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When I Tell My Date I Take Mental Illness Medication

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So there I was, on another first date. You know how those are — kind of like a job interview, but a job interview where you have to be witty and cute and a good listener. I really do enjoy first dates because I am a good listener and I love hearing people’s stories, but for me, they are always fraught with tension and anxiety.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

About 20 minutes into a first date, there is usually a moment of reckoning. I believe wholeheartedly in being very upfront about my diagnosis of bipolar II. It’s part of what I bring to the table and I want anyone who is going to share that table with me to know what they are being served. So I say, “Just so you know. I have Bipolar II disorder.”

This is usually followed by a moment of silence and then an, “Oh. OK.” Some men ask, “What does that look like?” But most of the time, it’s simply shrugged off and accepted.

The next thing I say is, “And I am on medication.” Those words almost always change the tide.

“Why do you take medication? Why can’t you just suck it up?” is some variation on what I usually hear. “America is just too overmedicated these days.”

Guys who say that to me don’t get second dates. Not if they are going to judge me for taking my medicine.

Whenever someone judges me for taking medication, I want to tell them the story of my grandfather. He was a brilliant, Harvard educated doctor who tried desperately to prove the chemical component of bipolar disorder, but who spent the 17 years prior to his death being subjected to some inhumane treatments that are not practiced today. A man who lost his family, his career and ultimately, his life to his condition. A man whose family would have done anything to save him but were rendered helpless by the inadequacies of the medical treatments offered at that time.

I live a full life. I have two amazing kids and a successful career. I have a community that supports me and the financial means to take care of myself. I am self-aware and have learned what I need to know about living a full life in spite of my bipolar disorder.

I know that, without my medication, it is very possible that I might have ended up in a similar place as my grandfather, losing everything I hold near and dear.

Instead, because of two little pills I take every morning, in combination with many conscious life choices, I get to live a life full of meaning and purpose — a life where I intend to change the world.

So don’t judge me for my condition or taking my medicine to live a good life. When you know someone who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder and who has the strength of mind and purpose to embrace their treatment fully, without self-judgment, then you are lucky enough to know someone very strong; someone who knows who they are and what they wants.

As I always say to my dates, arms outstretched, fingers pointed inward, “You want to date me. I have been diagnosed and I am medicated.”

And, yes, I am amazing.

Thinkstock photo via openeyed11

Originally published: June 19, 2017
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