Journal entry: 11/21
So you’ve gotten past the first date and you’ve found a potential mate. You want to be honest and start off on the right foot but what is the best way to tell someone about your mental health issue?
This can be especially difficult if your issues stem from past relationships involving narcissistic abuse or being raised by a narcissist.
I know what you’re going through and it’s hard to find people that can relate or even begin to comprehend.
We that have suffered at the hands of others get a little weird sometimes but you should know that everyone is weird, it’s not just you.
I don’t care if they were raised by the greatest person of all time.
You can show me the most mentally well human being and I can assure you there’s a little weirdo that lives inside them.
Should you disclose a mental illness with someone you’re dating?
Well, it depends.
How serious is it?
How obvious is it to people who don’t know?
The first thing you should know is that you don’t have to disclose it at all.
You’re probably thinking that’s dishonest.
But, is it?
I’ve never been a big fan of the whole ‘honesty is the best policy’ bull.
It simply isn’t true.
Your mental illness is no one else’s business, it’s not their responsibility to fix you and if you’re managing well what they don’t know can’t hurt them.
Some mental illnesses are blatantly obvious and an explanation is required to salvage the relationship.
When you’re in the throws of the disorder you may not have a choice, but this is not an ideal situation for anyone.
Maybe you’re thinking of a preemptive strike to try and avoid a messy outcome but before you do, let’s discuss how, when, and if you should disclose your mental illness.
1. Has your relationship had time to build trust?
Look, if you’re on your first, second, or third date you don’t need to lay it all on the table.
To give you a little perspective, my husband didn’t disclose his mental condition until after 8 years of marriage.
His condition is so rare and hard to understand that if he would’ve told me that on the first date I can promise you we would never have seen each other again.
I’ll admit that most likely I would’ve run like hell, that’s how severe his condition is.
If you suffer from things like Depression or Alcoholism or even Bipolar disorder these kinds of mental illnesses are not as well known as you think.
Conditions like Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders, and Dissociative Identity Disorders are not even close to being understood by the general population.
Building trust is essential.
Waiting the better part of a decade however is a bit much, but everyone is allowed to have their secrets, including you.
I didn’t hold it against him and he was immediately forgiven even though he withheld that from me for almost ten years.
If you knew him you’d understand why it took so long since the very foundation of his condition is very secretive.
According to a study by Mind.org (mental health and romantic relationships research), two out of three people are unfazed and very understanding when their partner disclosed a serious mental illness.
Which means you have a 60% chance that your potential life partner will be very accepting and understanding.
2. Disclose your mental issue when you reach the commitment stage.
Maybe you’re thinking of moving in together or you know a proposal is coming and you want this to be an open and honest relationship from the start.
Just to let you know you have a choice here, I knew my husband ten years before I married and never would I have guessed what he confessed to me that day eight years later.
I lived in the same house with this man for eight years with no clue what was going on in his head.
If he hadn’t told me I would have never known.
Once he did though, everything made sense.
I no longer took this upon myself, it had nothing to do with me.
There is something to be said for that.
I did feel much better after he explained what was going on.
3. Above all else do you feel safe with this person?
This goes along with building trust which is why it’s important to have that before diving in.
Again sometimes this isn’t an option when you’re in a manic state one day and the next can’t get out of bed.
I think that if they see as a living breathing person and enjoy having you around they won’t mind.
Everyone is mentally ill, it’s only a matter of degrees.
Just because someone isn’t diagnosed by a professional doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and 1 in 5 people in America have a diagnosed mental illness.
4. Disclose your mental illness when things are calm.
Breaking down in front of someone who’s never seen you fall apart and isn’t prepared for it could go very badly.
People fear what they don’t understand.
One of the best advantages you have nowadays is the internet and information is readily available.
Let them read up on your condition and get more comfortable with it.
Anyone who cares for you is going to want to be as supportive as possible.
An informed person is a rational person that won’t react badly to something they don’t understand.
That’s what I did.
I read everything I could find about my husband’s condition, unfortunately, there’s very little information about it.
We’re just winging it and dealing with it as it comes, but what a huge burden for him to have carried all these years without ever telling a single soul.
We all have our secrets.
Remember you don’t have to do any of this right now if you don’t want to.
Take your time and wait for the right moment.
The idea of this post is to give you a perspective of what it’s like to be the receiver of this information.
It could go either way and sometimes we read people wrong.
Your mental health does not define you and if they’re already in love with you it’s not going to matter.
Consider the person carefully before you decide to confide in them.
Are they strong enough to handle it?
Are they empathetic and compassionate?
Do you trust them?
Are you willing to risk it?
Only you can answer that.