Dating during your twenties is an experience in itself, but when you live with a severely stigmatized condition like bipolar disorder, dating can really be a challenge. As a year-old mental health advocate who is publicly open about her life with bipolar II disorder, I have often experienced stigma in my dating life. Bipolar disorder is a part of me, and I am not ashamed of my condition, in fact, it is the opposite, I embrace it.
However, dating—when you live with a mental health condition—can be complicated: When should you tell your date about your diagnosis? Should you even tell them at all? Will they think of you differently once they know?
You have self-doubt, you question yourself, and mainly you assume you are the underdog in romantic relationships. When I accepted my diagnosis and life with bipolar disorder, I finally found my confident self, but I had to overcome some obstacles to get there.
I was in a toxic relationship where I was gaslighted by my boyfriend: He turned out to be a miserable person all around. We started dating around three years after my diagnosis—when I was just starting to publish my blog and open up about my struggle with mental health. Slowly he began to use my diagnosis of bipolar against me.
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In his mind, everything I said or did was a result of my mood disorder. When I suspected him of cheating, he made me feel as though bipolar prompted delusional ways of thinking.
I questioned myself and my sanity, which was the wrong thing to do. But it was not long before concrete evidence of him cheating on me surfaced.
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After our breakup, it took me almost a year to feel like I could start dating again. When I finally got back into the dating world, I was very skeptical of people. I went into dates automatically on the defense.
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My guard was up and still is today. Past experiences with dating also include people asking about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. On some dates, I have felt more like a therapist or consultant than a woman being courted. These experiences have only made me stronger and more confident. Bipolar disorder does the dirty work for me and filters out individuals who tiptoe through life.
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