So, today, I have decided to look at stigma with regard to relationships in Mental Health.
I am of the opinion that there is a stigma in entering a relationship with a mental health condition. It affects me as I am a sufficiently well to feel ready meeting someone again and it’s in mind, if there’s someone appropriate out there!.
I put out the question to the world wide web- Would you date someone with Mental Illness?
The responses were interesting, but a little disappointing, I am particularly disappointed with BPD(Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) being focused on!
Here are the responses!
I don’t know. I dated someone with bipolar disorder, he refused to take his medication, and that was pretty grueling and scary. I think it’s made me very wary of getting into a similar situation again.
I cannot do it. I can barely handle the neediness of neurotypical people.
If they acknowledge their disorder, are educated about it, and put in effort to manage it, awesome.
Absolutely not. My ex had Oppositional Defiant Disorder as a child, and it translated badly into an adult. He was never cruel to me, or abusive, but the way he treated others was really something to behold
No. My childhood was shaped by having a parent with a severe mental illness. I don’t have the energy
Depends how they manage it. Anxiety and depression? Yes as long as they are treating it. No personality disorders though. I know that’s kind of narrow minded, but I cannot deal with that in a partner.
I have mental illness and dealing with my own is hard enough so at this point in my life, no
I have dated someone with undiagnosed illness. The problem is I study psychology and it quickly became a therapist/patient relationship which quickly kills any romance
I just dated someone who is bi-polar. They ended up leaving abruptly and telling lies about me to our friends. I don’t know if she has more issues than bi-polar disorder but I get that feeling
This may be unPC but I honestly don’t think I could date someone who has a severe mental illness. Schizophrenia is definitely out and I would be leery about seeing someone with BPD or untreated Bipolar Disorder.
I’ve not been to a doctor since I was 18, and I have some pretty strong signs of being Borderline. I feel like my relationship with someone could quickly become toxic.
I would weigh up the pros and the cons of the individual and if there were more pros and cons, then you’d accept them as they are, support them and work round each one.
Depends on the situation. Don’t want to be in the situation where I’m expected to be their carer rather than their girlfriend.
It sounds really awful to say this but as someone with severe mental illness myself, any partner of mine inevitably has to be my carer, and they’d have to be lucid/stable enough to do so. So whilst I’d never say never to dating a fellow person with psychosis or bipolar (myself having schizoaffective disorder) I think it would be very unlikely to work in the long run
Possibly. I’d be nervous living with someone who had psychosis again (the last was quite abusive). As with other traits, it depends on the individual
If the MH issue unmanaged and problematic in the long-term, then no I wouldn’t date them. If they are seeking professional help and the impact of their MH on the relationship and their life is fairly controlled, then I would be open to dating and supporting them.
I don’t think I could date anyone with a personality disorder, especially something like NPD. I feel that in most cases, relationships with personality disorder sufferers would be dysfunctional or frequently problematic.
As someone who has family members with PDs, personality disorders tend be so problematic in relationships because they are deep-rooted and enduring, unlike anxiety or depression which are seen as curable.
Regarding stigma in relationships
There are various possible scenarios in my opinion where stigma rears its head
Let’s take it from my perspective
A girl has a mental illness, but she is stable and has it under control
Always remember, mental illness is treatable, and if the girl is getting help for her illness and has learned how to manage her condition and has good lifestyle practices, I would have absolutely no issue with dating her. I would be delighted to meet someone who is as well as I am now! To not date the girl given these circumstances would be to stigmatise her. I am aware that this is happening in society and its pure stigmatization.
Let’s take another situation: A girl has a mental illness, she is not too well or is presently unstable, but she’s doing the right things to try and get better (for example – medication and psychotherapy and exercise and sleep)
In this situation again, I would be supportive if dating her or it certainly would not prevent me from starting to date her. I would give her plenty of space. I would not force my opinions on her. I would let her healing continue and I would meet her in the middle. Not to date someone because they are not in complete recovery, are not 100% well, or are currently in psychiatric treatment is also stigmatising
Let’s take another example, the girl has a mental illness, she is not well, she is not taking meds/engaging in therapy. She is in a bad place essentially. I would not walk away from beginning or continuing a relationship. If I had feelings for someone and they were at a low point, I would have understanding because I have been at a very low point too.
I would be positive and see these difficulties are likely to be temporary with support. Again, I’d give space. Again, I would give support. I think I have the intelligence to find the correct ratio/balance. I would not throw someone out to sea because they were not well, I’d have to be more cautious for my own Mental Health and wellbeing here, but I would be looking at the person and not the illness. Some people are not capable of that here, but would they walk away from dating or continuing a relationship with someone who had diabetes and had diabetes flaring up. No! Stigmatisation!
Beside stigma comes its relationship partner – “banana skins to slip on” !!
Keep it confidential
Someone with mental illness, whether s/he has sought out treatment or knows exactly what his/her condition is, has developed ways of coping so that she can live as normal a life as possible. Some people in their family and friends will know, some won’t. If you share friends, some will and some won’t. When you become friends on “Facebook”, for example. please be very careful what you say. For me that would be sarcasm..
Communicate without judgement
This is an absolute golden rule. In order to make sure your time together works out best, a line of open communication is a pre-requisite, your partner needs to know that you are okay talking about his/her mental health without judgment in any form with them. In time, if a relationship blossoms, the more open with your feelings, the more s/he will feel that they can share with you and the closer and more secure you will be.
3. It’s Not Your Job to “Fix” Her
One thing that you need to remember is that while it is great to offer support to your partner when s/he is going through a difficult time,. You can listen, apply some positivity, do some kind gestures, and find the correct balance between times apart and together, but ultimately s/he is boss and they have to find their way out of the black hole
4. The Standard Relationship Rules Apply
Your relationship or few dates should be accompanied by the same respect and intentions as any other relationship or series of dates. While some things are different when you are dating someone with mental health issues, the core of your relationship and how you feel when you are with her should not be any different from when you date anyone else. I take this personally as treating the lady with respect.
You never know who your perfect partner might be so stay open to all of the possibilities
Back to me, your personal case study going forward
I have had a number of relationships that were medium length, approx. 5, but all in my 20s and I am now mid-thirties. I am hanging onto the point that I am a millennial, but its close! There is an argument whether millennials are born from 1982 onwards or 1980 onwards! In my relationships, I was drinking, so I was not a good guy to be around and I acknowledge that. It was very easy to meet a girl when you are out to 3AM or 4AM in Copper Face Jacks niteclub, Dublin (Advice: Do not go!)The most beautiful special relationship ended with my partner killing herself and that was a contributor in my Mental Health declining. I then some years later met the opposite of that beautiful girl and someone who lied to me throughout the relationship and about being a dad, as a beautiful baby girl was born, but not my child – Spoiler Alert – This was nothing short of a soap opera- and couldn’t have happened at a worse time and took time to get over/caused me to damn near go over the edge. I haven’t drank in 6.5 years and have very good health and have recently started to think, I would like to meet someone nice, someone kind, someone special, but then I thought, what if she googled me!! Let’s see how I fare. I am out to challenge and quash the stigma! Will it work? I do not know. There’s only one way to find out. Tinder, here I come!!
I was thinking of my profile and how it will read. Here it is |!
My name is Aidan I am 37, single, live in Dublin, I am a Mental Health Advocate and Social Activist and supporter of women’s rights. I want to make the earth a better place. I like to travel and I’m best described as friendly, funny, trustworthy, intelligent and open minded. I also like Netflix, Podcasts and Mixed Martial Arts and Lady Gaga! I am 6-foot-3 with green eyes. I am looking for good friendship or a relationship. I suffer from mental illness and am a time traveller(!)