Fools in Love: S#4 – Sane (Part 1, Major Mental Illness)

[apologies to all… I meant to post this BEFORE the addendum, which would have made much more sense if THIS had come first. Sorry!]

Time to wrap this bit up, or to begin at least. Let’s suppose you have found this chica and are about to let yourself fall in love with her. You’ve gone through 3 of the 4 ‘S’s. She is single, solvent and sober. Translated into Latin American terms this means she isn’t living with anyone and could move in with you, she isn’t going to hammer you mercilessly for money (whatever that means in your terms) and she doesn’t have a (visible) nasty drug or alcohol habit. Great. Now for the tricky one… SANE.

To start with some easy ones, let’s talk about major mental illnesses. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.

Some of these are easy to see if you can take your eyes of her fanny. Schzophrenia does not mean ‘split personalities’ but includes a number of symptoms/behaviors. Delusions and/or hallucinations such as hearing voices, paranoia, thinking you are God… that sort of thing. Or it can be withdrawal from reality into catatonia. It can also manifest itself in the inability to prioritize tasks or organize thoughts, for example. Depression is not always easy to recognize except in very extreme cases. Bipolar is what used to be called manic depressive, but generally it involves wild swings from hyperactivity to depression. Obsessive/Compulsive disorders might range from somebody who checks the lock on the front door over and over to somebody who repeats himself (herself) constantly. I won’t go into trying to explain every one of these major mental illnesses because a) I am not qualified and b) it’s way too involved for our purposes.

Now some of you may be thinking… ‘why waste time on this stuff, it would be OBVIOUS if some girl thought she was Cleopatra…’ And maybe it WOULD be, if you both spoke the same language. My point is that you run a risk of missing some pretty large scale mental problems if you can’t REALLY talk to her. Suppose your prospective novia were delusional. Suppose she thought there were flying saucers hovering above San Jose, invisible because they are in the 4th dimension, ready to invade once given the signal by Jimmy Carter (okay, make that Enrique Iglesias). Would you be able to tell that something was wrong? I mean, assuming the sex is good between the two of you and she’s hot looking, how many guys would ever have a clue why their sweet Maria suddenly packed everything and split for Nicaragua? (to escape the invasion, silly!)

One of the best ways to do a little sanity check is to simply listen to her friends and acquaintances. This is harder, naturally, if you and the acquaintances don’t share a common language. With some luck you will run into some people who do speak English and can tell you what they think of her. Then comes the hardest part of all: LISTENING TO THEM.

Let’s forget for a moment that you and your beloved are from different cultures and speak different languages. How many guys have you known who were advised/warned by their friends (or even you, yourself) that Misses X, the apples of their eyes, were nothing but trouble, and who blew off said advice/warnings and plowed ahead into what eventually turned out to be a train wreck? Have YOU been that guy? If so, realize how much more you are at risk with a language barrier.

I am aware of just how difficult this task is, and I know that most guys tend to say ‘those disorders are very rare, too rare to worry about.’ Okay, even assuming your risk of running into the flying saucer girl are low, your chances of running into more minor mental issues increase steadily as you move away from bat-crap crazy into more mundane stuff. We’ll get into that in the next installment.

[to be continued]

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  1. Excellent advice about getting feedback from other people who know her; however, it can be very difficult to get honest feedback from her friends unless somehow these individuals are truly independent. In my experience it is easier to get feedback from ticos, ticas, nicas, etc. who have spent some time with the gringo and girl together – especially young men and women who are in the same age group as your girl – they have experience or knowledge with zorras, mentirosas, (girls who work in sexo, liars,etc.). The hard part is then accepting what these people tell you (and, again I speak from experience).

  2. Don Quixote says:

    Rather than adding the pros and cons, it is far more fun just to roll the dice. Love is not the stock market where you can quantify everything.

    • thomasobrien says:

      Depends on how much of a gambler you are. Some people will go 'all in' without looking at their hole cards. I'm not one of them.

  3. BiggerATL says:

    If there is one thing I have learned and preach to others is "All women are crazy you just have to find the crazy you can handle." and with the culture difference It makes this a much more difficult task to achieve.