Having depression is often like having this black cloud over you — and only you. It can follow you everywhere, insisting you isolate yourself rather than drench everyone else around you.
After being in an intimate relationship for four years, my partner has seen the worst sides of me, including the time I attempted suicide and was admitted to the hospital. My partner has been nothing but supportive through my recovery, but depression has a way of making me believe I’m just a burden.
There are times when I feel bad to the core — a waste of space — and I lose that spark of interest in life. I can’t think of the future because it feels like I don’t have one. I can’t smile or be happy, and there’s this empty black void I can’t seem to fill. I hide behind my pretenses and tell everyone I’m fine while also thinking about how the world would be better off without me. I get flashes of me committing suicide. It can be hard to really know what’s going on in a person’s mind who is struggling with depression because some of those people are “high-functioning,” appearing as though nothing is wrong from the outside. I submit my assignments on time, go to most of my lectures and classes, socialize with friends, and get straight A’s.
My partner and I are planning on getting married and living together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with complex PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I still do despite being in love with him. It eats at me when I feel nothing toward him — when the black cloud is over me. It can last for weeks or months until the point where I sometimes don’t even know how long I’ve been under it. It causes irritability, mood swings, lethargy, insomnia, loss of appetite, and faulty thinking like catastrophizing, and black-and-white thinking. I’m afraid he’ll leave me because others can only put up with so much. Despite his assurances, my demons have a way of pulling me back down.
The cloud doesn’t last forever though. It feels like it does, but that’s just the lies depression tells me. It’s not easy, and I still fight it every day to stay alive. I have help though. I’ve learned to reach out when I need it, rather than letting the depression consume me. It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t have to define me. It shouldn’t be able to steal my future away from me.
There are days when I still experience flashbacks of my past, insomnia that keeps me awake in the middle of the night, and anxiety that makes me have catastrophic thoughts about everything and anything. There are days when I feel unbearable pain, when I go from feeling like a survivor back to a helpless victim, days when I only see the world in bleakness.
But there are days when my partner and I have the best time of our lives, and both of us make each other better people. Those are the days I wish to live for. I may have complex PTSD and depression, but it doesn’t mean forming intimate relationships is beyond my reach. There are days when I cannot tell him “I love you,” and days when I can barely bring myself to make social contact with anyone. Times when I snap at him out of the blue and feel really ashamed afterwards.
It’s not easy being in a relationship when you can’t even bring yourself to get out of bed or shower. These ups and downs have only strengthened our relationship. It has only given me more strength to fight the depression that overwhelms me at times. Reaching out for help when you’re struggling with depression is never easy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that isolation intensifies the pain and everyone deserves to have someone in their life.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
This post previously appeared on The Mighty.