What I Want My Future Partners to Know About Loving Me With Bipolar Disorder
I wish I could find a way to tell all my partners why it’s so difficult for me to open up about anything that has to do with my illness.
I’ve dated people for months without ever once mentioning I was bipolar. I repeatedly hid breakdowns, prolonged periods of depression and the numerous impulsive decisions that came with being manic. When speaking about my past, I glossed over periods that were particularly dark with depictions that I thought would be easier for my partners to digest. I found myself saying things like, “I was having a difficult time” or “I was really sick,” never once diving into the true depths of what had really happened — or even harder to confess, that I was still struggling.
So to all my future partners, I want you to know it has nothing to do with you as a person. These things take time for me to discuss, and I promise over time I’ll reveal each piece of the puzzle that is my mental health. I need you to patient and let me go at my own pace.
What I finally do open up about the periods that were especially dark, I need you to understand I wasn’t a bad person. In these times that were the lowest of my lows, I had “lost my mind,” and in the process myself. During these times I did really horrible things to myself and the people around me. Telling you these things is difficult for me, and I need you to let go of all judgment and see that what I did while I was depressed, or manic, does not define me.
I want you to know if we date, there will more likely than not be times in which I fall into a period of depression. When this happens, know that there will be days where I’m irritable and snap for no reason, or find myself losing the positive outlook I once had on life. There will be days in which I cancel plans because I’m too sad to get out of bed, or just don’t have the energy to put on anymore fake smiles for people.
In these times, I don’t need you to offer me solutions, but instead just sit there. Be with me, and remind me that I’ve gotten through this in the past and will again.
In these depressions, there will also be frightening spikes in my mood. I’ll talk a million miles per hour, saying nothing that makes sense. I’ll make decisions I will with most certainty come to regret, and — most dangerously — I might try to stop taking my medication. All that I ask of you in these times is to try your best to keep my head out of the clouds and remind me that my medication is critical.
But the most important thing I need you to know is that I am not my illness, the stereotypes that surround it or the problems that come with it; I am a person who is capable of great things despite this illness, and while it does shape me, it does not define me.
The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.