Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am 47, have bipolar disorder and ADHD, and am seeing a therapist to help me deal with childhood abuse issues. I am very stable (more so than most "sane people," my shrink quips), although I have the occasional bad day (I become withdrawn and irritable). After more than a year, both my shrink and my therapist tell me they think I'm ready to start dating. I am very open about my illness and write about it occasionally in a blog that I share openly. My friends and co-workers know. I'm popular at work and in my social circles, so I'm not worried about any social awkwardness. When should I mention my condition to a potential girlfriend? Any visits to my place and she will see the meds. If she does an Internet search, she will find my blog. There are a great many misconceptions about bipolar disorder. Advice I get ranges from, "Don't mention it at all. It's irrelevant," to, "Disclose before you first meet /become intimate/get married," to the nebulous, "You'll know when it's time." I tend to be honest to a fault and am not sure what the etiquette is.
When Is Honest Too Honest?
DEAR HONEST: I agree that you are ready to date. I know because you are doing the hard work toward recovery and you are listening to the professionals who know you the best.
Disclose this when it starts to feel that it would be dishonest not to. This is a third- to fifth-date conversation. You don't want to lead with it on a first date because then the date becomes all about you.
I assure you that any woman you would want to meet will do an Internet search before meeting you. This is one way to get information about you and your condition "out there." If you are asked, be honest, but remember that it is important not only to disclose the particulars about your life and health, but also to get to know her. That's why it's called "dating" and not "therapy." Speaking of which, this is an ideal question to ask your professional counselors.