is it really better to not be with them and find someone that doesn’t have a mental illness, but also might not be there for you as much during life, and wouldn’t click with you the way the person with a mental disorder does. It just seems quite a bit like when someone won’t date poor people, because they don’t want to spend their life having to deal with that hardship; they miss out on a lot of awesomeness.

augustlan's avatar

Aside from violent individuals or, say, pedophiles, my answer is “It depends.” It would depend on how well the illness is managed and how he feels about himself and the world around him, in light of his illness. If it colors his perception so that he sees everything through ‘negatively colored glasses’, I don’t think I could handle that. But someone who is living well with mental illness (as I am) would definitely be dateable, for me.

prolificus's avatar

I have bipolar. Was diagnosed with it when I was 18 yrs old. My dating life was just as spotty as my mental health, with long periods of celibacy (no dates, no meds, no treatment).  Those who knew were generally supportive. One had her own issues, so we were a train wreck.

The one I’ve been for the last 4 years is the most stable person I’ve ever known.  She has very strong boundaries and an even stronger sense of self. Being with her is like putting an anchor on the Tasmanian Devil – my chaos has an anchor point of stability. It is something I’ve craved my entire life, yet something I fight constantly. The longer I stay, though, the more I realize how unstable my life had been prior to being with her. I don’t think the instability was a bad thing, just not something that was productive to bring about the kind of life I wanted.

I have what I want, and it scares me. Stability scares me. It means I’m going to have to face me, fix me, and deal with me instead of fighting everyone else.

My partner did not know beforehand that I have bipolar. I purposely kept it from her. At the time, I was not on medication.  As such, eventually I spun out of control just like the Tasmanian Devil (although with much more adorable sweetness, like Baby Taz <wink>). So, in the midst of this, I told her the truth.  Telling her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It felt more difficult to me than when I told others that I’m gay.

The first 3 years of our relationship had a lot of ups and downs, for lots of reasons not limited to my bipolar. After at least six months passed since telling her, I asked her if she would have dated me if she had known. She told me that she would have spent more time getting to know me as a friend first. She couldn’t say yes or no regarding dating.

She’s had several opportunities to leave me, as I’ve had to leave her. I’ve asked her why she stays – she tells me that she’s in love with me, that she loves me profoundly, that she sees the best in me and believes in me.  She tells me that she sees me for not only who I am, but also for who I am becoming.

I read what others have said in this thread about how hard it has been to be with someone with a mental illness.  I’m not angry or sad at those who’ve shared such things, or at those who’ve said they would not date someone such as me.  I’m angry and sad at how mental illness had harmed those with it and those around it. I’m heartbroken over lost years due to instability. I am thankful to those who have endured the hardship of being a caregiver. I want to thank you personally. Thank you for trying so hard to be an anchor. Thank you for putting up with our shit. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for taking care of yourselves, and knowing when it is and was time to leave.  You were never taken for granted, even when it seemed like no one cared. I say this as someone who carries a piece of something special from everyone who has ever tried to help.

linguaphile's avatar

@prolificus I wish I could give you 20 GA’s for your post. Thank you for sharing.

augustlan's avatar

@prolificus Beautiful! Thank you for sharing that.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Yes I would. But wait….I already do.
I do because I’ve known her for a long time..since 2008. We started dating proper in January this year, and we’re still going strong. She says I give her stability. I’m the positive force in her life, she seldom sees the positive side to things so I tend to point them out in a non too direct manner.
She does have her moments, just like every other human being does. What annoys me about BPD is that people tend to think it’s the sufferer’s fault. It is not. Depression is the sufferer’s fault (and if you want to argue about that all day, be my guest, I had it for a year, and I chose to get out of it after I couldn’t get help for it). So we’ve both either had issues or got issues. And we work together well. I understand her, she does her best to understand me – men and women have an unwritten history of not quite getting where the other is coming from and we are no different.
I have to say that out of all the relationships I’ve ever had, this is probably the most stable one I’ve ever been in. And she has mental health issues. The others didn’t….hmm..go figure.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster Yes, I think I will take issue with the blanket claim that depression is the sufferer’s fault. Clinical depression is not something you can just choose to be rid of at will. Mild depression or sullenness are perhaps surmountable in this way, but not an actual depressive disorder. This isn’t to say that attempting to correct one’s distorted patterns of thinking cannot improve the mental state of someone with a depressive disorder. I am only saying that it is not an internal switch that one flips at will.

wundayatta's avatar

There is, I am sure, a vast amount of psychological literature that says that clinical depression is not the sufferer’s fault. Maybe people feel as if they have more control over lesser depressions, but it’s hard to know whether those depressions were just lifting anyway, but people experience it as having made a choice.

My experience was of the “not my fault” type. I thought I could control it, and that the fact I wasn’t controlling it meant I was lazy and just wanted to be depressed. It was not until I was forced to accept that I could not control it, that I had a chance of recovery. I guess, but that time, the meds had been doing their thing for a year or so, and finally, I was able to break through that barrier that kept me at a constant low grade depression (better than suicidal depression, but still not happy at all and still wondering how much of it I could tolerate before just hanging it up).

I think it is crucial not to blame the sufferer for the suffering. It is wonderful, @lightsourcetrickster, that you were able to get out of depression. I guess it’s great if you feel like you were in control of your recovery, and you feel empowered to recover any time you need to. When I was young, that was my experience, too. But then I met a depression that nearly killed me, and I have concluded that control is not something I will ever have again, and it may have been an illusion all my life. I hope you never meet a depression you can’t control, but if you do, remember this conversation. It’s not your fault. Get help. Give in to it. Then you may be able to recover.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther