How to Tell Someone You’re Dating About Your Bipolar 1 Diagnosis

Noemi J. Mullins

Even the most confident people can feel nervous when dating someone new. Who hasn’t spent hours experimenting with the perfect wording for a simple message? You might be experimenting with how to tell someone you’re dating about your bipolar Disorder.

First, a medical diagnosis is a highly personal thing. Your decision is yours to share the diagnosis. “Some people feel that bipolar disorder is a part of them, and they want to tell everyone who knows them about it,” David J. Miklowitz, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, told SELF. If this is a new diagnosis, you may still be processing it yourself. You might not want to tell someone who you are not seriously dating.

It’s magnificent. It might not be appropriate to share your diagnosis of bipolar disorder when you are just starting to connect with someone. You may still want to tell someone about your bipolar Disorder if there is a chance that you will want to develop a long-term relationship or if it’s just something you want to share. You don’t have to “hide.”

Reflect on why you are sharing and what you hope will happen. This will help you to decide how to proceed. “You need to know what you want to achieve,” says Dr. Miklowitz. Do you want [your diagnosis of bipolar I] to be out in the open? You want to be known on all levels. This should guide you.”

You are not your diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder can cause extreme mood swings, with highs or lows. Your doctor may have told you about this condition. Bipolar I can lead to manic episodes lasting at least one week and depression for up to two weeks.

When thinking about how to share your story, remember that your bipolar I diagnosis doesn’t define who you are as a person. Samar McCutcheon, MD, is a clinical assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She told SELF that having bipolar I don’t define you as a human being. When you share this information, you’re sharing your experience with a mental illness that you’ve been diagnosed with. This is no different from a physical condition such as diabetes or asthma.

Consider this: A person with diabetes or asthma who has just been diagnosed takes the necessary steps to maintain their health. While your symptoms may differ from those of these conditions, you are likely taking similar measures to treat bipolar 1. So, just like those with these conditions, your health is in good hands.

Do not feel obligated to reveal health information if you do not know the person well enough.

You can decide how much information you want to share and when. Don’t feel obligated to reveal every detail immediately. “Some people might feel comfortable disclosing their diagnosis at the beginning of a relationship while others may want to wait until it is established,” says Dr. McCutcheon. Find out how you feel and when sharing might be proper.

You are not required to share information with someone you just met. You don’t have to disclose all of this information when you are just starting to get to know someone or in a casual relationship. You are responsible for your treatment, and you have control over your condition. You’ve probably made it through the first date or even your second. Chances are, your new partner is pleased with what they have learned so far about you. This is a positive sign if you’re looking to be more open. But don’t feel pressured.

Dr. Thase suggests that if you are in a severe relationship or think the situation is going profoundly, discussing your diagnosis openly and giving it more thought than you might in a casual setting may be beneficial. This is because bipolar Disorder may affect a person’s relationships.

“Having your partner involved in the treatment plan is an asset,” says Dr. Thase. They may help you recognize what triggers your mood swings or encourage you to maintain a regular medication regimen.

You can use any language that you like to describe your diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder is often stigmatized, and knowing how much stigma your partner holds can be challenging.

Dr. Thase suggests that you first speak in general terms about your condition and then frame it up to what it is rather than get bogged down by misunderstandings. This will allow you to explain the diagnosis more clearly.

Dr. Thase suggests saying, “I am being treated for a mood disorder.” It has been diagnosed correctly, and an effective treatment plan has been developed. “I think we’re going to be doing something together, and I’d like to make sure there aren’t any secrets between us.”

Then: Do not be afraid. A supportive partner will be curious and understanding. Dr. Miklowitz says that “bipolar” is not something to be ashamed of.

If unsure, run your script by a trusted friend who loves you and understands Bipolar Disorder. If unsure, run your script past a friend who loves you and knows about bipolar Disorder.

Be prepared for different reactions and be ready to ask follow-up questions.

In a perfect world, your partner will support and listen to you when you tell them about Bipolar Disorder. It may be difficult at first, especially if the person you’re dating has never had a personal experience with bipolar Disorder. In popular culture, people with bipolar disorders are often portrayed as unpredictable or dangerous 2. Ask your partner about their knowledge of bipolar Disorder and where they learned it.

You should be ready to answer any questions that the person you are dating might have about your diagnosis. It can be helpful to explain bipolar Disorder since some people may not know what it is or have only seen it in movies and shows,” says Dr. McCutcheon. It’s possible that people will casually refer to unpredictable situations as “bipolar” in everyday conversation. This can be detrimental for those who are suffering from the condition. You can remind your date that bipolar is a common disorder. An estimated 4.4 million people will be diagnosed at some point.

If you are still learning about bipolar Disorder, Dr. McCutcheon suggests reading websites such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness or the National Institute of Mental Health. If you think it will help your partner understand your condition, direct them to these resources.

Dr. Miklowitz says that describing your symptoms and treatment plan can help others understand the severity of bipolar Disorder. He suggests you explain how mood swings look and what your partner can do to be supportive during these periods.

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