Can you find love if you’ve suffered from depression? 

When I was depressed I would have said no, but I would have said no to most things. That’s what depression does to you. When I wasn’t depressed, though, I still would have said no. Because even though I wasn’t currently depressed, I knew it would come back. I’ve had years where I could manage and the depression didn’t take over my life, and I’ve had years where depression was all I saw, felt, knew. “How could someone love me when I’m like this?” I asked myself. I found it so hard to love myself; how could anyone else?

What is depression?

I can only speak for myself on this. But I want to explain because I know some people who have never been depressed don’t truly understand what depression is. They can’t wrap their head around why you don’t want to hang out with them. Why you want to stay in bed all day. Why getting out of bed to take a shower or brush your teeth feels like you’re attempting to climb Mt. Everest twice in quick succession. They just don’t get why you won’t get up and face another day. Why don’t you just pull yourself together? (We’ve tried. Or at least I have every time my depression has a hold on me.) 

Oh boy have I tried. Thinking that I can just pull myself together is something so many well-meaning but unhelpful people say. (Because it’s not that easy) When I’m depressed I don’t have the strength for anything. Let alone to find this “special willpower” these people speak of. Thinking if I could just tap into it and not be so lazy. I could heal myself. But it doesn’t work that way.

Depression can’t be fought by will. I can’t control how long I will be able to go as a functioning member of society before depression comes and takes me underground. I can’t control how long I won’t be able to do anything. And I can’t control when I will be free again.

You see for me, depression is like waves. There might be a high tide when I’m sinking but I know, eventually a low tide will come and I can’t get my head above water. But I don’t know when that will happen. But even when I’m in a low tide, I can’t stop looking around. Waiting for the waves to come rushing back over me.

Finding love when you’ve suffered from depression

But you can find love when you’ve suffered from depression. I’m proof of it and so are thousands of other people, so I’m not the only lucky one. You can be, too! (Love isn’t luck. It is work. If you expect it to be easy, you’re in for a shock. No one is easy to love, except for sweet cuddly little babies. Even when they refuse to sleep, because let’s face it. Babies are magic 😉 )

Once getting out of bed everyday wasn’t a struggle and I was able to take care of myself and return to work, once I was at a good place I began looking. I joined several dating sites including match.com where I would meet the man who would become my husband and the father of our son.  

How depression can impact your relationship:

Not on the first date mind you, but as we became more and more serious, it was hard for both of us. It was hard to let go of my everything-is-great façade when everything wasn’t great, but I slowly did, and I let him see all of me. 

He wanted to help me at every step, always asking what he could do and trying to make things better. I, in turn, felt unworthy of this awesome man and his love, and I pushed back at every turn, afraid that one day he would realize I was too much work and walk away. I tried to help him see he was making a mistake sticking with me and was extra difficult when he tried to help me.

For me, it wasn’t only about the fact that he might leave, or that I didn’t deserve love, but there was this fear that even though we loved each other, my depression would never completely go away. Depression comes and goes. Sometimes it’s there like a warm blanket. A comforting if not hot reminder as I struggle or easily complete my daily tasks. Other times it’s like a straight jacket covered by tons of scrap metal. Making even getting out of bed seem impossible. I knew for me it would never disappear as it hadn’t before I found him. Because this is real life and not a romance novel.

Depression in romance novels:

I love reading romance novels. In some of my darkest days, it was one of the main things that kept me going. They only problem was that most romance novels have an HEA, or “Happily Ever After” ending. Don’t get me wrong; I love HEAs. After all, I’m not reading romance for the two characters I’ve been rooting for—for 300 or so pages—to decide it’s not worth it and give up. 

But what made me really sad was that some HEA’s magically made all the problems fade away. The problems weren’t a problem anymore because they’d found love. But that’s not real life. 

What I had hoped to find were novels that showed how the partner of the person suffering from depression—and the one who suffered—were both able to continue to cope with the challenges of depression as their relationship continued. That love didn’t cure them. That finding the right person didn’t mean that you would never be clinically depressed again. 

What I wanted to see was the support between them. How they handled those bad times, those hard times, and how they came out on the other side. Better, stronger, and with a greater knowledge and understanding of themselves and each other.

What are your thoughts? 

What would you want to see in the books you read?

What do writers get wrong?

What do you want the world to know about you?

Looking forward to connecting with you!

Megan

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