Depression is a hindrance from many facets of a normal lifetime. Not only does this disorder sap you of happiness, it can make you question what joy and love truly feel like. For someone who has lived with depression for most of their life, it has been the dark shadow leering at the world from behind my shoulder.
It is the shadow that negates all of my positive interactions
And while depression does not have to bare its teeth and snarl at potential relationships, it does tear into my own insecurities and ruins my perception of what being madly in love feels like.
It feels like those butterflies in my stomach are combusting… and if I smile at him, he will see the soot on my teeth. When you are depressed, you sometimes also simultaneously experience anxiety.
So whenever I get butterflies around someone, I also get an awkward fight-or-flight response. I sweat. I fidget. Most of all, I can’t categorize these burning butterflies working their way into my throat. I never know if the sparks are flying or dying.
It feels like every smile is stretching a little too far
Depression does a lot to the human psyche and body. There have been times during a depressive episode when my face feels like muck because I can’t emote. I don’t want to smile because fake smiles are worse than none at all.
Now, imagine what happens when I see him across a crowded room, and although his eyes light up when he sees me, I can’t return that. If I smile, my face might just split in two.
When I look into his eyes, I question the validity of what I see there. One’s self-worth and self-efficacy become a topic of investigation when you are suffering from depression.
You worry endlessly about who you are and what your purpose is. You don’t like yourself very much when you are at your low points, and you lose trust in your happiness when you are not depressed.
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Because that black cloud is always there
It is the smog around my aura. It is the void that dwells within. So, when I see his gaze upon me, I wonder if it is just my body he likes. I know I like more than just his looks. I know he makes my heart race when he compliments my beauty or intelligence or cooking.
But, on the flip side, I am also suspicious that if he sees the real me – the one who breaks down at night, hyperventilating – he would abandon all sense of attraction and run for the hills. What is going to happen, I think, when I am having a moment? Will he reach into the darkness to help me find my way? Or is he going to push me deeper down by distancing himself?
The fear that I am not worthy of him is constant
So too is the guilt that I am somehow dragging him through the mire with me. Yet, when you love someone, truly, madly, deeply, you will do whatever it takes to make sure that they are taken care of. So I hope that he feels the same way I do. When I cry, I want him to simply take me in his arms and hold me close.
When I feel like I am falling apart, I want him to pick up the pieces
Should he love me in return, he will know he does not have to piece me back together. He knows I am independent and strong enough to do that myself.
That is the crazy thing about being in love – it can turn even something like depression upside down. Love makes you see the brightest stars. You will peer into the darkness of your depression but see the faintest glimmer of hope.
The warmth you feel when you know you are in love and loved trumps the most glacial of nights brought on by your mental state. Love has, in many ways, taught me to believe in myself.
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“Love is patient, love is kind,” is a phrase quoted by many; but when allocated to love and depression, it truly makes sense. Even though depression can make you question your worth and make you hate the sunshine, true love will counter it.
Love will right the wrong. Love will provide you with the evidence that yes, you are important, and that there is someone who sees beyond the faults to the radiant soul beneath.