We all want to be cared about by someone, whether it is as simple as a friend or as complex as a lover, we are driven to be thought of in warm regard. Sometimes we feel unlovable. We think, “Who would want all this mess? There are so many nuances to my illness, who is willing to take on my moods and all that comes with them?” It is easy to be discouraged, especially if we have lost relationships in the past because of our bipolar disorder, but we have to try – to make friends, to extend our reach out to those we have hurt, to make new relationships.
In that vein, I once again found myself back on an Internet dating site. I was not doing much more than looking. It always turned out that once I found someone interesting, they absolutely wanted kids. (I absolutely do not).Then this guy messages me, not your ordinary “Hey gorgeous” (please), but instead he congratulated me on writing a memoir. I thanked him for the compliment. I could not shake the feeling that I knew him somehow, that he looked familiar. I asked and he told me he used to work at my pharmacy.
Our first date was a bit awkward, as most first dates are. He asked me what I did and I told him I blogged about mental illness because I have bipolar disorder. I figured he had been giving me antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics so he must have already known. He asked how I liked writing. I told him I love it.
Not long after, I asked him if he had known I had mental illness. He said, “Well, I knew you were not picking up blood pressure medicine, but I could not keep track of all the medications going through that place. I would not have known if you did not tell me.” Once again, I had spit out my ‘secret’ on the first date. Sigh.
But he was cool about it. Then one night we had a heart to heart and talked about my illness. He asked an interesting question that usually comes up on bipolar disorder forums or Facebook groups, or by medical professionals. He asked me when was I was first diagnosed. He guessed Austin and I told him about my California stint and the mania/mixed episode and suicide attempt. I felt like a little kid who had painted the wall with permanent marker and had to explain to mommy what she had done. I was quite uncomfortable. But I knew this thing was never going to work unless I was honest.
Last week we were out grabbing coffee and all of a sudden I felt the panic I sometimes get with my anxiety disorder start up. I told him we needed to leave and grabbed my bag and flew out the door. He followed shortly after. Then we went to the Halloween store. I was not sure I could do it, but holding his hand, we made it a quick journey. Another time, shortly after that, while having a cup of coffee, I tried to explain that when I said I need to leave, that I mean immediately. He came up with a code word: avocado. If I say avocado everything stops and we leave.
We have been dating two months now, or there about. He is kind and gentle and considerate and he opens the car door for me. He is not perfect, but neither am I. I just wanted to use this as an example of how being authentic can actually work when you find someone who really wants to know about your illness to help you, not ridicule you.