A reader writes:
Molly Pohlig’s perspective on dating with mental illness is right on. I have PTSD and have watched the effects, pre- and post-diagnosis, torpedo many a relationship. In addition to the PTSD, I have two chronic pain conditions, so there is also the toll of being a physical caretaker. One man filled this role with ease; I ended our engagement for fear that I would destroy his gentle and kind nature with the rage and swings that are part of my life.
I spoke with a friend about this while my last relationship was in its death throes. He understands – he has PTSD himself from childhood trauma (very different than my adult-acquired version) and deals with depression, anxiety, and chronic migraines. He said he thought that the only way for someone struggling with an issue this serious to have a relationship was for them to find someone else with mental illness.
I thought he was being ridiculous and just flirting. I was wrong about the first part and right on the second. We are scheduled to be married this fall.
It works because our crazy is balanced. I don’t suffer daily anxiety, so things that make him anxious don’t feed me and I can ground him. He doesn’t struggle with intimacy issues, so he can remind me how to be a feeling person, rather than an emotionless automaton. It’s less stressful for him to take care of me, since I will have to take care of him some days, too. Plus, having someone who understands that there are limits to what you can control takes a huge burden off your bad days.
Is this the only way for someone with mental illness to find a partner? No, of course not. But it’s something I never would have considered as a way to make relationships a little easier until I tried it.
I’m coping with bi-polar disorder, would like to date, and envy those who hold down families, careers, and social lives with the condition. I can’t afford to date on my disability income with meager part-time work. What kind of financial stability can I possibly offer him as a life partner? I don’t know how Molly Pohlig does it, or does she depend on the other person paying her way?
Update from a reader:
I finally subscribed. It was this post that did it. I’ve struggled with mental illness (depression, anxiety). I am, at this very moment in my life, negotiating a new relationship and I don’t want my issues to torpedo this one as they have so many before. I had an incredibly empathetic reaction to this post and realized: where else can I read about foreign policy, pet ethics, and then have a moment like this? Of genuine heart? So, ya got me.