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Mental Illnesses

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OK, so I have a mental illness. I would like to get people's opinion on this: is this a bad thing, a turn off, a dealbreaker, whatever you wanna call it? Would you even consider dating someone with a mental illness? Does your opinion change depending on the mental illness?

P.S. No, I'm not asking people if they would date me specifically. I'm just asking in general.

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Personally, I have no problem with anyone with a mental illness. For me to say otherwise, would be like the pot calling the kettle black. If you look at the statistics, one in four people have a diagnosable mental illness. Mental illness does not identify the person, it is only one aspect of their life. Kinda like having blue eyes, eight fingers, two thumbs, etc. How the person manages their symptoms is extremely important. Nonmanagement can put an extreme amount of stress on the individual as well as those in the person's life. Just as a person who has diabetes must take care of their diet and/or medications, so must a person with a mental illness. Mental illness is not the end of life as we know it, it is merely another facet of our lives that we must look after. I do not speak as a therapist, doctor, or counselor. I speak from my own experience. Yes, it does appear lonely at times. In many ways, it has a lot of similarities to coming out. But there are people who care about you as a person and anyone who considers mental illness a deal breaker is too shallow to be deserving of you.

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Personally, I have no problem with anyone with a mental illness....But there are people who care about you as a person and anyone who considers mental illness a deal breaker is too shallow to be deserving of you.

Well, I must say, it's nice to hear that once in a while. 

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Being diagnosed with a mental illness is very traumatic, especially if it occurs when we are in crisis AKA extremely symptomatic. Self confidence goes right out the window along with previous coping skills and even a sense of who we are suffers as well. The fact that we are constantly bombarded by extreme negative examples of the mentally ill in the media does not absolutely nothing to help ease our fears and concerns. Toss in the stereotypes that our family and friends use and being diagnosed with a mental illness becomes something akin to being diagnosed with the plague. Each and every person who survives and thrives as best they can, deserves to be recognized as survivors and living miracles, because we refuse to reinforce society's negative images of what the mentally ill are supposed to be like. We are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, neighbors, coworkers, the person you pass on the street. We are no different from anyone else, except that we have not given up on life.

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it is nice to see people with educated perspectives on mental illness. about a year and a half ago my girlfriend dumped me after I told her I was depressed. i was pretty devastated at the time... it made me feel defective, like i have been permanently damaged by the experiences that i've had. but i realize now that she was being ignorant and shallow.

nobody chooses to have a mental illness. we didn't wake up one morning and decide that life sucks and then alter our own brain chemistry. so why should we be punished? for me, mental illness is by no means a deal breaker. in fact, it brings a different perspective to the relationship when not one but both partners are experiencing emotional difficulties. Perhaps some day the public at large will learn....doubt it though.

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I recognise all of the above - the stereotyping, the out of hand rejection, the quasi-moral judgements placed upon those with mental health issues - but at the same time, I'm a bit wary of the idea that the only morally acceptable alternative is to simply not take mental illness into account. It does, obviously, affect people's actions and moods, and whilst this doesn't have any bearing on one's moral worth, it will inevitably affect how one is able to relate to people.

I have various issues - I'm not entirely sure whether I'd exactly class them as mental health issues or not, but I don't really think that matters - and whilst I'd be pretty horrified if someone thought less of me because of them, I couldn't blame someone if they said they wouldn't be able to cope with them in the context of a relationship. Similarly, my ex/best friend was severely mentally ill, and although I think incredibly highly of her and deeply value the time we spent together, it would be lying to say that it didn't sometimes affect how I felt and what I did. And in all honesty, I think it would be healthier in the future for me to be with someone who is more able to cope than myself.

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In any type of relationship, there are always considerations to take into account. Considerations about mental illness are legitimate. The most important being how the person manages the illness. This is very much like how a person manages any other condition such as diabetes, a back injury, etc. Having any condition is not the end of the world unless that condition happens to be death. Just like making a purchase, people who have any type of illness need to be informed so that they are in the best possible position to effectively manage their lives. There aspects of my own diagnoses that do manifest in my life. This is brought on by stressors (both internal and external), whether or not I am just having one of those days, or any other factor. By being informed, I can recognize what is happening inside me so that I can take the appropriate steps in management. However, there are times that despite our best efforts, we just get overwhelmed. Being able to recognize this is just as important as anything else. Also bear in mind that nobody ever reaches an age without accumulating baggage. The thing that matters is our choice of baggage that we continue to carry. Hope this helps.

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For some reason, people feel more secure with numbers and statistics. The common stat for the lgbtq population was/is said to be 1 in 10 persons. Now let us throw another set of numbers into this mix. According to SAMHSA, 1 in 4 persons have a diagnosable mental illness. This does not mean that each person is disabled or highly symptomatic. It merely means that going by the criteria set by the DSM-IV, that 25% of the population meets the standards to be given a diagnosis. Mental illness runs a large spectrum. Everything from being developmentally delayed to various personality disorders and lots of things in between. Like BDSM? Chances are that there is enough to be given a paraphilia diagnosis. ADD/ADHD is a fairly common diagnosis too. Up until the '70's, homosexuality was considered a mental illness. For those of us who are in the TG/TS spectrum, there is gender identity dysphoria. The point that I am trying to make is that mental illness is not something that is always a monster. Sometimes it feels like one, but not always. For a bit of irony, this past year, I actually had to go through a background check equivalent to obtaining a secret security clearance just to get a state license to be mentally ill. Kind of makes one wonder just what was going through our lawmakers' heads with that idea.

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I personally have a mental illness. On the grand scale of things, it is not as severe as others, for which I am grateful; however, it is still a large part of my identity and just who am I am. I hope that any future partners can look past my mental illness to the other amazing qualities I have and maybe someday appreciate my mental illness as creating me as an individual overall.

I have dated people in the past who have had various mental illnesses. I think the "deal breaker" for me is refusing to seek any form of treatment. A mental illness is just like any other illness or disease--there is no good reason to let your diabetes go untreated and slowly kill you, just as there is no good reason to not seek treatment for a mental illness.

So to sum it up, mental illness in general is A-OK by me as long as it is being managed.

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People who have a managed "mental illness" don't worry me. It's the ones who have an unmanaged one, or who are in denial about it, do.

The people who worry me the most, are the ones who can live in this world, as it is, and have no problems at all. 

Chazz - (A little bit crazy and pleased about it.)

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If one hangs around a psych unit long enough, one will wind up with a diagnosis. This was said to me by unit staff. Something I have noticed is that when one is in a psych ward, that is the closest anyone will ever come to being in as close to a judgment free environment as there can be. It doesn't matter if one is single diagnosis or a walking dsm-iv, gay, straight, bi, lesbian, or even tg. That is something that one cannot always find, even within the lgbtq safe spaces. Though I am undecided as to whether or not I will finish a psych degree, I am a state licensed mental health professional. The kicker of this is that in order to get the type of license I have, one must be a mental health consumer. In other words, I had to document my life experience with mental illness, work experience with it and undergo a state level background check just to get a state license to be mentally ill. If this sounds odd, think of it this way. Would you rather have someone working with you whose only experience with mental illness is secondhand at best or someone who has been down the same roads or similar that you have? This is why substance abuse counselors who are former addicts are more effective than those who have only learned about it from books and observation. Mental illness is not the end of the world, but it takes the individual experiencing it to find that out for themselves. The rest of us can act only as guides and living examples that there is life beyond having a diagnosis. Life that can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. Even the darkest of hours can be a blessing if we only stop to honestly examine the situation. Easier said than done, but possible, it is. Also, I never said it was easy. How much in life do we truly value that comes easy to us? Let me know what you think, even if this thread appears to be a dead one like it did before. Good luck and Goddess bless to all.

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Hi Ashleigh. Your posts are interesting. From having taken psych classes myself, I understand that, to work in the field, it's a requirement to go through analysis yourself. One of my professors suggested the reason is that it's for your protection, too. You don't want to be in session with someone and have some undealt with issue or condition come up within you and bite you in the derriere. You want to uncover everything about yourself, so that nothing takes you by surprise that could possibly negatively affect your patient and/or distract you and pull you into acting out through whatever issue or condition may exist in you. In other words, it's to help you thoroughly get to know yourself, to deal with whatever, to better prepare you. Otherwise, as a patient is describing their concern/condition, things they say could trigger, for the first time, anything that you haven't dealt with in yourself. Cooperating with analysis, also, gives you the experience of dealing with the situation and the tools to deal with it, should you need it. Plus, like you said, it helps you have first hand experience, instead of just intellectual knowledge.

I was also taught to be very careful with labelling patients. Labels can be more harmful than doing good. There's a fine line.

Good luck to you. Life has a way of preparing us for what may lie ahead. Abundant blessings.

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As someone whose brain chemistry is wired in all the wrong ways, I'm in no place to judge others on their own.

As long as whatever illness doesn't cause *harm to others*, I'm fine with it, although possibly a little awkward, depending on what the problem is.

(I'm a little tired at the moment, so I haven't read the whole topic. If I repeated someone else's viewpoint, that's why.)

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It is not so much as having a disorder as it is a matter of just dispplaying a range of symptoms. Those of us who get/got caught just happened to have enough signs/symptoms to qualify as a disorder or diagnosis. There are things that we do that can make us more susceptible to onset of mental illness, such as going long periods without adequate sleep. This is one of the reasons that patients in a stabilization unit are generally given meds to encourage sleep. Basically, this serves as a rule out test. By using this example, I am not saying that nature does not predispose some of us to certain diagnoses. Though, it may be in our genes, it is not a guarantee that we will also have a mental illness. Like everything else in life, it depends on a combination of things and how we are able or unable to cope with events. Remeber, you don't see motorcycles parked in front of psychiatrist offices.

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And I am always upfront about it. I mean I didn't put it in my personals profile or anything, but I most certainly have every intention of revealing that right away to any potential partners. I posted a similar thread on AfterEllen, and, to my surprise, there were only a couple of 'absolutely not' style responses. So, I think there is hope, but you have to be honest about it rather than concealing it until you have some sort of episode. The person will feel lied to, betrayed, and rightfully so. I don't think it should be a deal breaker, but I do understand if it is.

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I don't think that it is the mental illness itself that scares people off. People hear those words and think about the struggle entailed with being a part of it. This sort of rejection falls into the same category as physical ailments for some people. Asking a person to deal with another person's mental illness is the same as asking that same person to deal with a paraplegic, quadriplegic, or someone who is missing limbs.

That being said, I believe that everyone deserves a chance. We all have issues - especially living in a society that still frowns on our choices in lifestyle. I will take the time to become acquainted with a person and will determine whether I can connect to her based on our interaction. I guess I am saying that I wouldn't automatically reject a person because of a mental illness.

I can remember this one situation, when I was still fooling myself into thinking I was interested in guys. I met this guy who had ADHD and we exchanged numbers. We talked on the phone and really hit it off. Several days later, I invited him over to my apartment to watch a movie. He talked all through the movie, and each time he'd ask me a question he would interrupt me before getting any sort of answer from me. I asked him what sort of medication he was taking and he told me that he didn't need medication; he swore that he was managing without. I quit calling him after that day - I couldn't deal with him. Would I have cut ties so quickly if it had been a woman? I don't know, most likely I would have. Would I do the same now? I don't think I would now because I understand more and have more patience with other people.

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@77lagata the guy you described sounds like the type who is in denial. And that is a normal phase. When I first was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I did soooo many nutty things, and I didn't see how off I was until I started messing up my life. I hate that you didn't get to keep a friend, but I totally understand. People who cannot handle/properly manage whatever disorder they have, and won't take steps to do so, are often impossible to deal with at all, much less date. Furthermore, the only relationships people with uncontrolled issues like that need to be seeking out are those with therapists. Chances are, the behavior disturbances with the illness will make any romantic situation wind up doomed.

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I agree. I think that if he had been seeking out help I would have been more understanding. I have had my own struggles and at that time I was working through some of the worst of my psychological baggage; I would not have been able to be the strong one when he needed me to be, even as a friend. The sad thing is, for many people it is much easier to take on the "burden" of a person with some sort of condition when they have known her for a while. You know, when a person has been in a relationship for several years and then is diagnosed, her partner is a bit more likely to stick around. Emotional investment plays a huge role in the decision whether to be with someone.

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We all have our ideas of what we are like when things are feeling on or off kilter. Because of that, we may not always agree with how someone is dealing or not dealing with a particular condition. Personally, I have been called antisocial, but I prefer to view it as being selectively social. I do realize that I need social interaction, but I will be damned if I am going to try to behave in a manner that is contrary to me. I do not deny that I have things to consider when going through my day, but no matter what, I must be true to myself.

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Ashleigh,

I think I know how that is. I don't like to be social all the time either - and when I am I don't always like being in the center of the activity. If you don't feel like being social there is nothing wrong with that, and maybe it would only take a change in scene for you to open up more. Or, perhaps you are introverted enough that your own company sates that need. Once again, nothing wrong with that.

The problem arises when a person slips into the extreme. Antisocial personality disorder, or sociopathy, is something that would need to be addressed and treated. That person would not be able to hold onto any lengthy relationship. There would be a total disregard for anyone other than himself or herself - that would be a deal-breaker for most people.

People who feel you have a mental disorder based on a lack of socialization need to leave you alone and realize it's live and let live.

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The trouble with folks with antisocial personality d/o, is that they do not have a problem with their behavior-everyone else does. You are most correct about extremes. All thing in moderation are good, including moderation. I try not to take myself too seriously, even though it does get on people's nerves at times. After all, I am the one who lets people know when I am at work by posting a sign that reads "Asshole On Duty." Be that as it may, no, I do not aspire to prove the sign correct.

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Sounds like your sense of humor is similar to mine then :)

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On January 30, 2010 at 8:27 AM, Chazz44 said:

People who have a managed "mental illness" don't worry me. It's the ones who have an unmanaged one, or who are in denial about it, do.

The people who worry me the most, are the ones who can live in this world, as it is, and have no problems at all. 

Chazz - (A little bit crazy and pleased about it.)

 

Well, there are people who have mental illness, such as disorders in the brain's wiring, like autism or aspergers that can't be "managed," only acknowledged and recognized.

but yeah, people who "have no problems" have the biggest problem of all; because they face no challenges or growth to define their existence and improve themselves with, let alone reflect upon over wine, beer, or tea with someone. What's more, then you can't share in overcoming a problem or a challenge with someone who has it in common. *yawn*

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I have a mental disorder too and I have been told that I can be a little bit socially awkward/anti-social and quite shy. I only suffer with clinical depression which is not as bad as other people, but I can understand why people would think of it as a deal breaker in a relationship. I personally don't mind if someone has a mental disorder as I would be more considerate as I would kind of know what they are going through. I have not put this on my personal status, but I would never hide the fact either because if they found out later on into the relationship then they obviously would think our relationship was based on a lie.

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Great topic and an important one to bring into the open. I have a physical and psychological different ability. Luckily, when I was younger, my natural athletic ability helped build a core ego self that had some inner strength. Life happens and along the way I acquired an Anxiety Response and my Depression manifested more acutely as I experienced more of life. We are in a society where perfection is the ideal. My body is no longer capable of doing what it once was able to do when I competed in high school and college sports. So, there is this group of women that will not be interested in a relationship with me because I may not be able to hike the Great Wall of China,mountain bike, sky dive, ride horses or whatever with them.

I am, also, aware there will be a group of women that will not be interested in a relationship with me when I inform them of my psychological challenges. Then, I tell them I'm an opinionated Progressive/Atheist and the pool of women gets smaller. Luckily, I have intelligence and a sense of humor. I monitor my moods, feel my feelings, take my meds and continue to search. All I can do is Reframe peoples labels and dialogue and do the best I can on any given day to face the challenges in my life.

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