The author sitting at a restaurant holding a drink

I decided to take a year off from dating. No Tinder or Bumble, no dates, no set ups or casual hook ups. Nothing. Now, to some this may seem like a normal thing to do, we all get busy with work, university and other commitments. Or we just got out of a long-term relationship and want to heal.

But my decision came after I had to admit to myself that my self-esteem rises whenever a man is interested in me. But the morning after, all the effort goes out of the window and they no longer care.

I got back from my European travel, to find out that a few friends of mine had found love. I am honestly very happy for them, but it crushed me too.

I looked back to my history of dating and realized that in my 33 years, that none of them ever loved me back. I had one serious relationship, which was emotionally abusive. The last guy I fell in love with ghosted me after we had sex for the first time, after dating for two months.

It seems like other women find it easy to get into relationships and have someone fall for them as well.

For a long time, I was actually happy being single. I have traveled the world by myself , I keep myself fit at the gym, I have a lot of hobbies and interests.

But when you realize you’re getting older and you have never had a happy relationship, you start to doubt yourself. I knew something was wrong when I lost all interest in my studies a veterinary nurse I worked so hard for, when I didn’t want to get out of bed for two weeks, when looking at photos of myself wanted to make me die.

I felt like a monster, like I had something seriously wrong with me. I suddenly became terrified of aging and started to really resent couples. I felt so alone and embarrassed that I felt this way.

My self-hate has become so bad, I was angry for having to go to work and finish my studies. I just wanted to go to a hospital and I wanted them to help me. I tried everything, and was just tired of feeling like I wanted to die. I saw no hope at all.

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It took a while to admit to myself that I need validation from others to feel good about myself. I knew that each time a man that I was interested in lost interest in me, I became extremely depressed. Doubted myself.

Then one night, I deleted Tinder and Bumble. I’ve done that before, but this time I am sticking to it. I decided to take a year off, just to myself. I am going to practice my violin. I am going to finish my studies, hit the gym more often, spend more time with my friends and family and just work on loving me.

And you know what? It’s already working. I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I can go out without wondering if I will meet someone, I have all this time just for myself. No dates, more nights I can spend in watching Netflix or going out for dinner with my friends. I can spend time loving my hobbies and all my interests, without having to worry if they seem dorky or weird to a guy. I can learn to love my body for me, and not work on it so I can impress a guy.

I’m actually excited and feel a new sense of freedom. Of course, I’m open to meeting someone, but I’m not waiting for him or looking.

But my goal for the end of the year is to look in the mirror and feel a sense of self-acceptance, and most of all, whole. Even without another person by my side.

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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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It’s not impossible to love me.

I cannot lie – it will not be easy, but no relationship is.

Relationships are hard, and this one may be the hardest of them all.

However, it could be wonderful. I have so much love to give.

It will be hard, but not impossible. Not if I commit. Commit to continuing my treatment. Commit to looking after myself. Commit to trying make myself happy. Commit myself to you. To us.

It’ll be hard, but not impossible. Not if I understand. Understand that seeing me low will upset you. Understand you’ll be hurt when I push you away. Understand your fear and frustration and feelings of helplessness are valid. Understand that, when I’m OK, you’ll need me to tell what to do next time I fall ill.

If I commit and understand, then you can love me.

Stand by me.

Be patient with me.

Love me.

But I must commit and I must understand. I must.

And… I did not.

I did not commit or understand. My love now lies deep inside me. Unspent. Wasted. I can have no complaints.

Loving me is not impossible. I just made it so.

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I woke up happy today.

And to you that may seem strange. You woke up happy? Why wouldn’t you wake up happy? Sure, everyone has their complaints in the morning – “it’s raining, again?” – the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, you’re still trying to wipe the fog from your brain in the shower. Sure, not everyone wakes up happy as soon as they pop their eyelids open, but why wouldn’t you be happy?

Because the truth of the matter is I don’t wake up happy every day.

It’s not because I haven’t accepted the normality of my life and I sometimes take for granted how precious each and every day is. It’s not because I sometimes just don’t see the beauty in the small things – a sunny day, a good morning kiss from my fiancé, a nightmare-free sleep, because I do appreciate all of those things. It’s just that sometimes, despite the weather, despite how long it takes my morning latte to kick in, despite the affection I get from my fur babies as I untangle myself from my bed sheets – sometimes I just don’t wake up happy.

Because sometimes my mental illness doesn’t let me wake up happy.

I live a fairly simple life. My days aren’t filled with great wonder, or awe-inspiring moments, or spectacular opportunities. I live as most people do, uncomplicated for the most part – and a bit mundane for the most part. Sure, I get to spend my days creating vivid universes and inspiring characters to share with the world (hopefully some day soon), but for the most part, I live just like everybody else. I have set routines in place. I follow schedules. I spend time with my pets. I cuddle with my fiancé in the evening. Yes, these things are precious to me, but they’re nothing that would make your jaw drop. I live a fairly simple life and I’m OK with that.

But sometimes my mental illness doesn’t let me appreciate this. Sometimes my mental illness takes away those precious moments. Sometimes my illness doesn’t let me value life’s greatest gift – simply just being alive.

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Not every day, because I have come a long way, but sometimes my illness likes to slap me across the face, reminding me I’m not always in control. My illness likes to creep in the shadows while plotting against me, and every now and then — just when I think I feel secure — my illness likes to strike back.

Today I woke up happy, but yesterday I didn’t.

The looming dark cloud draped over me as soon as I opened my eyelids. That bottomless sense of doom made me feel so empty my chest ached. Regardless of the weather peeping through the blinds, I didn’t wake up happy – and it wasn’t because I didn’t have my morning dose of caffeine. I retreated into myself and pulled the comforter over my head, blocking out everything around me. I didn’t wake up happy.

But today I did.

And waking up happy doesn’t mean I have some great “Ah ha!” moment. Waking up happy doesn’t mean I have these wondrous epiphanies that give me some meta-philosophical perspective that makes me value the world around me. Do I get excited when I wake up and have a killer idea for my novel or a mind-blowing plot twist? Hell yes, but for me, I don’t want these grand moments.

I just want to be able to wake up and simply say, “I’m happy.”

Because to wake up and be able to pull myself out of bed – that’s an accomplishment. To be able to shower and take pride in my appearance – that’s a total win. To go about my day and not have that lurking sense of doom, that one fleeting moment of anxiety – that’s the ultimate prize! And yes, most days my illness does linger in the back of my mind. My illness is always there whether I’m consciously aware of it or not, but most days are better than others. Most days I can tell my illness to piss off, but other days it’s persistent – like a devil whispering in my ear, filling my head with terrible thoughts.

And most days, sometimes the best thing I can do is hold the line. Sometimes I reach a stalemate with my illness, so unsure whether I’m losing the battle or winning the war. Some days I’m unclear as to what I am feeling, but I do my best to trudge forward. It’s like holding a dam together with chewing gum. If I have to stick my fingers in the holes to prevent the water from escaping, then I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the flood gates from bursting open. Every day doesn’t have to be a win. Do I get a smug sense of pride being able to whisper a quiet “F**k you!” to my illness? Of course I do, but there are days my stalemates are small victories too.

So it’s not about the weather, or the amount of caffeine I consume before noon, or foregoing showering to spend the day in my sweats. It’s not a question of whether I went for a morning run or if I write ten pages – or just one. It’s not a matter of taming the dark thoughts or ignoring the devil on my shoulder by drowning him out with the music score from the new Power Rangers movie. While all of those things play important roles in setting the pace for my day, sometimes the best I can do is just take it one moment at a time, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Because I woke up happy today.

And that’s all that matters.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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Thinkstock photo via ArthurHidden


I used to think celebrities were just being dramatic when they would go to rehab for stress or exhaustion. After having three children, I totally get it. In fact, I get it so much that, if I had the money, I’d have checked myself in months ago.

Being tired is sucky. Being tired, depressed, anxious and just stressed the hell out is super sucky. Top it off with some everyday stress, strong-willed offspring and a sloppy spouse (sorry dear, we all know it’s true), and I’m on the verge of a super-duper sucky meltdown.

My mother tried to warn me of this, in the form of: “Always make time for yourself! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m not your average mama bear, I’ve got this!”

I have recently realized that maybe I don’t got this and it’s really hard to admit, but I’ve been making sure to let people know I’m struggling with my everyday responsibilities. Naturally, I was expecting some negative feedback. Instead, I found support, which was very refreshing.

I was offered a weekend getaway, because my husband is just that nice. I’ll still be close by, at my best girlfriend’s house, but that’s vacation enough for me. I will only have to worry about taking care of myself, for a change. I will miss my children and husband so very much, but I really need some of that “me time” so I can better handle all the “we time.” I can’t continue to take care of them if I continue to neglect myself. I will come home well-rested and ready to go back to my life. I need this reset weekend, because I just don’t think a reset day is going to help this time.

Never be ashamed to let someone know you need help. Being a parent is hard. Just being an adult is hard. Always make sure you’re giving yourself those hours, days, or even weekends, to just focus on you. We all need to remember that we have to keep the machine oiled and serviced regularly, or it will shut down. We’re no good to anyone if we’re completely incapacitated.

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“So, what do you do?”

When you meet new people or catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while, one of the first questions they ask is, “What do you do?” It’s a basic “get to know you” question. But when you can’t work because of a mental illness — that question isn’t so easy to answer.

In my experience the conversation goes a lot like this:

Person: So, what do you do?

Me: I’m not really doing much right now.

Person: Are you working?

Me: No.

Person: Are you in school?

Me: No.

Person: Are you studying?

Me: No.

Person (visibly confused): Well, what do you do all day?

I know this question isn’t meant to be malicious, but it’s typically said in a way that makes me feel ashamed of not working or studying; as if the fact that I’m not going out and contributing to society in the conventional way, or studying so that I can do so in the future, makes me less than people who are. People see a physically healthy 18-year-old and wonder why she’s presumably lounging around at home when she should be doing something productive.

For me, surviving is the most productive thing I could possibly be doing right now, and it is not an easy thing to do. Getting through each day is my job, and I don’t get a break from it. There’s no paid vacation when it comes to mental illness. My version of work assignments are the basic tasks needed to keep myself alive: remembering to eat, drink enough water, shower, change my clothes, brush my teeth and take my meds. It might not seem like much, but some days even the basics are near impossible.

I would love nothing more than to be working; to have a stable job and stable income. I don’t live week to week because it’s fun; I do it because at this point in my life I have no other choice. My depression drains me of my energy and motivation and my anxiety stops me from interacting with people and putting myself out there. It’s not that I’m just not trying hard enough to push past all that — it’s that I can’t. Sometimes people are able to push through it — but that’s not the case for everyone.

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I wish I could say the more I get asked this question the easier it gets, but every time it comes up, I still find myself at a loss for words. Lately my reply has been, “I’m just trying to get through each day.” This seems to work relatively well with most people. I’m trying to accept I don’t need to make excuses or give anyone an explanation, because it’s simply none of their business. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but the stigma that anyone who isn’t currently working is “lazy” makes it difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to be put in that situation.

If you’re like me and unable to work, I want you to remember these few things:

1. You don’t have to be working to be a valuable member of society. Your worth isn’t measured by your ability to contribute something measurable. Your worth is innate. You are worthy of good things simply because you exist. You don’t have to earn that right.

2. You don’t have to prove to anyone that your illness is “bad enough.” Everyone experiences things differently and you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone.

3. You’re not alone. There are many people that can’t work, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that. It’s out of our control. The best thing we can do is work toward improving our mental health, and that is one of the hardest jobs out there.

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Members of The Mighty’s mental health community share honest photos of what it looks like when they are struggling with depression.

Read the full version of 20 Honest Pictures People With Depression Want to Post on Facebook, but Don’t.

Read the full transcript:

Honest Pictures People With Depression Want to Post on Facebook, but Don’t

“I wanted to capture that emotion — the feeling of a person with depression. How they feel when happy, sad, empty, etc.”

“For me, depression isn’t a wistful look off into the distance or stroking a wall looking glum.”

“My fear in sharing photos like this is that people will assume that I couldn’t possibly still be depressed.”

“I asked my best friend to sketch me. I told her I wanted to look strong, and I wanted it to resemble beauty despite my scars.”

“This picture was taken at the hospital. I want to show people how far I have come.”

“I was trying to trick everyone, when the reality was every day was spent in fear and misery.”

“I took this picture right before my first dose of antidepressants.”

“This is a portrait of the first time I sat home alone trying to decide whether or not I’d live or die.”

“This is my service dog in training. She is one of the only things that keep me hanging on.”

“I’m really proud of this painting but depression tells me there’s no point.”

“When I’m depressed, sometimes I play with Snapchat’s filters to feel better.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800)-273-8255.

You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741.

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