How My Depression Affects My Dating

Dating with depression can be a very challenging act. Not only do I have to deal with all the emotions that come to the fore when I meet an attractive woman and muster up the courage to finally ask her out, but I have to deal with an overly loud inner voice that tries every way to sabotage me.

Long before I was properly diagnosed, I brushed off my inability to relate well with the opposite sex as teenage angst or just a streak of bad luck that never ended. I would always end up with a “pity date” because my friends (or their mothers) would plead and cajole the object of my attention to go out with me. I almost wanted to ditch the prom, but didn’t because of the undue attention I would bring upon myself from my male siblings.

As a young adult, it took me almost a year to ask the pretty woman at the department store — who I stopped in to chat with almost every week — to go out with me. She actually did me a favor by saying point blank, “Are you going to continue to visit me here or are we going out anytime soon?” What she didn’t know was that “the voice” was always telling me not to do it because the rejection would just kill me.
We got married two years later.

During the marriage, my depression manifested itself in weird ways. For one thing, I could not stand family gatherings, preferring to be left alone. My wife forced me to go in the beginning, but as time went by, she saw it was a losing battle. Another aspect was my anger. I would lapse into sullen silence the minute I got uncomfortable, which made everybody else around me uncomfortable. My wife tried to convince me to get diagnosed, but I refused, saying it was her and the family making things harder for me and that I wasn’t fully accepted by her family.

Things came to a screeching halt 22 years later when I filed for divorce, saying I couldn’t live in the situation at home. Living by myself, I was finally forced to confront my inner demon and sought therapy. The major depression diagnosis was both the relief and the terror for me. Suddenly I was going to be medicated for life because the chemical imbalance in my brain was finally flushed out into the open.

I tried dating soon after starting medication. It was a horrible experience because of all the negative physical reactions I experienced. For example, the simple gnawing feeling of jealousy was a hulking green monster to me, bringing panic attacks, insomnia, deep sadness and self-loathing with it. I broke up with five different women within six months of starting each relationship. After a few years under medication, I started to stabilize and was able to maintain a relationship for a year and a half until she called it off, saying I had unresolved anger issues – which was a total surprise to me.

I now am chatting daily with a woman who knew me from my just-divorced days. I am still feeling all kinds of weird emotions, but I’m keeping them in check by telling “the voice” that it no longer controls my reality. My friend understands me very well and we help lift each other up. Will she be The One? Time, and my depression, will tell.

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Thinkstock photo via tab1962

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