Dating with depression: My experience with relationships

Seeing this meme on Facebook made me laugh, then (almost) cry, because it hits close to home:

Setting aside the numerous casual dates that I went on, the relationships I had were all affected by my depression.

My first truly serious relationship lasted three years.

I ended it partly because I felt like I wasn’t understood. I felt like my feelings—of despair, of hopelessness in the future—were being dismissed as mere mood swings. If not that, I felt that we were tackling them as a faraway, philosophical question of what it meant to be happy.

I didn’t handle the situation well: I was constantly taking my anger out on my boyfriend, and he responded in kind when his patience reached its limit. To be fair to him, I wasn’t in therapy yet, nor was I on meds, so I felt confused on top of all the other emotions I was grappling with. To him, I probably looked and acted like a crazy, moody, angry bitch.

Things ended on such a horrible note that three years later, I still feel guilty about the entire thing. Once, when we were chatting online, I apologized for everything, and he accepted it. But deep down I think we both know I could never make up for what happened.

It’s one of my greatest regrets in life: I wish I had gotten professional help as soon as I felt my mood spiraling out of control, before I had a nuclear meltdown and left abruptly.

In another relationship, I felt like I was more understood, because my boyfriend had some serious psychological issues of his own.

That was a double-edged sword: we understood each other’s darkness, but we weren’t in a good emotional place to have a healthy relationship.

I did try my damned best to help him work his shit out, but in the end, he left because he wasn’t prepared to tend to my needs. It hurt like hell since he was the first to see the full extent of my mental illness. It made me feel like my depression made me even more unlovable than I initially thought.

However, in retrospect, I see that it was for the best: I shouldn’t have to be his therapist. He needs to piece his life together on his own terms. We’re friends now, helping tend to each other’s emotional wounds. I’m grateful that we have rebuilt our friendship in a way that avoids codependence, but encourages a healthy amount of support.

After that, I briefly dated someone who is possibly the most naive person I have ever met.

I’m not dissing him; it’s just something I observed in our interactions. He didn’t know much, if at all, about mental illness. I don’t know if it was due to his limited life experience, but he never seemed to grasp the fact that depression makes me do/say/feel things I don’t necessarily want to.

I vividly remember the moment I decided to break up with him. During a severe depressive episode, I was crying on the floor in my apartment, sobbing, “Fuck this, fuck you, fuck everything!” He responded with, “Suck a dick.”

Needless to say, I left him not too long afterward. I realized that he could never provide the support and understanding that I needed in a partner.

Fast forward to the present…

My current boyfriend is incredibly level-headed, and is supportive of my efforts to improve my mental health (going to therapy, taking meds regularly, exercising, writing, socializing). He tries his best to be there for me, to the point that sometimes I feel terrible for not being normal, for making things difficult for him.

There’s a part of me that feels he doesn’t truly, deeply know me: that he doesn’t understand the darkness inside me, because he hasn’t felt that himself. At times, I begin to think: am I doing right by both of us by staying? Am I being selfish for not letting him go, for not letting him find a “normal” girl?

But I know better now than to give in to my self-defeating instincts. When I feel that way, I remind myself—and ask him to remind me, too—that I am so much more than my sadness. I am vivacious; I bring light and color to his life. I am worth loving.

Ela Kaimo

Ela is a twentysomething who is constantly getting stuck in self-destructive behavior and bouts of low self-esteem. She struggles with depression and writes to relieve herself of her feelings. Sometimes she even blogs about other things like makeup and positivity. One of her pieces was published in the Inquirer Young Blood in October 2017. She likes cats, dogs, and sometimes even people.

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