I have had two girlfriends in my past that listed my mental instability as part of the reason they ended it with me. I don’t believe either girl did, or ever would, leave me just because of that alone. There were, in both cases, plenty of reasons to end it anyway.
But they did mention it. And that has always been curious to me.
It could be taken two ways:
First, this the most positive spin I can place, they were using it as an excuse for me when I wasn’t using it as one; like they were letting me off the hook for being a shitty person. In saying that my depression was an issue, they were attempting to give me an out. “I cannot handle how your depression affects you”, instead of “you’re a manipulative prick”. In this sense, it is kinda thoughtful. They thought I was a better person than I really was, or at the very least, wanted to make me feel less bad about it.
Second, this is the most cynical spin I can place, they really couldn’t handle the idea that this thing will always be there and looming and it will always be some kind of a problem for me, and most likely, for the relationship. I’m sure the revelation that a person has an incurable mental illness that results in violent ideation and possibly action is more than slightly daunting. I cannot really blame someone for that.
Now, I want to restate that I don’t feel that either of these women that I shared part of my life with left me just because of my depression. I think that if everything else had been fine, that wouldn’t have been an issue. And if they were doing it for the first reason listed above, then I guess that is interesting.
But it obviously was in their mind, right? I didn’t ask either of them if my mental illness was an issue. Both of them offered that on their own.
When my wife and I decided to have kids we talked about the risk that inherited mental illness would be, as well as just the projection of my own mental illness on our kids.
I bring this up because sometimes people pick partners based on qualities. I want tall kids, or smart, or athletic, or beautiful, or quirky, or whatever. Healthy is sort of just sewn in there as a of course you always want that. And I think that mental illness being passed down through genes is probably something people consider.
*by the way, at this point, this is a complete departure from my girlfriends. I highly doubt either of them were thinking about kids, or worried about them suffering from depression*
My wife and I did talk about mental illness and our kids (well, I talked about it, she never seemed bothered by it). But we didn’t talk about heart disease or cancer, both are pretty common in my family. We didn’t talk about both of us having bad eyesight, or me being bald or overweight. We didn’t talk about intelligence, or giftedness, or even eye color (ok, the fact that we both have blue eyes did come up). The only thing we could possibly pass down to our kids that we discussed was mental illness.
And somehow this makes complete sense, and is completely nonsense at the same time.
I’m a good boyfriend/ husband, despite having bipolar. I’m thoughtful and caring and smart and funny.
And the issues I have, like my temper, arguing, always being right, always getting my way; those things have nothing to do with my mental illness.
This isn’t to say that my mental illness isn’t hard to deal with. I have well documented on this site the numerous times my wife has to deal with a sobbing, shaking, mass of often drunk self-doubt that hasn’t gotten out bed all day. But what I am saying is that, even without this, I would still be a bad husband to her. Or, if you rather, despite this I am still a good one.
Mental illness isn’t why those girls ended it with me. They ended it with me because I was an asshole to them.
So why mention it?