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When to disclose serious mental illness?


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YOu have the illness and want to disclose it to him, or he has the illness and you want to disclose it to your friends or familY? NOt quite sure which you mean.


No, I have it. I have dissociative amnesia. I'm told I was gangraped in college, but I have no memory of that or my entire collegiate experience. It's like four years of my life don't exist. I really don't know how to tell anybody that. When I told my ex that, after dating 4 months, he dumped me a month later. :sad:

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Is that considered a mental illness? I guess I don't really consider things like dissociative amnesia or post-traumatic stress disorder mental illnesses, because they're not related to brain chemistry but to external circumstances over which you had no control. But if you have multiple personality disorder, that's very severe and I guess I'd consider that a mental illness. I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know the difference.


In any case, I don't think there's a right or wrong amount of time to wait, except that you obviously wouldn't tell someone on your first few dates. Yes, there needs to be a baseline level of trust. I think four months is a fair amount of time to develop that in a relationship. Some men, no matter how much trust you have, won't be able to handle it. Maybe they have sexual abuse in their own background or maybe it's just too emotionally intense for them. But that's their problem and not yours. They could break up with you for any number of disclosures. That's part of the risk of making yourself vulnerable in a relationship.


Obviously your background is going to impact your sexual life. The other option is to not reveal this to a boyfriend and to only talk about it with a counselor or friends you trust.

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My personal decision on telling my boyfriend about my illness was when I decided that I was serious about this guy. Like JadedStar said, I wanted him to know about ALL of me before I got too involved. I wanted to know that he was willing to get involved with ALL parts of me.


I don't think there is a specific timeline you can use, it is more of a trust and comfort thing. I certainly would not be bringing it up as first date material. I also think you can wait TOO long, to me it would feel like you are hiding something from someone you care about.

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Some people would consider telling someone early in the relationship to possibly avoid miscommunications and heartbreak as the relatinship became more 'official', but "I have a mental illness" is hardly what I can imagine you'd want to use as an icebreaker.


Personally, like someone else mentioned, I don't quite see it as a mental illness. But I'm someone who can look past any of it, because as much as it has to do with who a person is, it doesn't 100% make up who they are. And I think that anyone worth your time would be willing to believe this as well.


I think that in the future I would mention it early on, but not as a mental illness. Tell the guy "I have dissociative amnesia" and explain what it is. I wouldn't get into the rape situation, I would just explain that you've lost memory of 4 years of your life.

Once he becomes comfortable with this, and you become comfortable with each other, I think you could sort of guess when would be an appropriate time to tell him the rest of the story.

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I have what people call a mental illness, even though I don't think of myself that way. They even run this commercial in my town identifying what I have been diagnosed with as mental illness.


My psychiatrist has advised me not to disclose this until things get serious with someone. I did get involved with someone a couple of years ago and he told me that unless I told him everything early on, he would get really angry with me if I withheld stuff until later. So I told him of my diagnosis and he proceeded to use it against me for 18 months. Each time I would get upset over something, he'd tell me I was having a "bipolar" moment, thereby minimizing my valid concerns.


I don't know whether your condition is considered mental illness? Does this play a part still in your day to day dealings with people?


My suggestion would be to not disclose things until things are serious and he's already "fallen" for you. Good luck.

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