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‘So, you know I have bipolar?’ – the perils of dating with a mental health problem
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We’re often told love is a form of madness – but what if falling in love triggers mania? From improved sleep to alleviating stress — the health benefits of regular sex are now commonly accepted. Now imagine if wanting more sex was a sign that your neurochemistry was out of balance, and your mental health was at risk? Years ago, I dated a guy with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. A few months into our relationship, I dragged him off to sex therapy because of his seemingly uncontrollable behaviour.
Sex between us was either feast or famine. When happy, he had boundless libido. When low, his habit of stumbling out of bed to browse porn as the kettle boiled, or spending hours trawling the profile pictures of escorts had me convinced he had some sort of addiction issues. Bipolar is essentially a mood disorder which causes an individual to swing between depressed and elevated states.
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Follow Us. To get beyond her own experience of dating while bipolar, journalist Kate Leaver spoke to a few other women about their own journeys, as well as speaking to psychologist Abigael San for advice. At a cute Italian restaurant, over candlelight and red wine, a man once told me he could never trust or love someone with a mental illness. He knew I lived with bipolar disorder. He knew from the first time we met that I had bipolar disorder — it was the very first conversation we had.
We survived a pretty gnarly depressive episode of mine together, during which he just held me, kept me company, fed me fresh dinners and tolerated my state of unshowered, pyjama-clad mess.
Scientists have for the first time found powerful evidence that genius may be linked with madness. Speculation that the two may be related dates back millennia, and can be found in the writings of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. Aristotle once claimed that “there is no great genius without a mixture of madness”, but the scientific evidence for an association has been weak — until now. A study of more than , adults showed that those who scored top grades at school were four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder than those with average grades.
The link was strongest among those who studied music or literature, the two disciplines in which genius and madness are most often linked in historical records. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, affects about 1 per cent of the population and is characterised by swings in mood from elation mania to depression. During the manic phase there can be feelings of inflated self-esteem, verging on grandiosity, racing thoughts, restlessness and insomnia.
The 19th-century author Edgar Allen Poe, who is thought to have suffered from manic depression, once wrote: “Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence In recent years psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and psychologists have argued that genius and madness are linked to underlying degenerative neurological disorders. The problem has been that both genius and severe mental illness are rare, and high intelligence or achievement is subjectively defined.
Claims about the link have been based on historical studies of creative individuals which are highly selective, subject to bias and rely on retrospective assessments of their mental state. The study, led by James MacCabe, a senior lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology at the Institute of Psychiatry, compared the final school exam grades of all Swedish pupils aged from to , with hospital records showing admissions for bipolar disorder up to age The fourfold increased risk of the condition for pupils with excellent exam results remained after researchers controlled for parental education or income.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Living with Bipolar Disorder
When do you tell a prospective partner? How much do you tell? Can you ever trust them not to run for the hills or abuse the vulnerable positions you will inevitably find yourself in? I still hardly ever talk about it with family and friends. And I never talk about it with men. Of course, we all have to look after our mental health and even the most robust of us have to deal with stress, sadness, anger and grief.
Some million people are thought to be affected in the UK, with most diagnosed with either bipolar 1 -characterised by the most severe ‘up’.
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WLTM similar: The online dating site aimed at adults with mental health concerns Sue Baker, of Time to Change, a UK organisation that aims to tackle mental He has bipolar disorder, which is a type of mental illness.
Checking in on your family, friends and colleagues during the coronavirus outbreak is more important than ever. I have been in and out of psychiatric hospital since In , during my second spell in hospital, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. At the present time I am living in the community in supported housing and I am taking medication a depot injection , which does have some side effects but is not too troublesome compared to some of the other antipsychotics I have taken. When I am going through a good phase and am out of hospital and feeling well, my thoughts often turn to my social life and how I can find people who are good company to spend time with.
Being a naturally very anxious person, I find it difficult to meet people in some of the traditional ways going to bars and clubs, playing sports, etc. I do spend quite a lot of time online and I have a good network of friends who I communicate with regularly on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Meeting new people can be especially difficult when you have a mental illness. My illness has been such a significant part of my life over the last six years that when I meet new people now it is pretty much impossible to avoid the subject.
I tend to open up quite easily and I also tend to be quite open about my condition on the websites I use. I feel that if people really want to know who I am, they need to know a little about my illness and how it affects me. One exciting way of reaching out and meeting new people is online dating. A couple of years ago, during a good phase in my life, I decided to give Match.
I suppose the fact that I joined in the first place demonstrates that I believe I am worthy of having a girlfriend despite my mental illness.
Bipolar disorder and sex: It’s time to talk about this emotional minefield
Millions of readers rely on HelpGuide for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges. Please donate today to help us protect, support, and save lives. Beyond the treatment you get from your doctor or therapist, there are many things you can do for yourself to reduce your symptoms and stay on track. Living well with bipolar disorder requires certain adjustments. Making these healthy choices will help you keep your symptoms under control, minimize mood episodes, and take control of your life.
Managing bipolar disorder starts with proper treatment , including medication and therapy.
Dating is a tricky business at the best of times, but even more so if you have a history of mental illness. D ating is hard. I continued to stare at the back of her head from my desk, in the full knowledge that she would never speak to me again. This is how it is for everyone. But what is it like when, in addition to your inability to say anything remotely funny or interesting to the person you are into, you have a mental health problem as well?
How does that affect the way you interact with them? How does it affect a relationship once you are actually in one? And, more pressingly: how do you even tell someone you are, or have been, ill? At what point during the dating process is it appropriate to bring up mental health? The pressure of not knowing when or how to reveal your mental health status can be an additional and very valid source of anxiety.
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