In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, comedian Maria Bamford discussed her experience with dating after a prolonged mental health crisis where she was unable to work. During her psychiatric hospitalization, she met many supportive partners and saw a variety of models of unconditional love and caring. She writes:
I started to think: That could be me. If I ever got better, maybe I would meet someone who could love me as I am. That maybe, work or no work, I’d no longer have to wait to be “lovable” (translation: “productive”) in order to be loved.
Bamford did go on to meet her partner, and has been married since 2015. A healthy romantic relationship can be an incredible source of support, in good times and bad. But for those of us who are diagnosed with a behavioral health condition, there can be a real fear of disclosing the truth. The anti-stigma organization Time To Change has found that a whopping 75 percent of people with mental disorders felt scared to tell new partners about it.
But the statistics point to a more positive picture than one might imagine. The mental health organization Mind explains that, according to a large survey,two-thirds of people with mental health issues and partners described their partner's reactions to disclosure as "unfazed" and "really understanding" and that only five percent of all the surveyed subjects, with or without partners, had dates break up with them when disclosure happened.
Whether you are single, newly dating, or in a committed relationship, here are some resources on how to navigate disclosure in a way that may leave you feeling empowered and safe.
- Why It Took a Psychiatric Hospitalization for Maria Bamford to Realize She Could Find Love (The Mighty)
- How To Tell A New Partner You Have A Mental Illness (Huffington Post)
- When to Disclose Your Mental Illness To Someone You're Dating(Bustle)
- How to talk about your mental illness with the person you’re dating(Metro.co.uk)
- 5 Helpful Tips For Dating With PTSD (Thought Catalogue)
- What Dating is Like as a Man with a Mental Illness (The Mighty)