Saturday, May 3, 2008

dating

I have a Bi-Polar disorder, Bipolar II (I get the deep depression, but not the extreme highs, it's called Sub-manic). I am pretty stable on my medications, and I'm happy to be that way. I don't broadcast this to the world because it does carry some stigma, but I'm not secretive about it either. People who are close to me know, and sometimes if I have a very bad day, I will tell the people it affects, just so that, while it isn't an excuse, it does give an explanation to why I sometimes act the way I do. I try to be very aware of my moods and my reactions, so that if they become extreme, I work on not reacting inappropriately.


When I was first diagnosed, I didn't tell anyone. I was kind of ashamed by it, like I should have been able to control it. I've come to accept that it's just a part of who I am. I can't change it, and I'm mentally healthy enough to not deny it. It's just like if I had diabetes, or asthma, or anything else. As long as I take my medication to control the symptoms, then I'm fine.

But it is an issue when I'm dating.  When do you tell them?  Not the first date, first dates are hard enough without, "Oh, by the way, I have a Psychiatric disorder, but my daily medications are working well!"  Right.  But you can't wait too long, either.  That makes it look like you're hiding it, or are ashamed of it.

And then, you do tell them, and they do 1 of several things:
Ignore it.
Accept it.
Over-react to it.
Stop calling all-together.

I'm not sure which is worse, the Ignore it, or the stop calling.  To ignore it, to pretend I never said it, is to deny part of what I am.  I'm not thrilled that I have this condition, but I do have it, and to ignore it doesn't make it go away.  While the condition does not control me, it does influence me at times.   Occasionally, my moods aren't my own, and the men I date need to know that.  If I have what seems to be an inappropriate reaction, or a severe over-reaction, it can be because of the Bi-Polar.

On the other hand, to stop calling me altogether is to not even bother to get to know me.  Who I am is more than the sum of my mental parts.  I am smart, funny, gentle, playful, articulate, reasonable, affectionate...I am so much, and Bi-polar is only a part of who I am.

Lord, I don't want to be bi-polar.  I don't want the stigma, the medications, the seemingly constant therapist appointments.  I don't want to have to constantly watch  myself for signs of mania and depression.  But, if I must have this,  please give me the strength to handle it well.  Amen.

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