What it’s like to love with depression

Updated: May 6

Image: Unsplash – Elisabetta Foco

[Bryony Wharfe | Contributing Writer]

“Depression and love is wanting to be shown that you are loved constantly but rejecting and not feeling worthy” – J. Moore.

What if you never learned to love yourself? That every day it becomes harder and harder to be happy in who you are and where you are in your life. People can come into your life unnoticed but leave craters where your heart used to flourish; memories can turn a happy moment into the reason you’re scared to close your eyes at night. But what if someone was there, holding your hand every step of the way? Tucking a piece of hair behind your ear whilst they looked you in the eyes to say “I love you.” Does it get better? For many people who live with depression, being in love can be as hard as waking up in the morning.

“I (not often) sometimes had moments when I completely had a meltdown/breakdown… sometimes I could feel it brewing within me when I was with my ex and I’d have to leave the room quickly because I didn’t want her to worry about me, I didn’t want her to know I was struggling this bad because I needed her.” – Male, 20, student, UH.

Sometimes you may feel every emotion all at once, and other days you may feel nothing at all. Every day is a struggle; trying to keep a smile on your face so your partner doesn’t notice is tiresome. People say that before you can love others you have to love yourself; for some that’s enough, but for many others, trying to love something you despise so much just becomes impossible. But that’s okay. You can love someone else before loving your own skin and someone will love you even if you can’t bear to look in the mirror.

“Often I feel so worthless that I have no clue why he loves me, but other times I see how we compliment each other, what I can do for him and what he does for me… There are ‘I love you forever and always’ days, and there are why are they even with me days.” – Amy, 25, UH.

However, hearing someone say “I love you” every day doesn’t always sink in: when you hate yourself, you believe that everyone else does, so why would someone love you? Why would someone love your snotty tears and your emotionless conversations?

But you know what? Some people will. Not all of them, but the ones who truly love you will love you through your snotty tears and emotionless conversations. Because it’s not only hard for a person with depression to be in love and believe someone is in love with them, it’s hard to be that person who is in love with someone who has depression.

Image: freestocks.org

Image: freestocks.org

“’I love you’ came too easy in that relationship, but I constantly thought why the hell is she with me when I thought so little of myself.” – Josh W., Student, UH.

You may not understand why they don’t want to eat their favourite food anymore, or why they end up crying hysterically whilst curled up on the floor when they can’t find the smallest of things. How every time you call them beautiful they dismiss it, or why they find it difficult to say that they love you too. One minute they may want to be cradled in your arms and the next they don’t want you to touch them. It’s confusing, it can ruin relationships, and it can cause more harm loving someone than being alone.

I’ve been through both scenarios and it hurts. Watching the person I love crumble in front of my eyes and feeling so helpless. Being so in love with someone but not being able to tell them or believe they care for me are two of the worst feelings I have ever had. But I overcame the darkness and I began to learn how to love myself and love another. The things I wanted my partner to do for me I was able to do for them, it brought us closer and heightened our love for one another, but not everyone has the same experience.

One female student from UH said that in a previous relationship the route of her depression was her boyfriend. After telling him how she felt and what the problems were, instead of helping her return to the woman she used to be, he blamed her for ruining their relationship. Even though it was heart-breaking to end the relationship, she began to blossom once again.

“Anyone or anything that made me feel less than comfortable with myself and who I was has been removed from my life and I feel so much better for it… My biggest bit of advice for anyone struggling with depression is to be comfortable with yourself and be happy alone before trying to be happy with someone else – be the master of your own happiness as it were.” – Josh W., Student.

Image: Greg Rakozy

Image: Unsplash – Greg Rakozy

Here’s my advice, firstly for those who have depression, and then for those who love someone with depression: