From my experience and what I’ve heard from others, it is a challenge to date with a mental illness. It’s already difficult as it is to meet someone in general, so adding a mental illness to the picture makes it even more challenging.
I remember during my first major depressive episode, someone told me that to feel better I should get a boyfriend. I either laughed in my head, or out loud. That was the most ridiculous piece of advice I’d ever heard. At that point I had never even had a boyfriend in my life, which is bad enough, so why would I look like a great candidate when I’m severely depressed? Not to mention I barely even see my friends, so obviously I’m definitely not meeting any new people. My confidence was so low, my social skills felt inadequate and I was barely able to take a daily shower. There’s just so many reasons why that was a ridiculous suggestion to me, but I’ll stop myself here. It wasn’t until about two years later, when I was recovered, that I started dating my first and current boyfriend.
Personally, I feel that if you’re single during a very difficult time of your mental health, it’s best to focus on yourself. Finding a partner should be the last thing on your mind, unless you happen to randomly meet the right person during a difficult time; sometimes life just happens and things can’t be avoided. I strongly believe in that saying, “You have to love yourself, before you love anyone else.” You shouldn’t have to rely on someone else to be your complete source of happiness and purpose. Yes, a partner does bring happiness, but it shouldn’t be your only source.
Once you have become a bit more stable with your mental health and have more self-confidence, then maybe start dating if that’s something you want. I personally disclose my mental health history to new people pretty early on so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. Others feel it’s too soon and are uncomfortable with sharing that very personal information, and may bring it up later.
A common thought is to feel like your issues are huge and you’re the only one with issues. The funny thing is that even the people who seem the most put together have their own personal issues to work out. To your surprise, you might even find out that the other person has even bigger issues than you.
If you’re single with a mental illness reading this, then don’t worry. Just focus on yourself and mental health, since that comes first, and everything will eventually fall into place.
About Elena B.
Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.