I’ve noticed this recurring trend on social media recently, where people are sharing articles with some eye-catching titles.
‘How to Love Someone With Depression’, ‘Choosing Between Your Sex Life and Treating The Blues’, and my personal favourite, good and punny, ‘Crazy in Love’.
I’ve had a nosey, I won’t lie. I like to see what ‘normal’ people say about being in relationships with someone with depression, purely because I like the laugh. But also because it strikes a chord, still.
You see, the thing with a lot of these titles, is that they can actually sting a wee bit. Not only is the content of the article completely useless (FYI, do NOT ‘wrap your sad person up in a blanket, feed and cuddle them back to happiness‘ – fuck right off with that.) but the titles kind of imply that the partners of people with my condition literally need an instruction manual on how to be around you, or love you in a ‘safe’ way.
No no, I get it. I really do. They’re just offering pointers, I know. But the pointers change with each particular person. This cannot be generalised and made cute by some idiot writing for VICE.
See below for my own little Bridget Jones story, with supporting roles from Citalopram and Dr Brown.
One of the things that people don’t really warn you about is the impact that your condition has on your relationships, and for me, this was a biggy.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve had 3 serious relationships. Two of which were affected by my little phase.
And by ‘serious’ I mean that they’ve had pet names and I’ve shared my food with them. Big steps. I’m kidding, I loved dem bitches, big time.
The first one was 2.5 years long, we lived together and we were chalk and cheese. But it worked, somehow. He was my best friend, and I still consider him one of my nearest and dearest. I remember the week that it started to end, and on the night we broke up – mutually- we both agreed that we’d become ‘just friends’. Something wasn’t there anymore. Alas, our lives were changing in big ways and we knew it would be okay eventually. Things won’t be the same as they were for us, for numerous reasons, but we continue to have each other’s backs, and it’s nice.
The second one lasted around 6 months, but for only 2 of those months was I ‘stable.’ Poor bloke. On our first date, though, I was completely sold. Each day we were meeting, he’d wait outside the shop and my colleagues would nearly cry because he was ‘just so nice’ for bringing me coffees and carrying my bags. But as the months went on, long distances and the fact that I was going full ‘Britney Mode’ completely ate away at us. We broke up over pints and haven’t spoken since. To this day, I wonder what would’ve happened had I not been going through this little funk, but that’s life. And I’m okay with that, because I have to be.
Now you could say that both experiences were totally normal. Things end, people change and all that jazz. But what I realised was that since May 2014, when I moved in with the first guy, I was a total bitch. Not deliberately, but I could feel myself becoming completely bitter. I was constantly tired, insensitive, argumentative and began to subconsciously punish him for acts in the past – another tale, another time.
When I started dating the second guy, my sensitivity chip was completely gone. I was selfish, ungrateful and had the libido of a sloth. All I wanted to do was stay in bed. We’d joke and say I was an ‘Ice Queen’ but seriously…the boy deserves a medal for even attempting to tolerate me. There was absolutely nothing he could do to help, though. And that’s when everything surfaced.
Much like dementia, depression often causes you to become childish. And not in a cute, funny way. As in, you don’t think of consequences. You become self-orientated because your mind is trying to:
1) figure out where the serotonin be at
2) REMEMBER YOUR OWN FUCKING NAME.
3) Under no circumstances, allow you to steal your Granny’s painkillers and go visit big JC in the sky.
For any organ, that’s a lot to ask.
VICE can publish all the cute mental health articles they want, but they are feeding these poor souls a fib. Believe me when I say, most people with this condition feel next to nothing. (The ‘lack of sensitivity chip’ I mentioned earlier was my mind starting to wander. It all makes such wonderful sense now!)
To put it into perspective, here’s a pie chart.
Bitches love pie charts.
This is about as accurate as it gets when depicting my own experience, in its height of course. Nowadays, I spend more time listening to ABBA and still lust over my bed.
For me, spending time with people became a chore. I loathed both guys for ever attempting to lure me outdoors. And I know I wasn’t just lazy, because I remember thinking ‘GOD THAT’D BE LOVELY’, only to have my own mind shoot that down with ‘But you’ll need to face people, you’ll need to look happy, you’ll need to hold hands and talk to him.’ The only time I could face being out was if I was drinking, because the natural confidence boost that alcohol gave me was literally the reason the relationships probably lasted as long as they did. So it was win/win, alcohol = sociable = one more day with the boyfriend.
If you ask either of the boys, they’ll also tell you I slept a lot. I spent my days in pyjamas and on the couch, because it was just easier. I realise now how fucking boring it must’ve been. I had the attention span of a toddler, and could feel myself being rude. But honestly, I found it extremely hard to care about anyone. It was the Wee Sad Kathryn show, and nobody else was allowed attention.
Another key point in my own experience was the complete and utter disinterest in guys as a whole. For a second, I genuinely thought I was switching teams – only making things worse. My undying love for Harry Styles was gone, and I absolutely shit myself.* Confusion in that way can come with the medicine, the loss of libido can make it almost impossible to get a tickle in your pickle. Not to mention, I didn’t know how to dress myself – let alone know who I fancied. An excellent time for all, obviously.
* I only panicked because I’d spent my life obsessed with guys. I appreciate Ladylove, but One does not enjoy a fair maiden’s company right now, Merci.
The general anxiety that comes with my situation is completely bizarre. I remember being out for dinner with the latest
victim’s guy’s family on New Year’s Day – pre diagnosis. Oh my GOD, what a fucking farce. I was sat there, with the loveliest ‘in-laws’ a girl could ask for, talking away to me about their family past. And there was me, staring into my korma and thinking ‘I absolutely am losing my mind. I need to be gone.’ I only snapped out of the daze because I soon noticed the silence at the table and his dad staring at me.
‘Katie, are you okay?’
Fucked it. Intensely awkward. Thankfully, my ex explained that I was feeling a bit out of it. And they were completely lovely about it, but I never lived it down. I had completely lost my mind, and they had seen it.
Thinking further back, the first guy didn’t have the best luck either. We lived in central Edinburgh, in a beautiful area. Yet all I wanted to do, on our rare days off together, was sleep and watch Friends. Sounds cute and chilled, you say. But every night, after work, I came home, showered and often went to bed without saying hello to him or asking about his day. I was in total auto-pilot.
There’s a huge amount of regret regarding the ways I’ve let my condition affect my ‘love life’. I’ve apologised to Edinburgh Man about my behaviour over the years, and he understands. He’s actually coached me through a lot since. I tried apologising to the latter guy after we ended, with no response. Probably because my mum text him a bunch of abuse after we broke up.
If you’re reading this, she says she’s sorry and blames the menopause. Don’t be mad.
I suppose my point here is that, if you’re with someone who has this condition, you’re a trooper. And not in a ‘oh my god, we’re so troubled and mysterious! Well done for being here!’ kinda way. As in, well done for dealing with the mood swings, not eating, laziness, lack of conversation, loss of humour and general loss of who you thought you were in a relationship with. Not to mention the potential lack of Sexy Time. Unless you enjoy shagging people who are crying. In which case, seek help.
Anyway, for me, relationships are an absolute no-go right now.
I say that like I have options, but you know what I mean.
Honestly, I don’t have the mental space to consider someone else. The idea of having to consistently explain my actions is terrifying, I’d rather be able to be heartless and relatively sane than driving myself up the wall over a chap. I can talk to guys, I can date, but I absolutely – under no circumstances – will be in a relationship until I feel like I’m getting back to normal. I know a lot of people work the opposite way, maybe they feel a relationship motivates them to get better, but that’s not me. I like being able to know that my mood swings aren’t hurting anyone, or that my silence isn’t being taken for rudeness. It’s easier, and to be honest, I haven’t been properly single since I was 18 – so I think some Me Time is well earned.
Plus, it means that I can be a creep and not get into shit for it. #winning
If it’s you that’s loving, make sure you love yourself enough first.
If it’s you that’s being loved, good fucking luck.
And may the odds be forever in your favour.
(I’m kidding, just be nice.)