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Falling in Love Didn't 'Cure' My Depression

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I have been struggling with depression since I was 9 years old. Throughout my adolescence, I struggled to understand why boys didn’t seem to like me. Of course, I didn’t like me, so most of the time it made sense to me why boys didn’t like me. Why would someone want to be with someone as unlikeable, worthless and ugly as me?

But sometimes, I’d have glimpses of hope for my own self-esteem. For example, seeing myself in the mirror and thinking I looked cute or being able to acknowledge my own intellect and good sense of humor. During these moments, I’d wonder why no boy liked me.

And all the while, I’d watch as my friends have boyfriend after boyfriend, hookup after hookup. I thought to myself, “They couldn’t be that much different from me, right?” They were my friends. Why was it that boys could like them but never me?

Eventually, I decided I must exude my depression. It must be seeping from my pores and permeating into other people like a warning sign: Caution! Toxic! Do not Approach!

For this reason, I accepted rejection from boys as normal. It would hurt, sure, but I couldn’t really blame them. Why would someone want to be with someone so obviously unhappy?

About a year ago, I was given a six month respite from my depression (the second break I’d had from this disorder since I was first stricken by it). In these six months, I managed to get a boyfriend I love and who loves me in return. About two months into this relationship, my depression “relapsed.” It hit me hard. I found myself waking up and feeling the need to cry. I didn’t know if I was crying from the depression itself or from the depression induced by my “relapse.”

My boyfriend is amazing. He has stuck around through my apathetic bouts, my fits of sobbing for no real reason, my self-pity parties, my defeatist attitude. He says he loves me every time I tell him, essentially, to “save himself” from the burden that is me.

But having someone who loves me and who tells me he doesn’t want to leave me no matter how bad my depression is doesn’t fix my depression. I still wake up feeling the urge to cry. I still doubt myself. I doubt that others care about me (yes, even him). I still feel flat. I have a low sex drive. I feel low.

I used to think everything would be solved once I got a boyfriend. All I needed was someone to love me and prove to me that I was lovable. That’s what I used to tell myself. I was wrong. Being loved doesn’t make you feel lovable when your own brain insists you are not. Having someone doesn’t cure the loneliness when it is implanted in your subconscious to feel alone.

Because that’s the nature of depression. Depression makes you feel alone. It makes you feel unlovable. It makes you feel worthless. And no amount of external love or reassurance is going to resolve those feelings. External validation doesn’t stand a chance against depression. It’s a fight for yourself, against yourself — but not always by yourself, but which certainly makes you feel alone with yourself. It’s an internal war that external forces can contribute to (either in ally or opposition) but can never resolve. So I guess it’s up to me.

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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Thinkstock photo via piyapong sayduang.

Originally published: August 16, 2017
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