I’m back again with the depression and dating series, today I’ll talk about my experience; focusing on the relationships I’ve been in. I have also promised myself that I will be real and raw as much as possible.So please bear with me if I get a tad disjointed (I promise I’ll tie it all together in the end)
Mental health disorders(in this case; depression) affect a large chunk of your life, especially relationships; how you relate with your partner as well as how you interpret their actions or inactions. Dating while coping with depression can magnify your insecurities; from trust issues to low/high self-esteem, body image issues, irrational paranoia etc.
So how did depression affect my relationships? Let me start with Mr. A.
Towards the end of my relationship with Mr. A, I was a mess, our communication was poor and I felt he wasn’t taking my concerns seriously nor was he willing to talk about it. His perfect response whenever I wanted to talk about something was “ni suuru”(be patient).
We were in the early stages of planning a wedding (you know the official introduction, house hunting, finances talk etc ) and I felt like I was in it alone, they were times I wondered if na me ask am to marry me. We had gone through major trust issues, infidelity, nonsensical lies and a huge dip in the love barometer. So I was mostly swinging from “everything is cool” to “what in the heck is going on” a few times a week. On a bad day, I could be found vigorously going from one end off the pendulum to the other with speeds that would rival Usain Bolt’s records.
At this point, I didn’t know I had depression but I was just constantly sad, my silence intensified (sometimes the fear of voicing your thoughts or having a conversation can still you into silence), had a nervous breakdown at work and bawled my eyes out. I lost interest in a lot of things, one minute I was alright, the next I was crying.
I believe he was going through some issues as well but for some reason didn’t think he could talk to me. I found out he was taking diazepan (an antidepressant) and I asked him why but he ignored it and just shoved it away. I tend to take full responsibility for most of the problems in my relationships and adding being with someone who was not ready to talk to my “It’s my fault” default state was doing my head in at rates unimaginable.
I’m logical sometimes and would prefer to have a conversation discussing my concerns or general state of our relationship but I was grappling with depression and my fears were magnified. These were some of the questions flying in my heard at 220mph;
Is he with someone else?
Is his mum not happy about the relationship?
Is it because he has a new job and a car?
Have I done something wrong?
Do I need to be more subservient?
Am I no longer good enough for him?
Timiebi you talk too much, you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking.
Is it because I’m fat?
I was constantly frustrated and I took it out on him a few times, I would snap or just go blank and it also didn’t really help that he wasn’t even ready to talk.
As much as I like talking about my concerns, I’m not someone who fancies confrontation so I tend to internalise a lot, repress a lot of memories or just forget things. This(forgetting things) is also a classic sign of depression, it’s like your brain just goes “fam I can’t be bothered with this” and chucks things to the side. This affected us as we didn’t see for a while even though we lived in the same city and I used to have weeks where I just didn’t think about him, being together or even planning a wedding.
Knowing what I know now, I would have maybe approached things a little differently, so here are a few tips for dealing with depression while dating; that is for the person who has the diagnosis.
Please note: These steps apply to people in healthy relationships or who want to improve the quality of their relationship. Depression plus an unhealthy relationship is a recipe for disaster, please ensure you’re always in a safe space.
- Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. I know how hard this is and you may have reservations about showing your vulnerable side but being in a relationship means realising that you don’t have to do it on your own, you should be able to let go sometimes, especially when you know that your partner will be there for you. For someone like me, letting go is extremely hard as I have OCD and wanting to control every and anything makes me feel safe. All you have to do is try if you’re afraid, start with very small steps and before you know it, you’re comfortable enough sharing your vulnerabilities without fear, shame or guilt.
- Talk, talk, talk. Talking sometimes can seem repetitive or hard when you’re depressed but I have found it is therapeutic and sometimes freeing. If you’re afraid what you’ll say won’t make sense, you can try my method; write long epistles, read them and fine-tune, this without even sending can help release pent-up frustrations or feelings you didn’t even know you were holding on to.
- Listen to your partner. It can be hard listening to someone tell you amazing things about yourself when you’re not feeling so amazing or great but allow those words sink into you. Let the sincerity and love behind the words be your guide, understand that this person loves you and is trying hard to understand what you are going through and will sometimes ask questions, say silly things or like I mentioned sing your praise. Listen enough to correct them when they are wrong. I believe in listening and letting them talk you get a feel of how they are also doing mentally.
I have a few more tips and will share them on another post.