DEPRESSION & DATING: HOW TO COPE DURING A BREAKUP (PT 1)

Breakups are hard and anyone that says otherwise should be asked to sit in a corner and think about their actions! Seriously though, it is hard and even harder if you have a history of depression or a mood disorder.

Even when a relationship is no longer healthy or safe, breakups can be very painful because it signifies a loss; not just of the relationship, but also of the plans and commitments you shared. Most romantic relationships begin with excitement, freshness, and hopes for the future and when it fails, it is natural to experience disappointment, stress and/or grief.

It can toss you into unfamiliar terrain, cause a disruption to your routine, home, work, relationships with family and friends and even your identity. It also brings with it an uncertainty about the future, you begin to wonder and ask yourself questions;

  • What will my life be without my partner?
  • Will I ever find someone else?
  • Will I end up alone?

These unknowns can often seem worse but trust me when I say you are better off trying to figure these questions (and some more) on your own than holding on to a failing or long dead relationship.

Breakups have the potential of flipping your world upside down whilst triggering a plethora of emotions, it can also be a difficult time as it may seem like your life is falling apart. It is mostly accompanied by an increased emotional state i.e. sadness, crying etc. all of these can be termed as normal reactions after a breakup but it is also important to recognize the symptoms of depression.

This sadness, disruption, and uncertainty all go to show that recovering from a breakup can be difficult and you need to take your time, I mean take as much time as YOU need, not what society/ people think is the appropriate length of time. It is also important to constantly remind yourself that you will get through the experience and come out stronger.

So how do you deal with a breakup while coping with depression? I will share my tried and tested methods as well as share people’s experiences and my own observations.

  1. Exercise: Remember what they say about revenge body and all? Well even if you don’t exercise to get back at them (which you shouldn’t in the first place), exercising is great for your body and even better for your mental health. It is known fact that physical activities help in boosting one’s energy levels and increase of endorphins aka “happy hormones” which will, in turn, improve your mood. 2014/2015 were great years for me, Chai! I exercised my feelings away in that Virgin Active close to my house, my clothes, body, emotions thanked me a lot for it!
  2. Don’t ignore how you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, confused etc. and trust me when I say these feelings can become intense. Accept them, feel them. I understand that these emotions are sometimes painful but attempting to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the healing process. Don’t forget we are already coping with depression and by now should realize that suppressing our emotions is unhealthy for our mental wellbeing. Always remember that they will lessen with time so go through the grieving process.
  3. Keep busy:  I discovered so many fun activities I could do without spending money or exerting myself a lot and I saw myself blossom again. I went to the park with my friends, we would go see movies, I would go on long walks, dance on the road and just find ways to take my mind off certain feelings as I knew dwelling on them would sink me into further depression. Rediscover things that make you happy, those things that the depression and breakup may have suppressed; read a book while lying on a blanket in a park, do some DIY art, explore hobbies and keep your mind occupied etc. and you’ll see yourself gradually feel better mentally and physically.
  4. Talk about how you’re feeling. As someone coping with depression, this is a tool you should constantly hone; identify safe people you can talk to no matter how difficult the conversation or process might seem to you. Find a way to talk to someone; there is a level of comfort knowing that someone is aware of how you feel, it can make you feel less alone in your journey to full recovery. Writing is another way to talk about how you are feeling; this is very cathartic. Get a journal, open a word document or my personal favourite; Google Docs. I use it because I know I can always pick up where I stop especially as I write when I’m most vulnerable and sometimes cannot be bothered to save the document. So on that note, I will be ending the first part of this post with something I wrote a few months ago when I was feeling extremely down. I hope it shows you that you are not alone and with each passing day, you will get better.

It’s okay to cry

Sometimes what I feel gets so intense that only crying can aptly express them.

Each heart-wrenching sob representing things I cannot put into words, the tears streaming down my face as I frantically try to wipe them away.

Anger mismatched with sadness and a touch of subtle but intense frustration.

Why can’t I seem to form my thoughts into words? My words into articulate sounds.

I don’t think it’s okay anymore…

That ache; dull yet sharp, subtle yet intense.

The ache that won’t go away, it gathers momentum with each deep breath I take as I try to catch my breath.

Do I have to breathe?

Can I cry in peace?

Silence, respite, it’s all over.

Then you remember.

And it all starts all over again….

That’s it for this week, please share your experiences, coping tips with me in the comment section. I will also appreciate your suggestions on topics you will love me to write about, you know so I don’t keep throwing about my own matter every time ☺

TIPS ON DATING SOMEONE COPING WITH DEPRESSION

The response I have gotten from this series has been overwhelming! Imagine, someone made me cry when they shared how one of the posts helped them, I have been shocked to silence by the “Oh my God, I follow this series and I love it” comments and after the Single in Gidi Jazz & Wine Night last week, I am definitely encouraged that I’m not just ranting but actually helping people out there.

Sidebar: Please don’t miss out on the next SIG event, register on time and be sure to follow any instructions given to the T, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself on Sunday evening and it’s not because I had almost 3 bottles of wine on my own (-__-)

One of the recurring feedback I have been getting is “how does one actually deal with being with a depressed partner?”. I believe I listed a few in the previous post in this series, however, this post will extensively talk on practical and real life steps that can help.

My partner is coping with depression and I really want to help him/her. What do I need to do or know too? Well here are a few tips.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Do not neglect yourself. It is very easy to get caught up in being a support system for your partner so much that your own emotional and physical needs become neglected. Remember, put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone on a crashing/malfunctioning plane. Being in a relationship with someone coping with depressions can be exhausting and draining if you don’t actively take the time to recharge, it can lead to anger, resentment, burnout and the end of the relationship. Take time out for yourself, do things you enjoy, seek out therapy or a support group for yourself. Do not ignore yourself.

Please note: It is essential to evaluate yourself and the state of your relationship truthfully. This is to figure out where you are mentally, emotionally e.t.c. and find out if you can continue in the relationship like I mentioned being with someone coping with depression can affect you adversely. This is something society is still a bit weird about but be very true to yourself and leave if you have to, it better than ending up with resentment or bitterness towards your partner.

HUG THEM A LOT!
Studies have shown that a genuine hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release happy chemicals in the brain and uplift the mood of the “hugger” and “huggee”. In weirder terms (Sheldon Cooper weird), give your partner anything from 3-6 Mississippi hugs (ask me what a Mississippi hug means in the comments). Depressed people usually do not want to be touched but a genuine hug without expectations of anything can give your partner a boost.

Please note: If your partner is not really a touchy-feely person, then try to be a little bit extra with whatever physical gesture they can stand, if they can stand been patted on the back, do it for a bit longer etc. just find a way to communicate a physical and genuine gesture to them.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE TO CURE THEM.
Like I mentioned in the last post, depression is an illness and according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 in 5 people will experience it in their lifetime. You cannot cure the depression, neither can you buy, say or do something to make it go away, this is very frustrating but it’s the truth. Try your best to be supportive and understanding, it may not be appreciated instantly but at some point in the future when your partner recovers, it will be greatly appreciated. One of the things I constantly fear about coping with depression is that one day I will end up alone because no one will be able to put up with me or my depressive episodes. This constant fear comes with feelings of worthlessness, anger and even guilt, so don’t think they do not appreciate all you do for them, they do and sometimes this fear can even make them lash out or push you away because they feel they deserve to be alone.

So as often as you can and are comfortable with, reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and even though you are frustrated, angry or sad you cannot help, you will not be scared off by an illness.

Remember: other than getting your partner to a doctor, there nothing you can do to “cure” them or make it go away.

LAUGH WITH THEM
Tell a silly joke, watch a comedy movie together, or my personal favourite; watching something as simple as funny Instagram videos or memes can encourage your partner to laugh in spite of their depression. Research has shown that laughter releases endorphins that can actually neutralize symptoms of depression and anxiety. Laugh at yourself and based on your relationship dynamics, bring up hilarious events from your past and just laugh, this will help you as well as I believe it reminds you that your partner is not their diagnosis and can strengthen your resolve to see them beat it or get a strong handle on the situation.

PINPOINT WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE AND STICK TO IT
Supporting your partner through a difficult time will always be stressful, there’s no need to shy away from this fact. It doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile thing to do but as I mentioned it can put you also at risk and you cannot be helpful to your partner if you are too overwhelmed. It’s very romantic and heroic to think “I will do whatever it takes to help my partner” but that mentality can pose a great risk to your own mental health and before you know; you’re tumbling down a never-ending hole of darkness, so be sure to give yourself CLEAR boundaries on what you can and cannot offer. This doesn’t mean having an idea of how much you can take before you break up even though I mentioned that it can actually lead to it. In more practical terms, you need to identify what you need to be healthy, happy and continue supporting yourself and your partner. This might be creating time for your hobbies, having specific alone time, socialising with other people or my personal favourite; people watching and finally do not feel guilty for setting these boundaries.

Please note: You NEED to set boundaries, yes you want to help your partner but you can only do so much. Your health will suffer if you let your life be controlled by your partner’s depression, there is always a psychological price to pay if you neglect yourself while taking care of others.

LET THEM KNOW WHEN YOU ARE UNHAPPY.
It is very easy to be afraid or uncomfortable to mention when you have something on your mind due to your partner’s depression. Emotions are already frayed, then there’s the fear that adding your own feelings or bringing up something that makes you angry or sad will trigger a depressive episode, so you most likely bottle up your own issues. While it might be helpful to let smaller issues go, you also need to be able to speak up when you’re unhappy about a recurring pattern/behaviour or event. Yes, they may be prone to depressive episodes but they love you and are most times more concerned about how their depression affects you, so please talk.

That’s it for this week, I hope this has been helpful, please leave a comment to let me know what aspect to focus on in the next post.

DEPRESSION AND DATING: HOW TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSIVE EPISODES.

I’m back again with another post on our Depression and Dating series. Today I’ll  draw from my experiences and also give some tips that I believe can help when your partner is having a depressive episode. As I mentioned in previous posts, dating while coping depression is a very tough mix but with the right approach and “system” you can make it work for both parties.

Please note: You should always ensure you’re in a healthy and safe space(relationship), the tips shared here are for people who genuinely want to understand their partner and in turn make their relationships better.

One of the hardest things about coping with depression is the episodes that come with the territory. They sometimes come out of nowhere and you begin to doubt any/every progress you have made up until that point. The medical dictionary defines an episode as “a manifestation of a major mood disorder involving an enduring period of some or all of the depression symptoms.” Simply put, a depressive episode is a particularly pronounced event in the course of the person coping with depression.

During this episode, the symptoms of clinical depression (e.g sleep or energy disturbance, significant sadness, feelings of worthlessness, suicide ideation, decreased concentration, tearfulness, etc.) become significantly increased.

There are various types of episodes e.g hypomanic episode, major depressive episode, manic episode, mixed episode. All of which present in different ways and can be triggered by something or nothing, you can search on Google to read more about these episodes.  Depressive episodes can be caused by triggers and these can range from your partner focusing on their current situation(life, work, finances etc.), stopping prescribed medication, severe stress, certain words or actions that take them back to a particular time in their life or as previously discussed, it just comes out of nowhere.

I’ve come to realise that even though some of my episodes sometimes present as a manic episode i.e. loss of  touch with reality, sleeplessness, paranoid rage etc. (all symptoms of a manic-depressive episode and occur more in people with Bipolar disorders) I like to think that I don’t get to the extreme manic point of the spectrum. My experience has mostly been from major depressive episode to mixed episode.

Here’s a mini breakdown of what happens when I have an episode both triggered and untriggered versions.

Triggered Depressive Episode:  After the trigger (this can range from a word/phrase to a particular act or anniversary of something major etc.) I genuinely fight the urge to relapse or see myself in a particular light, I practise my breathing exercises if I find myself getting anxious or borderline panicky, sometimes that works and I’m able to get everything under control and “disaster” is aborted, other times it  doesn’t work and I get this urgent need to leave wherever I am irrespective of time, environment or logical reasoning, this is how I got mugged and lost my precious iPhone *one minute silence for my beloved phone please*

Untriggered Depressive Episode: Now this one is the hardest as you don’t know what’s happening, it always feels like I’m falling and everything I seem to grasp/hold onto disintegrates. This is the type of episode that hits hard and you’re angry and frustrated because you don’t know why and can’t even explain to your partner. These are the days where I do not want to speak to anyone, do anything, I just want to lay in bed and sleep for a VERY LONG time. I have this outer body experience where I see and hear myself telling me to stop doing whatever manic-like symptom I’m displaying but no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to stop.

Personally, every depressive episode leaves me with an intense disgust and annoyance at myself for not being strong enough to overcome the trigger(s) or suppress the symptoms when they occur. My head can be likened to a thick fog of failure, so thick that even Samurai Jack’s sword cannot cut through.

I’ve come up with a few tips to help you and your partner when they have an episode.

  1. It has NOTHING to do with you. I know this may seem hard to believe but trust me when I say someone’s clinical depression has NOTHING to do with you. Your partner is not having a depressive episode to spite you, make you feel guilty, lonely or whatever you may think is their reason for having one. It will be unfair to you and to them for you to feel incapable of helping them “snap” out of it, so please don’t take it too personal. Unless you specifically triggered the episode, it is not your fault.
  2. It is a MEDICAL condition. Depression is an illness, you do not treat an infection or back pain by snapping out of it, you see a health professional, get appropriate help and follow any post-hospital advice given. Every time your partner has an episode, you have to realize that it is a medical condition and like all medical conditions, there are relapses, I know it can be hard looking at it from this perspective but it is essential. For example, the fact that you treated a headache with Paracetamol doesn’t prevent you from having future headaches, it just handles the headache at that point. You might have to drink more water, take a stronger analgesic or have a head CT scan done when/if the headache resurfaces. So this is exactly how you should view depression; a medical condition with symptoms and in most cases triggers as earlier discussed.
  3. Be ready to pick up the slack. One of the things that can get neglected during a depressive episode is housework. If your partner can’t stop crying or even get out of bed, they definitely might not think about doing the dishes or mowing the lawn. This means you should step up to the task, you can gently encourage them to do the chores with you as a way of getting them out of bed but please do not resent them if they are not up to it. Ask your partner to go grocery shopping with you, this is another way to get them out of bed and out of the house.
  4. Do not Guilt trip them. This is a big fat NO NO. Making your depressive partner feel guilty about having an episode or what the episode is doing to you is an actual trigger that can make things worse off. Trust me, they already feel guilty as hell about having depression, don’t make things worse, it’s cruel and unsupportive.
  5. Study the signs. This is a vital habit to cultivate when dating someone coping with depression. Every depressive episode is different but has a pattern to it and there are usually warning signs before it occurs. Once you’ve been with your partner for a while, take time to study them or they’ve told you what an episode looks like – you’ll be able to pick up on them and act accordingly. Some of the patterns include but not limited to decreased/increased/disturbed sleep, increased self-doubt, increased anxiety or stress levels and/or negative talk about themselves.

I think that’s all for this week, I still have a lot of tips but don’t want to overload you with information. I was pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback from last week, so please do not hesitate to comment and/or share your experiences and in turn, help others.


JAZZ

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DEPRESSION & DATING (PT. 2)

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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

QUIRKY SINGLE GOES A-TINDERING: THE GINGERBEARDMAN

As I promised, I’m back with updates on my Tinder experiment, this time I have more observations as well as my somewhat quirky date with a man I’ve tagged the “Gingerbeardman”.

So after my post, I had to immerse myself a little further into the app, you know as per undercover agent and researcher. I became a bit bolder and would message any match with the word “hello beautiful”. This was to separate the wheat from the chaff as I think a man who cannot stand being called beautiful cannot be allowed into my quirky space. I must confess I was impressed by the percentage of men that found it funny and proceeded to call me handsome, then I had those who were professional ego masseurs and had to insist I was the beautiful one; I cannot fault them sha because a little pressing of ego never hurt anyone, don’t judge me, I’m only human.

Okay so let’s talk about my observations.

  1. The “no hookups please” gang. So I’m just here wondering who the people hooking up with each other are? Is it like reverse psychology, write it there and they will find you or maybe there’s a secret code hidden inside that phrase. Oya Anagram Experts over to you; what does  NO HOOKUPS PLEASE mean? Answer in the comment section.
  2. My friends searching for “true love”. I saw a few people I know and I realised this search for woman is real and not as the internet would have us to believe. While swiping one day, I was stunned for a minute as I came across a gold star member of the “No Commitment” club but baba said he was looking for a nice girl and interested in taking things further, obviously sprinkled with a large handful of  the perfunctory “No hookups please”. To best of my knowledge  he hasn’t changed and is definitely not looking to settle down anytime soon. Wait fest sef oh, I know someone who said this same thing a while back and dude is married now so maybe my guy is actually serious (fingers crossed).
  3. The Fans connector. I found a few celebrities on there and my curiosity got the best of me so I swiped right on one of them. This person says he’s on there to connect with fans, no hookup or number exchange and I’m just there like “unku your target audience is not on Tinder”. What do I even know sef, if a whole organisation can decide to be on Tinder, why can’t a celebrity connect with their numerous fans.

I have a few more but will save it for the next Tinder-related post.

Let’s talk about my date with the Gingerbeardman. I had a very rough week so I decided to treat myself to a movie and stuff my face with popcorn. Then he messaged asking what I was up to, told him and he asked to tag along. It seemed perfect as we had already talked about meeting up and my plan was to have a coffee date, just in case he’s a catfish, a serial killer or some pervert who has a thing for fat women (Don’t judge me, I have seen too many episodes of Criminal minds).

On a serious note: please be safe when you go on dates with people you meet online, especially if you’re like me and easily trust people.

So we decided on a time to meet up, I arrived the mall, bought myself a balloon (because balloons make everything better) and called him. For some weird reason, I was worried about what he would look like and I don’t mean if he had the jaw of Hercules or the abs of Poseidon, it was just the overall aura he would exude (yeah I know I’m deep, 20 inches deep).

After the usual “where are you? I’m here, wait there” meeting someone palaver, we finally found each other and I proceeded to give him my signature hug with extra pizzazz. According to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, a standard hug is 3 Mississippis but he got two extra because I had promised he would get my special hug… I think I should trademark it sef.

We then proceeded to the cinema and I realised none of the movies I wanted to watch were showing in the afternoon (silly me forgot to check movie times) so we had to choose between two Nigerian movies showing at that time but we were not really keen on that so we left.

I didn’t feel like having lunch so I asked if he was alright with walking around the mall, he agreed and we set out. We walked, talked about every and anything; from music to people watching and wondering why people took photos in malls, then we ended up at Shoprite. I have a thing for supermarket with large spaces, I could walk around for hours if I had my way but as per trying to be a normal purzon, we walked around for about 30mins, discussing the benefits of yoghurt, exorbitant price labels and getting frustrated trying to figure out the KCI and Jojo soundtrack from Save The Last Dance (it’s Crazy just in case you’re wondering too). We got a couple of drinks, paid and left.

This is where it got quirky and a tad weird, one of our conversation topics was sexuality and sexual orientation, I told him I was bisexual to get a reaction but he surprised me and said one of his friends (actually ex girlfriend) was bisexual and it would be cool to meet up with her. My curiosity could not let me bbreathe so I agreed to meet up with her. We went for a drive, picked up his friend (hilarious and sarcastic perfectly describes this man) and then we all headed to meet the girl. She was so pretty and the definition of Curvy Chic and for a second I really wished I was bisexual (don’t you dare judge me). We all went to get shawarma and dropped her off.

I know you’re looking at me funny while reading this, so yes I know it’s weird going on a date with a guy, his ex and best friend but that’s the sort of thing that happens in my quirky world.

Anyways, we headed home and in the process of reversing the car, Gingerbeardman hit the gutter and bam! flat tire.  It was as if the quirky forces were working overtime that day. Thankfully, he had a spare and we got to work, I offered moral support and the odd work song motivation because baby geh is not a vulcaniser.

And so, that’s the story of my date with the Gingerbeardman… Oh I gave him the name because he is as ginger as they come with a sunset looking beard; glorious and breathtaking….


JAZZ

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DEPRESSION & DATING: THE QUIRKY SINGLE EXPERIENCE.

A couple of years ago I was officially diagnosed with Clinical Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorder (me sef I know it is a mouthful). This diagnosis was made when I was still living in England, I was given medication and used to have psychotherapy sessions once a week for a while but a part of me never accepted the diagnosis – a whole Baby-Geh, child of the most high and most importantly a Nigerian! I’m sure you must have heard of the age old myth that says depression is an oyibo sickness.  So how can a full-fledged Naija babe be depressed? Tufiakwa!!

I even went as far as refusing to let my GP write that I had depression on one of my sick notes, until I had my first “official” panic attack in 2016, I say official because I never knew what I was experiencing before then was a panic attack, just felt like I was restless and would go for a walk or dance. With this one, I thought I was going to die in ASDA Supermarket, Chei that was not how I envisaged leaving, no way was I going to go this way.

Four hours later (excruciating hours filled with grim Google diagnosis) the doctor in the A&E flippantly informed me that what I had was a panic attack and no, I wasn’t going to die, neither was my heart going to stop beating.

Then I moved back to Nigeria, decided to see someone to determine if I still needed medication and to just find out how far I had progressed, well an excruciating two hours later, the diagnosis was still the same, I had depression and it didn’t seem like it was going anytime soon so I might as well just learn to work around it.

I would be lying if I said this didn’t affect my relationship life and today I am stepping out of my comfort zone a bit to talk about it. Dating while coping with mental health issues can be hard especially when you don’t know that you have the condition.

Looking back now, I can genuinely say the depression started towards the end of 2013; I was a walking ball of confused emotions. I had recently gotten back with my ex, I was learning how to love again as well as build the trust broken and at many points I felt alone, frustrated and didn’t understand what was going on. So obviously, this affected how I related to him and the relationship in general.

Please note: Depression is not sadness!!!! According to (National Institute of Mental Health US) It is a common but serious mood disorder that presents in many ways. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

Now that you know what depression is, here are the tips:

  1. BE PATIENT. Dating someone with depression can be very hard. It’s agonizing watching someone you care about suffer and not be able to help them. It can also be weird or somewhat confusing hearing someone you love and admire be condescending about themselves or be extremely negative especially when it contradicts how you see and value them.  I was plagued with this intense belief that I had accomplished nothing and didn’t really see a reason to live (this is very common with depression, there is always this sense of hopelessness) I know that my partner felt helpless many times trying to make me realise that I wasn’t being fair on myself. In his quest to drum it into my head, he triggered another episode as he told me he was disappointed in me. So please listen when I say be VERY patient with your partner. 
  2. LISTEN!! I don’t mean the automatic one we tend to do when people talk to us, I mean genuinely listen to them when they decide to talk to you. Trust me, it is hard enough opening up to someone and then you get the perfunctory nods and responses. Listen when he/she talks to you, if you don’t understand, ask questions. When you truly listen, you end up finding ways to be of help. Personally, I struggled with talking as I didn’t think my partner was listening, you know this Nigerian thing of “oya talk let me give you my opinion” without really taking the time to understand what is being said. A doctor I saw sometime in 2016 was the one who finally made me feel like I wasn’t losing my mind (I’ll talk about this next time). 
  3. GIVE THEM TIME ALONE. Depression has a loud and persuasive voice that overshadows or tries to take over the minds of those who suffer from it. There is sometimes little or no room for logical reasoning and this can be frustrating and you may feel helpless, so give them space. Get him/her their favourite drink or snack, pop in a movie or a song and just let them breathe. For example, there were times I felt terrible about everything and there was no external cause or trigger and all I wanted to do when that happened was sleep.
  4. BELIEVE THEM. Your partner cannot always be able to explain why they feel the way they feel, so talking through it or having a conversation around this might be frustrating for them. These down moments can be prompted by something or nothing as I mentioned earlier. Please don’t endlessly question why they are feeling so down, if he/she says there is no reason or my personal favourite; “I don’t know” they actually mean it. It’s just the brain being a pain in the derriere (You know chemical imbalance and all that)
  5. THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS IN THE MOOD. Depression, and some antidepressants can cause your partner to lose interest in sex, as it can affect their libido. So when he/she says “babes I’m not in the mood” it’s not a ploy to refuse you or because you don’t light their fire, it might just be that the fire has been doused by depression or the medication they take. Be prepared to substitute sex for cuddles or in some extreme cases NOTHING. Also, it is important for the person coping with depression to let their partner know that they still care for them and find them attractive.

These are my few tips that I believe will be helpful with dating someone coping with depression. Hopefully, this will be a series on this extensive topic. Later, we will talk about my personal stories and experience in general.

 

Have you ever dated someone who suffers from depression? How has dating in Nigeria worked for you if you have been diagnosed with clinical depression? Please share. We can be each others’ support system.

QUIRKY SINGLE GOES A-TINDERING

So I joined Tinder…. for the third time.

Oh the many things I do for you all. I know I’ve been MIA but let’s just agree that I was away on a secret mission to save the world and yes I succeeded!! See, I knew you’d forgive me..xoxoxo

I previously wrote about online dating in this post and how I didn’t think it was for me, well read it and come back to laugh at me. hehehehe!  

Okay, let me give you the backstory on why I joined Tinder again seeing that I had been there, done that and got the T-shirt. It all started with my friend joining to kickstart her dating life, even though we all know how stressful and tiring dating can be. Despite this impending stress and hassle, she took the plunge and I’m happy to announce that she met a lovely-ish bloke(the “ish” had to be there because one can never tell with these Lagos men) and they went on a date last weekend.

So I thought to myself “why not start an experiment and see how online dating works in Nigeria?”

Disclaimer: I must state here that I am not currently looking to date or marry so this experiment is solely to gather information. However, I have been recently advised to keep an open mind on “Man matter” so let’s see if I find MINE

Anyways, I downloaded the app then waited a couple of days before opening it again, why? Er… because one cannot just be jumping into the dating pool anyhow, one must first contemplate and over think as per Quirky girl hehehe. I just signed up a few hours ago and I already have a few things to talk about.

Please note: This is an ongoing experiment, so I’ll be back with “reports” from time to time.

  1. You have to sign up using Facebook! “Plix wazalldiz??” One cannot do their experiment without the prying eyes of Uncle Mark and the many minions that work for him? Anyways I begrudgingly signed up and was pleasantly surprised, apparently the app has this option called Smart Photos, so it goes through your profile photos and picks the best one to show first, talk about putting your best foot forward. 
  2. I got 2 matches in less than 5 mins of playing around, I don’t mean to brag but your girl has still got it!! *insert cool music* I haven’t messaged them or anything o, but it feels great knowing that me sef can match with another person. *wipes lone tear and add small sniff for effect* 
  3. People do not understand the concept of photos for a dating site, why in the name of all things beautiful will you put up a photo of someone campaigning for a local government council abi ward? And no this dude was not the one on the poster. Also, how will you say you’re interested in being friends and have a company logo as the only photo on your profile? Is this a new marketing strategy? Get on Tinder, become friends with people, be very chilled and they won’t know when they’ll become loyal customers, right? Abeg someone please help explain the logic behind this. Another person had a photo of his mum (I’m guessing it was his mum sha because the woman was elderly, tied some nice gele that was complemented with a wonderful Christian-mother blouse and probably two-wrapper but I can’t verify the wrapper bit as the photo wasn’t full length. ( I guess he wanted to show the girls what their prospective mother-in-law looks like but I won’t truly know sha as I sharply swiped left).Screenshot_2017-04-10-18-10-06
  4. Your About section is not for you to write a white paper about your life, neither is it an Oscar acceptance speech. Biko keep it simple!!! One dude I think in an attempt to be gangster used the word “bitches” in his profile, something along the lines of “ I don’t want no bitches here blabla”. Pele o Uncle Bingo, Bitches destroyer. I swiped left not because of the vulgar language but the fact that he couldn’t differentiate between “AM” and “I’M” and we all know how I feel about that *I shudder in grammatical error* Seriously, how can you be 32 and use vewi(very) in a sentence? Have you no regard for your fellow human being’s sanity???
  5. Tinder is a superficial app. Like I mentioned earlier, this my third time coming back to this app and I cannot get over that fact. Swiping right because of one fine boy or proper grammar just makes me feel one kind. What if the man with the blank profile photo or poorly written about section is actually a nice person who you’d have a meaningful and wonderful friendship with? Sigh, but make I no lie o, poor spelling does my head in. Please learn to put your best foot forward or just write in pidgin English so you don’t end up destroying people’s heads with poorly constructed sentences and abbreviations even a “chat head” would frown upon.

I have a few other things I want to talk about but I’ll have to pause here as I need to immerse myself in a book to cleanse my brain and eyes of the horrific things they have been put through. Don’t worry, drama and sweet gist material always seem to come my way so the next post on Quirky Single’s Tinder escapades will be great!

F IS FOR AMAZING

Let me introduce you to Mr F; the first man I actively informed that I liked and wanted to date. Can I hear someone shouting Feminism goals? Hehehehe Mr F is “the one who had to go away”, this is my twist on the normal saying “the one who got away”. You know those relationships you know won’t work but you are both good together and you’re there willing the universe to align and make this happen? You don’t? Er okay then.

Well that’s what Mr F and I had, we were friends and it was cool and one day I looked at him and my heart just stopped, I was like fam I’m done for! I remember sending a photo of us to a mutual friend and that one was there saying “you guys look so good together” and I flipped on him so bad he was shocked. I should’ve known from there that feelings dey creep in abi? But I was there forming we are just friends abeg.

We didn’t even or rather I didn’t even imagine that I would ever date him or have anything to do with him but being liberated and all, I told him how I felt when I realised I couldn’t hide the hidden feelings bubbling inside of me and it all started from there. I knew he wasn’t ready for a relationship and I thought I was fine with it but alas I ended up wanting more.

Side note: Ensure you are true to yourself and never lengthen a relationship more than it should be, no matter how you both feel about each other. Being with someone is a decision you make and not based on feelings or when “the one” comes along so waiting for it to all click might be like waiting for the conductor to voluntarily give your change without shouting for it; a LONG THING!

Back to my story; Mr F was nothing short of amazing, he taught me a lot about myself. He helped me conquer one of my major fears about getting married; living with someone everyday! Did I just hear you gasp? Yes I lived with a man for almost a year and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a financially feasible decision that needed to be made and I’m glad I went ahead with it because it became one of my major learning curves. I learnt that I could cope with a lazy man, oh my was he lazy and he was self-aware about it.

I learnt how you can live with another human being and not kill them because they are different from you. I learnt that my fear could be conquered and it made me look forward to having a partner(bear with me, I’m still trying to get used to the idea of having a husband). I’m not here advocating for cohabitation but it changed my perspective and to anyone I looked down on or said negative things to about it, I apologise. Cohabitation for me calmed so many fears I never thought I had.

Recent discussions with my cousin showed that I actually have a type and I’m not talking about my “he must be able how to speak and write English properly” requirement o. Smart men are my type, I used to think it was  intelligent men but a deep thought process with my cousin walking to buy bread from one mgbeke bakery in Akure revealed that it was smart men that made my heart sing. Men that understand that giving “babes” 30 minutes of his time so they can be both “happy” is way better than having to tell her that she needs to understand that he’s doing something “important” and needs to be left alone or something.

Being with an intelligent man is fun, and oh Mr F was INTELLIGENT!! I used to joke that he knew everything and he’d reply that he didn’t. Sometimes I would tell him to read up on something so he could explain to me, he’d just shake his head, read about it later and explain(see this is where I say smartness reigns because Bobo knew I’d hound him until he did it so doing it was the smartest option) He had the gift of breaking down complex concepts and make even little children understand it.

So why am I talking about Mr F and his amazingness? I recently found out he was in a serious relationship and my heart stopped, I felt hurt and broken because this is someone who was a commitment-phobe and here he was jumping into something he vehemently told me he wasn’t ready for. I can imagine you asking “so why were you two together for a year if you were not in a relationship?” Well our situation was a complicated one, So as an adult, I had an adult conversation with Mr F about my feelings and this situation, we talked through it and it seemed great. However as the quirky single That I am, I had a mini mental breakdown that involved sending an epistle, a few name calling and some low jabs, but all in all, I have accepted it and sincerely happy for him and pray it all works out. We are still friends and i won’t let no relationship rob me of an amazing friendship no matter how I feel, as with everything in life, it will take time and baby geh and Mr F will be back to being great friends.

The essence of this post is to tell someone out there to logically analyse the state of their relationships and find out what is important to you as an individual. Once you know that, any relationship becomes easier and you are able to make a calculated decision to enjoy whatever phase you find yourself in. At some point, I knew being with Mr F was temporary so I enjoyed every bit of it; the silly videos, the midnight snacking, the fights, the “I cannot believe you’re doing this”, the random acts of kindness and all round quirkiness.

So here’s to Mr F and the amazing time spent learning about myself, the male gender(still confused as to how they operate though) and life in general.

MR E. – THE WEDDING PARTY

“I want to take you on a proper date” he said

He wanted to take me out on a proper date, I was wondering what was doing this one as we had known each other for years and I didn’t think that was necessary but hey open minded quirky single had to go with the flow.

Remember I said dating in Lagos is hustle abi? Finding husband in Lagos can be likened to Liam Neeson in Taken; it’s a calculated hunt at doing any and everything to achieve the goal but I digress.. One of my random and odd conversations with Mr E involved him giving me tips to help my search and he mentioned a wedding, don’t  worry you’ll understand this wedding bit in a couple of paragraphs.

I’m someone who likes to plan or have an idea of what is going to happen so I can mentally prepare for it, I asked him to give details and time so I could mentally prepare, he begrudgingly obliged and we fixed a time for the supposedly proper date so I mentally planned my day; it was a Saturday.

“BuzzBuzz” my phone vibrates mid-morning on Saturday, it’s Mr E and he says “can you get ready for the wedding, I’m on my way?” Aha what is this Mr man talking about? I quickly dial his number and ask, then he says “ I told you yesterday there was a wedding if you’re game” I scroll back to our conversation and I see he mentioned it but didn’t explicitly state that it was for the next day. This was when we talked about the catching husband tips so I didn’t think he was talking about the next day, who just throws that in a convo and then expects one to decode the date.

I just kukuma mellow, make this man come tell me face to face when we agreed we were going for a wedding, so I balance for backyard and was washed my clothes which I had mentally prepared to do the day before, sebi he’s said I’m not spontaneous enough, meeting me washing clothes instead of getting ready for this wedding is in the league of spontaneous behaviour!

He arrives and was directed to meet me at the back, oh I wish I could capture the look on his face! Baba was perplexed. I calmly informed him that we didn’t agree to a wedding and even if I wanted to go, I didn’t have anything to wear, this was me fresh from the abroad with a very informed knowledge of how naija weddings work, of course I wasn’t prepared to;

  1. Go to one uninvited.
  2. Go to one without prior notice.
  3. Go without appropriate time for outfit selection! Do you think all those #AsoebiBellas just happen by chance? You must be prepared!!

Sidebar: his reason for changing time and plans was because he felt we could chill at the wedding and then go for our date as both places were on the island…

Back to the story; he then goes on to say “Oya come and say hello to my friends outside” Hian! Biko which friends? I looked like an mgbeke and this one said I should come say hello to people he didn’t mention were with him when he initially called o! See ehn I have issues and things like that affect me, I know, I know I’m working on it. I succumbed and went outside, Jisos! come and see three Yoruba demons, er okay they were just dressed in the uniform(standard agbada and white native) I cannot categorically state that they were actually #YorubaDemons!

One of them then asks why I wasn’t ready, I said I wasn’t informed and Mr E jumps to say “ah I told her o!” In my head I was like you cannot even defend me small in the presence of these three strange men I’ve never met in my life, you just jabo and say “hi guys, meet the girl I want to be with oh and by the way she’s a liar”

I was stunned for a bit and said “Mr E you actually didn’t tell me” trying to give Bobo a chance to engage small brain cells and rearrange himself but he refused or was blind to the hint and went on insisting that he did. I am not even going to talk about my semi-anger at Mr E, how do you think your first long stretch of time with your semi-bae should be spent with your friends? Me I was just there looking like Vico’s guardian angel when he sings(if you didn’t get that comparison, the feeling is perplextion mixed with a hint of confusion and a dash of “lookatew”!)

Sidebar: Guys please do better, there is a time for meeting friends and all that jazz, don’t be too quick to do that, spend time with your intended before adding “meet my friends” to the dating matrix.

Back to our gist; his friend then asks that I get ready and leave with them, at this point the spirit of stubbornness from my village was working overtime and I calmly mentioned that I didn’t think I was going to go and even if I wanted to, I didn’t have anything to wear as my clothes were still chilling in my suitcases. Mr E then adds to my burgeoning anger by saying “you’re not the bride, you can wear anything!” Mogbe ooo!! A whole me, this kain talk!!

Spirit of BellaNaija and Asoebi Bella, come to my rescue now!!!

At this point I knew I wouldn’t go anywhere with this man and his gang, I calmly said my goodbyes to his friends and leave, he walks with me back inside the house and says go get ready we’ll wait. I jejely informed him to send the address for the date and when he was done with the wedding I would meet up with him. He said okay and left.

I went back to finish washing my clothes and wondered who I offended in my village to be stuck with this kain drama.

Mr E; NOT SO EASY EXPERIENCE

“I want to take you on a proper date” he said.

This is the first part in a series about Mr E and how I was introduced to the legend that is a Lagos fuckboy. Pardon my French but he labelled himself that when I called him out on his actions, let me not get ahead of myself yet..

Lagos fuckboy: Talks a big game but cannot follow through, usually charming and charismatic and will sweep you off your feet with grandiose ideas but never actions- quirky single

Let me give you the backstory; Mr E was someone I was talking to before I moved back to Nigeria and I was really looking forward to seeing him as we had been friends for almost 7 years but never met. I was open to the idea of seeing where things went as I had never met a man as open and free with his emotions. Dude had me all the way up in my feels, I was stunned most times when we talked and he spoke about his feelings and the idea of an “us”.

You no go too blame me, I had a history of men who found it hard to talk about feelings and emotions and all that love talk, I remember being afraid to have serious relationship talk because I didn’t want to rock the boat etc. Now, I’m thankful for the boldness I have received re relationship matters, the fact that I was able to look into what was going on in my head, question it, be vulnerable, voice out my feelings, attractions and fears to Mr E was so refreshing, here was a man not ashamed to bare it all as well, so of course it was all doing me gishgish!

Now you get the picture, let’s get back to the story.

I saw him the day I moved back, he met me at the airport, my flight landed earlier than expected and I had to wait a while before he showed up, God bless that taxi man who gave me his phone to make a call, even though baba still collected like 1k for his “Good Samaritan” deed.

Seeing/being around Mr E  wasn’t as awkward as I imagined, maybe it was because I was stunned by the fact that my precious baby boy was wearing baggy jeans, I mean “crotch area almost at the knees” type of baggy jeans, Mase & Puff Daddy in “Been around the world” remix video type of baggy jeans! I was jet lagged and not in the mood to even properly acknowledge what my eyes were seeing so I just locked up.

Remember I said I had to wait a while for him right? I had asked taxi man how much it would cost to get home from the airport, he said 4000 naira, in my “abroad money calculation brain” it seemed like a good bargain and the man was nice so I said “I don hear but wait make my friend come, you go tell am the real price.”

He finally arrives and I told him about the 4K and baby boy tells me to my face that I was being a JJC and airport to Alausa shouldn’t be 4K, said he saw another cab for a cheaper price blablabla. Here I was tired, feet swollen from a traumatic flight, 4 massive suitcases and Mr man was concerned about the price of a taxi ride?

“My inner warning bells should’ve gone off then abi?”

Let me point out here that I wasn’t expecting him to pay for my taxi as I had enough naira with me to cover the taxi ride but haggling with the taxi man over the price was just one kain for me. Baby boy pity me na make we just dey go!  

I left him with the taxi man as I was tired, they finally agreed on a price and so we trudged along behind taxi man’s person all headed to the car park; me, my suitcase and Mr E. Got to the park and Mr E was right and the taxi was mgbeke looking but I wasn’t ready to listen to him tell me about how I was being swindled by taxi man so we got in.

We finally arrive at my friend’s place, I was so knackered that I slept off whilst gisting with him and my friend in the living room, he was patient and didn’t mind my using his thigh as my pillow and didn’t seem to care that much about my snoring!

Chai I never imagined a day would come that I would be a loud snorer, I used to hate that  Mr A and Mr B snored, I even went as far as reading some psychology paper about dealing with snoring partners! Who would’ve thought!!

Back to the story, I finally woke up, showered and had to walk him to the estate gate, the new Quirky Single could not hold it in as I had promised myself I would always talk about how I felt no matter how trivial, so as we walked, I jejely informed him not wear this baggy thing to see me next time, he was a good sport and laughed. I told him I was serious and was already plotting how to gain access to his wardrobe and burn any baggy-like thing I see.

I felt so much better saying it out loud and applauded my courage for even mentioning it, see me being all grown up and deliberate about what I want, somebody shout goals! We hugged and said our goodbyes and I walked away feeling very light and wondering why a 29-year-old man in 2016 owned more than one super-duper baggy jeans….