How come I get no luck?
I’m a 20-year-old straight male, although recently I’ve struggled with my sexuality I’ve never had a girlfriend or gone out on a date. I have bipolar disorder II, and have acquired acting skills to cover it. I have also developed an optimistic outlook on life. My problem is, women don’t see me as a likely romantic candidate for some reason. I’ve bought an assortment of colognes and some exotic hair gels, dyed my hair dirty blond and yet I can’t find a date. What should I do?
Forget the colognes, hair gels and dye. You’ve undoubtedly seen way too many late-night TV ads. Nor should you be taking the hair-dye approach to bipolar disorder. Success comes not from superficially disguising your condition but from learning how to grapple with it realistically–recognizing your mood triggers, acquiring self-management skills and setting up your surroundings to support you. By its very nature, the condition clouds insight, so you may well be unaware of ways you are behaving that put others off. Lots of people with bipolar disorder feel they’ve never had a successful romantic relationship, and indeed, social events both strongly influence moods and are influenced by them. Poets and other wise souls have long argued that romantic attraction is itself a form of madness with a bipolar nature. At the very least it pitches those in its grip between highs and lows that dramatically impact brain chemistry. With or without romance, bipolar disorder can make day-to-day life more of a struggle and typically leads to confusion in one’s sense of self, so maturing on all fronts will likely take longer for you than for someone without the condition. I hope you’re taking prescribed medication regularly, but psychotherapy is also invaluable for improving social and romantic functioning. Look for a therapist specifically experienced in treating bipolar patients with cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy. In addition, you’ll probably get a great deal both socially and informationally from a local bipolar self-help group. Check out the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org) to get started.
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