Post # 1
So, I have a pretty long history of mental illness. All through my teenage years, I struggled with anorexia to the point of hospitalization. After I was in inpatient treatment, I had major depression and self-harm behaviors, and when I relapsed in college, I was also diagnosed with bipolar II. I was on medication for a long time, but over the years I improved and weaned off of it with doctor approval. It had been years since I had real problems, but just in the last year or so, I’ve fallen back into major depressive modes. I would get so irrationally upset that I couldn’t imagine things ever getting better and had a few incidents of self-harm. My Fiance has always known about my struggles, but now we’re living with his parents. Just in the last couple of months, things have gotten really bad. I’ve had a few major episodes of crying in my room a lot or just completely falling apart, but I’ve still managed to keep it from my in-laws. At the same time, I know I need to get back on medication and finally made an appointment today. Most of the time I’m a happy, well-adjusted person, balancing a masters program, work, and wedding planning, but I’ve been plummeting into episodes of not functioning, and it’s no way to start my life with my Fiance, and it’s terrible for our relationship!
Now I’m worried about my in-laws finding out. I feel like they have to know something because I have scars from self-harm, but I don’t know if they’ve ever asked my Fiance. I guess I should talk to him about it, but they’re super judgmental. My future sister-in-law (married to my FI’s brother) has had a lot of problems with them being judgmental of everything she does, and I’ve taken a lot of criticism for things like political choices and where we attend church. My future in-laws genuinely like me, but they also have problems when people aren’t “like them” and none of them have experienced depression or anything like that. I’m really worried about how they’ll react if they find out I have a pretty stigmatizing illness like bipolar! I know I’m doing the right thing and being responsible, and my Fiance supports me 100%, but my Future Father-In-Law in particular would definitely make comments about whether or not my Fiance should marry me because of things like this, or make jokes in really poor taste that make me uncomfortable. I’m just not sure how to handle it, and I’m paranoid about them finding out and thinking I’m unfit for their son. I guess I shouldn’t really worry because he doesn’t feel that way, but it’s definitely a stressful thing to go through! :-/ Any thoughts on how to handle this?
Post # 3
For one, your Fiance knows and still wants to be with you so thats great. Secondly, its none of their business unless you want it to be. I’d want to tell them just to get it out of the way, but my in laws aren’t super judgmental. Talk to your Fiance about it, ask him what he thinks they are his parents after all. Lastly, maybe you guys can try to figure out a different lving situation.
Post # 4
Don’t be so hard on yourself my dear! You don’t choose to suffer from mental illness, the same way you don’t choose to get a cold! Obviously you know your future in-laws better than anyone on the internets but my advice would be to sit down and have an honest chat with them. Tell them how you feel, and how that you worry that they might treat you differently… Get your Fiance on board and because you know he’s got your back- get him behind you.. By letting them in on how you’re feeling and what you’re going through, I’m sure they will get behind you too!
Post # 5
Do they have to know, is the real question. There is no moral obligation to be completley honest with them about your illness if there’s no special reason for them to know… it’s personal, it’s private. If you don’t think it will help anything or change anything for the better, there’s no reason to bother bringing it up, I think. I’m not advocating straight up lying to them, just not bringing it up. “Do you have any mental illnesses” isn’t a topic that comes up that much in most circles, I suspect, so probably if you don’t say it they won’t ask?
Do you live with them or something? What makes you think they’d just suddenly “find out”? (Provided your Fiance knows not to blurt it.)
Post # 6
I’m bipolar, and like your ILs, my Future Father-In-Law is pretty judgemental about it. He doesn’t ‘get’ it at all.
I would be far happier if they didn’t know about it at all, but unfortunately my Fiance is a major oversharer of personal information…he told them all sorts of things about me – like that I’ve been married before, that I was still married to my ex H when I met Fiance – that honestly they had no reason to know. It has caused some problems, especially as I’m a very private person.
If you don’t want your inlaws to know, your Fiance should respect your wishes. It sounds like living with them may be worsening your symptoms, I hope for your sake you can get your own place soon!
Post # 7
Your experiences in life make you who you are, and you should never be ashamed of yourself and thus, your experiences. Instead of worrying about what your soon-to-be in-laws have to say about anything, I would hope that you realize that you should wear your scars as a symbol of the courage and strength that it took/takes to keep trying to have a better life each and every day. The emotions that come along with, or drive, eating disorders and bipolar disorder(s) are part of who you are, and so is the maintenance of such a system of emotions. Just because certain people have not been exposed to, or had to deal with, mental illness themselves, does not make them better than you… Which also means that they are without a high horse to sit upon whilst judging you or anyone else. If anything, your experience with these personal struggles gives you more perspective than they could ever dream of having, and so it shows as you know how utterly wretched it is to hurt someone else and (I assume) would never try to do so. I believe the only reason people go out of their way to hurt others is to make them feel better about themselves, and that, my dear, should tell you all that you need to know about anyone who would do this—they themselves are insecure and need to put others down to feel better about their own situation (or hope that they are perceived as worthy to the peers that they are putting you down to).
In your particular situation, I am guessing it is even harder to let what other people think or say about you go (as perfectionism is highly correlated with anorexia); however, you should also know that not everyone sees mental illness as a stigma. After watching people close to me struggle with self-harm (as well as the other illnesses), if (as most scars are not as noticeable to outsiders as what you perceive) and when I see scars, I see someone to be proud of in that they (you) work and fight harder for life than those without said struggles. We all know that everyone is dealt some sort of problem, or series thereof, from time-to-time in life, and we also know that it is unfair to make fun of someone who is less lucky in their dealings as it robs these people of the strength and sense of respect for themselves that overcoming these issues is supposed to bring. Don’t let anyone rob you of the benefits that come with working hard to help yourself.
So, if it makes you feel better to intercept any questions or comments that your in-laws may have, then sit them down and have a talk (that you set the tone of as it is your story, so you are in control). Otherwise, you need to try to be okay with the fact that they may wonder or talk about you (realizing that this speaks more poorly of their character than yours). All that you can do is show people how to treat you and that can be done in either situation by knowing and having confidence and respect for yourself—you are smart and have amazing strength, so don’t let them forget it. (I think you already know all of this, but sometimes it helps to have others remind you!)
Post # 8
@tirralirra: Okay, wow. It’s not your fault that your in laws are closed minded and if your Future Father-In-Law disrespects you by implying that you’re somehow less of a person due to your illness, feel free to set him straight. Bigoted people should never be pandered to.
Post # 9
@tirralirra: I’m somewhat in the same situation, I have severe depression and anxiety, I go to therapy weekly and see a psychiatrist for medication. Fiance has been my rock through it all and has been nothing but the most amazing support I could ever ask for, and to me that is all that matters! I feel his family can be judgemental (which I doubt they really are, I just tend to take everything the wrong way and think mainly bad things; mostly due to my depression) I’m pretty sure none of them know about my illness which I go back and forth over whether or not to tell him. I feel if they knew, that they would understand why I am the way I am (I’m very shy and quiet!) but at the end of the day, the fact that Fiance is supportive and is helping me through it all, is all that really matters to me. I don’t feel you need to explain yourself to anyone, so please don’t feel you HAVE to tell anybody anything!
Post # 10
None of their business. Period. There will always be bullshit attitude about mental illness, especially with our parents’ generation. I just wouldn’t tell them – like the one bee said, don’t lie, but it’s not a topic that really comes up, so just don’t bring it up. Don’t let worrying about their judgement affect you – that’s their own problem. your Fiance loves you and supports you and that’s what matters.
Honestly, if your Future Father-In-Law would really think/comment on how your Fiance shouldn’t marry you b/c of mental illness, then **** him. Everyone deals with something in their lives, and what’s more, you’re being responsible and getting treatment and taking care of yourself. You rock, lady! Hugs from a fellow bipolar-ish person! 🙂