I’ve been having a hard time lately, and thought writing out my thoughts by hand might do some good. So I dug out the first notebook I could find, and when I flipped through it I realized most of the (little) writing in it was from ten years ago, when I was ending one relationship to start another, searching for an apartment, researching buying a car, starting a new job.
That’s a lot of change all at once.
Anyway, it feels a bit serendipitous to find these little notes from my 25-year-old-brain, so I thought I would share this piece (seems to be unfinished, but such is life) in its entirety, unedited:
It’s taken me a while to sit down and write this story. And it is a story, the same way we warn about telling tales out of school, or tell ourselves stories even if they’re never told aloud or committed to paper. But the parts of this particular story aren’t just words or abstract concepts–they’re hearts, and lives, not just anonymous ones but rather the kind I take great pains not to hurt.
Deep breath, then, and into the open field.
It must be very hard to be in a relationship with a depressed person. I couldn’t say from personal experience, really–I’ve been lucky in that regard, I suppose.
What I can say, though, is that it is also very hard to be in a relationship as a depressed person. And if I really take a hard look at my past, every relationship I’ve ever been in qualifies.
I’ve written about this here before, sometimes with trepidation, often with a great deal of thought, but the short version is that I’ve struggled with depression all of my adult life (and possibly for much of what came before–I was first diagnosed at 18, but who’s to say what state my heart and mind were in before?)
At the best of times, my depression and anxiety blink sleepily far below the surface and don’t bother me much. It’s like being used to dull headaches, or having to squint ever so slightly while the sun beats from behind overcast skies. And at the worst of times my depression bleeds through everything I do, everything I say, everything I taste.
But through all those times, I have to negotiate my relationships with other people, many of them people I love.
Trying to be in a relationship with someone while you’re depressed means there are really three of you involved. There’s you, there’s your partner, and there’s this version of yourself who barely resembles you but knows exactly how to hurt you. It’s like a nightmare version of Peter Pan’s shadow.
This shadow me is not always kind. She is often desperate, usually scared, occasionally malicious. She wants me to feel pain and she knows how to make me do the dirty work.
In the best of times, she trails along a few steps behind, a mostly harmless third wheel who just worries about me a lot, and consequently asks.