Why My Depression Makes Me Fearful Of Relationships

Jeremy Bishop
Jeremy Bishop

The last person I gave my troubled heart to was my ex-boyfriend—someone who put forth so much effort into putting all of its broken pieces back together. While I had never opened up to someone the way I did with him, I still failed to fully break down barriers I had spent years building and maintaining.

I struggled to invite him into the darkest depths of my mind for the fear of being vulnerable and criticized. I couldn’t help but think that even a glimpse into the reality I had always kept to myself would send him running, if not sprinting, for the hills. Was I wrong? Absolutely. Time after time, he picked me up, comforted me, and tried his best to understand why I am the way I am.

He stayed.

To have someone I love see me succumb to such an unforgiving illness was almost too terrifying to handle—for me as well as him. As our relationship progressed, so did the amount of fear in those big, hazel eyes. He worried when I stopped eating and when I was stressed. He worried when I didn’t sleep and when I slept too much. He worried when I was alone at night and when I drank alcohol. He walked all the way to my house at 4 a.m. when he knew I wasn’t safe in my own hands, but none of this was fair.

Guilt hung over me for putting him through what I would call “emotional hell.” That fear in those eyes when I was at my lowest points is a sight that I, unfortunately, don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Those two years together embodied much more than the burdens of my depressive states. We were almost always together, whether we were traveling somewhere or just sitting at home with chocolate, beer and a Redbox movie. When my mind wasn’t completely consumed by depression’s restraints, we were something wonderful. We laughed like crazy, sang at the top of our lungs, and were just best friends.

The intrusion of my depression on our relationship wasn’t why we broke up, but I think it could’ve been a factor in our downward spiral.

Regardless, I hate this illness. It has the power to consume every fiber of your being and twist your logic, forcing itself onto the front lines of a thriving relationship. I always found myself apologizing for my unpredictable moods. A relaxing Sunday afternoon could easily be met with brutal, intrusive thoughts. Aren’t we taught at some point that we need to love ourselves before someone else can?

Speaking from my own experiences, I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a time where I can truly say that I love myself from the inside out. I would love to, but I just don’t see it happening to the extent it should.

I know there will be a correlation between my depression’s affect on this past relationship and its grasp on new ones. While I may not be at the same low point as a year ago, “unpredictable” could easily be my middle name. Like I said earlier, my ex was my first outlet for expressing what I had kept behind closed doors for so long. If there’s anything I’ve learned within the past year, it’s that relationships are meant to have a balance between give and take.

At times, I was so caught up in my own hurricane that I had a difficult time recognizing when he needed me to lean on. When I did, he was convinced I didn’t need additional problems on my plate even after reiterating how I’d set aside absolutely anything for him. He still kept to himself. Amidst all of this, I lost a huge part of my identity, which, by no means, was his fault or even associated with his desire to keep me afloat.

My depression and constant need for comfort pushed me to lose passion in the things I’ve always loved. I stopped going to dance, stopped designing and stopped writing. My creative outlets for self-expression and overall sanity were at a standstill. Silence in solitude meant overthinking and self-destruction. Sleeping at his place every night made me feel safe, but I was losing sight of myself. Being this dependent on him was unhealthy, and it wasn’t until after our breakup that I realized how much of an impact this had on me.

I haven’t yet figured out how to be alone. I don’t want to rely on someone so much that I label him as the only good thing in my life—not again.

I fear that someone will fall for my blonde hair and green eyes with preconceived ideas of who I am, but, only upon the breaking down of barriers, see a complexity that could be all too much to wrap their head around.

I also fear that there will always be a part of me that doesn’t want to fully break down those barriers. I’ve lived with a wall up since high school and have a hard time letting anyone see that other side of me. When I do, I fear being perceived as the girl who needs to be saved.

I fear my ability to shift unexpectedly from the eye of the hurricane to the whirlwind of agony that presents no timeline. Depressive states can last hours, days, weeks, months and even years. Sometimes I just wake up feeling detached, lost and broken. Sometimes it’s just everything and nothing all at once.

There are few things I’ve found more difficult than trying to explain how my sadness can stem from nothing other than my mind’s way of functioning.

I wish I didn’t instill the heartache on him that I did. I could apologize to him for that over and over and over again. Conversations about my emotions and suggestions to seek help took precedence over many of our days. Maybe I took him for granted and simply forgot that my depression had an affect on him, too.

In time, I want to develop a good enough grip on my own emotions to give 100 percent of myself to the right person—flaws and all—and I would hope he would do the same. I want him to see the hurricane in my green eyes and want nothing more. I want him to grow with me, not try to change me. I want him to know that even though I’ll be an unpredictable mix of light and darkness, I’ll give him all the love I have to offer.

Until then, I’ll continue to fight for a life filled with such an abundance of light and self-love that the burdens of my depression could never become the anchor of a relationship ever again. TC mark

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