Today I woke up sad

Not horribly sad, but “I’m not ever going to find love again because how could I force someone to go through depression with me” sad. This is not an uncommon type of sad, but it is one of the more dramatic types. So I Googled ‘dating with depression’ and I found a dating advice column that essentially said “Can’t be done. Sucks for you.”

OK, it didn’t say that. But it wasn’t the most positive article and it was in response to a person with depression asking for dating advice (see article here). I had to respond to her and I spent an hour on it so I thought I would repost it here:

‘I have severe depression and anxiety and I am never going to get better. This is not some “I give up, woe is me” statement, this is a medical fact. My therapists and psychiatrist have all told me this is something I need to manage, not something I can cure. This is not about exercise, nutrition, or a certain situation, this is because my brain is different. I am never going to just “be happy again” like a normal person, like I used to be, and not accepting this fact would be futile and stupid.

So from my perspective (and probably yours too), Evan said, “Ok, you CAN find love. There is always an exception to the rule. But it ain’t going to be anyone good until you fix yourself”. To which I respond, “Well, fixing myself at this point would be about as possible as growing back a limb so, awesome, I’ll just go die alone”.

I’m not trying to bash Evan, and I don’t even disagree with what he said. He seems like a nice enough person, so I’m fairly certain he meant something far, far more uplifting and kind. I’m just having a hard time seeing it. So I wanted to give you an alternative response, in case you interpreted it the way I did.

So, Kristi – 

Yes, people with depression can find love, but it is going to be more difficult. There is definitely a stigma that we have to overcome, but it isn’t impossible and I wouldn’t say finding someone who will love you is an exception to the rule. That just sounds depressing (pun intended).

And you’re getting help! That’s amazing and difficult and you should be congratulated on that. It sucks, but you’re doing it anyway. I have been going to therapy for years and every time I still think “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about my feelings today. I want to ignore them and eat too many tacos”. You recognize the problem as chronic and are taking steps to manage it. This is something many depressed people don’t do.

Dating advice (based on advice given to me): It’s not exactly something you bring up on the first date. Let them see you and your personality and if things seem to be getting serious or the topic comes up naturally, explain the depression. Don’t just say you have it. Emphasize that you care about them, even when you’re sad. Emphasize it’s not something to fix, it’s just a part of your life, like the flu or the music of Justin Bieber (i.e., It sucks, but at times its unavoidable). This is the first step to testing the compatibility. But seeing is believing, and after going through a bout with you, they may decide it’s not something they can accept after all. This doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love or even that they don’t care. Depression is difficult for everyone around it. But there are people who can accept it. I have dated these people. I am one of these people. And I would absolutely date someone with depression (as long as they are taking steps to manage it and seeking help). They get it. It’s not so scary and taboo for them.

That all being said, your therapists and psychiatrists want to help you, and if they think you aren’t ready for dating, that’s something to consider. What’s even more important is spending time on self reflection and deciding if it’s something you are ready for and if it’s something you really want. You should also be able to look at yourself and say “I have depression, but I’m also awesome.” Acceptance is key. Accept yourself and others will too.

I am currently single and whenever I go through a really bad spell, I want to be in a relationship more than anything. I want someone to be there while I’m crying and tell me that everything is going to be OK. Essentially, I want a crutch, not a partner, which isn’t fair to anyone involved. I should not and am not dating right now. I got shit to sort out.

You are not me and you face problems that I don’t. But I wanted to leave you with a hopeful message. People who will accept your depression and love you are out there, so don’t give up. You deserve love as much as anyone else does. Keep working on yourself because you always should. Try to be better than you were yesterday and move forward.’

Finding this article and writing this response is bittersweet. On the one hand, the article confirms my fears and doubts. On the other hand, I truly am hopeful for this woman and I believe what I said. If I believe it is true for her, it can be true for me too.