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Taking to dates about mental health issues

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
So, after a bit of consideration I've decided to start dating again, and I've been looking on dating websites cos its an easy place to start.

Anyway, there are a couple of people who want to meet up and see what happens next - but theres a major thing niggling at the back of my head. When comes the time to tell someone that you suffer from mental health issues? I've had chronic anxiety for the past coming up to 6 months, and have had PTSD for years (sometimes I can manage it really well, but when I go through stressful periods it comes back up again). Plus I was abused as a kid and that sometimes becomes something I feel I need to let someone I dating know, especially when I need to explain why I avoid things - that might trigger flashbacks - and because sometimes (not very often any more but it could still happen) I get upset when having sex.

I don't want to put someone off by going " Hi btw I've got PTSD and a bit of baggage to boot", but I don't want to just drop it like a bombshell or get found out. Part of me wants to be honest about it, but at the same time part of me doesn't want to tell them unless they ask why I take pills morning and night.

I am scared of it pushing people who think I'm otherwise ok away. I also want it to define my life less than it has done it in past, but theres striking a balance between letting it define my life and ignoring its existance. I'm off work and on benefits because of the anxiety right now, so it might be pretty easy of them to work it out.

Any ideas? Does it even need to come up unless I'm in a relationship?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The last few years I have tried to be as upfront as possible in both romantic relationships / dates and possible friendships. Some people will run a mile and it's better to know this before getting involved in my opinion. You don't need to tell them everything straight away though (I don't talk about my abuse with people I'm not close to generally) but I at least test the water to see how they react.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    rather later than sooner. Once you are familiar with each other and the conversations become a bit more meaningful (not just smalltalk), you can open with, "There is something I think you should know."

    If you blab about it on the first date I wouldn't expect a second.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    Part of me wants to be honest about it

    Not telling someone that you were abused as a kid, on a first doesn't make you dishonest. Doesn't make you anyhting apart from sensible.

    Keep it light. 'I have some anxiety issues' 'I sometimes get uncomfortable in a crowd'.

    He may want to know more, but i certainly wouldn't bring up the childhood stuff up for a while.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I dunno, it's an odd one. I think most people would feel a bit weird if someone insisted on telling you about a physical health problem they had on the first date (unless it was immediately apparent and unavoidable), so why should a mental health problem be any different? However, it's obvious that some mental health issues would require a certain level of commitment to deal with, and so depending on the specifics, I can see why someone would want to get that out in the open fairly soon into a potential relationship. It's kinda like telling a date that you have kids because you don't want to waste your time with someone who isn't prepared to deal with that.

    I guess it's up to you to decide which category you fit into, but remember there's a lot of ignorance about mental health. I think my reaction to the news that someone had a mental health problem would largely be led by the way it was delivered. And being told in a very serious way on the first date would automatically make me assume that it's something that would have a significant impact on the relationship, when it reality, it might be no more intrusive that a diabetic's need to take insulin every day (a condition that would be mentioned to potential partners far more casually, I'm sure).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If your anxiety is social, I would say, "By the way, I might be a bit quiet/weird/whatever because I have social anxiety", but try not to make it a Big Deal (if only because if YOU make it a big deal, then if you're anything like me, it's likely to make things worse).

    I would treat it like most things, though: if it comes up in conversation, so be it. If not, you aren't lying to anyone. You're just not telling them. It's like how I don't tell people that I still suck my thumb unless it comes up. It's fairly significant (most people aren't keen on being with a Big Baby >.<) but not something I would think of to tell people, even, unless it came up.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    What about with online dating? I've found someone I'd like to meet and see how we get on but I would want to take someone with me and have them hang around in the background until I felt ok. I talked to my mum about it, and she felt ok doing it but it seemed a bit lame knowing my mother is in the background...

    Any ideas there?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    What about with online dating? I've found someone I'd like to meet and see how we get on but I would want to take someone with me and have them hang around in the background until I felt ok. I talked to my mum about it, and she felt ok doing it but it seemed a bit lame knowing my mother is in the background...

    Any ideas there?

    If it makes you feel better. But can I ask why? Is it more knowing she's nearby or would is it good to know you have an escape if you really aren't enjoying it?

    It depends where you're going but maybe she could wait in a coffee shop around the corner until you text to signel things are okay.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think if you make it a big deal you will only receive messages from men who either want to "save" you or who want to try and use your anxiety/self-esteem as a way of getting into your knickers.

    Why do you want someone nearby during the start of the date? Is it as an escape route or is it just for a bit of moral support. If it's the former either arrange a lunch date or an early evening date; if it's going well you can stay and if it's going badly you can always make your excuses and leave. In terms of moral support maybe she could wait in town, nearby, rather than sitting near you. Having a date's mother staring at the back of your head is rather off-putting.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    its moral support more than anything, I normally have the old emergency by text if i need an escape route. I'm struggling to be in crowded environments - even being in college on a really busy day can make me feel a bit uneasy and I know its a fairly safe environment with places I can go to chill if need be.

    I don't want to make a big deal of it, but I'm worried how do I answer questions of why I'm not working and such. Maybe I've just got myself in a worried mindset.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Honey, are you sure going on dates is such a good idea, in that case? Not trying to put a downer on it, or anything, but it's just adding extra stress to an already stressful (for you) situation.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I can't right off my love life just because I can't handle crowds. Its a fairly big college - probably about 7,000 students.

    I need to push myself, I can't keep hiding away in the house for the rest of my life. If I want a boyfriend/girlfriend then I'm going to have to meet them. My anxiety isn't going to get better by itself.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Miss_Riot wrote: »
    I can't right off my love life just because I can't handle crowds. Its a fairly big college - probably about 7,000 students.

    I need to push myself, I can't keep hiding away in the house for the rest of my life. If I want a boyfriend/girlfriend then I'm going to have to meet them. My anxiety isn't going to get better by itself.

    Maybe take one step at a time. Go out among people, maybe find friends. Admittedly for some it is easy to find a girl/boyfriend, but with so many unresolved issues it is a pain to be happy in the relationship and keep them.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A date or any meeting with a stranger/strangers is a stressful situation for anyone let alone someone with anxiety issues.

    Surely jumping from, as you say, hiding in the house all the time, into dating is possibly too big a step in one go???

    Also (and I'm not saying you think this), getting a boyf/gf isn't going to necessarily help YOU. And as AR suggested you could easily attract the wrong kind of person whilst in a vulnerable state of mind.

    For sure focus on getting out of the house but maybe do it with people you are already comfortable with for now? and the dating could wait until you have made a bit more progress?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I am getting out of the house, just not as much as I'd like to. I guess it is a big step, but I don't think I'm in a vunerable state of mind and likely to be taken advantage of.

    I do get out of the house with friends, but not many of my friends are local. I get what you mean and yeah I probably should do that, maybe I'm over blowing how I'm feeling now - do go out and about, living in a rural area (no longer from tomorrow) doesn't help the not getting out and about.

    I don't know...I'm going to have to rethink this one. :(
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think what you need to do as a first step isn't to go into dating again. If you're anything like me, you'll become reliant on your new partner instead of learning independence and gaining the confidence you need. From what I remember about your last relationship, most of your social interaction came from hanging out with him and his friends, yes? I've done that and gone from that to fuck all and it sucks, and I wouldn't ever want to do it again.

    Since you're moving, I would suggest finding a club of some sort where you could bring your mum for the first couple of meetings (which wouldn't be weird), but as your confidence grows, she won't need to be there anymore and you can branch out. You knit, right? Find a knitting group or some kind of other crafty thing. There is always, always something you can do.

    Then once you've made a few friends, you can think about dating. It means you have something outside of your new potential relationship if it doesn't work out.

    Also, I think that expecting to find 'the love of [your] life' is a bit unrealistic. It's only going to lead in disappointment, ime. I mean, it's possible, but I wouldn't go into it thinking that's what's going to happen. Go into it wanting to make a few new friends and see what comes out of it, and it'll be a much more positive experience all round.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You can have anxiety and go on a date.

    I appreciate people are concerned for Miss Riot but telling her what she is able to do and judging that she is perhaps 'not ready' is patronising.

    Miss Riot if you like this guy and want to go on a date, go on a date. I hope you have fun.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You can have anxiety and go on a date.

    I appreciate people are concerned for Miss Riot but telling her what she is able to do and judging that she is perhaps 'not ready' is patronising.

    Miss Riot if you like this guy and want to go on a date, go on a date. I hope you have fun.

    I'm not saying you can't.

    I'm saying she should probably think about making herself more comfortable in situations she finds stressful before she makes them even MORE stressful. I don't mean to be cruel, but if she would feel it necessary to bring her mother to keep an eye on her while she's on a date, I don't think she's ready at this point to be going on them.

    I've been in the kind of relationship that her previous one was, where the only socialisation you get is your partner's friends, and it's demoralising and horrible, and I think there will be a risk that it would happen again. Besides which, I think it would be better for her to make friends first. I'm not saying she can't date as well, if she wants to, but that she shouldn't go into it expecting to find the love of her life because that's not realistic. Meet a few people, see how you feel about it, then decide if you want it to go further. It doesn't have to be Super Serious straight away. I've actually made some very good friends from dates that didn't really go well in a romantic context, so it can be a good idea, even.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This.

    If someone is so socially anxious that they need their mother to go on a date with them, and they're making themselves ill with worry, then they need to really think about whether or not they're ready to do that.

    The question, really, is: can you emotionally cope if the date is a disaster? I don't think you should go into a date expecting it to be a disaster, but it's an important consideration.

    There's pushing through problems and there's storing up a whole heap of shit for yourself.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm not saying you can't.

    I'm saying she should probably think about making herself more comfortable in situations she finds stressful before she makes them even MORE stressful. I don't mean to be cruel, but if she would feel it necessary to bring her mother to keep an eye on her while she's on a date, I don't think she's ready at this point to be going on them.

    I've been in the kind of relationship that her previous one was, where the only socialisation you get is your partner's friends, and it's demoralising and horrible, and I think there will be a risk that it would happen again. Besides which, I think it would be better for her to make friends first. I'm not saying she can't date as well, if she wants to, but that she shouldn't go into it expecting to find the love of her life because that's not realistic. Meet a few people, see how you feel about it, then decide if you want it to go further. It doesn't have to be Super Serious straight away. I've actually made some very good friends from dates that didn't really go well in a romantic context, so it can be a good idea, even.

    I think therein lies part of the problem. I'm not so sure it was fair to take into consideration past posts. People usually post on here about shitty stuff at a time of crises. I would hate to think anyone was judging my ability to take part in a natural part of life because of past posts.

    RG's (and I hate speaking about you like you arent here but as far as I know, you aren't online) initial post was asking people's opinions about whether she should talk to her date about her mental health problems. If you're really desperate to reply then I think you should just take that at face value. It was clear from her post that she is going on this date and that she actually wants to. To introduce doubt now, especially in reference to a past post about a past relationship and then attaching your own experience might seem helpful but doesn't actually seem relevant here.

    I dont know Riot Girl personally and I'm guessing you don't, or even Arctic Roll. My opinion is that you should just stick to what you do know. She wants to go on a date and move on with her life. She's expert by her own experience. Not anyone else. Again this is an opinion, if you wanna debate this further then do so in a diff thread cos I'd be interested to hear a mod's take on this.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I pretty much agree with Arctic Roll, there's no use 'forcing' yourself to do things you're not comfortable with because you feel that's what you should be doing. Of course, if you want to do that, and its just anxiety holding you back, well my experience of anxiety is often holding yourself back from those situations "until you're ready" can make the anxiety worse. YMMV

    There is no rush though, no deadline when you must be dating / in a relationship / happily married by. Just take things at your own pace, enjoy talking to people, meeting people, and go with what you're comfortable. :thumb:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I do feel reasonably ok with the idea, its just the concern I'll have a panic attack. The only reason I'd have my ma there is because all my friend's work and wouldn't be available...

    I don't know, I want to meet these people as friends and just see how it goes, I'm really not looking to go head first into a relationship. I need to do something to get out there a bit, I'm seeing friends a bit more, but I'd like to push myself a bit because maybe that'll start sorting the anxiety a bit? hopefully?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    From what you've just said it now sounds like you're using a dating website to look for people initially as friends, which taking a simplistic approach doesn't sound like it's got massive potential.

    If you've got socialising sorted to the extent that you can go on dates, then that's great, and by all means using dating as a target to work towards - but if you use dates as the starting point then personally I wouldn't have high hopes of them going well.

    I'm getting into baking. I've been practising icing biscuits, because they're pretty forgiving when they go wrong. My aim is making a wedding cake, but I'm sure as hell not going to start on the wedding cake because it's unlikely to go well unless I've had some practise along the way and screwing up the wedding cake would be pretty soul destroying.

    Going back to the original question, I'd leave anything serious about mental health issues until you're further down the line with someone. I've got a massive scar on my back and numb patch. I'll tell people early on that I'm a fidget. Why I'm a fidget comes later - the numb patch doesn't take being still for long periods too well. Why I've got a numb patch comes even further down the line. It's not my defining feature, it used to have a massive impact on my life, it still has a reasonable impact on my life, so it gets mentioned - but it's not the no. 1 thing about me.
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