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Re: Depression and Relationships (long)

Posted by Adam on December 24, 1999, at 13:11:40

In reply to Depression and Relationships, posted by Nancy on December 24, 1999, at 1:58:31

I have suffered from depression probably since I hit puberty if not sooner. I have had about four relationships that I would call "serious" and a few others that weren't. Depression has colored or destroyed every one of them, I believe. One of the worst things I think I ever did was to deny to myself and my friends the severity of the problem. One especially intelligent and perceptive girlfriend, who happened to be greatest love of my life, recognized my illness before I did, and did the best she could to help me and to understand me, but ultimately it ended, before I could get adequate treatment, and though I made the efforts to get medicated and psychoanalized, I never saw depression as the root cause of the interpersonal difficulties I had. The problem was always "out there" and so was the solution. Maybe a new girlfriend would make me feel better (new love always did), maybe sex, maybe one-night stands, maybe work or studying or a million other things. I always sought reassurance from somewhere, and wish I could have had the insight, or that someone would have asserted to me that the one thing I could be assured of is that my friendships weren't the problem, and that part of healing would be opening myself up to them instead of shutting off and running away.

A couple months ago I had a short-lived "thing" that quickly lost steam after I revealed how severe my depression had been in the past (it got me hospitalized, at one point). That and digging up some old memories about an ex-girlfriend around Thanksgiving left me fairly convinced that, even though I am finally responding to treatment and feeling much better, love was just beyond my reach.

Then, just a short while ago, a friend who I had been "spending a lot of time with" started giving me some weird vibes, and it started to dawn on me I had feelings too. Pretty strong ones. Of course I knew it at some level for much longer. Anyway, as these things go, the subject became too compelling to tiptoe around. I figured "life's too short for bullshit" and told her everything. The depression, the hospital (because I was afraid I would kill myself, among other things), the meds., the study I'm in, everything. Wonder of wonder, she laughed, told me she was on Zoloft and had only been truly happy for the last six months or so, and that this may have been the first time in her life that felt so good. She said my experiences mirrored hers in some ways so closely it was uncanny. We've just talked about everything since then. No secrets that will rear their ugly heads later. It's been amazingly positive. How did I get this lucky? I don't know where it may be going, but, quite unexpectedly, I feel hopeful, and understood.

I guess the moral here is the need for truth, and also that the people who really care about us will see so many good things in us despite our illness. Don't be afraid to discuss it. I am of the oppinion that it needs to be done. Depression does not define me completely, but it is an enormous part of me and my experience, for good or ill, and cannot be ignored. No one will know me if they do not know what it has done to me, and what it could do if my condition sours. The person who will be in it with me for the long haul will need to accept this about me. In return I will do my best to remember how important she is to me, that I care for her, and that depression can obfuscate love, but never abolish it. The truth will set you free, especially from the people who cannot see you for who you are beyond your illness. It will also help to bind you to who and what is really important.

Above all else, tell him/her. It's frightening, but it has to be done. You may be rejected, but you may also know that you have found a caring person who loves you all the same. The trust you develop may give you the strength, when times are hard, to remember that you love and are loved, despite the unhappyness the illness causes.

> I am fairly new to depression (that almost sounds wierd to say), but it has been pretty bad for me since August. Around the time that all of this began, I started a relationship that has been barely stringing along through all of my mood swings and rough times for the last three months. I didn't really know what depression was until it hit me, and I didn't know how long it would last or if it would worsen, and I just grew to fear it. In the meantime, this relationship that I thought (and wished) would work out was slipping away, and on the days that I would feel better from the meds I would pretend that everything was normal, and on the bad days I would just have no contact, as a way to hide what was going on. As of now, I think that I have finally found a combination of medicines that will work for me, and I feel like my head is above water (hopefully for good). I desperately want to save this relationship that has started out very rocky (I have not said anything about my depression), but I feel as if I have already failed in my part of the relationship. Part of me also is afraid to give it 100% for fear that my depression may come back as bad or worse than before. So I guess what I am asking is, has anyone else out there experienced what I am feeling? If so, how do you deal with this?
> I also would like to say that I hope that this board has been as therapeutic for others as it has been for me, reading it has probably helped me as much or more than visits to the doctor or my meds. I just wanted to thank everyone for being so supportive, as I think that no one can truly understand this disease until they have experienced it. Peace.
> Nancy




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