The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Dating: Part 3. When Do We Spill?

by Hannah Smith

Is there a right time to tell a prospective partner you suffer from ill mental health?

When would you present them with your physical ailments? Would you rock up on a first date and tell them sometimes your knee hurt so much you couldn’t walk? It doesn’t really seem like something they need to know straightaway does it?

Recently I met someone I thought was it. He ticked every box and I smiled from ear to ear after each date. I have to admit I thought this blog would be a very different one, however for a reason still unbeknown to me it ended abruptly before it really got the chance to get going. However, as my self esteem took another knock, it brought out aspects of my health I had been trying to suppress.

Normally, I tell people about my mental health fairly quickly, there’s no point in hiding it and it gives you an honest reading of that person with the way they react.  Even though I’m painfully shy, and incredibly self critical, years as the sober girl in the room have taught me how to fake confidence, so on initial dates, I’m confident and sarcastic. I doubt people jump to the idea that I have mental health problems right away. Still, when I met someone I thought was particularly special, I found myself hiding my Mental Movement posts from my Facebook page. So, why was I hiding aspects of my personality and my life I was so proud of. Writing and helping the Mental Movement girls is something I love to do, but here I was scouring my social media for any evidence that I could suffer from an illness.

I have to stress, I’m not embarrassed of my past and my battle with mental illness, but I suffer from such extreme issues with self esteem that with every other problem my brain was throwing at me, I convinced myself that this guy would run a mile if he found out. I became obsessive about my flaws, every element of my boxed off self esteem issues came spilling out, I lay on my stairs sobbing, hating every inch, detesting every thought, ripping every element of my personality to shreds.  Nothing I did or had was good enough. Suddenly this wasn’t about whether or not to tell someone about my mental health issues, but about why I was having such an awful period.

Seemingly, I had been in an extremely unhealthy place without realising it, and this embarrassment about who I was, was just a small step into it. My Mum forced me to take stock, and some time out, realising it was nothing to do with my love life, work, money or any other external stress but simply a part of my illness I hadn’t seen coming that floored me.

It turned out it didn’t matter anyway, he disappeared, but it left me wondering when was the right time to share our battles. Is there a right time? Would the right person for us just accept this as a part of our personality? I have no idea, and am still to find the right person to tell, however I recently put out a celebratory post about how far I’ve come with my battle, I received hundreds of acknowledgments and messages on Facebook and Instagram, and in a twist of fate, the guy messaged me. To tell me he suffered from Anxiety. So maybe, we should try and stop our persistent and cruel self analysis, and try try try to remember that everyone has their things. Easier said than done generally, let alone when we add in  mental health issues, but if as you start to spiral down you need to remember one thing, remember this. You are enough.

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