When I Loved A Man Who Didn't Love Themselves
I have been putting off writing this because it's still a very touching subject for me but recent events has made me realise that this is something that NEEDS to be spoken about as much as possible.
This blog is not about me at all, I dedicate this blog to everyone who has ever or currently suffering with depression. I hope you see that no matter what your mind or situation is telling you or making you feel
You are IMPORTANT, You are LOVED and SUPPORTED , you do not have to go through it ALONE
When my relationship started with my ex, I knew that he was going through things in his life, a relationship was not something we was planning. However, because we were such good and close friends it was something that naturally happened. For the first few months, he was incredibly prideful and would only tell me what he was thinking or feeling about himself on a surface level or not at all. He was very open about how he felt about ME and US but when I would ask him questions on how he was, how his day was I could see very quickly that it would become a one word answer, a sigh or a quick attempt to change the conversation onto something else.
When we would speak on the phone we had one of those old-school 1990's relationships where we would speak for HOURS and by that I mean, both our batteries would die mid-conversation, my phone would be burning hot because I was on it for so long so I had to put it on loud speaker, falling asleep mid-sentence and waking up to finding him snoring loudly on the other side. Regardless of how long we spoke, I couldn't wait until I finished work so I could talk to him again. We spoke about EVERYTHING , we both had a love for music so would send each other Youtube music throughout the day..it used to get real competitive lol, we would write poetry for each other, read books, discuss world events. relationships, religion, family you name it...we spoke about it...and at length sometimes our conversations upset my ovaries!
I will never forget the night when he spoke about his depression for the first time, I will admit prior to this relationship I did not know much or understand much about depression. I knew that people suffered from it, I know that it was real, but I hadn't seen it affect anyone I knew in my close circle so this was my first real "experience" of it.
My first mistake when it came to depression was thinking that "it was just a phase" and was the same as thinking he could just shake it off and was a fleeting thought/emotion. I didn't understand that someone who had me cracking up on the phone and we would be laughing so much we would both be in tears of laughter, who had a dry sense of humour but was so childlike and loved to make other laugh could be depressed. How can someone that was happy at time then be depressed? It didn't make sense to me.
I foolishly tried to compartmentalise his depression, and I remember vividly when I told him
"I will love you OUT of depression...."
I believed that me being in love with him, showing him how much he meant to me, making him my priority, always being available to speak to him 24/7 and support him would be the cure for his depression.
But I learned the hard way that this loving someone is not a cure of depression at all..that's not to say your love and support is not good enough, that it does not make a difference because IT DOES, however that alone is not going to be enough when it comes to battling something as complicated, over-powering, consuming and complex as depression.
As our relationship progressed, I saw more and more how complicated and consuming his depression was and it was a daily battle for him. I became the ONLY person he would speak to about it, he slowly opened up to me about his thoughts and feelings, his erratic moods, I could not tell you the endless of times he would tell me to walk away from him, would question WHY I was with him ,what I saw in him, what I got out of the relationship. I would get so angry because I felt that he was pushing me away, questioning whether my love was genuine, taunting me with wanting to break up.
There was one particular night, when he called me and he was down...really...down. My ex was a very prideful man, didn't let people in or show any signs of weakness or want to be a burden. But this night was a rough one...and he had ENOUGH. He called me and wasn't at home, it had to be about 1am in the morning, he told me that he was going to the park and his thoughts were sounding suicidal. I went through every single emotion that night with him from anger, confusion, frustration, hopelessness, love and I have never cried so much in my life. To hear the person you love cry down the phone to you and you don't know what to do or say to make them feel better is one of the worst..feelings...ever. Especially as I knew as a proud man he hated breaking down to me, he constantly felt like he was a burden not only to me but everyone and he woke up every morning wishing that he had died in his sleep. It was honest, raw and real and it scared the crap out of me every day. I would have nightmares about me being called and his family telling me that he had committed suicide or was in hospital.
My friends quickly noticed how much the relationship was affecting me,they would call/text/shout/lecture me time and time again to walk away from the relationship. But it's hard to walk away from someone you love ESPECIALLY when you feel that if you did their life is in your hands.
I wouldn't say I felt trapped...but I felt a huge sense of responsibility and the dynamic of your relationship changed. Along with us getting closer, we became TOO dependant on each other and it started to become quite toxic.
We loved each other....deeply. He was my 6am phone call to get up for work, I was the woman who texted and called several times a day to check up on him/make him laugh/love him/apply for jobs on his behalf.
I began to read books and he would send articles about depression so my understanding on depression and how it affects not only him but myself as his partner opened up my eyes to a whole new world. It's only though understanding and I learned to ask the RIGHT questions to him that my perspective on depression really happened. Our communication began to get better which was good but our RELATIONSHIP became stagnant. We were very similar...stubborn but with huge hearts and we knew that as much as we loved each other that the relationship was not the best thing right now. We needed to get better for ourselves and not for each other and as much as I loved him and he loved me...it wasn't enough.
Mental health is so prominent and is important as physical health.
When Robin Williams died I remember speaking to my ex about it and how he felt the exact same way and it scared me. Depression amongst the black community is something is given a side-eye or a judgment, from my experience I think it's because we look at mental health as something that is for "weak people" or not that serious or due to something like drinking/smoking weed/family problems. A depressed person is anything BUT weak , they are loving individuals fully capable of loving others and relish in happiness, getting better, wanting to battle and win their inner demons, appreciate the love and support that they receive, its not may feel sad for no reason but relish the moments that you make their day, they want to do more but physically they can't, they don't need judgment or you telling them what they SHOULD do, they are STRONG individuals, you can not cure them you can only support them.
To anyone that is in love with someone with someone who is depressed one key thing I ask you to never forget is
Never forget about yourself, your happiness and your life in the process
Do not feel guilty if sometimes you need to take a step back, prioritise yourself and know that you can not do everything. Encourage your partner to seek professional help, therapy and counselling is a great and powerful resource. You still need to have your own life outside of the relationship otherwise you will quickly find yourself depressed and down like I was.
There are many times when I question could I have said or done more, but after speaking to my ex recently I realised that I did all that I could do...and I did my best. Whatever we both did was always out of love and wanting the best for each other. I will ALWAYS have love for him because he showed me so much about myself and also what to expect from a partner. We were ride or die for each other but that doesn't mean that sometimes you have to go in two different directions. Through it all, I now have a friend for life who I know will always be there for me and vice-versa and then means more to me that a relationship.
"143" was our way of saying "I love you" and I encourage all of you out there to love YOURSELF each and everyday so I dedicate this song to everyone reading this blog.