What Depression Actually Is And Why It Makes Dating So Difficult

Brett J Kelly

Living with depression is playing two very different roles. Half the time you have it completely together. You’d even go as far as saying you’re normal. You just wish it could stay that way. You cling to every good day which helps you through the bad ones.

Then you begin dating. At first, this person makes you really happy. You almost fear that happiness in the beginning because you know you shouldn’t associate people with happiness. But you also know the closest you ever come to living without depression is when you’re in a healthy relationship.

Someone loving you rids depression better than any medication ever could. So you enter relationships hoping and praying this might be the right one. You look towards others to save you from yourself but at the same time, that’s a lot to ask of someone.

You’re overcome with guilt wanting that of someone and instead of explaining this you push a lot of people away.

When you meet someone new you don’t tell them this thing you are fighting. Instead, you stay silent. As time progresses you realize there isn’t a person that can fix this for you. When you can’t even fix yourself you learn to just function or struggle to function. Because even in your best moments it lingers. Waiting to creep up. Waiting for your best day, then suddenly hitting you late at night.

You go from one extreme to another and you wish that weren’t the case.

And instead of trying to explain what you are feeling to your partner, you push them away until you get through it. Because there isn’t much they can say or do.

And in your distance, they think they’ve done something wrong but the truth is depression is what is wrong and even living with it, you struggle to clearly articulate and understand it yourself, let alone try and explain it to someone else.

How do you explain, I feel alone even though you are standing right next to me?

How do you explain I just had the best day of my life but I’m really sad laying here.

How do you explain I love waking up next to you but I want to just stay here and not have to do anything today?

They love you for this role you play. It’s about the art of deception. They fall for this person who is happy and smiling and the life of the party. But when the party ends and the hangover kicks in and everything kind of shifts within you, you wonder how can someone love this version of you when you struggle to even love that part of yourself.

Instead of explaining you stay silent. Because you don’t want to bring someone into that place. You’re overcome with a sense of guilt that you are like this. This isn’t something you chose and you do your best to stay positive but it’s exhausting.

What they see is someone who doesn’t sleep through the night and they pull you in because maybe it was just a bad dream but the truth is this is your reality.

You cry but you don’t want them to see it because half the time you don’t even know why you’re crying. You don’t want them to feel guilty or feel like they are to blame.

When depression surfaces in a relationship you each are overcome with guilt. They are racking their brain trying to understand it and you can’t find the words to explain.

“Don’t I make you happy?” or “What can I do?”

Yes. You make me happier than I’ve ever been. And the truth is there is nothing you can do.

Depression is the unwanted houseguest that overstays their welcome, making a home within your bones. Taking over when they feel like. Controlling you however they choose. Leaving but lurking. And even when they say goodbye, they promise they will return. You wish you could lock the door but they always find a way in.

Your partner pulls you in because even though they don’t understand, they still love the parts of you, you don’t like and you wonder how could someone love the worst parts of who you are?

In your head, you think they are staying because they feel bad. If they leave it will trigger even more depression but you’re overcome with guilt because you don’t want someone to resent you for staying.

Depression is pushing someone away because you think it’s for the best but secretly hoping they pull you in and don’t let you go.

Half of you is this person they admire. Because when you have depression you feel the need to try a little too hard to overcompensate for the parts you think you lack.

You try a little too hard for this relationship. You do a little too much. You invest everything you possibly can into someone because you want to give them a reason to stay. Because when they finally see you at your worst, you don’t want them to leave. Even if you say you do. You want them to keep picking you every time.

You fear them getting to know all of you. But more than that you fear rejection. You fear abandonment. You fear another goodbye and you just being too much to handle.

You know your flaws so you try to hide them.

You hide this through achievements and awards and goals chasing after things that are supposed to make you happy only to realize how hard obtaining happiness is for you.

Scrolling through a newsfeed and painting this life for yourself. But it’s more filtered pictures, you put filters on your life and if someone were to judge you based on what you put out there, the word perfect makes you cringe but that’s the picture you’re trying to paint.

Your partner admires you for who you are and what you achieve and how much you take on. If they could describe you in a single word they wouldn’t say depressed, they’d stay busy. Because when you are busy you don’t have time to think too much about how you’re feeling.

But more than the things you achieve they admire who you are as a person. Your compassion. Your sensitivity. Your lack of judgment. Your ability to read people. There is something about a person who notices things you try and hide. When they have a bad day you see them hiding it and without even speaking you know what they need. A hug. Silence. Understanding without words.

It’s the resilience they admire. Because that moment they do see you at your worst. The moment you break down and fall completely apart and they are holding you as you’re sobbing uncontrollably, they don’t look at you as weak. They see a strength within you.

Because the hardest battles to fight are the ones within ourselves, the ones we can’t control.

And you wake up the next day and you’re smiling and ready to tackle the next 24 hours and you are you again. But the thing is relationships might be hard when you have depression and you might be afraid to let someone that close but when you do and they accept you for all you are, you realize it’s okay.

Through someone else’s love and acceptance, you find that within yourself. When you have depression relationships might be a little more challenging but that’s because it takes a certain type of person to be what you need. And when you finally find them, even on your worst days you’ll count them as your greatest blessing.

You know depression might not go away but there’s something about someone fighting it with you that makes you feel less alone.
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Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.

This Book Is For You 👇

The cover and theme for my newest book was inspired by the concept of kintsugi. All that is dark or cracked within us has the capacity to be fixed, to be filled with light. We are never broken. We are always becoming. 

“Live a life that is driven; not by fear, but by love.” — Bianca Sparacino

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Image Credit: Brett J Kelly

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