1. Instead of unexplained sadness, they expressed a whole host of emotions that never made sense and never had a place. They were aggressive, dismissive, critical… they left when they said they wanted to stay; they stayed though they said they wanted to leave.
2. Rather than a loss of interest in things, they became highly critical of things. It seemed as though nothing could be enjoyed for the sake of it, and you were always left just a little beneath their impossible standards.
3. Their anger manifested as a defense to protect themselves from feeling more vulnerable. It’s not a coincidence that they also couldn’t find the capacity to love you, keep you, or commit to you.
4. They isolated. The anger was a shield – not from the world, but from other people. They couldn’t imagine internalizing anymore heartbreak and disappointment.
5. They chose to be with people who they didn’t really love. They chose to be with people quickly, irrationally, and mindlessly. They left you for safer relationships, easier relationships, people they could use as punching bags more than you would tolerate.
6. They thought too much of themselves, and at the same time, not enough. Their self-image was polarized. They either thought the world was beneath them, or they weren’t good enough for anything.
7. They were all over the place. They’d make plans for the future and then come up with new ones. They’d talk about moving to foreign countries and then settling down with you all in the same day. It was like their fight and flight responses were cross firing; they never knew whether they wanted to try harder or run as far as they could.
8. They couldn’t stick to anything. They’d try one job, then another. They’d come up with one goal, and then scrap it. They had a hand in everything, and yet committed to nothing. It was like they spent their lives waiting in the doorway, scared to step into any one thing completely.
9. They either slept too much or too little, and their irregular routine left them irritable and unreasonable.
10. They chose to be a lone wolf when really, all they desperately wanted was to be one of a pack. You couldn’t figure out why they’d continue to deny themselves the one thing they were really starving for.
11. You began to think that you were the crazy one. They projected all of their moods and judgments onto you, and every time you responded in a way that a normal, healthy person would to the madness, you were the one labelled insane. It never occurred to them to ask why they always end up with “crazy people,” and perhaps if the common denominator was them.
12. You felt as though you always had to decode what they were trying to say. They couldn’t communicate clearly or directly, everything was hinted at and analogized. It was implied and suggested. You never knew where you stood, and you were left tirelessly trying to put together the pieces.
13. They wanted to be well. In fact, trying to hide their depression is what created the anger, and it was all stemmed from the fact that they so desperately wanted to be past it in the first place. They weren’t bad. They were just sick.
14. You had to learn that someone who always finds fault in others can’t see much good in themselves. That people can only meet you as far as they’ve met themselves.
15. You had to learn that often, things aren’t what they seem. Depression doesn’t always read as sadness. Anxiety doesn’t always read as fear. And in fact, there are a lot of behaviors that seem nothing like either of those illnesses, but have everything to do with both.
16. You had to learn the hardest lesson of all, which is that you can only love people as much as they are willing to be loved. You can stay with someone through their darkest hours, but if they don’t want to come out on the other side with you, they won’t. You had to find the fine and painful line between being a partner and being a martyr.