How to Share a Bipolar I Diagnosis With Someone You’re Dating, According to Experts – Lose Weight in Your Hips

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Dating someone new can make even the most confident among us nervous—who hasn’t workshopped the exact right wording of a casual text? If you’ve recently been diagnosed with bipolar I, you might also be workshopping how—and at what point—you should tell a person you’re seeing about it. 

First things first: A medical diagnosis is highly personal. Your decision to share your diagnosis is just that: your choice. “Some people say, ‘Bipolar disorder is part of me, and I’m going to let anyone who knows me know this about me,’” David J. Miklowitz, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, tells SELF. But when this condition is news to you too, odds are you might still be processing your diagnosis yourself—and you may not feel ready to share it with someone you’re not yet seriously dating.

That’s totally fine. As with any other detail about your life, it might not feel right to talk about your bipolar disorder diagnosis if you’re in the early stages of connecting with someone. That said, you may want to be upfront about your condition if you think there’s a possibility that you want to build a longer-term relationship with them—or if you simply want to share this information about your life! There’s no need to feel like you have to “hide” this.

Do a little self-reflection about why you want to share, and what you’re hoping will come of it, to inform your approach. “You want to have an end point in mind,” Dr. Miklowitz says. “Do you want to get [your bipolar I diagnosis] off your chest? Do you want them to know you on all levels? That should help guide you.”

If you’re considering sharing your bipolar I diagnosis with someone you’re newly dating—for whatever reason that feels right to you—try these tips from mental health experts on how to do it with an eye to open communication and trust. 

Remember that you’re not defined by your diagnosis.

As your doctor has likely shared with you, bipolar disorder is a condition that can cause extreme mood swings with high highs and low lows. Bipolar I, in particular, can cause manic episodes that last for at least a week or longer, along with depression that can last for at least two weeks. 

As you think about sharing your experience with the condition, keep in mind that a bipolar I diagnosis isn’t the only thing in your life. “Having bipolar I does not define who you are as a person,” Samar McCutcheon, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. “When sharing this information with others, you are sharing your experience of a mental health condition that you have been diagnosed with, which is no different than a physical health condition, such as asthma or diabetes.” 

Think about it this way: A person recently diagnosed with asthma or diabetes takes steps to care for their well-being with the right treatment plan. And while your symptoms might differ from the symptoms of those conditions, you’re likely taking similar steps to treat bipolar I—so just like people with those conditions, you’re handling your health responsibly. 

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