Image: Unsplash – Elisabetta Foco
[Bryony Wharfe | Contributing Writer]
“Depression and love is wanting to be shown that you are loved constantly but rejecting and not feeling worthy” – J. Moore.
What if you never learned to love yourself? That every day it becomes harder and harder to be happy in who you are and where you are in your life. People can come into your life unnoticed but leave craters where your heart used to flourish; memories can turn a happy moment into the reason you’re scared to close your eyes at night. But what if someone was there, holding your hand every step of the way? Tucking a piece of hair behind your ear whilst they looked you in the eyes to say “I love you.” Does it get better? For many people who live with depression, being in love can be as hard as waking up in the morning.
“I (not often) sometimes had moments when I completely had a meltdown/breakdown… sometimes I could feel it brewing within me when I was with my ex and I’d have to leave the room quickly because I didn’t want her to worry about me, I didn’t want her to know I was struggling this bad because I needed her.” – Male, 20, student, UH.
Sometimes you may feel every emotion all at once, and other days you may feel nothing at all. Every day is a struggle; trying to keep a smile on your face so your partner doesn’t notice is tiresome. People say that before you can love others you have to love yourself; for some that’s enough, but for many others, trying to love something you despise so much just becomes impossible. But that’s okay. You can love someone else before loving your own skin and someone will love you even if you can’t bear to look in the mirror.
“Often I feel so worthless that I have no clue why he loves me, but other times I see how we compliment each other, what I can do for him and what he does for me… There are ‘I love you forever and always’ days, and there are why are they even with me days.” – Amy, 25, UH.
However, hearing someone say “I love you” every day doesn’t always sink in: when you hate yourself, you believe that everyone else does, so why would someone love you? Why would someone love your snotty tears and your emotionless conversations?
But you know what? Some people will. Not all of them, but the ones who truly love you will love you through your snotty tears and emotionless conversations. Because it’s not only hard for a person with depression to be in love and believe someone is in love with them, it’s hard to be that person who is in love with someone who has depression.
“’I love you’ came too easy in that relationship, but I constantly thought why the hell is she with me when I thought so little of myself.” – Josh W., Student, UH.
You may not understand why they don’t want to eat their favourite food anymore, or why they end up crying hysterically whilst curled up on the floor when they can’t find the smallest of things. How every time you call them beautiful they dismiss it, or why they find it difficult to say that they love you too. One minute they may want to be cradled in your arms and the next they don’t want you to touch them. It’s confusing, it can ruin relationships, and it can cause more harm loving someone than being alone.
I’ve been through both scenarios and it hurts. Watching the person I love crumble in front of my eyes and feeling so helpless. Being so in love with someone but not being able to tell them or believe they care for me are two of the worst feelings I have ever had. But I overcame the darkness and I began to learn how to love myself and love another. The things I wanted my partner to do for me I was able to do for them, it brought us closer and heightened our love for one another, but not everyone has the same experience.
One female student from UH said that in a previous relationship the route of her depression was her boyfriend. After telling him how she felt and what the problems were, instead of helping her return to the woman she used to be, he blamed her for ruining their relationship. Even though it was heartbreaking to end the relationship, she began to blossom once again.
“Anyone or anything that made me feel less than comfortable with myself and who I was has been removed from my life and I feel so much better for it… My biggest bit of advice for anyone struggling with depression is to be comfortable with yourself and be happy alone before trying to be happy with someone else – be the master of your own happiness as it were.” – Josh W., Student.
Here’s my advice, firstly for those who have depression, and then for those who love someone with depression:
You are not alone, not in how you think or how you deal with it. People are always there, if not your friends and family then charities and advice centres who are there for people like you. Challenge negative thinking and people; it may be hard to let go of someone, but your health is more important right now, and if they truly care they’ll understand. Replace the negative with the positive; you may not like a lot about yourself, but maybe you made a really good joke that one time, or you like how you smile when you see cake. Focus on the good, always.
There are reasons people are in your life and usually it’s because they care about you. Just because you can’t love yourself, doesn’t mean someone else can’t pick you up and love you twice as much. Lastly, never give up. You are not at your final destination; your life isn’t going to be the same forever, but only you can change it. Believe in yourself and love yourself. Love yourself in that you’re strong enough to get through this, day by day, and in time, you’ll be okay.
“Just say ‘no’ has done as much for sex and drugs as ‘have a nice day’ has done for depression” – Dr E. Tyson.
Saying it’ll get better to someone is meaningless. It’s not a solution, and it can make a person feel worse because they don’t feel like it’ll get any better. Something like “I’m here for you, I believe in you, and I believe you are stronger than this and that you’ll get through this,” is a much better and less empty phrase. If they push you away it’s mostly because they feel like a burden, and they need to push you away before they can bring you closer, as long as they know you’re there they’ll come to you when they’re ready.
Some people may not want to deal with it all alone and may need you, even if it’s just for a coffee, it can make their entire day a whole lot better. You’re allowed to get frustrated, but just don’t take it out on them, you may only have to deal with it when they’re around, but they have to deal with it every minute of every day; just remember that. But at the end of the day, just keep on loving them, they’ll be ready when they are and you can’t force them to get rid of a mental illness.
“Love is hard at any time, my major advice, don’t hide it, wear it, be aware and talk about it if you can… Most of all, don’t believe loving someone is the same as being in love. There are days where being in love is too much effort, too much energy and there are days where it’s all you can feel. With the depression you deal with, with having to put on a mask and tell everyone you’re okay even when you struggled to get out of bed, the constant is the love. You will feel it, it will feel good and you are or will be loved for you. Someone loving you goes such a long way to helping you get a little closer to loving yourself.” – Amy, 25, UH.