By Amy Meadmore
I have been depressed for 5 years now. A combination of self-hatred, despair and the belief I am a nuisance to those around me has consumed my existence for far too long. I would say recently I have improved, I can look myself in a mirror and every once in a while I actually like what I see. I’ve had months where I only consume 300 calories a day, nights where I scream into my pillow, and endless moments of listening to voices in my head. But it is getting better and whilst I know I had to work hard for that my boyfriend has helped increase my self-esteem a huge amount and I am so grateful to him.
We’ll call him Milo to protect his identity. Milo is a loving and caring boyfriend who never lets me doubt that he loves me. This is brilliant and I know I am lucky to have him. He has also seen me through my worst panic attacks and been fantastic with me. However, there are still a lot of ways depression can be your own personal hurdle when it comes to love.
I always find it very hard to talk to him and be honest because I have been listening to a voice for 5 years that tells me no one cares and I am bad for everyone I love. Those who have depression can be told and told that they are loved and that they shouldn’t let things consume them or it’s going to be okay. It may just not work. And this is not because the person wasn’t listening, didn’t understand or isn’t trying hard enough. It is because every day we are fighting this faceless monster that has latched onto us and we are trying so hard but it is so powerful. I put so much effort into a smile and to express my emotions effectively; so much so that it’s exhausting.
So that’s why it hurts when Milo rolls his eyes. That’s why it hurts when I tell him I miss him because he’s home abroad for 2 months and he says I should just not think about it. I know he loves me and I know he’s trying but I want him to understand that I’m trying too. If he gets frustrated and tells me we’ve talked about this and why don’t I just get it then I cry. I cry because it’s better than self-harming. Which makes him frustrated that I’m not dealing with the situation well.
Having a mental illness and being in love is a minefield. You expect a lot from a partner, you expect endless empathy and patience because nothing will be cured overnight. But I wonder whether it’s completely reckless to believe we deserve that. After all those voices and painful nights. Do we not deserve someone to try and understand?
I believe I’m worthless. I’d just really love someone to tell me I’m not.