So there I am the next afternoon, having a beer with a friend at a great little spot. We had been house-hunting all day in a ’95 Corvette convertible. Cool in theory – exceedingly hot in the Southern sun in reality. An ice-cold Corona with lime was just what I needed.
We sat there, him fiddling with his phone (he never stops), and me taking in my environment.
“So, I think I going to try Match.com after we move – when I am ready to date again,” I told him.
“Cool. That sounds good,” he says, “but I wouldn’t tell them you are bipolar upfront.”
“I’m not dumb,” I said. “I am not going to write it into my profile or bring it up on the first date. Why would you even say that?” I was mad.
“Well, you saw the way those girls reacted last night when you told them you were bipolar. It scares people.”
“I only brought it up because they asked what I blogged about. I am not ashamed of who I am!”
And there it was – his embarrassment of me and my illness, the stigma.
I don’t believe you should tell someone you have a mental illness on a first date, it is not first date fodder. But hey, if you want to, go on with your bad self. It’s just very personal, something you may want to protect. I have no doubts that I will tell any guy I get serious with early in the relationship, that way if he wants to run, he can.
I lived for a long time with shame about my illnesses. It was this deep, dark secret that I couldn’t let most people know about. But then one day, I spit it out. Online. And I am better for it because now I am not embarrassed to say, “I have bipolar disorder, OCD, and anxiety disorder.” It’s not all of who I am, but it is a part.
I am sure in the coming months, as I “get out there” and try dating again (Geez, Louise! It has been nearly 6 years since I’ve been on the market!), I will have much more to write about. No doubt ignorance and stigma will rear their ugly heads at times, but I believe in honesty – with your partner, with yourself. Remember you are more than an illness, a label. You are amazingly you and you should share that.
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