holding hands

How I'm Learning to Navigate a New Relationship With Depression in the Mix

As I sit here on our lazy boy, legs extended, laptop in lap, Kevin is wiggling his butt and waving his arms around the living room with a huge smile on his face exclaiming, “It’s dance party mode!” I’m in the midst of a depressive episode. He’s trying to make me laugh, and it’s working.

I hadn’t been hit by depression until about two months after Kevin and I started dating in May. It was magical — unbelievable even. I thought, Perhaps our love has been the antidote all this time!? For the past few years, the trend has been that my moods cycled about every two weeks. Some mornings I’d bound out of bed, link up my phone to my bluetooth speaker and blast some groovy tunes before jumping in the shower. Other mornings, I awoke to my body groaning, barely mustering an email or text to my boss saying, “I’m not feeling well and I’m not going to make it in.” Guilt and shame would tuck me in a little tighter as I fell back into full slumber mode.

In those first couple of months when our relationship was sailing oh so smoothly, I told Kevin about my depression – a kind of preemptive “relationship damage control” before it hit because I knew it would, eventually.

He read my blog posts about my experience with depression and though he said he didn’t understand the firsthand experience of it, he wanted me to know he was there for me and wanted to understand the best he could. I felt reassured. Each time depression has surfaced since we’ve been together, Kevin reassures me he is here and, “we are going to get through this.”

I’ve not been in a relationship where my partner so explicitly vocalizes and expresses their presence and support when the clouds loom. When in “depressed mode,” I tend to isolate myself regardless of the support system I have in place. It goes against one of the fundamental symptoms of depression to reach out for or willingly accept support. Relationships are challenging enough. Meeting and melding together two separate lives involves emotional gymnastics and diligence through discomfort. Now throw depression into the mix.

Sometimes being in a relationship with someone who lives with depression is scary. How can you support your partner when they push you away? What do you do when they tell you they want to be left alone while clearly in distress? How do you respond when they lay curled in bed all day, sometimes for days?

Being in a relationship as the person living with depression is frightening for me. How can I trust my partner will accept me, “depressive warts” and all? What do I do when he tells me he wants to help when I feel the situation is helpless? How do I respond when he attempts to get me out of bed when all I want to do is sleep all day?

There are no clear cut answers to these questions but there are ways each partner can help their relationship through the stormy storms of depression. Kevin and I are learning how to navigate our way through the times when the thunder rolls. Sometimes he does things like yell, “It’s dance party mode!” while wiggling his butt and waving his arms around the living room with a huge smile on his face. How can I not take him up on his invitation?

Follow this journey on xo, O.

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A woman in train alone and sad

How Depression Fatigue Is Different Than Feeling Tired

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Today, I want to sleep.

To luxuriate in the endless bliss of nothingness. I want to be free from physical pain. Free from exhaustion. I don’t want to feel worried or anxious or guilty or afraid. I don’t want to be lost and weary. I just want to rest. To slip into eternal, blissful rest.

My body is tired. I am fit and well, but I am physically exhausted. There is no reason. It just is.

My soul is tired. There is no reason. It just is.

I am not tired, I am fatigued. Fatigue is a weariness that sinks deep into every pore of my being. Fatigue is not cured by a few hours sleep. I don’t wake feeling rested, I wake feeling exactly the same as I did when I went to sleep. I wake feeling weary.

I don’t feel particularly depressed or anxious. I don’t feel sad or teary or stressed or worried, no more than any other day at least. I just don’t want to be. I don’t feel anything much today. I’m just terribly, terribly weary.

Today I need to spend time searching and applying for work, we are in dire financial straits and I must find a job. Today, I need to clean out the spare bedroom so my much beloved and sorely missed firstborn child can move back in for the next six months. Today, I need to clean and tidy. To write more articles. To follow up on my business plan. Contact friends, wash the car and sort out my paperwork. I have no will or energy to do anything.

Today, I want to sleep.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Why Mornings Are a Battle When You Have Depression

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Today I lost the morning battle. It’s that daily battle with yourself to get out of bed, get breakfast, brush your teeth, take a bath, get dressed and walk to school. There are two “rate-limiting steps” (sorry, we’re doing Biochemistry right now) to this daily battle: the first is being awoken by the alarm and deciding to get up or continue sleeping, the second is going to take a bath after eating breakfast. The first step is the most difficult one, but both steps cause as much trouble. Plenty of thoughts and feelings go through my newly roused mind after the first alarm goes off.

“What time is it?” “It’s too early.” “I can wake up later and still be on time.” “I’m tired.” “I can be late a little.” “There’s still time.” “Why bother going to school? I’m already late.” “Why bother sitting in the lecture? I’ll fall asleep anyway.” “Why go to class when you can read the book?” “Is there a graded requirement this morning?” “Why go to class at all? “We’re all eventually going to die someday.” “I just want to die now so I don’t have to go to school.” “Do people at school even like me? Maybe they’re just tolerating my presence.” “When I arrive, people at school will tease me for being late. I feel ashamed already, thank you very much.” “I have to do this paper later, will I have enough time to finish it after school?” “Why do I have so many problems?” “How the hell is one person supposed to solve all these problems?” “I guess if I die, there’d be no problem I’d have to face anymore.” “I should just die.” “I want to die.”

And then if you fall asleep and wake up 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour later or so, I wake up feeling bad about myself. Berating myself in my head.

“I’m so lazy and undisciplined.” “I’m a terrible, horrible person.” “I should be more ashamed of yourself.” “Oh, you’re blaming your depression again?” “Are you sure you’re not just lazy and undisciplined? Stop making depression your excuse.”

More than once, even if I have been hospitalized and even if I am taking medications for my depression, I question myself. I doubt myself. I tell myself I don’t have it bad like other people. I think I’m using it just as a scapegoat and I wasted my parent’s money by getting myself hospitalized in a private, tertiary hospital in the Philippines for about 60,000 pesos (about 1,200 USD).

“I should just die.”

Sometime later in the morning, I wake up, eat breakfast if I haven’t, or go take a bath if I have. After berating myself and beating myself up, I stand up and go to school. I’m late.

“I don’t come from my parent’s home anymore and I don’t have to go through traffic. I wonder what my classmates think of me now, being late to class even if I don’t have to go and suffer Metro Manila traffic anymore. They probably think I’m just so lazy.”

I get to school and my classmates smile teasingly at me. I just smile back, shrug my shoulders, and say, “I didn’t wake up.” Then, I would go through my day in a better mood or in an unhappy one, like today. I would say, “Hey, at least you still managed to get up and go to school today.” I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself for not giving up on the day.

On the days when I get to school on time, I feel happy and I congratulate myself, too. On the days when I wake up and get off my bed, I congratulate myself. I have missed quite a number of classes in college and in med school because of this morning battle, but I know I’ve had winning moments, as well. I can’t always win and that’s fine. Tomorrow is another day.

Ever since I started going to a psychiatrist and sort of came out of the closet with my depression, I’ve noticed how many other people around me have it, too. The morning battle is a struggle I’ve noticed a number of us face. It’s a battle with ourselves and it takes all of the energy we have to be on the winning side. If you have it too, know you’re not alone. We can do this.

Follow this journey on Mokona Feels.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Poike

Runner in the Himalayas

How Long-Distance Running Helps Me Find Happiness Despite Depression

I’d set my alarm at 7 a.m. and I’d wake up all right despite having had a sleepless night. Within a few minutes I would get up. I’d get ready, put my lunch box in my backpack and walk to school.

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

I’d wish I could say that. Maybe the sun was shining bright. Maybe the temperature was just right. I wouldn’t notice. Everything around me was painted in grey. The clouds looked dark. A gloomy feeling covered my surroundings.

When lunch break started, I’d take a few bites from my sandwich. The leftovers, more than half of my sandwich, would go into hungry seagulls’ tummies. I would chat with my best friends, occasionally laugh. My heart though remained heavy.

Class time would approach, and I’d be back to my own “little dark world.” I’d wonder why it was so painful for me to watch everyone around me do such “normal” things like laugh and giggle? Jealousy and frustration would build up so much. Why couldn’t I feel like them?

I could not remember what happiness felt like.

Each day during my high school, the whole sequence kept repeating. I was going through a lot of pain, sadness, and hopelessness, but then one day… I met someone. No, actually I had known this person for a long, long time.

I hated exercising, not to mention long distance running. This lady neglected all of that. She did not try to understand the world I was living in, but she forced me to go to the park with her and made me run. One thing I knew was that she cared about me.

At first, I hated every minute of it. It felt like pure torture. I could not even run 800 meters. “How will this help me feel better?” I thought. A few weeks later, I found an answer.

The kind lady always slowed down to run the first bit with me to help me cover more distance every day. After the daily set goal was reached, she would leave me on my own and I would fall back to my own little dark world again, but it felt different.

I started hearing birds singing, noticing them flying and enjoying their flights. I looked up in the sky and saw the bright sunlight. The air I breathed in seemed slightly more refreshing.

I believed those were the first steps I took on the road to happiness.

Now, about three years later, I am a runner, and I am making a lot of progress on this road. There are times I still struggle and go off track, but I know if I keep running I will be able to get back on the main road somehow. Sometimes, help and encouragement is needed for me to push on, but that is OK. Even though I have to fight to feel, it is worth the effort. I will keep going.

I hope my story gives you a positive feeling even though you may feel like there is no hope in darkness. I do feel that way as well a lot of times. I still believe there is a reason for me to face the challenge. I want you to believe you can fight too.

For now I can finally say…

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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How I'm Learning to Combat Depression With 'Little Victories'

It’s strange to think that one day long ago certain things that I did every day didn’t seem that significant. That getting up in the morning was just getting up. That remembering to return a movie was simply that. These little things I did every day weren’t anything more than what they were. This all changed the moment I let the darkness in and depression took ahold of me.

I went through months of not being able to eat, sleep, or function. I let my body waste away, and I sat motionless in the center of my bed staring off into space because being human just seemed too much. I lost myself completely, and it seemed like there was no getting me back. Every day things seemed to be pointless, and getting out of bed was a task I could no longer conquer.

Slowly I started to fade out of that and return to everyday activities, but I still felt hollow. It’s a strange feeling, to go from feeling so much to nothing at all. You feel vacant, like the person inside said, “To hell with you!” and jumped ship. I went through months of that as well.

One day, I was watching slam poetry videos when I came across one that focused on the meaning of a good day — how you and I both have different meanings — and something inside of me changed. It was like a light switch went on and my brain suddenly functioned again. That’s when I created the “little victories.” I was learning to love life again through the celebration of small things. Everything you do is a victory some way or another.

I started with waking up. I’d gone through so many months of disappointment when my eyes opened to see sunshine. But that changed because there was so much to be grateful for. The following morning I woke up, and the first thing I thought was “this is a little victory.” And it sparked from there. Every day things became victories, reasons to celebrate. The reason is important though. I’d come back from hating everything, including myself, where there was no celebration for getting up, no celebration for brushing my teeth or putting on clean clothes, and it was all disappointment. Implementing the victories helped me work towards taking ahold of my life again.

A few months following that I finally felt like myself again. Breathing became easier, and it felt good to open my eyes and greet morning with a smile. I felt victorious because through celebrating the small things in life, I regained a hold on mine and kicked the darkness to the ground.

So for anyone who struggles with the hassles of everyday tasks, just remember, you can find a victory. It may be something you couldn’t do yesterday. Try to tackle a new one every day. That is how I work towards becoming me again, a better me, and a healthier me. Be victorious.

Even reading this is a victory.

Follow this journey on Calm the Chaos.

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girl sitting on stairs in urban background

A Letter to Parents of a Child With Depression

Dear Parents,

I know how hard it is for you to have a child with depression. I know how hard it is for you to watch me in pain and not know how to help. I know how hectic your lives get. I know neither of you are perfect, and you have your own struggles to face every day. I know you try to understand what I am going through, but I have to let you know there is no way you ever will, but I will try my best to explain it to you.

Every morning I fight a battle within myself to get out of bed. Some days I easily prevail, and other days the depression wins and I cannot will my numbing limbs to move. The day continues and constantly I can feel the pull within me to go back to bed. My love of school has vanished and has become another area where I let myself down. My mind doesn’t work like it once did, and I can’t keep everything straight. I make bad choices in my never-ending search to find moments of happiness. You may think I am actively throwing my life away when really I am just trying to keep my head above water. When I call you spiraling out of control, it’s because I don’t know who else to call and I am scared that depression is going to win. I know those calls are scary to get, but I need you to remind me I am still alive and breathing and I can win the next day. Remind of the times I’ve done great, and put things in perspective because in those moments I cannot see anything except for darkness and I need you to shine a light. Once I can breathe again I would love to work on building foundations and structures to help me swim back to shore, but in that moment of struggle, the thought of all the work it will take to get back to shore is terrifying. When I am scared and underwater I say and do things I regret, I have a hard time communicating and am sensitive beyond belief. I know it is not easy, and sometimes I don’t deserve it but sometimes all I need is a bright light to guide me to the surface — a light of hope that I am still me, that I am not a failure, and that it’s OK to not be perfect.

You are the brightest lights in my life, and everything you do for me never goes unnoticed. You have loved me at my best and at my worst, and I will always be grateful for everything you do.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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