The mental health crisis at universities is undoubtedly getting worse, so the chances of you dating someone like me is pretty high.
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As an international, first generation female student diagnosed with a mental illness, I needed more help than most in navigating the educational system at Warwick. Major shifts in my mood on a regular basis made communicating and socialising extremely difficult.
So throw into the mix the chances of finding any sort of meaningful relationship whilst also studying; I believed my chances were less than average. Dating seemed more daunting than a 9am lecture. But I did it and learnt some things along the way so here’s my advice for anyone dating someone with a mental illness.
- Bipolar doesn’t define us.
Don’t judge us based on what you read on social media or by the pills we take (which are essential by the way); take your time to get to know us like you would with any new relationship.
- We don’t need fixing or saving
We’re not a pet project. If we tell you about our disorder it’s because we want to be transparent from the start, it’s not an open invitation to change, mould or shape us into society’s norm - we’re not broken.
- Educate, Accept and Advocate
You’re a Warwick student right? So if you’re serious about being with someone like me then read up and try to understand what we deal with on a daily basis. Accept that sometimes plans will change depending on our mood shifts or an episode, be supportive and patient not angry - it’s the condition, not the relationship! And don’t feel threatened by our differences - celebrate them and become an ally for mental health, reducing the stigma within your peer group.
- Talk about sex
Bipolar often means we go from high levels of euphoria to depression so we can shift between overtly sexual impulses to wanting nothing at all. It’s quite normal during a depressive episode to lose all interest in sex - don’t view it as rejection, it’s the illness - we still want to be in a relationship with you.
- Don’t blame it all on the bipolar
Finally, all new relationships have their ups and downs so try to separate run of the mill arguments from the disorder. Not every problem can be attributed to the fact that we have a mental illness - like any relationship, it takes two people to make it work and if it’s worth it you’ll be able to see past the bipolar.