Agents of Ishq Loading...

I Thought It Was A Dream Date. But I Am Bipolar, So Was It Just A Dream?

This date wasn’t supposed to be a rebound, but still hit me in the face, and everywhere else

It was exciting to meet a guy at a bar almost three months after my two-year-long relationship (my longest). I dressed in my favourite “I don’t care” outfit and wore my no-makeup makeup look, inspired by the camaraderie between YouTube and Pinterest. My no-prep routine made me run 40 minutes late from the decided time of our meeting (a respectable time for me). So, he texted to check in on our Bumble chat, the only place we had connected. 

“Am I going to get stood up tonight?” his message read.

I thought that was funny and charming, still don’t know why. Now the possibility of what this date night could be got more exciting for me. Date night at a cool bar with a fun cutie??? AaaaAAAaaaa. 

What is way less thrilling though? Meeting someone you have already developed an involuntary crush on, and sliding into your first conversation that you have been diagnosed with BIPOLAR disorder, Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD) and ADHD, and you have been living with it for two years.

Illustration of two people out on a date. One of them is raising their hands excitedly revealing three diagnosis that say Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and ADHD.

It is even less romantic to tell someone on your first date that the charming and happy being they see today is a reflection of what doctors (four in total) have called my manic phase. 

You surely don’t want to tell this adorable guy that when this manic phase ends, that there will be a depressive phase. It will not be charming. It will wipe out smiles. Both mine and of the people around me. More importantly, how do you communicate that there is no blueprint to tell an innocent, nice boy that these phases don’t define me? I want him to be on a date with me, not my mental health, a very small aspect of my personality.

I reached outside our date spot in South Delhi. I shrugged at him apologetically, he shrugged back, as if saying, “I could have waited 20 minutes more.” Shit. He is sweeter than I imagined. We shared a cigarette, went inside, sat at the bar, and ordered half a litre of beer each. Ten minutes into the conversation, people around us were looking at us like they could tell we were two people on a very successful first date. We laughed to the point where I thought we could only be platonic buddies. This much comfort in a first-time romantic encounter? Every romantic comedy I have ever seen was disagreeing. We drank till the bar closed, moved out of the place, sat outside on the footpath, shared another cigarette, laughed a little more, and Googled places that would serve us more alcohol at 1 a.m. On the way to Bar No.2, we cuddled, and moved our hands onto each other’s bodies, wherever our drunk bodies and conscience would allow. It was embarrassing for the cab driver, but delightful for us. The date ended with more Long Island Ice Teas, Esse lights, and walking back tipsy for 15 minutes to my house on the abandoned streets of Delhi. 

Everything still seems so perfect. 

All my mental illnesses have teamed up to tell me this was all in my head. I am imagining things. People like me, with three diagnoses, don’t get dates like these. We only get temporary stimulation. Ones that end in “What was I thinking,” while I cry myself to sleep, swiping away on Bumble, looking for more normalcy as a 25-year-old. But I know all this happened to me. I have a crowd and servers in two bars, one cab driver, and my roommate and her boyfriend from when we reached home, to back me up on it. 

There is also a possibility that there are other things that happened, but I think are my imagination. Like the time he drew me in his notebook from the photos in my room or from when he changed into a printed shirt to match my kurta just so “We are twinning.” I am still hazy about the night we danced for hours in the middle of a crowded dance floor, and unsure if he got jealous when I kissed another guy as a way of protecting myself for “keeping things casual.” Was I depressed and everything felt like an anchor to stop me from sinking, or he did really kiss me on the head, bite me on the arm, and hug me by the waist in a way that still makes me giddy, anywhere, anywhere, when those memories hit me without my permission? 

When your medicines control your body and brain, when your notes from therapy pave the way for your life when you compartmentalise everything, to deal with it later because you have so little trust in your impulses, when you are scared your pangs of anger, and when you have no one to share these feeling with, you never know the truth from the “crazy thoughts in your head.” I don’t know if I deserve to be loved, hugged, kissed or drawn. 

As anticipated, the manic phase ended and the depressive one hit. 

Illustration of a person crying, lying on the floor in a fetal position. Another person is looking in confusion, from a distance.

In just a matter of days, the charming, happy, being, I was on the first date diminished into a ball of crying mess, rocking back and forth on the floor of my room. The self-harm increased, and the will to live decreased. As I swung faster, I saw this cute guy move further away from me. 

What happened,” I asked finally, from my hospital bed after being admitted to the ICU, after a panic attack followed by an incident of over-dosage of medicine (As it read on my hospital prescription). This was two weeks after that first magical date.

“Hey, I am not used to seeing someone (especially someone I have fun being with) go through so much internal turmoil and it was starting to feel very unfamiliar to me. I’m sorry…I didn’t want you to feel this way… but maybe I just started to feel like I might drown with you sometimes,” he replied. Now this seems real, there is no haze. “Understandable,” I texted in response and turned over to sleep with the beeping sounds of monitors and other patients coughing in the ICU. I don’t need anyone to back me up on this explanation. People with three diagnoses, like me, live with this reality. Who am I to change it? Who am I to doubt it?

Shreya is a queer, disabled reporter based in Delhi. My interests lie in writing social justice features and long-form stories with a gender lens. I am an empathetic writer who gives the utmost importance to journalistic ethics and data.

Score: 0/
Follow us: