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When Depression Dates Depression

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Dear _____________,

When depression hit us both full-force, it was like we were trains on opposite tracks, and we passed by one another when we lost control. The summer you returned to a place of darkness, you told me you couldn’t talk on the phone anymore, but somehow that was all I needed to feel better. We were the face of a double-edged sword — your depression was isolating, mine required a quiet force of love.

When I called, you would text back to fight, both of us covered in armor to keep more sadness from leaking into our bodies. The fighting only extended the space between us, filling it with the sadness instead. I wanted more fighting and emotion, you wanted less. Somehow, just three weeks later, I wrote and asked for it to be over.

I brushed my sadness off like a coat and immersed myself in other things, pretending it would stay gone if I stayed busy enough. You leapt at the chance to crawl back into your hole for another week before going on to act the same way I was. I thought we would both collapse into bed exhausted, sleep-deprived and weightless. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe it was just me who felt like our depression, the one that tied us together, could still be there to hold our love. Now I know I was wrong to think suffering was the only way to be together.

Therein lies the problem with being in a codependent relationship — sometimes it isn’t really “co.” Often, I felt like I needed more than you could give me, and you wanted less of my existence. But ultimately, when the sadness bubbled up, the word depression would come up during our phone conversations, and it would make us both feel worse.

To watch someone you love try to heal themselves is hard. To know from the inside doctors can help, but cannot fix you, is devastating. The knowledge of all of this would scare me as we watched each other strip off our lives for the cover of our sheets instead.  Depression — the word, the existence, is still terrifying to me.

The thing is — love is deep and wanting to bury yourself doesn’t always take hold when you are there to pick me up. This doesn’t mean we were each other’s solution. It doesn’t mean anyone had a fix. But it does mean being in a relationship can be part of healing. Talking to someone can immediately relieve symptoms. Being held will kick your parasympathetic nervous system into gear, calming your body. And your voice could ground me.

Your love made a difference. It would get me out of bed and to the breakfast table. Then it would yell and cry and coddle. It was not your responsibility, or mine, to be the savior. But on the days we didn’t fight, on the days you answered the phone, it made it that much easier for me to lift myself up.

Loving someone with depression is hard. It is harder still when you both suffer and end up torn between your best interests and theirs. But 10 months later, we have both managed to hide the depression in a closet for a little bit longer. When it comes back out, we will deal with it better each time, because we are learning about us. As single entities and together. And that’s all we need. I pinky-promise you.



Originally published: June 22, 2016
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