I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression ever since I was a teen, and I’ve been in therapy for almost 10 years now. I’ve taken medicine in the past, but as of right now, therapy twice a week, daily exercise and the support of my family, friends (and new boyfriend) have been my “medicine.”
A few months ago, I began dating someone new. He’s different from the other guys I’ve dated: he’s fun, gentlemanly, kind (but not boring). It is hard (read: close to impossible) to find a guy like him.
It’s been a couple of months now, and he’s seen me at my cloud-nine highs and shit-storm lows. Unlike other guys I’ve dated, he’s well-aware of my mental handicaps and has chosen not to run away. (As for why not, I couldn’t tell you. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s a combination of A) his otherworldly open-mindedness and B) all the great stuff we’ve got, which is often enough to cancel out the bad stuff).
My whole life, I’ve operated under the false misconception that love would “cure” my anxiety and depression; that they would disappear once I met a guy who, for once, didn’t aggravate it. Fuckboys made me more anxious than ever, and I was convinced they were the purveyors of any anxious feelings I felt.
I’ve learned that though fuckboys did aggravate the anxiety and depression because they weren’t interested in getting to know me beyond surface-level, anxiety and depression don’t just go away with the guy who’s right for you. In fact, with the right guy, your mental disabilities might even be heightened because your depression tells you you don’t deserve a guy like him. I’m learning that anxiety and depression are little monsters you carry around in your pockets at all times, no matter where you are in life or who you’re with, and you constantly have to work to manage them.
Even though I’ve learned the tools to manage them, at times, my anxiety and depression take complete control of me in my new relationship. I’ve never been with such a great guy, and I don’t know how to handle the feelings that come with it. If you’re anything like me, you end up thinking this person is too good for you and all your stupid shit. You care about this person so much that you don’t want to drag him down into that dark hole you sink into every now and then for reasons you can’t explain (or for absolutely no reason at all other than your hormones).
And so you sabotage the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You start explosive fights, then push him away, and he calls you a cold-hearted bitch: not because he’s a dick, but because you’re too ashamed to admit the extent of your crippling disability.
You have days where you break down on the couch while he holds you and kisses your forehead. You have nights where all you want to do is lie in bed with your headphones in and back towards him because you just “need” to be alone.
My therapist tells me the time during which people like me push away people like him is actually the time we need them most. You know you’re dating the right person, though, if he doesn’t turn you away during this time. He will welcome you and be willing to push through the pain with you because that’s how much he loves you.
I never thought I’d be able to have a functioning relationship because of my mental handicaps. I wrote this post because anyone out there who suffers from anxiety or depression (or both, quite possibly the most harrowing combination to deal with) needs to know that they can, in fact, find love. And not only that, but they can keep it, as long as they are willing to work on themselves while accepting the love they’re being given. Depressed people are often the most compassionate of people, making us kind, warm lovers. We just tend to forget that sometimes.
You will both have to be patient; him, with you, and you, with your demons. But if both partners are willing to be patient – a virtue I am slowly but surely learning to practice on the reg – you’ve got yourself the opportunity to build an incredible life together.