Wednesday, June 13, 2012

dating with chronic depression or anxiety

I haven't had many relationships in my life. I'm on my third relationship since I graduated high school. Honestly, the relationship I am in now is the healthiest one I've ever been in my life. My last two before that were the base of my "Born to Die" post. But don't ask me how to get a boyfriend or attract men, I have no clue! All the men I've dated pursued me while I just continued to be myself. I have made some mistakes in the past while dating and there are some things that they have done to turn me off.

The main mistake I can say from myself and the other person is using each other as a therapist or a verbal outlet for problems. My underlying mental illness is that I am terribly anxious and stressed out. I worry about paying the bills, work, my family's health and so on. I don't just worry a little bit, I worry so much that I get the physical symptoms of anxiety. It feels like I can't breathe sometimes or like my chest is tight. I feel like this almost everyday! I can not expect my partner to know what the right words to say or how to diffuse my situation. However, I must have a partner that is supportive of my need to seek treatment for any mental illness I may have or develop. It is also my responsibility to seek help from a mental health specialist, because it is clearly unfair for me to put the weight of my world on my partner's should, especially since I have extra weight. It is unfair, because I am putting extra pressure on my partner to make me feel better. It is also very unsafe for me to put the weight of my pain onto another person, because if that person leaves due to this weight then I will be alone and feel abandoned. I honestly have been in a situation where one of my boyfriends was so self-loathing and complained about everything he hated that I couldn't handle it, because he'd get mad if I didn't know what to say and I couldn't be as supportive as I could, because I just didn't know how. If you are suffering from such a deep rooted mental illness, then it is very hard to get rid of it by yourself without the clarity and help from mental health professionals.

Now let's take a step back to when you should tell someone about your underlying mental illness such as chronic depression or anxiety disorder. It is simply unnecessary to reveal on the first date that you have a mental illness, because it is revealing your faults too early. It's like whipping out your dick at the dinner table. The other person is not prepared to see this nor is ready. Yes, we all have faults but you can't just show everyone without warning. It is not just about the stigma of having a mental illness, it's about your partner getting to know you and being prepared. You have to date for a while with that person enough to find out if he or she respects you for you or only wants to be with you for something superficial like sex. You can't just put your heart out on a line. Do not even think about becoming financial co-dependent with a person until you know where you both are emotionally with each other. Your partner has to do casual stuff with you at first like go to the grocery store, study together or watch a movie on your couch without any makeup on. Don't make your big reveal a giant explosion of emotion and don't reveal your mental illness unless you do have a mental health professional to talk with later about it. Do not pour your whole heart out. Just reveal a little bit about how your mental illness effects your life and that it has happened before you met that person and it doesn't go away overnight. If this person is not supportive enough to allow you to seek help for your own well being, then LEAVE THAT PERSON ASAP. You can get more relationships, but staying in one where the other person isn't supportive of your health is only going to drag you down emotionally.

So what if you are dating someone who is also depressed? Well, if none of you are seeking help then you two will only feed off each other and dig a deeper hole. You both won't know how to deal with each other and your relationship may become based on your mental illness. If one of you becomes healthy, while the other isn't making the effort then it can only become painful and perhaps suicidal in breaking up. For example, when I was dating one of my then-boyfriends he and I used to just stay up all night and breathe smoke into each other's mouths to forget the world. Eventually, I grew out of this phase and I couldn't babysit his emotions because I didn't know what to say or do about his drug use. I loved him, but I couldn't put myself through his unhealthy behavior and I couldn't be the support he needed. We couldn't drastically change our personalities intentionally to please each other. If you feel you need to change who you are so much that you do a 180 then that's not healthy. You need to leave.

Overall, these are my thoughts about dating while suffering from an underlying mental illness. The short story is to find someone who caring and supportive of you but you can't treat them like they are a therapist. Reveal that you have the mental illness once you feel comfortable enough to do so after doing daily activities and you are comfortable with that person. However, it is unfair to be in a relationship if you are not seeking help, because it puts an unfair burden on your partner. I bet there is some better advice in the world out there, but these are just my thoughts from my experiences. Take Care!

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