Depression and exit strategies …….. the holy grail of depression sufferers

I went for drinks with some friends and friends of friends last night. One dude, who I’ll call OG, recounted a story of how he broke up with his ex after her 2nd suicide attempt. How he’d felt trapped and tricked. She’d looked so normal for the first 2 years, emotionally volatile, sure, but normal. After the first suicide attempt he learned she’d tried other times, before him. This was a recurring mental issue, one that might kill her and would inevitably derail his own life. He felt he had no choice but to make the best decision for his own life and future, and leave her. Leaving her freed him up to focus on building up his own life, success and well-being. However, almost a decade on, she still refuses to talk to him. One of his friends hypothesized that his ex felt shame, “Sometimes, when you’ve acted in a way that was just too awful and unacceptable, you can’t face any reminders of that, the shame is too painful.”

I stayed quiet throughout that conversation, which I regret.

I didn’t say that I suffer from depression.

I didn’t say that OG’s comments confirms one of my deepest insecurities: anyone who gets to know the real me, and meets my shadow, will run, will deem me unworthy the effort of loving, I come with too much baggage.

I didn’t say that this is why I’ve chosen to remain single for 7 years now. I don’t think I can survive another instance of giving all of myself, working through the terror of vulnerability, attempting to build a life with someone, only for it to fall apart because the burden of my shadow is too heavy to bear. I chose a life of loneliness, limiting how much I inflict my depression on friends and family, rather than face the unbearable pain of being rejected. I also chose loneliness because I don’t ever want to be the reason someone holds back on living their life, choosing to stick with me & my sickness out of loyalty. My shadow stifles my dreams and happiness. I don’t think I could accept if it stifled anyone else’s too. I completely understand and respect OG’s decision to leave the girl.

I didn’t say that they’d gotten it all wrong. The shame is not derived from the “unacceptable” act of trying to take one’s life – only someone who has never suffered from depression would think that suicide is unacceptable or selfish. Without ever having met the girl, or been present in that decade-old saga, I would argue that the girl deems OG’s actions as concrete proof that she is unlovable, something to be abandoned once her true self is revealed. A depressive spends all day every day trying to survive, look normal, hide the mess from the world. On the rare occasions that a depressive reveals their true self to anyone – something incredibly traumatic and shameful – being rejected gives their sick brain all the ammunition necessary to convince them they are worthless. Having to face a reminder of that? Unbearably painful. I too would be incapable of facing such a reminder.

I didn’t say that I admired the girl – 10 years is a lot of years to put up with a sick brain, good for her for still being alive.


black dog

I was speaking to another “depressive”(someone who suffers from depression – usually with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and possibly Stress thrown in for shits and giggles — I might have just made that word up, but it seems to work, so I am going to leave it there) a week or two ago and we were chatting about shit and things and really playing catch up.

We had not seen each other in quite some time, so it was a very nice catch up and we did spend a lot of the time laughing, and snorting.

The conversation took a turn and we started speaking about the fact that we both suffer from Depression — not the “here take one pill and call me in the morning kind” but the sort that takes you 13 years of therapy to really understand what it is you are working with.

Years of enduring…

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  1. I get what OG might have been feeling.

    Being in a long-term relationship assumes the other person wants it to work as well, and will be there for thick and thin. But once that person has bailed once, it leaves so many doubts. How could OG commit to this person knowing she might check out (of the relationship or of life), maybe just when he’d need her most ? It becomes a bit of a “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” type of situation. Her past history, before OG, really might not be a key issue. Her loveability isn’t either – fact is apparently he loved her and wanted to keep on loving her. He probably still thought she’d find someone else eventually, he just didn’t feel he could risk getting hurt that badly a second time, perhaps when he’d be in a vulnerable situation.

    IMO it’s not the shadow or the baggage that cause issues, it’s what happens with a given person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I mean… I read that story about OG and while I don’t blame him for looking after his own mental health and wellbeing, I also think the way he framed it is particularly unsympathetic. Saying you felt “trapped and tricked” by someone’s mental health problems just because when you met them they were in a good place is, to me, extremely selfish. Obviously, I am biased when it comes to this topic, but seriously… This?

    “However, almost a decade on, she still refuses to talk to him. One of his friends hypothesized that his ex felt shame, “Sometimes, when you’ve acted in a way that was just too awful and unacceptable, you can’t face any reminders of that, the shame is too painful.”

    Come on. She probably refuses to talk to him because he made a shitty, shitty time of her life even worse. She probably refuses to talk to him because of his attitude towards her mental health, which seems to be a curious mix of “SHE WAS DOING IT ON PURPOSE” and “not my problem,” which is curious in a relationship if you care about the person. Mental health really is a lot like other health problems, and realistically in any relationship you are going to run into health problems. What if he marries someone and twenty-five years on they have a psychotic break and become paranoid schizophrenics? What, is he going to bail and claim they “tricked” him? For twenty-five years? It can happen. It does happen. It’s not trickery; it’s health. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. That’s the whole point of in sickness and in health.

    And sure, I know that it’s very hard to sign up for a life with someone with your eyes wide open, knowing about all the potential devastating pitfalls.

    Obviously I understand that suicide attempts are horribly, awfully traumatic. In a way it is one person ending the relationship – or at least trying to – without talking to you about it or leaving room for any alternate option. In a way it feels like someone saying “I don’t love you enough to stay,” even though that’s not what it is. I can understand somebody having a knee jerk reaction to it. But to talk about it ten years later as something shameful? To still frame it as “trickery” a decade later?


    I think if you are self-aware enough to know your mental health, and look after it to the best of your ability, and you actively communicate about it and try to better it, then you have nothing to feel ashamed of. You’re not Steve Jobs drinking spinach smoothies in an attempt to beat cancer, despite having every medical alternative at your disposal. You are a person actively shadow-boxing. You’re not ignoring it, you’re dealing with it. That makes you strong, and wonderful. You don’t need to cut yourself off from the possibility of relationships because of that sort of ignorance. You just need to find someone who isn’t ignorant about mental health, and who will fight alongside you, or, if they can’t help there, who will hug you and give you a rousing pep talk in your corner when you’re flagging.

    Liked by 1 person

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