There are a lot of talented people with mental illness that have great creative potential and I thought that would be an important way to let people connect and share on that level. I do occasional purges to get rid of older profiles. And these are only the ones that I’ve been told of, but there’s been more than 30. No, but I kinda’ thought in the back of my mind that if I’m with a woman who’s experienced similar things I can talk about it freely whenever I want.
They featured me as one of the most ill-advised dating sites on the web. But the ironic thing is that it gave me a lot of traffic. When the mood disorder came around it was this crushing realization that, “Oh my god. Do people tend to align themselves with others who have similar illnesses?
A dating site is something that has a critical mass where it’s not very effective until you get a certain amount of people. I didn’t create the categories, it’s just what the major ones are: schizophrenia, schizoaffective, but I may have to remove that as an option. There really aren’t that many categories of mental illness. I hadn’t dated much and was really afraid of disclosing to women. Once you’ve been branded with this illness you feel kind of like a reject, in a way. It was in 2003 that you started thinking about this website. As of today I wouldn’t want a girlfriend that was seriously mentally ill. A lot of people that are bipolar, if they’re high-functioning, they’re not gonna want somebody that’s schizophrenic and cant hold a job and has active delusions and things like that.
Around 2004 it was underway but it wasn’t as big as it is now. All these jokes about, you know, ‘What does psycho 1 plus psycho 2 equal? Every once in awhile you get someone whose user profile is “Batshit crazy” or something, or says, “I like to put heads in my freezer,” joke stuff like that. What are some of the mental illnesses that your users have? Asperger’s doesn’t exist anymore, now it’s an autism spectrum disorder. I think a lot of it was just a negative self-image. I do have something pretty serious, here.” That was around ’92. I thought, “I’ll meet a girl this way.” But eventually it changed a lot. I don’t have numbers on that, but generally certain illnesses pair together better than others.
When you have a mental illness, you worry about scaring partners away: What if I sound crazy?
What if this person doesn't want to date me anymore?
“Rejection is a two-way street, and I rejected plenty of guys online and in person, too.”one in five people in this country) with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
The artwork—that’s an area that didn’t take off as much as I thought it would. A sizeable percentage of those probably haven’t been on the site for a while. The big stat is the amount of marriages that I’ve had with the site. I think professionals in the field discount the importance of relationships. I don’t think they work nearly as well as they advertise them to. Robert Whitaker shows that you need drugs in the short term to medicate somebody and bring them back to reality and stuff, but the long-term use of these things creates chronic conditions. Do you think that people with mental illnesses can only have a true bond with someone else who has a mental illness? ’ and I was like, ‘Wow, I guess there are people out there who are understanding.’ Are you still together? But you wouldn’t say it was because of your mental illness?
To deny that would be to deny a piece of ourselves and the relationships we build with people we love.
But we also can't ignore the way those disorders can complicate things — especially when it comes to getting close to someone else.
Leftwich spoke with me about the challenges of running the site and about why he believes forming loving relationships should be recommended more frequently than pills. It was one of those things where I looked for something and it didn’t exist. ’ because that can be a big deal among people that are mentally ill. I was diagnosed with what’s called it falls under a schizophrenia spectrum disorder…you’re blessed with both a psychotic disorder and a depressive disorder so it’s one of the more chronic diagnoses. That’s my only hospitalization, but I was there for about two months. By going on the site, you don’t have to worry about disclosing it to anybody. What are your feelings on treating mental illnesses? She didn’t know much about mental illness, but she accepted me.
I’m still facing that challenge but it’s a big world. But I don’t think people identify themselves that much as, ‘I am that or this.’ I am somebody who struggles with [a psychiatric] diagnosis and I take medicine for it. Would it be fair to say that it took about ten years to say, “OK, look, I’ve got a handle on this. Whereas, another person, even if their function is pretty high but they’re experiencing a lot of the same things as the other person, there could be a bond there. Try to do something meaningful.’ And they leave out the most important parts like: ‘Bond with people.