I recently watched some of the John Oliver stand-up series. As a stand-up fan, there are some great moments, and I’ve been introduced to some new faces that I’ll be sure to follow.
One moment in particular stood out to me. The comedian was Michael Che, and he joked about how he finds that love is overrated. He’s content to like people, because love is just like + obligation. He continues on with that bit with some hilarious insight, and I highly recommend it. In fact, here’s the link.
But after I laughed, I sat. And then I stewed. I almost missed the rest of that great bit, because (like most great comedic bits) there was truth there, and I could not help but dwell on how that truth relates to my personal situation.
DEPRESSION – A new angle for me
I’ve mentioned my depression and anxiety on here before. In fact, come the 1st of 2015, my new work insurance kicks in and I plan on having a doctor visit to check in with how I’m doing on that front. But I digress.
Where depression has taken a new angle for me is that it has overcome my girlfriend. And I don’t know what to do.
We moved to Seattle together from Alaska, and let me put it right out there that neither one of us have regretted that decision. Where things get tough is that she was feeling depressed before we moved. She was hoping that moving would magically make her feel better and kick her life into gear, but that was not to be. Instead, she’s been severely depressed since we got here. Hasn’t made any efforts to establish any sort of life in this new city. No networking, no real socializing, no job hunt. No nothing.
Maybe I should have pushed more, but a month became two became three and nothing has changed. I didn’t want to press her, because with my history of depression, I bristled at the suggestion to “move on” or “toughen up” or “snap out of it”.
Over this period of time, my enthusiasm for our time together has waned. She’s not herself (obviously, as is the symptom), and I find it hard to relate to this person that I fell in love with. She became argumentative and petty. I became argumentative and petty. Over nonsense. Like, whatever the internet happened to be outraged about for the day – we’d argue over. I was getting frustrated.
Then her mother passed away. And I wish I could at the very least say it was expected, but it was a car accident on Thanksgiving. That’s not easy. Her entire life hasn’t been easy – with awful things like that being more common than not.
So I backed off. Even though I was frustrated I knew to step back and just be there for her. And let her cope.
But that frustration has been creeping back in. And I’m torn between wanting to yell at her to do something, and feeling completely ashamed at even having that thought.
Depression keeps you at an impasse, because it makes you never want to go out and do anything, and then shits on you for not doing anything, making you feel even worse and then making it that much harder to go out and do anything. Rinse, repeat. A vicious cycle, to be sure.
But for me, and this is just how it was for me, once I became aware that I was depressed, I was able to fight back a little bit. Be more aware of my negative thoughts. Try to accomplish one thing a day, no matter how small, just to say I didn’t waste a day. I would make exercise a priority, because of the huge, huge impact it has on boosting your mental health.
Basically, I would start taking steps to get better. And no, it certainly wouldn’t happen overnight, and there were instances of regression, but I tried.
My current frustration lies with that I don’t think my girlfriend is trying. It got to the point where I had to voice this concern with her, even though times have been tough, because I couldn’t stand to come home and tip toe around her again. I didn’t want to come home from a day of work to babysit her.
Our discussion, if you can call it that, was brief. She mainly shrugged and said that she was waiting for it to blow over (depression never just “blows over”) and seemed content with that. I see that as giving in. Had the last 3-5 months not indicated to her that once depression takes hold, it’s hard to shake loose?
I could tell this talk was upsetting her, so I dropped it.
Emotionally, I feel like our relationship is the equivalent of a toddler throwing a tantrum by going limp. Doing that “dead weight” thing. I keep exerting myself trying to drag her along, but I can’t force her to support herself, and I only tire myself out in the meantime.
And now, now I’m back to feeling terrible, because I know just how difficult depression can be and for me to say such things about her is probably unfair. And rinse, and repeat. Frustration, shame, guilt. Frustration, shame, guilt. I keep cycling through these each day and it is completely tiring me the fuck out.
Both of us have insurance kicking in on the 1st of the year and I so very desperately hope we each get what we need through doctor visits and possibly therapy because I don’t know how much longer I can live like this. I want to support her, I want to be there for her, but I don’t also want to burden myself with a lost cause. I need to look out for me as well. Frustration, shame, guilt.
I wonder if I was attracted to her so strongly in the beginning because I recognized the dysfunction in myself reflected back through her – and I thought, hey, I can fix her! Getting together under the pretense of fixing someone never works out. With my own struggles of depression, I worry that I’m burning myself out.
Ironically, with her being so depressed, it has kept me (mostly) out of falling into my usual winter depression. I think that’s because I realize a household of constantly bickering married couple, a screw up of a son, and a severely depressed couple is a terrible idea for a sitcom, let alone our actual lives.
So I trudge on and I try to be as understanding as I think I need to be but it is becoming so burdensome. Even the act of going out to the grocery store is an ordeal with her and I try to be supportive and I want her to get better but if this continues, I don’t know what to do.
Frustration. Shame. Guilt.
I’m so tired all of the time now. This love has got me feeling so obligated to stick this out and be with her until something changes. Either her, or me. But I know I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I just happened to be in like.
So that Michael Che got me to thinking, pretty hard. At least he made me laugh about it.