Every week, I sit on my therapist’s couch to discuss life, and I’m open about this with many people. Up to 3% of Americans deal with dysthymia every year. Many are dating or looking for a romantic relationship.
But when looking for a serious romantic partner, those of us with a mental illness walk a tricky tightrope.
When my single friends give a character assassination of a former flame, there's one phrase I hear a lot: 'They turned out to be a psycho . .' Of course I understand the sentiment, but the words make me prickle, as the same could possibly be said of me.
He was nerdy, clean-cut, and very easy on the eyes. Many people think of mental illness in extremes and stereotypes, i.e., depressed people never get out of bed or those with OCD will never leave the bathroom.It's a bit like diabetes: if I keep taking the tablets, I'm fine. I have friends who know about my diagnosis, and some colleagues who presumably don't (although these days if you Google my name, you find the articles I have written about my mental health).But being schizophrenic has complicated my romantic life.For a start, there is the casual prejudice of terms such as 'psycho' and 'mental' being bandied around when cracking dating jokes with friends.I'm not completely humourless about it, but it does confirm there still are, and probably always will be, ingrained prejudices about those, such as me, with mental health issues. Since my diagnosis, I've had two long-term relationships, one for three years, and one after that for nine months.