By Yvette Caster

How do you feel about life after lockdown? Excited to see friends and family again? Scared of going back into the world, and the risks Coronavirus still poses? Or both? As a single woman who has bipolar disorder, I’m looking forward to properly catching up with my nearest and dearest, but heaven knows if or how I’ll navigate dating again. 

I’ve always struggled in terms of talking to boyfriends about bipolar disorder, even though some of them have been incredibly supportive and thoughtful. I suppose I’d rather enjoy my time with them, rather than have too many difficult conversations. 

As a single woman, who is 38 and still hopes to find ‘The One’, dating in 2020 was hard enough before the pandemic. People on apps seemed to reduce potential soulmates to the sum of their parts. No one seemed to be interested in a real connection. Everyone, myself included, was so busy with work and so impatient to find the right person. All we did was swipe, swipe, swipe. It was exhausting.  

The pandemic has been heart-breaking, challenging and at times a serious risk to my mental health. At one point I couldn’t get my mood stabilisers because local pharmacies ran out. I queued up days in a row, terrified that missing vital meds would trigger a manic episode and land me back in a mental health unit. 

But, for all the horrors of the pandemic, it has given me some time to reflect on how I’d like my life to be different afterwards. After seeing the George Floyd protests, I’m working more with organisations like Media Trust that promote diversity because, having worked in newsrooms for over 15 years, I know that many of them are still staffed almost entirely by white people. This is not representative of the communities these organisations are supposed to serve, and must change.  

On the dating front, I’ve taken a complete break from the apps and the sites that were so useless in helping me find genuine connections. When people are reduced down to their height, weight and number of Instagram followers, as they are on these, nobody wins.  

Now the government has started to ease measures, and I can meet up with friends and family after several months of loneliness and struggle, my thoughts have turned back to how to get on-track towards finding my soulmate.

Everyone who is single and looking for love will have already realised that trying to stick to the rules around staying 2 metres apart will make dates both challenging and, let’s be honest, probably quite funny at times.

Some people are trying video dates, others try socially-distanced meet-ups, but whatever you opt for this is certainly a strange new world of dating. I’m trying to stay optimistic and look at the positives – hopefully the fact we simply can’t do anything physical with a new person for many months may mean we can get to know people in ways we probably should have before.  

Which comes back to bipolar disorder. I have it, but it doesn’t have me. It doesn’t define me but it is a part of my life. That means whoever I date will need to at least be open to learning about it, not instantly swipe left because they ‘don’t want another crazy girlfriend.’ 

And, for my part, I’ll probably need to be less judgemental if a man doesn’t look like Channing Tatum and hasn’t been to uni. 

So that’s my post-lockdown plan – see family and friends, help make workplaces more diverse and just casually find the love of my life. Not too ambitious then. What’s your plan? 

If you liked this, come and chat to me on Twitter or Instagram @yvettecaster – if you like podcasts, you might be interested in Mentally Yours, which I co-host for Metro.co.uk. It’s on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and AudioBoom. We also have a Facebook group called Mentally Yours and our Twitter is @MentallyYrs