Dare to Love
Love. The thing writers write about, artists paint about and intellectuals’ debate about. Being mentally ill is hard enough especially with the pressures of society telling us that we must marry, have children, and a great job. It is not always like that, especially as a mental health client. We go through the motions of our mental illness and often are left so exhausted that we have no care for what others want. Such as a house, a spouse, kids, or even friends. We are left depleted by our day to day struggles.

Diagnosis
I was 23 when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 2. It was hard to accept. I was supposed to follow up with outpatient care but never did. That year love was not even on my mind. I withdrew socially from friends, stopped dating, and only went out with my daughter. It was a tough year selfishly wrapped up in my mental illness at times even enjoying it. I never knew that the year would bring so much uncertainty and pain. It was lonely and the last thing I thought about was men. My diagnosis brought me shame and guilt. I was not able to work and it made me shy away from the thought of having a relationship. My parents were supporting me and my daughter needed her mommy to be ok. I felt like a failure.

Maslow
After that year I was finally hospitalized once more and got on the right medications for me. I enrolled in school, started working for a magazine as an intern, and sent my daughter with her father for a while. Things were looking up. That is why I love Maslow's hierarchy of needs; it is a pyramid that shows you level by level how to become self-actualized = living your best life. He states that you must meet your basic needs such as food and shelter. Then safety/security and then love and belonging. Once you meet these needs your self-esteem will increase leading you to become self-actualized. It taught me that not having a job kept me so preoccupied that I wasn't able to reach the other levels. It is a basic need to be self-sufficient as an adult. That I cannot jump from safety to love and belonging if my basic needs are not being met. That it is a course of action you must follow in your life to attain the things you desire.

Love or Not
Once I started working, I had the desire to be around people and desired love so therefore I attracted that energy. I met a genuinely nice man at a bus stop. I attracted him and he stopped me. First time in a few years I allowed myself to let go and gave him my number. We started dating and took our time. By then the psychotropic medication made me increase in weight but he made me feel wanted. Every time we approached each other he smiled so big. When I told him about my condition, he told me I should stop taking medication because I sounded monotone. It made me self-conscious around him. Every moment or everything I said I replayed in my head and asked myself did I seem mentally ill? The medications were so strong I would fall asleep in the movies and he even walked out on me once. He told me he was tired of me falling asleep around him. Although he was a great source of support at that moment we talked all night about the word of God and our perspective on life. I fall for great conversations. At the time, he was also going through mental health struggles but had not been diagnosed with anything.

It hurt because all you want to do is be THAT woman. Attractive, charming knowing exactly what to say. Yet it feels so unattainable. You feel ostracized by society and feel like you will never get what they get.

According to everydayfeminism.com ask yourself “how healthy is this relationship so far? Do you feel like it will get even healthier, or not? Do you feel safe with this person? If you do not feel as safe as you would like to yet, do you feel like you can work with this person to make that happen?”

These questions are important because being mentally ill is hard enough and it is ok to seek support in your boyfriend, lover, or spouse. We do not have to go through this alone. We can find someone who is caring and understanding.

Should I date Bipolar?
Then my second significant relationship happened to be with a man who is also Bipolar. It was the most electrifying, literally madly in love experience I have ever had. The best time of my life. I remember we did not have jobs, money all we cared about was being with each other. We would spend the days and nights making love to each other. Yet it was a destructive relationship. I was compliant with my medication and therapy he could care less. I had only been hospitalized twice overnight; he had been institutionalized. I even had to pick him up from the hospital once after he was Baker Acted.

I trailed behind him like a lost puppy and became obsessed with him and his madness. The stranger he became the more I was into it fascinated by all his hallucinations and assumptions on life. Hearing him speak and loving every word. When my father died, he stood with me for a whole week without leaving my side. I stood by him because he was also Bipolar, and I felt we understood each other but one day he beat me profusely out of jealousy and that is when I knew enough is enough. That I didn't have to go through that because I felt I needed to be with a Bipolar man. He told me he would, one day and I never believed him. We stood on and off for 3 years until I was strong enough to let him go.

Lessons
The first guy was kind, but he made me feel self-conscious but is not Bipolar. The second ultimately hurt me and he is Bipolar. You would think the Bipolar one would be the better choice or assume he would understand but we were not on the same page. I complied with treatment, he did not. I learned from these two experiences that I let a lot of things slide because he is Bipolar like me and that should not be the case. Now I am more positive about meeting anyone Bipolar or not. I feel I will find a good man that I can find support and encouragement in. That treats me like I am brilliant, not disabled. That loves my eccentricities and laughs at my silly thoughts. A man that can enjoy ME all of me in the good and the bad. Now I feel worthy of that.

Author's Bio: 

Hey I am Astharte,
This is my experience with dating a Bipolar man and a man who wasn't. Many times our mental illness makes us want someone who understands us but it's not always good.