Dating in the Midst of Multiple Mental Illnesses

I’ve always been horrible at dating. I’ve either dated people who abused me or guys I didn’t even like just so I wouldn’t be alone. But, throughout those relationships, I was living with multiple undiagnosed mental illnesses.

Now at the age of 25, I’m starting to have a grasp on my illnesses and how to explain them to my family and friends. But how do I tell a complete stranger, let alone a guy who I might start dating? Just writing that out makes me feel nauseous. It’s one of the many things I stress about when I lay awake at night.

For a few years, I tried to talk myself into being OK with being alone. I didn’t need a relationship. I would be OK doing life on my own. But lying to myself is exhausting and an added stress that I don’t need.

So a month ago I took the plunge. I signed up for an online dating service. My chronic anxiety and depression keep me from going out to bars or clubs, so this seemed like a good way to meet a guy.

It took me three days to complete my profile. I wrote and rewrote the “about me” paragraph. I changed my answers to questions three or four times. I agonized over the photos I should post and the captions they would have.

When messages started floating into my inbox I freaked out. I’d stare at them for hours trying figure out how to respond to the questions that were posed to me. How do I make myself sound desirable? I doubt most men are looking for a 25-year-old, part-time nanny, who lives with her parents and is on multiple medications for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But, that’s my reality right now. Don’t get me wrong, I am so much more than that. I know I am. But sometimes, my mental illnesses control me. Some days, I don’t get out of bed and just stare at the ceiling all day. Some days, I’m so anxious I forget to eat. Some days, I feel like life is too much. But some days, I’m fine. Some days, I’m relatively happy. Some days, I can go out and meet my best friend for lunch. Some days, I can watch TV with my dad and make conversation. Some days, life doesn’t seem so bad.

Living with mental illness makes life very unpredictable. While I’ve started to accept my reality, I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a partner who feels the same. But maybe I will. Maybe I’ll find someone who loves unpredictability. Someone who’s wants to be with me through my highest highs and my lowest lows. Some who loves me — my mental illness and all.

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