Is a diagnosable mental illness a red flag for you?

Dolly

New member
This is a tough question. I have to go with my own experiences to answer this one. I fell in love with, and married, an undiagnosed bipolar. It was hell for the first several years (pre-diagnosis and treatment), as I did not know how to help him. Bottom line was, I loved him, so I stuck by him because I wanted to help him face the demons. It sure was an emotional rollercoaster back then, but 23 years later, we are still married.

I made a choice to stay with him and not abandon him. He had no idea why he acted the way he did. I could see how tormented he was by his actions and how it affected us. Serendipity smiled on us the day I got a position working for a crisis stabilization unit. The very first day, I encountered someone suffering from manic depression,and the "ah-ha" moment hit--hubby wasn't suffering from just depression--he was bi-polar.

You can't choose who you fall in love with; you can only choose whether or not you will stay in love.

Good topic!

~Dolly
 

Glitter

New member
My mother is bipolar, and I am sure that Storm is as well. We all have our issues, and sometimes they are very difficult to deal with. But, I love them both and enjoy the good times, which highly outweigh the bad. Plus we're all seeing a Psy Dr, so there is not good reason for anyone to outright deny a relationship where anyone has mental illness. Hell, even SAD is considered a mental illness :p But, as many here have said, as long as it is not violent or threatening to anyone's health (mental/physical/etc), I see no reason to dis-include someone based solely upon a MH diagnosis.
 

MusicalRose

Member
For me, I think I could try to be understanding and work through almost anything, provided that the person was taking whatever steps they needed to take to make the most of their position and getting whatever help they needed.

From some experience with personality disorders in my group of friends (one borderline and one histrionic [the histrionic actually diagnosed]), those are the group of disorders I'm least likely to be willing to deal with in the future. It is frustrating and painful more often than not.
 

Papillon

New member
I fell in love with, and married, an undiagnosed bipolar.

Me too!

I'm actually the only person in my current poly configuration who doesn't have a diagnosed mental illness. My husband is bipolar, his girlfriend has depression, and my boyfriend has depression & anxiety.

My opinion? It's tough but it depends on the severity of the condition and how the various people handle it. My husband is sooooo much easier to live with post diagnosis and treatment, and it has enabled him to reconcile with various friends he had lost because of his previous behaviour too.
 
Is a diagnosable mental illness a red flag for you?
To answer my own question:

Yes, IF
A the person afflicted has not sought any treatment or kept up with treatment in the last year
B us being together and/or being poly has for the last two years objectively made them worse
C if their condition is very similar to mine, involves a lot of mood swings and shifts in identity
D they are using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate
Oh, BlackUnicorn, over the years I´ve appreciated your input on this board so much, and when I read this I thought: "A friend is going through rough shit:(:(:(!" A later comment from you indicates that you have your own mental issues to deal with.
I have a score of hard to manage mental conditions atm, but I been told that they should lessen considerably or disappear entirely after two years.
and I haven´t finished reading the whole thread [yet] so I´m not sure which direction you´re coming from, whether you´re considering red-flagging someone for whom you have strong feelings; someone who cares for you is considering red-flagging you; or both. Perhaps it´s just as well: not knowing makes us give an unbiased answer. But before reading further I first wanted to send you this
:(HUG:):)
Now to get to your questions: After years of being conversant with the term bi-polar and a whole life of having depressive spells, I finally (years ago) had the courage to admit to myself that I - in fact - am bi-polar. I don´t get violent, my friends cherish me as I am, as far as I know nobody else suffers because of my condition, I hate the idea of meds (when there are alternatives and in my case I´m convinced that there are... and they work).

I used to think that I always fell in love with the most amazing people. And, of course, they WERE/ARE amazing. But once an old, old friend of mine made a comment: "J´s found another of his broken-winged girlfriends." That made me stop and think about it, and I had to accept that she - too - was right. So - to finally get around to answering your question - maybe I don´t see the red flags. Or maybe I´m colour-blind and see the flags as green (and shimmering). I can empathise with
I am typically drawn to people with "issues". I don't know why it is, but I always have been. It should be a red flag, but my nature is to help everyone I can "get better" and even though I'm not at all equipped to do that, I still try.

I'm not really sure what our responses are supposed to be here, but my short answer is "no".

I do think that I´d steer clear (romantic/sexual/partner-wise) from somebody who had REALLY serious problems, problems that stood a good chance of destroying me emotionally. But even some of the amazing people have had a good shot at doing that.:rolleyes::eek:
 
May I share with you 2 videos that I saw (coincidence°!!!) this morning?

I so "fell in love" with this lovely person that I was asking myself: "Would I be willing to share a bed with someone who was so physically active?"*

Touretteshero Emergency Broadcast

This Morning 9th May 2012 - Touretteshero

I don´t know if Touretteshero takes meds... but no doubt about taking full responsibility for / control of the syndrome.

° Coincidence because I saw them this morning (the same day as this thread), NOT because I saw them both: the first led me to search out the second.

* Hypothetical question, but to-the-point re: this thread... How much are you willing to take on for Love?

:):):)
 

Natja

New member
It is a flag for me I am afraid. I think Poly 'can be' really stressful and I don't know if it is a good idea to increase one's life stress by living a more complicated lifestyle but, that is just my opinion.
As it is I have one of those empathic personalities which finds depressive people very difficult to handle, it affects my peace of mind and I am attracted to positivity. I have very little patience with over anxious people either. So I guess I am not really wired to be compatible with a person who has mental health problems.

I realise in the Poly community I am probably a rare bird but that is just me.
 

Moneypenny

New member
I don't think it would be a problem if the person you want to be involved with or are involved with takes care of themselves (with therapy, pills, whatever works for them, etc).

I'm currently involved with T, and he has Tourette's and another mental issue but has taken control of his disabilities and he controls them, not the other way around. I admire him for that.

On the other hand, unless you feel the need to help someone with issues and you have the willingness to be hurt if things don't turn out, than all power to you.

Don't know if this adds anything to the conversation, but it's my two cents. =)
 

Velvet

New member
hmm

In and of itself alone, a diagnosis of any sort would never deter me from being friends with or pursuing a relationship. What would worry me, and be a red flag, is anyone using medications to treat a diagnosed mental illness. From my experiences and of those in my family, I am against medications. Unless every cognitive, behavioral, counseling, (you name it) was tried and someone still wanted to try drugs to relieve symptoms, until then I would not support someone using drugs to suppress themselves. I have a very strong opinion on this.

This links into how I will not date anyone who uses recreational drugs or drinks alcohol. You can be my friend and do those things, but don't do them around me at all. And I do think a lot of people use alcohol way too much to cover up problems rather than deal with them.

I'm not against drugs for physical illnesses. And yes some mental illnesses possibly have physical roots, but in my experience drugs are only a bandage that needs to be reapplied every day. Being dependent on medication is never a cure. Not that I believe in cures, but someone who takes control of their own thoughts and actions with their own willpower (and support) is what I value and look for.

I would much rather talk with my partner and be part of helping them on a daily basis for any mental illness they may have. If they had a or desired to have a plan of action I would do all I could to help. I suppose the general advice you can read about on the internet says that how you handle yourself as a single person is important. And something along the lines of you should choose partners who can live alone and function fine by themselves. I see this type of advice and philosophy a lot, and I don't believe it at all. Humans are social creatures who need each other. How my partners are codependent on me, and vice versa, is something I want out of life. Hope that makes sense for anyone that reads this.
 
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NovemberRain

New member
...
I used to think that I always fell in love with the most amazing people. And, of course, they WERE/ARE amazing. But once an old, old friend of mine made a comment: "J´s found another of his broken-winged girlfriends." That made me stop and think about it, and I had to accept that she - too - was right. So - to finally get around to answering your question - maybe I don´t see the red flags. Or maybe I´m colour-blind and see the flags as green (and shimmering). I can empathise with

I do think that I´d steer clear (romantic/sexual/partner-wise) from somebody who had REALLY serious problems, problems that stood a good chance of destroying me emotionally. But even some of the amazing people have had a good shot at doing that.:rolleyes::eek:

MrFFR,

I just had to note this. It reminded me of what my dad said to me once. We were having a deep conversation about relationships. My outing as poly has given us to some interesting conversations; also, in his dotage, he reflects, and wants to understand more about who we were and how that got us to who we are.

He said, almost as if it was a revelation, 'I guess I sort of get blind to these things when I fall in love.' I snarked out, 'YA THINK?' Because, of course, the rest of us see it clearly. *sigh*

I dunno, maybe just to say you're so not alone. And nice for me to hear it from someone else. It makes it more real for me (which is odd, but there y'are)

thanks
 

opalescent

Active member
In and of itself alone, a diagnosis of any sort would never deter me from being friends with or pursuing a relationship. What would worry me, and be a red flag, is anyone using medications to treat a diagnosed mental illness. From my experiences and of those in my family, I am against medications. Unless every cognitive, behavioral, counseling, (you name it) was tried and someone still wanted to try drugs to relieve symptoms, until then I would not support someone using drugs to suppress themselves. I have a very strong opinion on this.

This links into how I will not date anyone who uses recreational drugs or drinks alcohol. You can be my friend and do those things, but don't do them around me at all. And I do think a lot of people use alcohol way too much to cover up problems rather than deal with them.

I'm not against drugs for physical illnesses. And yes some mental illnesses possibly have physical roots, but in my experience drugs are only a bandage that needs to be reapplied every day. Being dependent on medication is never a cure. Not that I believe in cures, but someone who takes control of their own thoughts and actions with their own willpower (and support) is what I value and look for.

I would much rather talk with my partner and be part of helping them on a daily basis for any mental illness they may have. If they had a or desired to have a plan of action I would do all I could to help. I suppose the general advice you can read about on the internet says that how you handle yourself as a single person is important. And something along the lines of you should choose partners who can live alone and function fine by themselves. I see this type of advice and philosophy a lot, and I don't believe it at all. Humans are social creatures who need each other. How my partners are codependent on me, and vice versa, is something I want out of life. Hope that makes sense for anyone that reads this.

Mental illness IS physical illness. This is a false dichotomy. We don't have anywhere near a full understanding of the brain. But that does not change the fact that thought is a physical action in the brain. Feelings are biological, and have a physical reality. The emotional swings of a bipolar person are physical realities. The psychosis of a schizophrenic is not a failure of willpower.

The drugs used to treat mental illness can have terrible side effects. They are definitely over-prescribed, particularly for depression. We throw drugs at people when what they really need is a comprehensive support system. That is sadly lacking in the U.S. Non-drug treatments, lke the various types of therapy, alternative medicine - are not used enough or supported enough in our current medical system (assuming you are in the US). They can also be invaluable used in conjunction with drug treatments.

But it has been my experience that with some conditions, like bipolar, drugs save lives. Some mental illnesses do respond to non-drug treatments. Some don't. There are conditions where there are currently few effective drug treatments, like borderline personality disorder. And it varies dramatically from person to person. Some people with the less severe bipolar condition can treat it successfully without drugs. Drugs are useful to get a person back to a base of sanity, to stop psychosis. Talk therapy with someone in a full blown paranoid delusional state is an exercise in futility.

I personally find it worrisome when people discount drugs to treat mental illness. I get that you would encourage people to explore all options first, and that can work in many situations. But sometimes it doesn't and could lead to situations where the risk of death by suicide, out of control behavior, impulsive extreme risk taking, and so on. It has been my experience that people with bipolar - which is what I am familar with - who do not use drugs as an element in their treatment are more likely to fuck up their lives, if not outright kill themselves through behaviors like what I noted just above.

Mental conditions are also currently chronic illnesses. Medicine doesn't know enough about them to really offer cures. I hope that changes soon. They can be managed and treated but not truly cured - as in one never has to worry about them again. Someone with bipolar will not suddenly become not bipolar. They may not show symptoms for decades but the condition is still there. Someone with clinical depression will need to be cognizant of their mental and emotional health for the rest of their life. This is hard to cope with. People with mental illness don't get a break from dealing with their illness - they will need to deal with it for the rest of their lives. It is wearing and frustrating for them and for their partners.

I also agree that too many folks use drugs or alcohol to cover up problems. But it is possible to use alcohol responsibly. Unlike smoking or drug use, alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation without negative impacts. I do agree that our social attitude toward alchohol is all kinds of messed up and unhealthy, and encourages alchohol use as destructive coping mechanism.

I think some people can use some drugs, like marijuana, responsibly where it does not affect their life in a negative way. But others get addicted and have all kinds of poor outcomes. The reason that I encourage others not to use any drugs is that it is currently impossible to know which people can use responsibly and be fine and which people can't. Yes, some folks have family histories full of addiction and that is definitely a clear warning not to use alcohol or drugs. But for most of us, we don't know.
 
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soleilselene

New member
It depends

I myself have issues and have always been attracted to those with issues. I just get tired of all the drama it sometimes bring. I have had my share of interesting I just want something more calm now.

I know I cannot handle stress. I used to be in an extremely abusive relationship, in which I was almost killed 2x. I went back like a dummy. I totally understand people that do. I just don't want to fall into something like that again.

My husband has anger problems. He has never taken it out on me (physically) and that is where I draw the line. I am not going back down that road, ever. He knows he has to deal with it and when he seems to be getting out of control we know to just keep a distance. I don't deal with it, he does.

My ex was narcissist and psychopathic. He was an extreme drug user and would only see people for what he could get out of them.

Then I have my issues with PTSD, and that just makes it too heavy to be adding more to my situation.
 

Josie

New member
It's quite an interesting question.

I myself, have some mental health issues. I've been suffering from depression and anxiety since I was 12. I've always been terrified of this being a deal breaker for someone I love. I used to be so certain that if they saw how I was, then they'd break up with me on the spot. So I used to hide it from anyone I was with, I never mentioned it, never saw them when I was down and had a habit of suffering alone. It wasn't a good habit.

I agree with what people have said about there being a difference between people who accept their issues and deal with them and people who deny them or refuse help.
I know for a fact that my relationship with H would not have worked out if I had kept up my past behaviour and just tried to hide it. We had some hiccups at first, when I was still struggling with letting myself be dependent on him but then we came up with specific responses for it and it was fine.

We came up with code words for how I was feeling and what sort of help I needed. Did I need to leave? Could I go home by myself? Did I need him with me?
We both described our different perceptions of what it's like when I'm down and figured out the best way to for each of us to deal with it.
Luckily, I'm on some really good meds at the moment, so most of my issues have dissolved, but I have to come off them eventually and it's nice to know that we already have plans in place.

As people have said, being in a relationship with someone with mental health issues is less about the fact that they have them and more about how they cope with them and whether they make efforts to change (and how successful their efforts are).

And I guess, like anything else in a relationship, a large amount of communication and trust is needed.
 

tree166

New member
I'm going to say... maybe.

Would I get into a relationship with someone who clearly had a mental illness that was left unchecked? No way in hell. Would I get into a relationship with someone who was managing their issues? Possibly, depending on other factors.

I definitely wouldn't leave my partner if he suddenly developed a mental disorder. I also wouldn't stay with him if he let it control his life.

I guess I can echo what others here have said - it all depends on how the illness is managed. I suspect that I might have BPD, but I'm able to contain the crazy for the most part. I definitely have depression and I'm working to find the right drugs for it. I take the necessary steps, so I would expect the same of anyone I wanted to start a relationship with.
 

FatMouse

New member
Depends on the illness, if they're getting treatment, if they can control themselves... a number of things. As long as they aren't unbearable, mental illness is not a red flag for me. I am troubled myself, I understand what others go through.
 

persephone

New member
I have been on the receiving end of a lot of verbal and emotional abuse and dishonesty from two people who were not mentally healthy, a partner who struggled with depression and anxiety, and a metamour who struggled with anxiety. (The two relationships were not connected in any way.) The partner was receiving help and was medicated, although our troubles started around when he tapered off his meds quite a bit. The metamour had a few therapy sessions late in the game, after her behavior turned abusive, but was not getting any effective help that I knew of.

I would not knowingly enter into a relationship with either a partner who had issues like these, or a partner who had a primary partner who did. I know firsthand the havoc and pain that can be caused by people who are not emotionally healthy. I want only happy, emotionally healthy people in my life if possible. If I was better at walking away from relationships once they turned toxic, then I might feel differently, but that is a particular problem of mine, I feel committed to people I care about and I tend to hang in there and try to work on and heal the relationship. And sometimes, it can't be healed because one of the people involved is just too damaged.

No offense is intended here to people who struggle with psychological issues of their own or have loved ones who do. This is just a personal choice I've made for myself.
 

futilethewinds

New member
It depends on the mental illness. Depression and anxiety are manageable. I would be cautious about someone with bipolar disorder, though, because part of the disorder is a propensity towards drama, something I try to avoid. It does matter if someone is medicated and has their condition under control.
 
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