Divulging mental illness

Dear Annie: It’s no secret that there is a stigma when it comes to mental health in today’s society. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for several years now, and I’m fortunate to have it “under control,” so to speak, thanks to therapy and medication. I like to think that I am in charge of my illness rather than the other way around, and I don’t want to be shy about it, because it is part of who I am. However, I’m now not sure when it’s appropriate to share this information with someone.

I am in a happy, healthy new relationship, and I care about my boyfriend very much. I feel that this is something he needs to know about me, but I’m scared to bring it up, because I don’t want to scare him off. I’m sure that he will be very understanding once he knows, and I really do want him to know, but I don’t know how realistic it is for me to wait for this subject to come up naturally. It is a hard thing to say out loud. The thought of telling him overwhelms me, but I am even more overwhelmed knowing that he doesn’t know this huge thing about me. Should I just go ahead and bring it up to him out of the blue and get it over with, or should I wait? — Smitten and Scared

Dear Smitten and Scared: There is no set timeline for divulging mental health issues to a new partner. The right time is whenever it feels right for you. That means when you trust him, when you’re sure the relationship is serious and when the fact that you haven’t told him is really bugging you. If you’re at that point, then you’re ready to have the conversation. Decide ahead of time just how much you want to divulge. A short, simple explanation like the one you gave me would be perfectly acceptable, and you can reveal more as your relationship progresses. He will not break up with you over this, and if he does, you’re better off without him.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)