Depression is an active minefield; I tread carefully and hold my breath, waiting for it to blow up in my face. I try to avoid every trigger, but each step I take feels like a risk of being ripped apart. I am scared of losing parts of myself, yet, I have no choice but to keep going and hope I make it out alive. I isolate myself to avoid collateral damage to my friends and family.
Whether I come out the other side or not, I carry emotional and physical scars. The injuries are self-inflicted, and I am both the enemy and victim. I try desperately not to succumb to my insecurity, self-doubt, and hopelessness.
Dating with depression adds more danger and raises the stakes. You feel like you are going in blind. I had to navigate ghosting, catfishing, unsolicited nudes, and empty promises. Online dating was even worse for making me feel disposable. Why have they not opened my message for ten hours? How many other girls are they messaging? Will I ever find someone who wants to settle down instead of just wanting a one-night stand? When you already struggle to love yourself, it is fighting a losing battle.
I want other people living with a mental illness to know you ARE worthy of love. I am 21 years old and have just entered my first romantic relationship. I have been in a toxic relationship with myself for many years. I never thought I could let someone else in, as my depression would be the awkward third wheel. I want readers to know that the right person will be patient, compassionate and understanding.
Entering a relationship was unfamiliar territory, and the ground felt unstable. It is completely overwhelming in the beginning. If I make one wrong move will my relationship explode? When do I mention my diagnosis? Will he be scared and run away? How will it impact the relationship? Am I just a burden to him? Will he be disgusted by my scars when I take my clothes off? Every day is an exhausting war with my mind. I arm myself with therapy and antidepressants, hoping they give me a fighting chance.
I did not want him to watch as I self-destruct. I thought I had to keep him at a safe distance and that my problems were mine alone. It is normal to need a helping hand, but he cannot be my saviour who risks his safety to disarm every mine I step on. It is too much pressure to put on someone.
Instead, my boyfriend reminds me I am strong enough to face my battles head-on. He makes me feel safe and fearless. He has a way of silencing the chaos. He helps me to see the clearing on the other side instead of focusing on the problems around me. As Pat Benatar says, “love is a battlefield,” relationships are not always easy, but he is worth the fight. I am worth the fight.