Five years later, I can still remember it so clearly. The day started relatively normal as I went to go see my boyfriend. Truthfully, we had never been on the same page, but for once, we were having a really good time. As the night began to fall so did my mood. I became irate. We got into a disastrous argument. In true bipolar fashion, I stormed out cursing his name.
I spent the next few days in a deep depression where I could barely find the energy to get out of bed. Days later, I emerged from what seemed like a horrible dream and gave him a call. As tears poured down my eyes, all I can recall saying is “This isn't normal. I think something is wrong with me. I think I may be bipolar” (Insert long awkward silence here). He proceeded to call me a crazy liar. I was in disbelief. I don’t think words have ever hurt me so badly.
Needles to say, he is now an ex-boyfriend. I learned a lot from that experience. Living with depression is difficult, but it shouldn’t keep you from having a fulfilling love life. Here are my tips for being in a committed relationship while you are going through your mental health journey.
- Be open and honest about your mental health journey. At first, it was hard being open. I was in a constant identity crisis, because I was hiding the “bad” part of me. Once you build trust in your relationship, it is important to let your significant other know where you stand in your journey. Leaving them in the dark will cause misunderstanding, but opening up will allow for him or her to support you. This brings me to my next tip…..
- Not everyone you date will understand and support your journey. When dating my ex-boyfriend, he did not understand how I could go from cheerful to depressed so quickly. I tried to explain to him that some days I will cry for no reason and that is okay. It is part of my depression cycle. My constant tears and depressive episodes would lead to criticism and further pain from him. In the long run, I learned, if your significant other really loves you, they will support you in your journey.
- It is no surprise that when you first start a relationship you become completely immersed with your significant other, but my advice is to maintain your strong support circle. I let a lot of my independence go so when we broke up I felt alone. If you were going to therapy before you were dating, ... DON’T STOP! If you were seeing your friends twice a week,,.... DON’T STOP. Even if you have one day a week where you have alone time,...DON’T STOP! These are the that will keep you mentally balanced.
- Develop key phrases that let your significant other no how you are feeling. I tell my current boyfriend that “Today is not the day”. With this phrase, he knows that I am either feeling depressed, having anxiety, or dealing with something else. Whatever is the case, he understands that today is not the day to upset me.
- Don’t let your depression define the way people love you. Stephen Chobsky once said “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Sometimes we think we should take what we can get, because we are going through things in our lives. I thought that my mood swings and depression justified someone calling me a crazy liar, but it did not. Always remember that you are a beautiful person who deserves genuine, unconditional love. Never settle for less than what you deserve.
- This is the most important tip you will ever receive. Always, love yourself first. The way you feel about yourself reflects in your relationship. If you are insecure about yourself, it will show through in your relationship. If you are feeling down, take time to regroup and remind yourself of the queen you are. Remember, if you don’t truly love yourself no one will.
Now, after a lot of heartache and lessons learned, I am thrilled to say I am in a loving relationship with a man who may not always understand, but is willing to stand by me during my mental health journey. Love is a beautiful feeling. Don’t let depression stop you from finding the love you deserve. Stay Hopeful!