I’m the accountant you rely on for over a decade. I’m quick and get the work done. I’m always happy to hear about your kids and your life and then we take care of business. What lies behind my cheerful personality is the meds I take twice a day…
It’s knowing that when I finish work at 6 pm, I will travel to a therapist to work through my emotions and daily struggles. How about the trips to my doctor, who explains to me which medications are for what and when I can tweak them on my own and let my Dr. know in the morning that I’ve adjusted them?
You see, I’m the accountant who has bipolar.
Mental illness is everywhere. Everyone knows someone who unfortunately suffers from mental illness. It may be you, your family member or a friend etc.
I would like give you a glimpse of what its like living with bipolar.
Bipolar isn’t a crime. It’s a chemical imbalance in the body and it expresses itself differently in different people.
I have not done an aveira. I have not hurt anyone.
Therefore the number one treatment is medication.
Depression and mania are the key symptoms of bipolar.
It’s an exhaustion that is beyond exhausted. It’s that feeling of “I’m too tired to eat.” It’s the feelings of hopelessness and overwhelming sadness for no specific reason. However, with bipolar you can get the opposite extreme.
Mania is that surge of boundless energy that can keep me up for weeks at end. It gives me together a desire to change things and create new programs, design, accomplish, and more. At this stage I’m also extremely agitated, anxious, and very sensitive to loud noise and light.
In conjunction with medication, the most important thing is having a good therapist who taught me how to identify what was going on for me. She taught me how to be more aware of my emotions. Now I’m able to recognize when I’m feeling closer to the low side or the high side and I can avoid it by tweaking my medication before it happens. In addition, many times I’m affected by the weather.
I go through my struggles, but throughout it all I’m at the office- sometimes early because my mind is racing and I just can’t sleep. And sometimes late because my mind and body are so tired I literally have to open my eyes with my hands. The good news is that after years of therapy and hard work I can now identify what I need to keep myself balanced. I have to eat right, sleep enough hours at night and keep up with my daily workout and meditation. Taking my medication consistently is essential and non-negotiable.
The shidduch process is a journey for all; yet having mental illness complicates it a lot more. When I started dating I was given the advice of a Rav to tell only after I felt there was a connection. So I’ve dated guys 3-6 times before telling. There were a couple different reactions, once I told someone; he got so angry that he nearly got into an accident on the way home. I don’t blame him for being upset and feeling misled.
Trust is the basis of a healthy marriage and therefore I have revaluated when I tell and it has made a tremendous difference.
With the guidance of a Rav and mashpia who are aware of my condition and aware of what mental health entails I have decided to tell the shadchan and a prospective match before hand. I explained it in simple terms, I did not have to mention all my past history. More important was that I am under good care and honestly taking care of myself. I had my doctor speak to the shadchan, enabling her to answer any questions she may have had. All the people who are my references are aware of my mental health issue and are all on the same page regarding how much to share and how much not to.
My doctor helped the shadchan come up with a simple way to explain bipolar.
Once I do meet guys who have heard from the shadchan about my condition, I don’t mention anything about my mental health issue, rather I try to discuss all the other things I do in my life. Ie: my job, my hobbies, living in my own apt, my family and more… Unless he brings it up, I wait until I am ready and comfortable to discuss it.
It is a truly humbling and painful experience…
From being in the dating scene for years too many, I only wish I would’ve been more honest earlier. I want people to realize that having a mental illness doesn’t cripple you, It enables you to be sensitive and kind. I have made sure to get proper care from the beginning spending lots of money in making a lifetime investment for my future.
I hope that within a few years the stigma surrounding mental health struggles will fall on the wayside. I hope that today people can look beyond the mental health struggle. If it is being taken care of properly, then there is no need to say no before meeting the person. Since I’ve been a lot more up front with my health condition it gives people the opportunity to meet me as a person and saves us both the pain of having to be told later on. I hope that if anything was gained from this article, let it be one more girl or boy share his or her mental health struggles before meeting someone to avoid the unimaginable pain of rejection.
I recently dated someone and was told he didn’t want to continue for no reason. He knew about my health condition so that couldn’t be it or was it? My Mashpia put it so eloquently, she said when someone gives you no for an answer or doesn’t give an answer at all, it’s a “Neshama Thing.” The same Aibeshter that gave me food to eat, and eyes to see, sometimes a little deeper. Also has someone special waiting for me. We will only meet the moment Hashem wants and not a minute before. I’ve seen Hashem’s hand throughout my struggles with bipolar, and yes I know He will come through.
And in closing,
I’ve dated, it’s hard. I’ve made myself vulnerable I’ve shared my story… I have been broken by something I didn’t do to myself… I’ve supported the ice cream store. I’ve had a good time. I’ve met knew people I have reevaluated what’s important to me. And I still continue to try because I know Hashem will make it happen…