Depression and Relationships: An Inside Story

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Part 1:

“What is your problem?” “There isn’t any reason for you to be sad”. “Just snap out of it already.” “You would feel better if you just tried.” These are all statements that most depression sufferers have heard from their significant others. Unfortunately, all these statements do is compound the problem, because now there is a heavy sense of guilt. At least, that is how I have experienced these scenarios. The truth is, depression is a many-headed beast and there is no one cause or easy way out of the darkness.

My depression has colored my view of the world from a very young age. I don’t want to lay blame as to the cause, but the abuse that I lived through for most of my childhood probably contributed. It left a feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness that I just can’t overcome, no matter how hard I try. For some people, medication, therapy or religions have all helped them to break through the clouds. I am all for seeking help where you find it. It’s just as hard on the sufferer as it is on the people closest to them. In fact, depression can destroy most relationships from the inside out simply because loved ones can only put up with so much.

To be clear, depression for most people is not an on-going ‘pity-party’ or an attention seeking ploy. Yes, there are some people who might blow a disappointment or fight out of proportion in an effort to make someone feel bad; but true depression is different. It really influences the way one sees the world. When a depressed person speaks of death, they aren’t usually wanting attention or trying to ‘get out’ of something. No, for the truly depressed, death seems like the best solution for ourselves and our loved ones.

Depression makes one feel like they will never live up to anyone else’s expectations. They feel that everything they touch falls apart, especially relationships.  Those who suffer from this debilitating condition can’t seem to find anything valuable in what they offer to others. They honestly believe that their being alive is a burden and causes more problems than they are worth.  Describing this issue as a disease may not go far enough to describe the way it deeply impacts and colors our world. Life is painful and interacting with others creates deep anxiety as we often think that others would rather be spending time with anyone else.

My own experience has ruined many relationships. I work so hard to spare others the unpleasantness of spending time with me by pushing them away. I find ways to blame myself for anything that goes wrong, and in the end, this compounds the problems because others in my life have learned to allow me to accept the blame for any and everything that goes awry in a relationship.

Over the next few weeks, I will try to explain how depression affects every relationship in life.

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