When My Ex Said I Was ‘Too Depressed’ to Be in a Relationship


It takes a lot to be in a healthy relationship. Couples need to understand each other, support each other, communicate, compromise and most importantly, accept one other for who you are — no matter what.

It was this last part, acceptance, which became the centerpiece of my crumbling relationship earlier this year. There were many reasons we mutually decided to call it quits after spending a year of our lives together. However, there was one reason in particular that struck a chord.

My ex could no longer deal with my depression, which at the time I was still working hard to get under control. In his words “I was too depressed” to be in a relationship. While this upset me, I also found it extremely ironic because it was for that very reason we almost never started dating in the first place.

When my ex (let’s call him Brian) first asked me out I told him the truth upfront. I was in the middle of the fight of my life against depression. At that point saying I was riding a roller coaster would be an understatement. My life was tumultuous at best, filled with mood swings and emotional extremes. I was desperately working with my therapist and doctor to find some balance. There’s not a simpler way to say it — I was not in any place to be in a relationship. But that didn’t deter Brian.

He convinced me he understood what I was going through, that depression and mental illness was nothing new to him and his life. He had experience with family members who had mental illness. He promised me my battle with depression wouldn’t affect our relationship. He assured me he accepted me for who I was and would be there to support me no matter what. I’m not going to lie, at the time this was exactly what I wanted to hear. So I took his word for it and we started what would turn out to be a very rocky relationship.

Fast-forward to a year later: Brian had enough. After one too many mood swings, breakdowns and bad days he couldn’t “deal with my depression” any longer and we decided to call it quits.

Brian didn’t understand and support me like he had promised. His solution to my depression was taking it upon himself to “fix me.” His intentions were in no way malicious. He loved me and was desperately trying to help. Unfortunately it was not the kind of help I needed.

He would constantly be doing research; coming home and telling me new things he had discovered that could “cure” my depression — diets, supplements, exercise regiments, naturopathic remedies etc. If I wasn’t up for trying it he would grow frustrated with me and accuse me of not wanting to get better. 

But that just wasn’t true.

The truth was that his research and miracle “cures” weren’t what I needed. What I really needed was for him to just be there. In the end, no matter how hard he tried, all he was doing was placing an enormous pressure on himself and an even bigger strain on our relationship. He just didn’t understand and then when I shut down, he shut down as well.

I no longer blame him for that and I no longer blame myself. It was just how things turned out. Despite how much we still loved each other, ending my relationship with Brian was for the best. I had been dealing with depression since I was in high school, always jumping from one relationship to another hoping a boyfriend would fill some missing void in my life. This was the absolute worst way to cope.

People who are depressed do not need to be fixed. Don’t get me wrong, depression is an illness and people suffering from it want to get better. We do not wish to feel the way we do. However, that doesn’t mean it’s your obligation as a significant other to “fix us.” Overcoming depression is a complicated battle and like with any other disease it should be done under the care of a licensed physician or therapist. If you had a loved one who was diagnosed with cancer you wouldn’t take it upon yourself to determine what type of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment they may or may not need. The same goes with depression.

I needed time to sort out my life, to get back on track, to get my life under control, my own way and on my own terms. And while I thought it was possible to do those things while being in a relationship, I learned this wasn’t the case.

Who I really needed to be there for me was, in fact, myself.

While I received an overwhelming amount of support from my friends and family, which was crucial to me for getting better, I couldn’t have someone holding my hand the entire way either.

For me, a huge part of beating depression was digging deep down inside myself and discovering who I was, what I was passionate about, what I stood for and what gave my life meaning. This was something I was unable to do while in a relationship. This may not be the case for everyone, but it certainly was for me.

Battling a mental illness is hard and unfortunately not everyone is going to understand. This is something I hope changes in the future. However, until then, I believe the most important thing we can do is understand ourselves and to get better on our own terms.

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