When to share your crazy
Posted By: Silja - October 05, 2018
5 Tips On How To Disclose Your Emotional Baggage
Let’s face it. We’re all ‘crazy’. And that’s just a worse way to say ‘Normal is relative’. Your normal aint my normal, but that’s what makes us all unique – this is no more important than when we look for partners. As gamers your norm is putting in the hours for those achievements, taking that one last turn, playing that last match, whatever, but for sure, it’s the reason you’re here.
So without trying to be ableist or make fun of mental illness, I think it’s safe to say that we all have emotional baggage… Emotional things we’re not dealing with, unhealthy coping mechanisms and the like. The numbers are staggering, too: there’s a lifetime prevalence of 46% that we’ll develop some kind of mental health issues within our lifespan. That’s half of the population, guys. And no we’re not just talking about the average number of rage kids per capita in LoL.
I’m not trying to scare you; these numbers will hopefully shake people awake so they start doing some kind of mental health self-care. I’m highlighting the fact that we’ve all got our own kind of ‘crazy’ and that it’s not just you: Mike, a friend of mine can’t go to sleep without the TV on full blast because he has a generalised anxiety disorder and the noise distracts him. Monica takes beta blockers since she was 19 to manage her depression. Tarek has uncontrollable bouts of anger that has gotten him into trouble more than once. Me, I worked for years on my abandonment issues that drove my ex-partners crazy. It wasn’t a walk in the park, I can tell you.
Whatever it is we struggle with, it will probably have an impact on people’s lives we care about. Especially when entering a new relationship we will have to tell them at a point when they are not in too deep and can decide that our ‘crazy’ might just be a bit too much too handle. That’s what responsible dating is all about.
Unfortunately, when we start falling in love, the last thing we want to do is create a situation where the person we like might leave us. We’ve all been heartbroken before, and it’s nothing we voluntarily submit ourselves to. But how do you stay true to yourself – you’re lovable, even with trichotillomania, and still keep your new love around?
Dr Susman on his mental health blog states:
“No one can or should make this decision for you. Also, there is no “one size fits all” outcome and there are no “right” or “wrong” decisions. There is also no “perfect time” to disclose your illness. This is a very personal decision. How you decide to manage it should fit your needs and the decision should ultimately feel like a healthy one for you.”
While I wholeheartedly agree with him, in a relationship your partner and ever your date is going to find it out one way or the other. Or may wonder forever why they couldn’t connect with you or what it was that you were hiding. A good relationship can also be a monumental support for you, making life that much more manageable and joyful, so it’s worth taking the risk of disclosure.
So not to be pessimistic, but if your new love interest can’t handle your personal brand of ‘crazy normal’, it’s better to part ways sooner that later.
Here are 5 tips to help you share with a new friend, date or partner:
- Self-care. Make sure you’re doing the most you can for yourself. Take your meds both spiritual and physical, see your therapist, stick to your exercises, have fun and work on being a person who would add value to a relationship. Someone who’s falling apart might consider taking some time off instead of dragging a new person along with them, but remember it’s just temporary!
- Make sure you understand your issues well. If you’re fuzzy about what you’re experiencing you won’t be able to share with your new date or partner, and fuzzy is more scary than clear, trust me. Knowing your strengths and limitations will make it easier for your date or partner to feel safe. Understanding one another’s limits is really important.
- Establish enough of a relationship to be sure the disclosure is worth it. Mental wellbeing is a very personal situation, and if you’re not comfortable with sharing, you might want to wait and make sure you can trust your new partner to treat you with compassion and respect, even if it leads to a separation – Remember unhealthy compromise in a date and then a relationship isn’t great, find that right one. The last thing you need is drama.
- Tell a story. Don’t just say “I’m an alcoholic.” Tell them your journey, share your highs and lows, make it easy to feel empathy and understand what you went through. Tell your new partner the struggle, but also what you’re doing to manage yourself, and what challenges you have already overcome. You might even be surprised at how strong you actually are, and great people will congratulate you on your courage!
- Be honest. Once you’ve shared, tell your new person that you really care, and want to be with them, but that you know there will be challenging times and that you respect their choices. Give them space but be present in case they come back for questions. The disclosure might trigger their own issues, and that will be scary.
Love isn’t easy, but it’s worth the work, so good luck and don’t give up: there’s a partner for you out there!