A topic amongst peers:
When, if ever, do I “out” myself to my girlfriend/boyfriend that I have bipolar and/or depression and/or anxiety and/or schizophrenia and/or PTSD and/or fondness for disco?
First off, I don’t like the words “out”, “outed”, or “outing” when speaking of mental health symptoms. The implication is there is an innate shame having mental health symptoms, the implication is symptoms must be hidden . . . to the extent of not being able to hide mental health symptoms any longer and thusly falling into full-on mental health crisis. Not totally rad, dude.
Having mental health symptoms; c’mon, it’s not like being Patient Zero for having Herpes Simplex 3988 because I like “dating” green monkeys. It’s just a bunch of symptoms I manage that consequently affect behavior. Heck, if that was something shameful, my ex-wife should feel googols of tons of shame every time her “blood sugar dropped’ (she was hungry is her explanation), because her behavior got all fussy and grumpy when her “blood sugar dropped.” I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say in blanket terms she was always fussy and grumpy regardless of blood sugar level. An absolute angel I wanted to strangle with her halo, the ex-wife was.
I’ll give my reply succinctly, just as soon as I get done with things you really want to reveal immediately to a new or established lover.
- You’re infected with Ebola
- You like to date nursing students.
- You like burying nursing students more than dating nursing students.
- Are you a nursing student?
- Have you considered going into nursing?
Okay, my answer. When to “out” yourself? Do me a solid and don’t say “out” yourself. Do me another favor. Answer the question for yourself based on what your heart tells you.
When? Whenever it feels right.
Look, regardless of when you tell someone of symptoms you may exhibit, either they’ll accept that it’s only a disease you have and it is not your identity, or they will schedule an operation to have their head surgically implanted in their rectum. And if they can’t accept that? Well, there are plenty of other people on the planet and chances are you’ll stumble across an understanding soul. And truly, if the person you’re with is saturated in stigma and can’t see beyond mental health symptoms, what are you going to do, spend the rest of your life trying to get them to understand? It’s their ignorance, not yours. You don’t have to accept their ignorance.
There’s nothing shameful about having mental health symptoms. It’s a lot of work managing these symptoms. And you are worthy of having someone in your life who accepts this and supports you regardless and unconditionally.
That’s what everyone wants, mental health symptoms or not. See? We’re not different in any way.