Since my diagnosis, I've had two long-term relationships, one for three years, and one after that for nine months. Both thought that as I seemed so normal I couldn't possibly need to take medication, and perhaps the doctors were wrong. They persuaded me to stop taking my tablets and, of course, I quickly became unwell.
The second time, I ended up in hospital. I had moved to London from Staffordshire, where I grew up, aged 18 to attend Middlesex University, where I studied fashion design.
At the time I was an intern at a Fleet Street newspaper. I believed the songs on the radio were specifically about me, and that my friends were plotting to set me up to look as if I'd committed robberies. I kept most of these worries to myself, and really only suffered a true breakdown two years later when I was between jobs and had more time to obsess over whether the police were coming to break down my doors. I became completely withdrawn, never leaving my flat. I confided in my parents about my fears and they took me to see a GP, who then referred me to a psychiatrist.
At the time I believed my thoughts were perfectly rational, and it was only after I started taking medication that I saw differently. But that is the thing about mental illness.
Sometimes it's hard to believe it is real yourself, let alone expect others to understand. So you can imagine my interest when I came across NoLonger Lonely. I'd used dating sites such as match. There is a broad spectrum of severity of illness. The site has been a slow build since but we've had at least 30 marriages now. Sue Baker, of Time to Change, a UK organisation that aims to tackle mental health stigma, believes websites such as his are a good idea.
In such a relationship, where the couple share experience, it allows people to really know how to support each other during a crisis. With this in mind, I signed up.
As with all dating websites, you create a personal profile that other users can see, detailing interests and hobbies alongside a couple of paragraphs describing yourself and what you are looking for in a potential partner. You can also include photos. The only difference to all the other sites is that there is a tick-box menu to indicate your mental health diagnosis.
Within a few minutes, Mike gets in touch.
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He has bipolar disorder, which is a type of mental illness characterised by periods of extreme restlessness or mania, followed by depression. After a few days exchanging emails, he seems an intelligent, funny bloke and we decide to meet. We're both based in the Midlands and I offer to travel to his home town of Nottingham, which isn't too far.
He wants to take me to the local castle and show me the statue of Robin Hood. I wonder if he could be my very own modern-day hero.follow url
Mental illness and online dating
And so the day arrives. But I recognise Mike immediately as the attractive man in his photos. We head to a bar for coffee. Neither of us should drink alcohol on medication, as it can hinder the effectiveness although we confess to a drink now and then. Sober but happy, we hit it off straight away and talk about our past experiences.
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Mike comments on how nice it feels that he can be so open on a date. This is the first one he's been on using the site and, like me, he has never had a partner with a mental illness. But our conversations do seem to centre on mental health issues, and campaigning work we have been involved in. I was a little disappointed.
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It seems this is the main drawback of dating someone else with a mental health problem. He's older and I feel protected by him. I believe in love, and I'm still holding out.
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And suddenly, schizophrenia doesn't seem so lonely. Thursday, Jan 17th 5-Day Forecast. Single female writer, Erica Camus believes she may find true love using the online agency. I opened up to him and instead of laughing or running a mile, he just listened and told me he would be there for me. Even now, he will sit with me, no matter how long it takes, to comfort me and calm me down when I am panicking.
She was patient, caring and made me feel comfortable. This helped me to open up and talk to her about the problems I was having. It turned out that she had faced her own mental health problems in the past, so she was really understanding. She encouraged me to go and speak to someone professional about what I was going through and to not feel stupid about it.
Mental illness and online dating | Time To Change
I knew my boyfriend was the perfect guy for me when, before we even became official, I told him about my anxiety and depression. One day he was speaking to my dad and he said he would come over and help with my CV, so he came over and helped me to improve [it] and I told him about my learning difficulties and struggles throughout my school life. Then he asked me out on a date to the cinema.