“It’s not going to be easy,” he warned me. He was right. But it wasn’t the hardest thing. Walking away was. Our story didn’t end well, but that’s OK. I’m a better person for it, and here’s why:
I stopped labeling people.
Depression is just one aspect of someone’s personality. I have a tendency to group people, stereotype even; not because I’m prejudice, but because I’m efficient. This works well for office supplies, herbs, and spices. Not human beings. We are multi-faceted and it was only when I loved someone so complex that I could appreciate this.
Have you ever experienced something that you just know will never happen again? Once my friend and I found ourselves in a hot tub full of professional tennis players. It’s sort of like that. Loving a depressed person is characterized with the highest highs and the lowest lows. There were feelings and moments so silly, sweet, and profound that I know I’ll never have again.
My heart opened in ways I never knew existed.
The worst part about a depressed person is not their depression. It’s actually the glimpses of their smile. Their laugh, sweetness, and vulnerability. That hurts the most because you know it exists. The ability to be happy is there somewhere and you’d do anything to make it last. Call it co-dependency, but before this, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice much. Now that it’s all over, it’s as if my heart expanded during the relationship, now with more capacity to love again.
I became a better friend.
“I … like … don’t even understand why she’s with him.” We’ve all said that. Heard that. Your good friends will say it to your face after he disappoints you again and again. You’ll make excuses and stick up for him. But when it’s all over, you won’t be so quick to judge when it happens to someone else. That disapproving look turns into a nod and “yeah … I know. Sucks. I’m sorry.”
No small talk.
People who ponder the dark side understand life’s complexities and see all the horrible things that go on in their heads and in the world. As a result, these people are deep, sensitive, and usually have interesting things to say. Questions like “how was your day?” are awful because their day was probably shitty. And if that’s the case, they definitely don’t want to know how yours was.
I learned to take the good with the bad.
If you’ve ever spent any length of time with a depressed person, you know he or she is not depressed all the time. In fact, your boyfriend or girlfriend is probably really funny and pleasant sometimes. After a few erratic mood swings, I stopped anticipating a “bad day” and just enjoyed the good times when we had them. It was a practice of “being in the moment,” something we could probably all use more of.
My boundaries became clear.
When I made the decision to end things, it wasn’t because of depression. I would’ve stuck by him if he was willing to stick by me. It’s easy to be in love when things are peachy. Can you still have love during the bad times? Walking away I knew I could. For someone else.