July 15, 2013

SteveI have been in and out of psychiatric hospital since 2007. In 2009, during my second spell in hospital, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. At the present time I am living in the community in supported housing and I am taking medication (a depot injection), which does have some side effects but is not too troublesome compared to some of the other antipsychotics I have taken.

When I am going through a good phase and am out of hospital and feeling well, my thoughts often turn to my social life and how I can find people who are good company to spend time with. Being a naturally very anxious person, I find it difficult to meet people in some of the traditional ways (going to bars and clubs, playing sports, etc). I do spend quite a lot of time online and I have a good network of friends who I communicate with regularly on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.

Meeting new people can be difficult when you have a mental illness

Meeting new people can be especially difficult when you have a mental illness. My illness has been such a significant part of my life over the last six years that when I meet new people now it is pretty much impossible to avoid the subject.

I tend to open up quite easily and I also tend to be quite open about my condition on the websites I use. I feel that if people really want to know who I am, they need to know a little about my illness and how it affects me.

One exciting way of reaching out and meeting new people is online dating. A couple of years ago, during a good phase in my life, I decided to give Match.com a try. I suppose the fact that I joined in the first place demonstrates that I believe I am worthy of having a girlfriend despite my mental illness.

How open should I be on my Match.com profile?

When it came to writing my profile on Match.com I had an interesting predicament. How open should I be about my mental illness? I actually decided not to mention it specifically. I explained that I was a person who had experienced a turbulent spiritual journey, but I didn't mention the words 'schizoaffective disorder' or 'mental illness'.

When it came to messaging people on the site I tended to be more open but only with those people who seemed as though they were caring, open-minded, and compassionate. I decided that I wouldn't meet up with anyone in person until I had told them about my illness and they had responded favourably.

Our relationship gave me confidence that online dating can work

In time (and you do have to be patient with these sites) I actually met someone with whom I clicked and we ended up dating and became girlfriend and boyfriend. I had opened up to her about my illness and she responded with warmth and kindness, even though she had lots of questions about my illness and how it affected my behavior. Even though it didn't last and we eventually broke up our relationship gave me confidence that online dating can work, even when you have a mental illness.

My advice to other people with mental health problems who are considering online dating would be that if you can afford it and if you are in a good frame of mind, why not give it a go? While you don't need to go into details about your illness on your profile it is best to be open with people before meeting up with them. It’s better to see how people react when they are at a distance rather than opening up for the first time on a date. Please be careful, take things slowly, and only meet up with someone after a fair few conversations when you have a real sense that you can trust them. Don't be defined by your illness but it is an important part of who you are so don't avoid talking about it.

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Steven blogs about philosophy, religion, spirituality, and mental health, at www.perfectchaos.org. He has written a book called The Philosophy of a Mad Man in which he discusses his experience of psychosis as part of his spiritual journey.

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Well said

Well said and I hope you meet that special person very soon.

Dating and mental health

I have suffered with mental health problems almost all of my adult life. I think that it has made it very difficult forming a relationship. I have been advised to not tell my dealing with mental health issues, but there always comes the question why I haven't formed a relationship, particularly as I am middleaged and I am therefore meeting mainly only divorced people. That is fine but I am now coming to the realisation that I will not form a permanent relationship. But we all have our needs and we have to find them in different ways.

meeting new people

I had just come out of hospital and they placed me in a step down house.. This was a mixed unit and i got on with a lady resident very well. After about a year she popped the question ''Will you marry me?'' and i couldent refuse so i said yea and we had a small do just family and close friends attended and had are honeymoon in Clevelys in lancashire It was the best thing i ever did so you never know whats a round the corner. Good Luck mate and i wish you all the best

Thanks for sharing your story

Thanks for sharing your story Paul! Just goes to show you can meet someone when you're least expecting it :-)

me to

I was in a care home was told I would never live in the community meet my partner August 21yrs ago got married Dec 18th 21yrs ago and we are still together she has scitphinia and I have mental health problems but we manage with support so again they got it WRONG!!! Good luck to you both now and in the future and here's to the next 21yrs :-)

Finding a partner

I suffer from Anxiety and Depression, equally I find it extreamly difficult to meet people and make friends. A year and a bit ago I decided that I would try to find out about online dating and give it a go. The first time I tried it I freaked out within 24 hours and deteted everything and closed down my page. I clearly wasn't in the right place for it at the time. A few months later I thought I would give it another go and this time I felt better and more confident about it. I decided that because I did very much want to meet the right person that I would say at the end of my profile that I do suffer from Depression however I was managing it fairly well (which was true). It turned out to be a really good thing that I decided to be open about it from the start because it meant that I knew whoever decided to message me would know from the start that I had a mental illness which meant that it was understood that I had to go about things in a different way to maybe some one who didn't have a mental illness. I feel extremly lucky because as a direct result of this I have met a very kind and open partner who has understood from the start that I have a mental illness and he has never held it against me. It of course has been rocky but I know I would never have met him if I hadn't gone online and I hadn't been open from the start. I think you are very brave and I hope that you find the right person for you soon. At least when we are open it is easier for the right kinds of people talk to us and help us and equally easier to talk openly in return.

Brilliant piece

So happy you wrote this. Still get so angry when people feel too scared to share.


Thanks so much for sharing your story Steven! I live with (refuse to say suffer) panic disorder and agoraphobia. Have done since as long as I can remember (they put it down to childhood epilepsy initially because I would shake so much). During the good periods I am strong/bubbly/confident/funny and have no issue with dating or telling people about who I am. During the bad periods I still appear the same but struggle to accept that anybody would want to date me! I like being me and wouldn't change the MH aspect as it has made me the person I am. The whole dating/mental health thing still scares me though, despite having had supportive partners in the past!

Great, honest blog

Thanks Steven, this is really useful and a very honest account. Gives some very handy advice too as someone who is in a similar predicament!

Thank you so much for the encouragement

My depression has never affected how giving I am in a relationship, but it has led to me putting up with more shit treatment than I should because my self belief gets so destroyed. I find the idea of 'marketing' myself online so difficult, but now I think I may have a change of heart about. Thank you for that.

Really good advice

This is a really good piece. Glad you posted about it, something for me to think about!

Disclosing on a date

Tell them. They will probably be sympathetic and want to be supportive. If they don't, they're a waste if space, move on!

online dating

were I to try this, which I wont as am now old & dont want the hassle, I would embellish the truth of 100% failure in relationships, abuse and abandonment,3 traumatic abortions, one chronic middle aged schizo son years of misery and yes it is still shameful, and worse - BORING - no one wants to know - dabbled in drugs dip in psychosis fuelled by speed. if only I d thought of this earlier : I d say 'Im a psychopathic version of Miranda ' (thats the Tv program). rather than some horrible pseudo medical ****.

Living with your illness

I'm very moved with your life story thus far and really congratulate you on being able to establish a level of happiness in your life . My son suffers from the same condition as you and instantly I can empathise with what you say and his own isolation and loneliness that trouble him. Having a small group of friends around him would boost his confidence no end and encourage him to go forward and give him the hope that he is worthwhile and has a valued future ahead of him. I wish you all the best in the future , in all your life and most of all I hope my son will one day realise his own goals. Thank you for your story. !!!!!!! :-)

Thanks for this positive blog

Thanks for this positive blog. I do wonder though how people who find it so hard to make friends can be ready for a partner though. I'd be concerned about neediness. The best way to meet new people is through doing activities you enjoy, but I agree it can be hard to meet someone you want to date that way. Most of my hobbies seem to attract way more women then men.

thank u

Hey :) Thank u so much for your posts and being honest, open and spreading awareness. We need more ppl like u in this world. Everything was said so acuratly and beautifully. I too struggle, bpd & bipolar mix. Its hard living in todays society being young, trying to be on same levels while trying to care for yourself- some ppl take things for granted. I feel positive after reading this post and wish u all the best! I'm grateful for your bravery, honesty and wisdom.. Let's drop that stigma 4real.

depression / anxiety.

I have no idea of online sites,so please bear with me.Suffer from depression and anxiety,just read some of the above stories,moved me almost to tears.Good luck all, and never give up giving up.Hope to hear from you soon.

I feel the same way

Great piece. I go through this everyday. But have had unfavorable responses after disclosure on sating sites. I am not schizoaffective but have similar symptoms that you have mentioned. It was like reading about myself. Nice to see someone put what I go through daily. I may write a book about my mental illness and what it has been, and is currently like. Eric

You look cute in your picture

You look cute in your picture. I hope you find someone. It is so hard to find someone who is willing to put up with all the ups and downs of any mental illness unfortunately, no matter how much love is there...i wish you luck in your journey :)

i know exactly what you mean

i´ve been diagnosed with bipolar, then borderline and i´m pretty sure i suffer from PTSD (undiagnosed) which is by far harder than any other diagnosis and no therapy ive done helped me cope with the traumas. so every relationship i 'attempt" and starts to go well, i´ll sabotage because happiness is foreign to me, chaos is familiar ;) and like you i keep hearing 'why aren´t you with someone? etc". how do you explain traumas? i hope you find someone caring, who will not judge you and accept you for what you are (good and bad). same for me :) take care R ps- if you want to talk i think you have my email.

in love

I have a boyfriend who is currently diagnosed para schizo but despite of it, i love him with all my heart. In fact Im a nurse, he inspires me in my career path. We are presently planning to wed in the near future. I dont care about his disease, i love him for who he is. And i will take care of him everyday until our lifetime is over.

in love

I have a boyfriend who is currently diagnosed para schizo but despite of it, i love him with all my heart. In fact Im a nurse, he inspires me in my career path. We are presently planning to wed in the near future. I dont care about his disease, i love him for who he is. And i will take care of him everyday until our lifetime is over.

I also have schizoaffective,

I also have schizoaffective, if you would like to add me as a friend on Facebook here you should find me DivineLillyK

My son

Hi everyone, my son has suffered with mental health for the last seven years , he's off of all his meds but still doesn't make a lot of sense occasionally . He's doing really well .. Goes to the gym every day , lives alone and is very self caring but is not yet working . He now wants a relationship !?! But just doesn't know where to start ??? Any ideas ??

My bf and I met online-both mentally ill

I am on disability right now for PTSD and bipolar. In my past job I worked with the mentally ill. I made a OkCupid account and one fellow caught my eye. I did not mention my mental or physical (RA) illness (or that I was out of work) on my profile; the profile of one gentleman caught my eye and he did not mention anything like that on his either. After a week of emails, then a week of calls, we met in person for coffee. We were hitting it off so well that I didn't want to waste my time being heartbroken if he rejected me down the road for my illness so I just blurted it out suddenly. He looked shocked and I was terrified of rejection, but his response was that he was on disability for schizophrenia and PTSD. My honest response was "I love schizophrenics!" I'm sure that the last thing he was expecting to hear (but they were my favorite class of people to deal with at work). We bonded over stories of our "trips to the 4th floor" and all the little things no one understands unless they too are "one of the tribe." Well over a year later, we live together and are planning marriage and a family. Early on our friends, family, and doctors, were worried about how we would cope if we were having really bad off days at the same time, but we've found that we play off each other's strengths and take care of each other. And some days we just shut out the world and hide under a blanket on the couch with our many pets. I've dated many men before this and was married before but I've never had a healthier relationship: we tell each other the truth, even when we don't want to hear it. 100% open communication, the kind of thing you only learn how to do with lots of therapy. I would never have sought out someone else with serious mental illness b/c of very bad abusive experiences with men that had antisocial PD and another with malignant narcissism. However, I don't think I could ever have found this level of happiness with someone who did not understand my condition and experience. Meds+therapy+service dogs+each other= keeping each other happy and safe.

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