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My Boyfriend Dumped Me Because He Didn't Believe My Depression Would Get Better

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In every therapist’s or doctor’s office I’ve ever been in, one of the questions I’m asked as part of my assessment is whether I have a significant other and how that person handles my depression.

“That’s often one of the biggest stressors,” my doctor once said, congratulating me on not having a boyfriend. “Someone putting pressure on you to feel better.”

She didn’t mention the stress of knowing someone doesn’t believe you can feel better.

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“I’m afraid you might take your own life,” my boyfriend said when he dumped me at the beginning of this year. Afterward, he texted a mutual friend to check on me. To hand off responsibility and make sure I didn’t kill myself, I guess. He stopped talking to me soon after.

But he’d already done his part to trigger a crisis. When I heard those words, he was afraid I would take my own life and he couldn’t handle the possibility, it was like being slapped in the face. Considering at that point I had spent a year fighting back against my depression and obviously not killing myself, hearing this fueled a kind of negative self-talk in my brain: I must not be doing as well as I thought. I am failing at making healthy choices. My disease is too much to handle. It is so much worse than I thought.

Depression is highly recurrent and builds on itself. Once you’ve been through a major depressive episode, it is 50 percent more likely to happen again. This risk increases to 80 percent more likely after two or more episodes.

This is why choosing partners you can trust to help you grow and not regress through your disease is so important. The people we choose to pair off with have a huge impact on our lives, whether or not we’re prone to suicidal self-talk.

My boyfriend knew about the depression before we started dating. He knew how it started, about my triggers, the suicidal thoughts and the crying. We’d been friends a long time and so I felt safe showing him the struggle. I told him what I needed when I went through the worst times was someone willing to “just be there.” And it was true.

Dating him did not stop the depression. I still had those mornings when I could barely drag myself out of bed and talking normally or texting was impossible until mid-day. I still had those nights when I curled up in the closet or the bathtub crying and felt intensely alone, even with him there or on the phone.

Bringing depression into a relationship is like any other kind of baggage. My therapist says compatibility is mostly a matter of making sure your sh*t lines up with the other person’s. When you’re depressed and are dealing with your disease, you are ultimately responsible for your own symptoms. You need a support network to help identify warning signs because when it comes to mental health it is not always easy to recognize red flags.

You don’t need people who think you need to be “fixed.” For one thing, it’s easy to start believing it. It’s easy to start thinking if you just cling to the person who wants to fix you, then eventually they will. While love might be magic in some ways, it doesn’t replace medical help.

Depression changes people, but it doesn’t make them fundamentally different people any more than dealing with another illness does.

We are all so much more than our issues or diseases. I am more than my depression. We can be loved through our sh*t, our worst days and our cycle of bad thoughts, just like anyone else who has bad days and bad thoughts. No one, no matter how depressed, should have to settle for a partner who defines them by their disease.

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on Thought Catalog.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741

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Depression Is a Loneliness People Can't Fix

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Anyone who has dealt with depression has endured the agonizing loneliness that goes along with it. There are no easy solutions to these feelings because having someone there doesn’t wash away the emptiness we feel inside. It isn’t simply a case of saying “I am lonely” because we desire having someone there at our side. We feel utterly and despairingly alone in the world.

Depression magnifies all of our negative feelings, exaggerating all of our faults. Depression makes us feel like we’re broken and damaged beyond repair. We know all our flaws because they stand out to us like beacons, reminding us of all that is inherently wrong about ourselves. We are our own worst critics and are skilled at tearing ourselves apart. We feel like a mistake, like there is no place in the world where we belong. We feel like nobody understands how we feel inside. We feel completely alone.

Even when we’re with other people, we still feel alone. No matter where we go or who we are with, we are forever wishing to disappear because we feel completely out of place. We laugh uncomfortably and force ourselves to smile to reassure others we are having fun. Yet, it always feels transparent and fake. More often, we sit silently because we don’t want to bother anyone or make their life harder. We’re so afraid of being judged or rejected we can never truly be ourselves. The entire time we’re out, we usually are second guessing our decision to go. We are wishing we were back home because we know we do not belong.

Though we feel alone even when you’re there, a minute after you leave, the loneliness is even worse. Having someone there, whether for a few hours or a few days, magnifies the loneliness after you leave. The silence and emptiness is glaring.

We use that time to beat ourselves up for not trying harder when you were there. We wonder if you’ll come by again, though we understand if you did not. We wouldn’t want ourselves as company. Why would anyone else?

Friends and loved ones may say they’ll always be there, but we have trouble believing it. We have huge abandonment issues. We might have been hurt, abandoned, cheated on and lied to by virtually everyone we have ever let into our hearts and our lives. So we have a hard time believing you’re any different. We’re forever waiting for the other shoe to drop because we know it’s only a matter of time before you’re gone, too. Regardless of all the promises we’ve been given throughout the years, we always end up alone.

We often put up walls and isolate. When people hurt us, we isolate because the pain overwhelms us. When our lives are at their lowest, we isolate because we don’t want anyone to see us as the horrible mess we know we are. We isolate when others are having a good time, not out of jealousy but because we don’t know how to be happy ourselves. We don’t want to ruin anyone else’s day.

We isolate to beat ourselves up for making mistakes. We isolate because we feel people would be better off without us in their lives. We pull away from everyone and hide by ourselves, not only because we don’t feel we belong in this world but we honestly don’t feel we deserve to be in it.

But we do not want to be alone. We do not enjoy feeling this way. This loneliness eats at us minute after minute, day after day. We reach out to friends and family, looking for things to do, wishing and praying someone will find the time for us. We make excuses for people to come by and to stay extra when it’s time to leave.

Each rejection we get is confirmation to us we are unwanted. Each cancellation reassures us no one wants to be there. When we don’t hear back from you, we feel forgotten.

We want so badly for someone not only to say they understand but to sincerely mean it. We want someone who will show us patience, compassion and acceptance. We want someone who will see us for the person we are underneath and not for the broken, damaged shell of a person we feel we are. We want someone to wrap their arms around us and reassure us we’re loved, we’re wanted and we’ll be OK.

We want someone who will truly always be there. We want someone who will not just offer us lip service then go away. We want to feel like there’s a place for us among our family, our friends and our loved ones. We want to feel we belong in life.

When I talk about this deeply despairing loneliness, I speak in terms of “we” because these feelings are common for anyone dealing with depression. We feel broken, insignificant, irrelevant and out of place. We feel unwanted, unloved, misunderstood and forgotten.

We walk around every day in a cloud of numbness and emptiness, feeling like we do not belong anywhere. We want more than anything to not feel alone anymore.

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on Ulovable Book.

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I Have Depression and Anxiety, but They Don't Have Me

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If you ask my friends what I’m like, then you might hear words like “outgoing,” “creative,” “awkward,” and the ever-popular “she thinks she’s funny.” I firmly believe in the healing power of chocolate, dog kisses and cold-pressed coffee. I am a lover of crafts, cooking and traveling at every opportunity. In high school, I was voted “most likely to be successful.” (Humble brag.)

If you asked my friends what I was like, then you definitely wouldn’t hear the words “depressed” or “anxious.” That’s partially because I can count on one hand how many people I’ve confided in about my mental illnesses. It’s also, however, because I don’t consider depression or anxiety to be a part of my personality.

Mental illness runs in my family, and it’s a reality I’ve struggled with for years. I’ve had anxiety since early childhood, and depression since I was 14. I’ve seen more therapists than I can count, and I’ve been taking antidepressants for well over a year.

For me, depression and anxiety are often a package deal, but they aren’t something I’m plagued with every second of every day. Like many people, I go through “episodes” of depression, which are often accompanied by anxiety. These episodes range in severity from daily panic-attacks and suicidal thoughts, to generally feeling fatigued and upset without reason. Generally, these episodes occur two or three times a year, and last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

I’ve done everything in my power to fight my depression and anxiety. I’ve been particularly fortunate to grow up in a house where getting help was not only OK, it was encouraged. During my worst episode of depression, I was prescribed antidepressants, which also help manage my anxiety. Although I originally felt like taking antidepressants was sort of like admitting defeat, they helped me get to a place where I could help myself again.

I practice self-help when I’m up to it, usually in the form of drawing. I seek help from family, therapists or counselors. Some days though, when nothing feels like a victory, getting out of bed is often a victory in itself. I’ve learned those small victories are something that deserve to be celebrated.

If you are reading this because you struggle with depression or anxiety, then know there is no “normal.” There is no “right” way to cope, fight or heal. What’s important is you fight back however you can. Helping yourself can mean talking to your doctor about getting a prescription or just treating yourself to an ice cream cone. You don’t have to be struggling to survive before you reach out for help.

Fighting anxiety and depression has been an uphill battle. I like to think I’m winning.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741

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To the Person With Depression Who Just Experienced Heartbreak

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I feel lost right now. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I like, what I enjoy. I can’t stand music. I have distanced myself completely from my friends.

I’m tired of seeing everyone be so happy. I log in to Facebook and pictures of happy couples flood my feed. I go to Instagram and it’s post after post of my friends with their significant others. I turn on the TV and romantic movies are the only movies playing.

I’m also tired of crying. I’m tired of sleeping every time I get the chance to. I haven’t managed to turn in a single paper since classes started three weeks ago. But sleeping and crying are the only things I feel like doing.

I can’t smile. I try to. Believe me, I do. And when a hint of a smile appears on my face, everyone can see the sadness in my eyes.

I have been let down. It feels like there isn’t one person in the world I can trust. There’s no one there for me the way I need them to be.

All of this comes from a combination of my clinical depression and recent heartbreak. But I’ve been here before. I’ve been through this time and time again. And here I am. Typing away on my laptop.

I didn’t die. I survived.

How?

One day at a time.

I wake up not wanting to get out of bed. But I do. I try to complete my to-do list. If I can’t complete it, that’s OK. If I can’t get out of bed, that’s OK, too. There’s always tomorrow.

And I go to bed and cry myself to sleep. But that’s all right. Because I survived another day. I made it. I lived.

And slowly but surely, there will be one day where you wake up feeling like yourself again. Living life to its fullest. Not one day at a time.

I know there might be a lot of you out there who feel the same way. I just want you to know — you are not alone. There are many of us going through the same thing.

People will tell you everyone goes through heartbreak. It’s a rite of passage and it will happen more than once in our lifetimes. They will tell you you’ll be sad for a few days or weeks and then you’ll feel better. You just have to cry it out.

The problem is, they might not understand clinical depression. They might not understand that sadness and depression are not synonyms. So you might not listen to what they say because they literally do not understand.

But I do.

Oh, but I do.

You will get through it. Trust me, you will.

Trust the girl who, because of heartbreak and depression, left town and didn’t spend the holidays with her family.

Trust the girl who, because of heartbreak and depression, cries for 10 hours straight, to the point her eyes are so swollen, she can’t see.

Trust the girl who feels everything as deeply and intensely as you do.

You will get past this.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Image via Thinkstock Images

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What I Need From My Loved One When I'm Having a Bad Day With Depression and Anxiety

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Dear loved one,

I know you know I’m struggling. I’ve been struggling with these feelings for the past four years. On and off, undiagnosed. Over the last year, I’ve finally accepted it, and I’ve begun to deal with it. Yet, while I struggle day to day dealing with my issues, I forget that the people around me have to deal with it as well.

I understand that things are hard for you. My depression and anxiety challenge you daily. But in loving me, you’ve made a commitment to be there for me through the bad days — and on the worst days, there are a number of things I need from you.

Remind me that you love me.

On the darkest of days, I need the reminder that you still love me, that you still care and that no matter what, you will not let the sadness define me. I cannot love myself when I’m having a bad day, so I need you to love me twice as much as on the good days.

The depression tells me that I’m not worth it, that I am not good enough for you. I need you to tell me otherwise, even when I don’t believe it. Even on the worst days, when I’m blunt and angry and you might not know why you love me, just tell me anyway.

Don’t tell me it will be OK eventually, or that I need to think positive.

I know eventually it will all be OK. But on the bad days, that is the last thing I want to hear. Do not shrug off my issues or make them seem smaller than they are. This will make me feel like a burden.

Please don’t tell me to think positive. I know I need to change the way I think, but the anxiety makes me worry, and the depression bombards my mind with negative thoughts.

Let me talk — but don’t force me to talk if I don’t feel like it.

I will not always want to talk to you. But I need you to know I trust you, and because I trust you, I need you to be there in the times I do. I need to be able to tell you my fears. I need to be able to tell you when I can’t do it anymore, and I need to hear from you that I can do it.

On the days when I can’t talk, I need you to hold me tight, wipe away the tears and make me cups of tea.

And always remember that when it gets hard for you, I will always be here for you to talk as well.

When caring about me gets too much, just tell me. My biggest fear is being a burden on you. My biggest fear is you leaving me. So please, just tell me when the bad days get too much, and I’ll try to make it easier on you.

Don’t let me push you away.

I will try to push you away. Every time it gets bad again, every time the negative thoughts come flooding in and I don’t want to go on, I will try to push you away. But please, when I try to push you away, don’t let me. Hold me even tighter and remind me how much you love me.

Finally, I just want to thank you. Thank you for being there for me through thick and thin. Through all the ups and downs and through all the bad days. Thank you for sticking by me even when the darkness takes over, when the sadness gets too much and the anxiety makes my mind so fuzzy, I can’t think straight.

Thank you.

Love,
Maddie

Image via Thinkstock Images

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'I’m Depressed, Not a Toddler,' and Other Things People Need to Understand About Depression

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Depression is one of those things that everyone has heard about, but few understand. I often joke that depression is like panda bears in that everyone is familiar with them, but most people have never seen one in real life and even fewer have touched one. Yet, we all feel as if they are commonplace. Because of misconception, stereotype and just plain old lack of education, our society knows precious little about depression. Sadly, this doesn’t stop people from believing they know all about it.

I hate being depressed. Not exactly an earth-shattering admission. I don’t really think there are many people who enjoy being sad, let alone feeling the soul-sucking emptiness that is depression.

I do, believe it or not, appreciate the attempts of my loved ones who try so hard to “pick me up” when I’m down. However, I think their attempts might be more successful if they stopped accepting a few common misconceptions about depression.

1. I’m Depressed, Not a Toddler

Just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean I’m suddenly not an adult. In layman’s terms, I want to make it clear: Depression does not equal regression to childhood.

I say this because, almost without exception, people will talk to me like I’m a 4-year-old once they discover I’m struggling with depression. I wish this illness was so insignificant that a couple of well placed “atta boys” and maybe a little condescending baby talk could snap me right out of it. But, consider this:

If it’s so easy to cure that the random musings that soothe an infant worked to “fix it,” why are doctors, scientists and researchers working so hard all over the world to find treatments? Just hire someone’s granny to wander around tickling depressed people and, violá, problem solved.

2. I’m Depressed, Not Stupid

Just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean I’m no longer intelligent. I will acknowledge that depression does cause some cognitive impairment in the form of slower thinking, being unaware of my surroundings and so forth.

However, it doesn’t mean I don’t understand what you’re saying. Condescending tones, language and treatment will upset me just as much when depressed — if not more so — as it would when I’m perfectly well.

It’s not rude to talk to me like an adult, because I am an adult. I’m just sick. Treating me like I’m stupid is not only unhelpful, but it makes me feel more isolated and more stuck. I’m also less likely to believe you when you remind me that I’m wanted, needed and loved.

3. Depression Is Not Sadness

The biggest, most persistent and most common misconception surrounding depression is that it is the same as common sadness. It’s understandable how people can make this mistake. We use “depressed” in common parlance to indicate sadness. We relabeled “manic depression” to “bipolar disorder” and it would be helpful if we either started saying “clinical depression” or changed the diagnosis name to “unipolar disorder.” This, in my opinion, would clear up some of the confusion.

I’m guilty of spreading this misconception myself. When I describe bipolar disorder I say that it “exists on a spectrum from very sad to very happy.” This is my shorthand way of explaining depression and mania to the general public. (FYI: mania is not very happy, either.)

At best, I’m using a poor analogy and, at worst, I’m straight up wrong. Sadness and depression have about as much in common as a gentle rain and a hurricane. Just because both are weather events and both contain water doesn’t make them the same. That also holds true for sadness and depression.

Sadness is a component of depression and both are moods, but the similarities pretty much end there. This is important to know because if you suggest a person “just grab an umbrella” and head out in a hurricane, you’ve done that individual a great disservice. People suffering from depression can’t “just cheer up” and it’s frustrating to be told we can.

Educate Yourself About Depression

If you want to help someone who is suffering from depression, then you must first educate yourself. This can be as simple as exploring PsychCentral.com and learning more or asking the person what you can do to be helpful.

You can also make an appointment with a psychologist or therapist and discuss ways to be an ally in your friend’s fight against depression. The best advice is often the simplest:

Don’t assume you know what to do. A little knowledge and effort goes a long way.

To see more from Gabe Howard, visit his site

All rights reserved. A version of this article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com as “3 Common Myths About Depression.” Reprinted here with permission.

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