Kevin doesn’t have depression. His knowledge of depression — first, second, or eleventh-hand — is limited. Sixth months into our life together, he’s spent time with depressed O at least half the time. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for about three of the past six months. The struggle I’ve been grappling with and have held onto as a ‘my’ struggle for the better part of my 37 years has, in six months, become a ‘we’ struggle.
Every now and then, when I emerge from the dark dizzying sticky slumber of depression, I ask Kevin, “Are you sure you want to move forward in this relationship? This is how it’s going to be the rest of our lives. I will always fall into depressive ruts.” I feel like I need to regularly give him an out, let him know that I get it if he decides that it’s too much for him to manage. I would understand if nurturing a relationship with someone who cycles through depression as often as I do is too overwhelming for him, for anyone.
Each time, Kevin squares his shoulders and steadies his eyes to mine as if to convey, if you don’t hear my words, feel the conviction of my presence. “Yes. I’m sure,” he says. “I want to be with you.”
I feel as though I’m using up the majority of the relationship resources. On top of the other depressive symptoms, I feel selfish and self-absorbed. I feel small, alone, a failure, like I don’t belong in this world. For years, depression has tricked me into believing that no one wants to hear the ‘ridiculous’ thoughts tapping my brain and to (ssssssshhhhhhh) keep my thoughts where they belong – hidden.
This is one of the ways depression keeps a stronghold on you. It’s hypnotic trickery suspends your ability to trust that people who care for you want to hear your fears, and that they want to hear your fears as many times as you need to speak them. But you must share these thoughts, you must share what frightens you when depression has you by the tongue – whether you believe the thoughts or not. Especially in a relationship.
As Kevin said to me one night, holding me as I cried into his warm chest, “Your demons are not yours to fight alone.”