I spent the better part of five years dating someone with depression and it changed me. It wasn’t always easy, but it was actually a pretty good relationship while it lasted. It wasn’t because we were a good couple — we weren’t actually well-matched and I felt lonely more often than not — but I learned a lot about the way I love.
I’m far more patient than I thought.
Watching someone you care about go through pain and not being able to fix it is arduous. Having a partner with depression made me realize that I possess a level of patience and understanding I didn’t know I had.
I forget to take care of myself in love.
Putting others first has become a habit for me. It’s good to put others first now and then, but I taught myself that I rarely do, and it’s something that can be detrimental to well-being, self-esteem and how you view yourself.
Letting go is ridiculously hard for me.
I choose to hold onto things that no longer make me happy out of fear of making someone else’s situation worse. Perpetually looking at things as if holding on just a little bit longer will change reality is not only bad for both parties, but a waste of both your time.
I don’t always love the right people.
I cared for him deeply, but being mismatched made it hard for me to give the relationship my all. You have to really be with the right person to be able to be there for them without letting resentment creep in. Simply caring for someone won’t get you through the hard times.
Not everything is about me.
If my partner was having a bad day because of his illness, I would take it personally. I would internalize things that really had nothing to do with me. It’s important to remember that if someone is treating you a certain way without warrant, chances are it isn’t related to you at all.
I can’t control everything, and that’s OK.
When in the relationship, I would always try to control everything. How he felt was completely out of my control, and how I felt about his feelings was pretty much uncontrollable, too. I learned that to truly be there for someone, you have to loosen the reigns a bit.
I’m seriously empathetic.
When he would have days that were worse than others, I could feel it to my core — to the point that even I started to feel depressed. It’s unlikely that being in a relationship with someone will give you clinical depression, but it can cause you to feel low if you absorb the energy they give off.
I’m strong enough to deal with real issues.
Having a partner with depression showed me just how much strength I possessed. I could get through the bad times with the right person because of how well I handled them with the wrong one.
I know how to pick my battles.
I know the difference between communicating an issue and picking a fight because I always felt the need to make things easier for my partner. It’s better to let certain things slide because in the end they’re not worth an argument and won’t matter when you’ve cooled down.
I’m great at self-validation.
My partner was never the compliment giver. I understood that because of his illness it was exceptionally hard for him to try and lift me up when he was stuck on the ground. I learned that the best compliments come from the inside. How you see yourself is more important than how anyone else sees you.
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