Romantic relationships and Depression

It’s no secret that depression can negatively impact a great many relationships, and in my experience, romantic relationships can take a large brunt of the heat. Romantic relationships are built on mutual affection – “if you love and accept me for who I am, then I’ll do the same for you.” But what happens if, instead of not being able to accept your partner, you can’t accept yourself?

This goes without saying, but one of the biggest impacts that depression has on us psychologically is an overarching feeling of self-doubt. It makes us question whether or not we’re smart enough, or generous enough, or, quite simply good enough. As such, it only makes sense that these feelings find a way to interfere in relationships. Those suffering from depression tell themselves: “If I’m not [insert positive adjective here] enough, why should my partner spend any time with me?” Depression makes us question whether or not we’re actually deserving of a romantic relationship. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, how can we ask somebody else to love and accept us?

Then there’s the blow to communication. Ask any couples counselor and they’ll tell you that communication is one of the most important aspects in any relationship. However, communicate is one of the many things people with depression are least inclined to do. Generally, when people are in the depths of depression, the last thing they want to do is talk about it. Psychologically, there’s a plethora of reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is because they’re convinced nobody else will know how they feel. Despite the facts showing that more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from the illness, depression has the uncanny ability to make people believe that their problems and way of looking at things are theirs along to deal with.

As a result, depressive thoughts and emotions are a subject not often brought up, even between partners. This often causes the one in the relationship not suffering from depression to interpret this as keeping secrets, or feeling like they aren’t trusted. Obviously, trust is a major component in any relationship, so for one person to feel like they don’t have it can damage that relationship immensely.

Building off of that, this lack of communication can lead to unneeded drama. If one person in a relationship is not communicating with the other due to depression, the other may decide to take matters in to their own hands. Quite frankly, it’s hard to stay mature and level-headed when it seems your partner has no desire to communicate to you what they’re feeling.

If you’re dating or married to someone with depression, please don’t take any of these actions (or inactions) to heart. Understand that any lack of communication or presumptions is not out of spite for you, but instead a natural part of the mental illness that is clinical depression.

One of my favorite things to say is “understand that you will never fully understand.” Without trying to sound pompous, if you don’t have depression, you will never understand how someone with depression feels. Those who have depression know that fact, and only want for you to acknowledge it too. Even if they don’t show it, people are incredibly appreciative when you make an effort to try and “work with them,” even when you don’t completely understand the way their mind works.

Depression is hard enough on its own – adding another person to the mix can make it even trickier. But this isn’t a reason to avoid relationships. Having another support figure in life who not only loves you, but accepts you and makes an active effort to be compassionate and stick with you to the bitter end can do wonders for a mind suffering from depression. It isn’t easy, I know. But few things in life worth doing ever are.

Stay strong.

– Ryan

Being single works just fine

To all of the couples and the single people, happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re getting some expensive piece of jewelry from the one you love, or you’re sitting at home alone having a hot date with Netflix, I hope your day is fantastic.

So naturally, with it being Valentine’s Day, I was genuinely considering putting some snarky post on here, something entitled along the lines of “Singles Awareness Day” (super original, I know), but I thought better of it. I have single friends who hate today for the same reason so many people love it – it promotes romantic connections, those of which they do not have. I’m single as well, but I’m in no way bitter or resentful towards the holiday. From my point of view, Valentine’s Day doesn’t berate people who don’t have a significant other, rather, it is meant for celebrating the joy of those who do. 

Now, I understand the bitterness towards seeing others happy with their significant other, and wishing you had that for yourself. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling sad about that – I fall prey to that mindset myself. But thinking that you can’t be as happy without some “other half” that you haven’t found yet isn’t true. We can receive love from other places – friends, family, pets. I know this isn’t “romantic” love, but it’s love all the same, isn’t it?

Having someone in your life who loves you romantically is wonderful, I don’t deny that. But life isn’t all about romantic love, though today does a pretty good job of making many forget that small fact. Love makes the world go ’round, yes, that includes romance, but all the other types of love still apply. I’m absolutely convinced that, before anyone enters into a relationship, they have to make sure they love themselves first. Self-love. I’ve had opportunities to enter into relationships, but I didn’t take those opportunities, because the way I see it, asking someone to love and accept me for who I am, when I have trouble doing that on a daily basis, isn’t right. Romantic relationships can do wonders for those with depression, but believe me when I say they are in no way a substitute for loving yourself.

So, if it comes around to February 14th next year and you’re single, that’s okay. Same with the next year. And the next. Love is so important, but it comes in many different forms. Familial, friendship, compassion, and yes, romantic. That being said, if you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. Just having someone there for you romantically is something so many people wish they could have every single day.

You’re amazing. You’re fantastic. You’re worth so much, you have so much potential, and you are worthy of romantic love, whether you’re in a relationship right now or not. Life is about so much more than boyfriends or girlfriends, husbands or wives – happiness can come from so many places, including within. Don’t forget that.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

P.S. You know you like that Han Solo pun in the cover image. Admit it.

Romance

A quick thought on relationships

This will be a rather short post, as I’ve only got a few minutes until I have to get back to work. A small blurb of thoughts, if you will…

I constantly find myself jealous of my peers who can, it seems, so easily approach a possible romantic interest and strike up a conversation with them like it’s nothing. Almost like they can make this instant connection, even if not romantic, but enough to build up to the point where they’re comfortable discussing feelings around each other. I’m single right now, and I’m honestly okay with that. I continually tell myself that it’s important to love yourself before you commit yourself to another person romantically. If you ask a partner to accept you for who you are, then it only makes sense that you  accept you for who you are.

So yes, I’m contet with being single, but that still doesn’t stop a pang of lonliness from arising in me when one of my friends gets a new girlfriend or boyfriend, or gets engaged. For someone who struggles with accepting myself on a daily basis, the fact that they have found someone who accepts and connects with them on an emotional level is both beautiful and heartwrenching for me. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a romantic. No getting around that. But that doesn’t include the fact that I’m prone to comparing my ‘worth’ against somebody who, it seems, may have found the love of their life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not seething in the corner while a friend and his significant other are shamelessly flirting. I’m genuinely happy for people who have that person in their lives. But, truth be told, it hurts sometimes. This feeling isn’t so much something I dwell on, but rather keep coming back to as more friends and co-workers get in relationships/engaged. I can barely tell myself I’m a loving person somedays, why do some people get another person to tell them that as well? Again, I don’t want to sound like I’m bitter. I don’t think  I’m bitter. Just melancholy. Reflective, I suppose.

I’ve seen posts on here that state being single is better. I’ve also seen the opposite which states that having romance in your life helps ease the pain of mental illnesses greatly. I dunno which I believe, if either. Obviously there’s no one right answer for everybody, as it is with most things. I don’t know what the right answer is for me, either. That being said, I’m still content with being single. I need to take care of myself and my own life before I bring another person into it. Whether you’re in a relationship or single, remember to take care of yourself. If you can’t show affection for yourself even with your shortcomings and flaws, it’s going to be mighty hard for your partner to. Stay strong, everyone.

-Ryan