Knowing when to come out as a lesbian in a new relationship can be tricky. It could be a new co-worker, potential friend, neighbor, anyone. If you come out too soon, they may let societal stereotypes shape how they experience you or prevent them from experiencing you at all. If you come out too late, they may wonder why you did not trust them or why you were hiding that about yourself? It’s the same with coming out as a person with a mental illness. If you reveal that information too soon, the extreme stigmas attached to mental illness may forever color their vision of you. But if you don’t come out soon enough, you can get accused of lying about yourself to the other person. This is particularly touchy in dating relationships. I am open about my sexual orientation and my mental illness. I believe I have the luxury of being open, while so many others must hide it to protect their jobs or their children. I try to be up front about both issues. On one blind date four years ago, I barely had broached the subject of my bipolar depression with my date when she ran screaming from the room. Okay, not quite that bad, but she threw money on the table to cover the dinner we had not yet ordered and said, “I refuse to ever date another bipolar in my life.” Talk about an overreaction. But it was a good thing for me to learn early about her. I am not a bipolar, I am a woman with bipolar depression, just like my mother was not a cancer but a woman with cancer. How we speak about disabilities reveals a great deal about how we think about the individuals who live with them. So, it may have been a very good thing but it’s painful to have someone categorize you as “something” not worth even getting to know. And so, coming out becomes an over and over process, just as coming out as a lesbian does. More about my life as a woman with bipolar depression soon. Please contact me with questions, if you have them, and I will do my best to address them.