Partner with mental illness

posted 11 months ago in Relationships
Post # 32
Member
410 posts
Helper bee

Wow… I guess I’m kind of surprised at the negativity. I don’t know anyone with mental health issues but my husband did have a short bout of depression due to a personal circumstance. I certainly would never have discounted someone right off the bat, who was self-aware and took responsibility for their mental health as a potential mate, when I was looking. 

OP, I think you really need to evaluate the circumstance with THIS person and make a determination. If you see negative signs that show they are not being responsible with their condition, then decide how you will proceed. Just like any other potential boyfriend. A diagnosis like that doesn’t automatically make them off limits!

Post # 33
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

I agree with those who have said no two cases of mental illness and every person is the same.  I’m happy to tell you about my experience (I have anxiety, depression and used to have OCD (no symptoms in 10+ years) and my partner has anxiety) but ultimately I think the best thing you can do is ask the guy you’re dating.  Given he brought it up I bet he would be open to talking about it.  Why not ask him some questions about what his experience is like.  I think that will tell you what you need to know.  In determining whether it’s something you can handle I’d look for the following: -The nature of his symptoms and their severity. -Treatment plan (compliant vs. not) I also think how long ago someone was diagnosed makes a difference but you already know he was diagnosed a long time ago.  Which makes a difference.  (I’m much more capable as a partner 12+ years after my diagnosis as it has given me time to come to terms with things and learn how to manage my symptoms.) I also agree that it is OK if you decide this is something you cannot handle.  I’m sure there were partners in the past where my anxiety and depression were part of what made us incompatible, but there are also so many people I have met who are open. And I also think the fact that both my husband and I deal with this makes us much more empathetic to the other person and more easily able to understand it and not take it personally when someone is struggling. In my case at the time I first got my diagnosis my issues were pretty debilitating.  Even though I was in a long-term relationship then I can see now I wasn’t really capable of being a great partner.  I was by no means abusive but I had so much of my own stuff to work through I couldn’t really be there for him fully.  Now I see my mental illness as something that brings both struggles and gifts.  My symptoms are very well managed most of the time.  There are years I was very happy and my anxiety and depression didn’t interfere with my life.  The past couple years have been rough since there have been an onslot of one thing after another and because I am prone to depression it seems like these things hit me harder and for longer than other people.  In my case it 100% affects my quality of life but I’m still able to do most things – I have a steady full-time job that I am successful at, a good group of friends, a husband, a side hustle.  I just notice when I am depressed I need more time to myself, therapy more frequently and a higher dose of my meds.  The most noticable differences are I tend not to go out as much and do not engage in as many of my hobbies.  Because I’ve been living for this for so long I’m pretty tuned into my moods and notice shifts that help me assess whether I need more or less in terms of treatement.  I also do think some gifts have come through my experience.  All the time spent in therapy has made me more self-aware.  I’m very commited to living a good quality of life and self-improvement so I’ve gone to therapy (though less often) even when my symptoms are well managed.  Because of that I’ve gained a lot of tools to communicate better and be more resilient.  I also do think it’s made me better at most at recognizing and articulating my feelings.  I feel grateful for the therpay because there have been many things I’ve been able to work through (like boundary issues with family, toxic work situations, etc.) that have nothing to do with my mental illness at all. Seriously though, just talk to this guy.  He seems open to sharing his experience with you.  And you may even find the vulnerability he is expressing makes you feel more comfortable with being open and vulnerable yourself.  (This 100% happened to me in my relationship as my husband brought up his anxiety first and it made me feel so much more comfortable to relax and be myself and not feel like I had to be perfect.)

Post # 34
Member
1357 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2019

My ex-husband had undiagnosed, untreated depression. He self-medicated with alcohol, which made everything worse. It led to other health problems, interpersonal problems, and eventually the downfall of our marriage. I was with him for almost a decade.

My FH has diagnosed anxiety and depression. He is on a treatment plan & medication for both, under the supervision of his doctor. He takes his treatment very seriously. He’s a wonderful father and a great partner. Sure it comes with some challenges, but I’d be missing out on so much if I had run away from the relationship simply for finding out about his mental illness. He is the best partner I’ve ever had.

I also have anxiety, which is managed through therapy and medication. There are so many factors to consider when exploring what it may be like to be in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness. It’s never black & white, each situation is unique.

Post # 35
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

beantime :  If someone has a bad past experience I don’t fault them for wanting to steer clear.  But I also don’t know how representative they are of most experiences.  But maybe that’s because I’m pretty open about my mental health issues and through this have realized just how many people deal with it as well and that often times you don’t even know because it isn’t a major issue.

Post # 36
Member
1853 posts
Buzzing bee

I think it’s irrelevant. When I was dating I know people chose not to date me all the time, the why doesn’t matter and isn’t any of my business. If someone chooses not to date me I don’t then get to turn around and put down their choice to make myself feel better. Someone I have a first date with doesn’t ask for a second date? Cool I move on. Why do people who get rejected by feel the need to turn around and say, well you weren’t right for me anyways, I didn’t want to date you anyways. It just looks immature. Just not a healthy way to live your life. It also is assuming that the other person was somehow wrong or a bad person for not wanting to date you when it’s their life they can do what they feel is best for them.

  sboom :  

Post # 37
Member
5509 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

ladyjane123 :  it’s not to make me feel better, it’s just a fact. If someone can’t look past my surface, then why should I care? That’s how you’re looking at it too, you’re not wasting your time with people who chose not to date you, I’m not wasting my time either 🤷🏻‍♀️ I can’t make myself feel better if I really don’t care, it’s something that we all accept, we are deeper than what’s on the surface and some people don’t choose to look deeper, so why get upset by that? Our thoughts seem to be in line with that

I don’t think our line of thinking is different, it’s not worth our time to care about why someone doesn’t want to date you

As an aside, I thought my ideal would be tall dark and handsome with a professional career. At one point I thought about setting up a dating profile on a page solely for professionals.

My husband is only a bit taller than me, he shaves his head, and I’m the bread winner 😂😂

If I stuck to my criteria, I would never have given my now husband a second glance 

Post # 38
Member
806 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

Only you know what you’re comfortable with. Every person is a risk. No person can guarantee that they will be stable and not develop something later in life. Personally, I’d still get to know the guy and judge based on the entire package. Stick around if you like him. See how he deals with a hard time or stressful period before committing to anything. 

*I’m married and have one of the “big baddies” of mental illness listed as a no go in lots of people’s responses (bipolar 1). My husband is a lovely, low key, consistent guy who absolutely brings out the best in me. We have a fantastic son and another on the way. Life is good. 

Post # 39
Member
1853 posts
Buzzing bee

Sansa85 :  YOu are right I think I am getting into semantics at this point. I think in my case because of my sister in law and her bipolar i am just sensitive to the issue. I have watched my brother go through hell with her and give up his happiness for her because if he wanted a new life and to break up with her, she wouldn’t have anything and would likely end up homeless and or in a government facility. To me I see her illness as unseparatable from who she is because it is not changeable and is an every day part of her experience. So her personality or what lies beneath the surface, so to speak, doesn’t matter because the reality is that no matter how great she is as a person her illness is awful for everyone around her. You simply can’t separate her from her illness. She could be the best person in the world, but her manic episodes are as much a part of being with her as her personality. She is pretty low functioning in her bipolar. 

I know many people do have their challenges under control with meds, or other support. But to me a person is a package, you can’t pick out what you don’t like and focus on one aspect of that person. So saying someone can’t see past it and see who someone truly is rings false to me. But again, ive had a pretty negative experience.

Post # 40
Member
5509 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

ladyjane123 :  I don’t think people just say “I refuse to date someone with a mental illness”, I think they were probably affected in a very negative way by someone who suffered from one

I’m sorry for your struggles with your sister in law

My mother has an untreated mental illness (probably quite a few) and she makes our lives a living hell (though I’ve distanced myself over the past decade so she barely affects me anymore, it’s mostly my sisters who suffer now). If I didn’t struggle myself, I wonder if I would be tainted by my mothers untreated illness

Post # 41
Member
940 posts
Busy bee

Wow, so many people against trying. 🙁

I think if you love the person, and REALLY love them, you will try to make it work. Of course, if they are treating YOU poorly, then by all means, leave..but if theyre struggling through their own problems, just like anything else in life, you stay and work with the person bc you love them. You dont just give up, theyre not a toy. 

I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for the past 4-5 years. So, its relatively new in my lifetime, and I cant stand the feeling. I am very aware of what Im feeling and ima ware that its mostly for ‘no reason’. I dont want to feel that way, and I actively try to reverse it all the time when im feeling down and when im my normal self. I am also completely aware of my surroundings, and how ppl act around me.

I let my SO know early on so that if he wants to leave, he has that option, and he has stayed with me the past 2 plus years, and refuses to let me go through it alone. He always says that he believes there will be a day where I wont have that heavy feeling on my shoulders, and he wants to be there on that day….and honestly, thats what keeps me going. He is my motivation to continue to find ways to gradually get better.

Thats dedication. Thats love.

Post # 42
Member
2157 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

“If you eliminate all potential partners who struggle with anxiety and/or depression, your dating pool will become rather small”

I agree. My husband has been on medication for depression for many years. It never even occurred to me to count that as a negative for him. I take as-needed medication for anxiety. It has had very little if any effect on our relationship. In many cases, these conditions are successfully treated and don’t become an obstacle for successful relationships, careers, and general life.

Post # 43
Member
140 posts
Blushing bee

I have PTSD so technically I’m the partner with mental illness. That being said my partner has had depression pretty much all his life (it runs in his family and his doctor has very much hinted it’s just a genetic thing not causing much dopamine in his system so it’s different to my condition) 

My illness is my cross to bear. I take myself to therapy. I’m aware myself of my symptoms and let my partner know when I’m having an off day. As long as you’re not acting as his personal punching bag and he’s mature enough to manage his own symptoms (it sounds like he does if he’s taking meds and what not) then there’s no reason not to. That’s my view anyway. 

Post # 44
Member
1973 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

ladama :  Whilst I agree with a lot of what you have said, I assume OP hasn’t been seeing this guy that long and if you have not had much experience of being around people with a mental illness I think it’s understandable to question whether it is something you can deal with.

I too am quite surprised by some bees attitudes towards MH here. A lot of women will suffer from postpartum depression and I hope their SO wouldn’t up and leave. 

Post # 45
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

throughthelookingglass87 :  

I love what you said here:

Only you know what you’re comfortable with. Every person is a risk. No person can guarantee that they will be stable and not develop something later in life.

 

So true!

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