To the Girl With Depression Who Feels Perpetually Single
“Do you really want to get married someday? Because it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, and it’s going to be really hard to find a guy who can put up with all of that.”
As appalled as you might be reading those words, it must be even harder for you to imagine someone saying them to me.
I think there is so much power and freedom to be gained in rejecting lies – wherever they may be found. Whether they are voices in your head, the voices of critics around you, the voices of “friends” or family members, a lie is a lie — and it needs to be brought into the light for what it is. And I think one of the most devastating lies depression tries to feed to young women is this:
Nobody will ever want you when they see how much you struggle.
That, my friends, is a bold-faced lie.
This particular lie manifests itself in many different ways, and it’s something I have to consciously fight against every single day. Whether it’s a genuine fear that I will never get married, that I’m too fat, that I’m too boring, that I don’t have enough time or energy to go out on dates anyways, or that I truly am “too broken” to be loved by another person, I find myself having to remind myself over and over again of these fundamental truths:
I am worthy of love, time, and affection.
I have a voice that is worth listening to.
I have something to contribute to this world that nobody else can.
My worth and value as a human person lies in so much more than the attention I may or may not receive from men.
I have a life that is full of color, beauty, and people who love me.
It’s OK to have bad days.
I am not alone. And I will certainly not “be alone forever.”
Wow — I mean, think about it; how differently would we live our lives if these were the voices we were listening to? Unfortunately, in the hazy fog of depression, these annoyingly motivational “bumper sticker” truths are the last thing on my mind.
So, what is a girl to do?
Below are a couple of little tricks and suggestions I have been trying out over the past couple of months. And while none of these little tips is going to make your “dream-man who loves you unconditionally” materialize over night, I would argue it’s definitely going to help restore some meaning and value to your life in the present (rather than seeing life as being some kind of “waiting period” for Mr. Perfect to arrive).
1. Seek out a community of life-giving, like-minded people. This sounds so cliche. But I cannot stress it enough. Find a group of people you can be involved with, a group of people who can bring you out of yourself and into the world around you. Looking back on my nine years battling depression, the thing I lament most frequently is all of those times people reached out to spend time with me, but I chose a Netflix-binge by myself instead, convinced I “wasn’t in the mood” to be around other people. Find people who love to spend time with you, especially other women, who won’t mind if you’re not in the best mood today. Because let’s face it: isolation has never actually succeeded in making you feel better, right?
2. Be gentle with yourself. Because at the end of the day, being single is hard. And what we really want is to love and be loved in return. Start with yourself. Get into a practice of treating yourself with gentleness, patience, and love. Brush through your hair gently. Don’t let it get knotted-up from days without a shower. Paint your nails. Take delight in grooming and caring for yourself. Fold your laundry so you don’t have to wear wrinkled clothes. Believe me, I know. When you have one of those days when getting out of bed in itself is a victory, it takes all of the energy in the world to do these little things. But it can help.
3. Find something to get involved with that you can pour your whole self into. It’s hard feeling like you have so much love to give but nobody to give it to. So don’t let all of that love and zeal go to waste. Get involved in a church community. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Babysit small children. You know. The cliche things. It’s only popular advice because it can genuinely help. The best therapy is giving the love you wish to receive.
So, to answer the question I was posed at the beginning of this article: yes — I do “really want to get married” someday. I’m just learning to be OK with the fact that that day is not today.
And no, I’m not worried about “finding a guy who can put up with all of that.” Because while “all of that” (my depression) is certainly hard to live with, it does not encapsulate who I am.
Because I am a person who is so worthy of being loved.
And that’s just the plain old truth.
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Thinkstock photo by finwal