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Dating With Mental Illness

Updated on August 20, 2019

Finding Love

Finding love can be a very daunting and exciting process for anyone who puts themselves out there on the market, whether face to face or online. There are so many things that run through our minds and we often take a wild magical emotional roller coaster ride before we end up at the right destination, if we even make it to the right station on time. We worry about meeting the right person, making a good impression, wearing the right outfit and all the little butterflies that fly around in our tummies. Now imagine doing that while dealing the scary monster of mental illness.


There are more than 200 classified types of mental disorders; some of the most common disorders are addictions, OCDs, depression and eating disorders.

According a World Health Organization (WHO) report – ‘One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.’

This means that 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental health disorder.

We may be living in an era where information is easily accessible however this does not change the fact that mental illness still receives a heavy dose of stigma. Persons who are living with mental health problems are still labelled as ‘psycho’, ‘crazy’ or ‘retarded.’ The view held by many is that persons who are suffering from these issues are unpredictable ,may not be easy to communicate with or even not able to form meaningful relationships.

The stigma towards mental illness has a long and mangled history. In times before persons with these problems were thought to be demon or spirit possessed and were forced to undergo crude and brutal ‘treatments.’

According a World Health Organization (WHO) report – ‘One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.’

Today cinematic portrayals of persons with mental health challenges like schizophrenia are normally the villain or the homicidal maniac terrorizing a town.

This immediately puts a person with a mental health challenge with a big disadvantage when it comes to meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right. There is an additional pressure dealing with the uncertainty of when is the right time to open up about their illness and how it will be received by the other party. What if your new beau doesn't want a girl who is struggling with depression?

So how does a person with a mental health challenge navigate the dating landscape and handle the possible stigma he or she will face?

Coping with mental health illness and stigma while dating

Dealing with stigma hurts especially if it comes from someone you care about. However it is important to honest with the person you are dating and also yourself. Communication is very key in the dating game. There is no formula or magical way to tell the right time to open up about it. You may not want to tell someone on the very first date but if you feel the relationship may progress into something more serious you should communicate with your intended partner.

It is important for you to prepare yourself for this conversation. When opening up, do not minimize your health problems; be real about it. It may go extremely well; you may be met with love, understanding and compassion. The flip side of that coin is you may receive rejection. This is not a reflection on your self-worth but it is the other person’s inability to deal with a partner with a mental challenge or their ignorance about mental health. Do not be hard on yourself!

You can take some comfort in a 2013 study undertaken by the charities Mind and Relate. Their research showed that 77% of people with mental health problems told partners about their mental health problems and just 5% experienced a breakup directly related to it.

The Good News

There is a growing culture of acceptance and understanding towards persons with mental illness. This shows by the number of support groups available such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). You can also reach out to your community mental health association or your health care provider. Stay connected to your family and friends. Remember that you are not alone.

Your mental health should not be a deterrent to you finding love. Your mental health does not define who you are and it should not define your relationship. It is only a part of the beautiful person you are. A healthy, happy and long lasting relationship is still possible. Stay positive!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cadine Vernon


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