It’s not really the thing you want to hear from someone you like. It feels like I’ve been repetitively slapped in the face, however I think every situation is unique. Warning: it’s a bit of a personal post, but even if one person reads it and can relate it’s 100% worth writing; or if you’ve noticed I’ve been down lately, this will probably answer all your questions.
Situation A: Justified
While it’s a painful truth to hear, I think in some situations not dating someone with anxiety can be justified. It’s ok to not want to date someone because they are mentally unwell. Sometimes being there for them as a friend is better than over-complicating things by starting a new relationship. I think it’s so important to know yourself well enough to see that dating while unwell isn’t the best idea. It can be difficult, especially when you do end up liking someone and you know you’re not well enough to date them. I didn’t date throughout my last degree because I knew it would be too much to bring someone else into the equation. I took that time for myself to make sure I had my own management plan that I could implement to help my anxiety. It’s ok to take time for yourself, it’s not selfish. It’s ok not to date someone because you don’t feel like you can. It’s justified if the person is too mentally unwell to both look after their mental health and date. I know it can be really difficult to do both!
Situation B: Unjustified
This one makes me a bit angry because it is the perfect example of contributing to the stigma around mental health. I think to decide weather or not you want to date someone with anxiety, you need to actually know about their anxiety. Everyone’s anxiety is different, just because you may have met someone with anxiety or perhaps had a bad experience with someone with anxiety doesn’t mean history is going to repeat itself. Anxiety presents differently in everyone, it’s a very individual experience. Get a piece of paper and write out everything you know about their anxiety and figure out what other information you want to know. It’s a difficult conversation but, from the point of view of someone with anxiety, I’d rather have the conversation than have someone assume they know the answers; I’d rather have the opportunity to explain things than to be judged based on a preconceived idea. Before making a decision you need to know the basics; things like how long have they had anxiety for, how did they get anxiety, do they take medication, what’s their management plan, how do they cope, what are their triggers etc. If you’re making a decision not to date someone without knowing the answers to these questions then you’re kind of just judging them. You’re just using anxiety as an excuse not to date someone. You’re letting a preconceived idea of mental illness make your decision for you, instead of actually asking about their unique experience with anxiety and how it effects them. To me, it’s not fair.
Unfortunately, I’m in situation B. I’m aware of how anxiety can effect my friends, family and who I date and I’ve always tried to be independent and open when managing my anxiety. I worked my little butt off to manage my anxiety and I’m beyond proud of myself, seriously, I deserve a cake and a party for what I achieved. Anxiety no longer effects my everyday life, and when it does show up unexpectedly I am able to cope independently. After you have worked this hard to have someone say they won’t date you because you are associated with anxiety is the biggest slap in the face. I’ve pretty much experienced every emotion possible in a three-week time period haha I’ve been pissed off about it, sad about it, I’ve blamed me, I’ve blamed him but all in all, I’m just disappointed. So much time and energy invested in someone I saw potential in.
What I learnt:
Not knowing sucks. We’ll never know if we could've had a really amazing relationship. So I think I learnt to just try. Even if it ends terribly at least you’ll know for sure that you tried your best and it didn’t work. Anything is better than sitting here wondering.
“I’m confused, tell me where’d we go wrong? I was sure that I’d be with you for so long. I was planning on this being something worth mentioning, time and energy invested in someone I saw potential in”
"Maybe this is bold, but I was hoping you'd stay for the happy ending"