Can I Find Love If I’m Depressed?

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Evan, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I like your dating advice because it’s been quantitative and specific (rather than vague and unclear like most others’). However there is one issue I’ve never seen addressed on this site (or any other for that matter).

Suppose you had treatment-resistant depression (or any chronic mental illness), assuming that you had been going the medication-and-therapy route for years to no avail, and that you were doing all you could to help yourself in your condition, but that you were just not able to function on the same level as a healthy person (i.e., too unstable to keep a job, on social assistance, disability status, etc.). Assume also that you had had this condition your entire adult life and did not expect to get better any time soon–unless there was a significant breakthrough in the field of antidepressants or therapy techniques. How would you go about dating or finding love?

How would you find a partner who would accept that you were not healthy and could not have a job or “contribute” to society, but could still love you for you? Or if your condition did not improve and you stayed that way your whole life, would you be expected to live a celibate/companion-less life? Are there any particular pitfalls in dating that depressed people are more susceptible to than healthy people?

You may wonder why I am not asking a therapist about this…This is because every therapist I’ve ever seen does not take my desire to date or find a partner seriously. Every time I raise this issue in the therapist’s office, it gets dismissed. I’ve never seen this issue addressed in a way that’s been helpful to me. The only response I’ve ever gotten was the clichéd “You need to be healthy to start a relationship. Work on yourself first.”

Essentially, I’m asking you “How does a depressed person find love in a society that believes that depressed people are not deserving of love?” Are depressed people deserving of love? Yes? No? Yes and no? I’m really interested in getting your opinion on this whole complex issue.

—Kristi

Dear Kristi,

I feel for you.

And not in some sort of vague, quasi-sympathetic way either. I had trouble with anxiety in my early 20’s and depression in my late 20’s, so I know what it’s like to attempt to function with that black cloud hanging over your head at all times.

My issue was largely situational — subconscious freak-outs about graduating college in 1994 and the shattered dreams of failing to become a Hollywood screenwriter in 2001. Once I got past the initial trauma and found my footing, the turbulence passed and I’ve been lucky enough to have smooth sailing ever since.

But I’ve never forgotten what it was like to have that demon inside me and not be able to conquer it. I remember watching “A Beautiful Mind” and the feeling of frustration at not being able to think my way out of my own depression. It’s too big. Too overwhelming. Too irrational. You can appreciate all the reasons you have to live and all the blessings in your life but still not feel good about it.

I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy.

This is just my long way of validating where you’re coming from: I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy.

At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone marry someone who is depressed.

This is not to say that depressed people are not as “deserving” of love as anyone else in the world. But love isn’t based on being “deserving”. Dating isn’t a meritocracy. And frankly, I don’t think anyone “deserves” love just like I don’t think everyone “deserves” to be a millionaire.

If I am to be objective, Kristi, we have to look at romance much in the way that we look at work. There are only so many amazing jobs out there and everyone is forced to make tradeoffs. Some will work for a ton of money doing something that they don’t like. Some will work at something that makes no money because they love it. Some will work in an office even though they hate commuting and being around people. Some will work from home, even though they are extroverts.

And, for whatever it’s worth, there are some people who, through no fault of their own, are unfortunate. They live in a town where all the factories have been shut down. They grew up in a broken family with no positive role models. They got caught up in their own rebellion and never went to college. They had kids too young and couldn’t give as much to their careers.

All of these people might be kind, deserving people, but they’re not going to end up with the dream job simply because they’re kind and as worthy of an amazing career as the next guy. If the next guy went to an Ivy League school, had his still-married parents pay for his grad school, and chose a career path that allowed him to capitalize on the tech boom, that guy is going to have a better job 99% of the time.

Frankly, I don’t think anyone “deserves” love just like I don’t think everyone “deserves” to be a millionaire.

And so it goes in love. Your curse is depression. Some have been cursed by being overweight. Some men are too short. Some are blind or deaf or paraplegic. Are all these people “deserving” of love? In terms of fairness, yes. In terms of reality, no.

It’s perfectly fair for you to not want to date a man who can’t walk if you can find a man who can walk. It’s perfectly fair for you to not want to date a man who is in financial disarray when you can find a man who is a stable homeowner. And it’s perfectly fair for a man to choose a partner who is not depressed over a partner who is depressed.

We can go on and on about how unfair life is, but, hey, I didn’t write the rules. Life is unfair.

And as someone who really tried the patience of some well-meaning people when I was depressed and anxious, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to get too emotionally invested in me.

I was a cesspool of negativity, scattered thinking and helplessness. I was a shadow of my former and future self. I didn’t even like to be around myself — why would any woman enjoy being around me? Especially when she can choose to keep the company of another guy who wasn’t crying spontaneously every morning.

I’ve seen relationships torn apart by depression, generally where one partner tries to overlook the other partners’ significant issues. But those issues always come back to haunt the couple, the same way you’re still haunted by your own chronic mental health. If you can’t escape it, he can’t either. And that’s not a life that most people are going to voluntarily sign up for.

The best metaphor, I think, would be having an autistic child. I have a friend who has one and it’s incredibly emotionally draining on him. And while he’d never say he “regrets” having his son, I think if he were given a choice of autistic vs. not-autistic, he’d choose the latter. It would be hard to blame him.

So while I’m extremely sorry for the loneliness you feel, your therapists are ultimately right. Until you can get happy yourself, it would be very hard to contribute to a partner’s happiness.

It’s not that it’s impossible to find love when you’re depressed — I know of a handful of stories — and those relationships are no picnic – but objectively, there’s only a small percentage of men who are such selfless caretakers that they would choose a depressed partner over someone who doesn’t have serious mental health issues.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope that you get the help you need to one day have the relationship you desire.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Nicole

    @Ann, you are incorrect in assuming my background.   I’m not a practicing physician but I went to medical school so I do understand the basics behind mental illness.   So maybe you don’t know anything about psychiatry but I actually did have to learn these things in school, so I know more than a layperson but clearly much less than a trained shrink.

    The letter writer can find a relationship, but having a good relationship with a good partner that lasts is another thing entirely.

    She has discussed her difficulties in managing her illness, and that’s not something anyone is inferring here.   Her own DOCTOR has told her to work on herself more, precisely b/c of the challenges and risks involved. She did to his advice what you and a lot of people do with the advice given here…she twisted it into hyperbole that she had no right to date and didn’t “deserve” love.   No one said that, and the advice given to her is responsible and fair b/c what she is asking will be very, very hard to find, and even harder for her to keep B/C of her hard to manage and out of control illness.

    She can do what she wants, but she wrote here looking for validation and that wasn’t given to her b/c frankly it would be the wrong thing to do.

    Hopefully she won’t wind up in a situation that pushes her off the cliff, so to speak.     

  2. 22
    Ann

    Nicole@24: I didn’t know anything about your background, though by your own admission you are not a doctor or a therapist and therefore are not licensed to advise psychiatric patients. So I stand by my statement that we  here are not doctors (though it seems that Helene is). That said,  I, too, have studied psychiatry and psychology, though, like you, I have never practiced.

    I do know that it is considered unethical for any psychoanalyst to tell a patient explicitly what to do in relationship unless that patient is in danger or presenting a danger to another.  

    If she wants a consensual sexual or companionate relationship, as she states,  and she can  find one, which many people agree she can,  and she isn’t in any danger to herself or others, why shouldn’t she go for it? Who are we to tell her otherwise?

  3. 23
    Goldie

    Here’s what confuses me. I will admit that I am a layperson who had very limited, brief experience with mild, situational depression. Basically for a few weeks I didn’t want to eat, do anything, or talk to anyone. I went through the motions because I need to run a family and pay the bills. I admit that it was probably an extremely mild case compared to what actual clinical depression must feel like.
      
    So what I don’t understand here is, why the desire to be in a relationship in the first place? A relationship is a lot of work. It places demands on one’s time and energy and involves taking care of another person (and juggling him with all other people you may already have in your life). It’s fun, but at the same time, it is work, kind of like having a pet, or a kid. As they say, be careful what you wish for?
      
    Then again, there are many different ways a committed relationship can work, and some of those may work for the letter writer. In my case, as soon as I recognized what I was going through, I told people that I was already dating that I was not up for anything serious until I felt better. A few of them wished me luck and moved on, others stuck around for sort of semi-casual dating, which actually did make me feel better, like spending time with good friends. It was very low-pressure, low-commitment type of thing that worked for me when I was under my black cloud. Anything serious would’ve probably worn me out at that time.

  4. 24
    Nicole

    @Ann, I’m not going to bother to explain to you the manner in which doctors are educated, and I already pointed out that I’d have learned more than you but less than someone who trained as a psychiatrist…even a licensed doctor isn’t going to know much more beyond the basics that I learned unless he or she completed a residency, but whatever.

    The person who told her to get herself together was, in fact, her doctor.   So who are YOU to tell her that her doctor is wrong?

    But your comments show that you like to misinterpret people’s words so there really isn’t any point in trying to explain any further.  

  5. 25
    Ruby

    I’ve been in a relationship with a person with this kind of depressive mental illness. We weren’t involved for very long (although we’d been friends for a few years first), as he simply couldn’t handle a relationship at that time. People with that kind of depression struggle just to get out of bed, have thoughts of suicide,etc. Even on medication, they can go through periods where the medication doesn’t work so well, depending on what else is happening in their life. Or they are feeling better, and decide to decrease or go off their meds, and the depression hits even worse. The fellow I dated wasn’t a bad person, but he was extremely self-involved and not very stable, and not someone I’d wish as a long-term partner, although he eventually did get married. Certainly, he was higher functioning than Kristi, could work, and wasn’t on disability.

    But as Helene said, Kristi might be able to form a relationship with someone else who is facing challenges of their own, so it’s not out of the question.  

  6. 26
    Saint Stephen

    No! No! No! I vote for working on her condition first before plunging into the dating world. I can’t even believe that some commenters on here would advise otherwise.
      
    Telling a clinically depressed person to actively engage in the dating sphere is one of the terrible advise I’ll ever hear, knowing that the dating world is a “battlefield” which could eventually leave even the most emotionally healthy and mentally stable people- jaded and depressed.
      
    Seriously, i really don’t think Kristi- given her present condition- is fortified enough to survive the casualties that abounds aplenty in the dating world, and a few rejection here and there would leave her contemplating suicide. Don’t even get me started on men who use women as cum dumps, a few encounters with such men and her quest for love might just have a tragic end.
    To me Kristi”s safety matters more than finding love.

  7. 27
    Cristy

    I’ve never posted on your website before, EMK however, after reading this post, I’ve felt compelled to!
      
    I have a diagnosis of Depression, and I believe it’s both situational and well, internal. I’ve been taking medication, and also reading a couple of self-help books have helped me along the way. However, for the last 3-4 years or so, it’s been a STRUGGLE because I’ve went to seen so many doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. that I can’t believe that I’m finally at a point where I’m at.
    I’m STILL depressed, where I have depressive thoughts, negative feelings, however I’m very thankful to find a way to accept them and just try to “ignore them.” It sounds easy, but it’s taken me 4 years, lots of heardbreak to get to a point where it feels a bit stable.
    It’s really hard to HEAR that EMK believes that people won’t really date depressed people, but even when I think about it, I don’t really want to date someone who right off the bat told me, “Hey, I’m depressed just to let you know.” Unfortunately, it’s a stigma, and even as open as I am, I still would like to try to date someone remotely healthy.
    I’ve had my share of people who were verbally abusive but had no “diagnoses,” although I really think they could have diagnosed with depression, too. I studied Psychology, so I have had experience and knowledge in this field. The people I dated were unhealthy, and EMK should really emphasize it more that if   you’re unhealthy, you will NATURALLY attract unhealthy people. Given Kristi’s situation is much severe than most people here (even I was diagnosed with SEVERE DEPRESSION, however I am working, funcitoning w/ daily life, just t he relationshilp part is very lacking), it’s very   hard for us to sit here and judge her when we really do NOT know her situation that well.
    As for EMK’s post, I’m a bit disappointed at his lack of compassion, although he did express his empathy during the beginning. I just expected more from him but I guess he’s just giving his “tough love,” in a way of how a man would think from the beginning.
    I’ll tell you this, however, it’s best to keep some things to yourself in the beginning, however if you think you CAN manage your depression, go out and try to have fun in the dating world. In a way, everybody’s a little bit messed up, so I don’t think depressed people should hinder themselves just because of this   “disability” or this “shortcoming,.” There are lots of people with their shortcomings, “i.e., baldness, shortness, hairy arms, etc.” or whatever it may be, however, the key is to be acceptable of yourself and have a “WTF” attitude (I know, I know, but it’s true) and that YOU ARE contributing to this world!
      
    When you think like that, have confidence, you REALLY can come up with a solution, it may not be a solution that you wanted in the first place, but it will be a WORKABLE solution for you. I hope that EMK will understand this disorder more and give more compassion to the reader and other readers like myself out there. Thanks however for touching on this controversial subject.

    1. 27.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Cristy, I’m not sure how I could have been more compassionate, apart from giving her false validation about her dating prospects that I really don’t believe. Is that “tough love”? I don’t think there’s anything predictably tough about it, no more than it’s “tough love” to tell me that I’m never going to have a career like Oprah Winfrey. It’s just, you know, honest. Add in that I spent considerable time talking about my own low-level depression and how difficult it was for me to function and for anyone to date me, and it’s unclear to me what I should have told the OP that would have been better advice.

      1. 27.1.1
        chuck

        Evan,

         

        Kristy is not asking whether she can become a multi-billionaire celebrity (ie, your equating having Oprah Winfry’s career), she’s just wondering if it’s ever possible she can successfully date someone.   Sheesh.   Gawd, eveyone acts like she has leprosy.   And ya know what– I’d put money down there are folks with leprosy who’ve found love.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          And I’d put money down that it’s a lot harder for them. That was my only point.

  8. 28
    Casey

    Totally agree with Saint Stephen…Dating itself can put you into situational depression after a few bad experiences and this girl can’t even hold as job!!!…Really, you would advise her to date???

  9. 29
    Ruby

    Cristy # 30

      <<In a way, everybody’s a little bit messed up, so I don’t think depressed people should hinder themselves just because of this   “disability” or this “shortcoming,.” There are lots of people with their shortcomings, “i.e., baldness, shortness, hairy arms, etc.” or whatever it may be, >>

    I don’t think you can compare someone who has severe depressive mental illness with baldness or hairy arms, sorry. Mental illness isn’t a “disability” in quotation marks, it’s a disability, period. If Kristi is too unstable to keep a job, and is on disability and public aid, dating is going to be very tough. But as I said, she may be able to find someone in similar straights who would be more accepting.  

    1. 29.1
      starthrower68

      I guess my question would be how she able to think about dating if the depression is that severe; and what I mean by that is, depressives tend to have a sense of hopelessness, not take an interest in things they enjoy such as hobbies, and they tend to withdraw from others and isolate. Isolation is not a good thing to do as it makes the depression worse. But it would seem like she might not be able to think about dating from being mentally and emotionally drained.

  10. 30
    nathan

    You know, I tend to agree with those of you taking the tough love stance here, but feel that there has to be some wiggle room in the discussion. Telling someone who has spent years working on themselves that they should just keep on doing that, and not at all considering dating, until some unquantifiable results come about, is basically saying “you’re screwed” to someone. I completely agree that someone in Kristi’s position will have a difficult time dating, and it might not work for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, someone like her should have no illusions about how meeting someone might suddenly “cure” her, because that’s just nonsense.
      
    But some of you are talking about Kristi like she’s little better than a child, when in fact she’s a grown woman who clearly has her shit together enough to send in a thoughtful letter asking legitimate questions to Evan’s blog. Perhaps some of you think – she wrote a letter, so what? But I’ve seen hundreds of letters sent into dating blogs, and thousands of comments made on dating blogs – and many of them lack the awareness Kristi expresses here about her current situation.
      
    Given that, and the fact that we also don’t know her dating history and/or how long she actually worked with any of these therapists she mention, to me it makes sense to leave the door open a crack in whatever advice being given. To recognize that while the odds might be stacked against her, she’s not a hopeless case, based on what we currently know.

  11. 31
    Sayanta

    Cristy,

    I think you’re substituting ‘compassion’ for ‘why didn’t he tell me what I want to hear?’

  12. 32
    Goldie

    @ Nathan, telling someone they’re not at a good point right now to be in a relationship is not the same, IMO, as telling them they’re screwed. It’s just saying that this type of work, right now, won’t be good or beneficial for them. I actually agree with St.Stephen on this one, it may end badly.
      
    It’s like me asking, if any amount of running gives me horrible back and knee pain, should I run marathons in the state I’m in, or should I first figure out how to make the knee and back pain go away? If you tell me I’m not in a position to run marathons right now, it won’t be a judgment on me as a person. You won’t be telling me I’m screwed. You will instead be telling me that I, the way I am now, would hate running marathons, because marathons will make me hurt like hell.

  13. 33
    Ellen

    I basically agree with Nathan- her case isn’t quite hopeless, shouldn’t be considered totally hopeless (though the odds are stacked against her, undoubtedly).

    Maybe another depressed man will find her and they can struggle together at least. It won’t be easy,  but her paired with a so-called “content, happy”  man wouldn’t be easy either. I feel she has some sort of basic right to love and happiness, despite her condition. Not necessarily to drag anyone down so to speak, but to seek it somehow nonetheless. Hard to articulate.

    Lots of people are dysfunctional imo- I’m meeting them on dates for God’s sake.  Unfortunately, they come across as normal in their profiles, for several dates, til the “demons” appear, sometimes quite suddenly. They just don’t go about proclaiming how chronically depressed/fubar  they are upfront as this gal has done. A lot of these men are chronically jerks, or chronically passive aggressive, or chronically controlling or chronically whatever (fill in the blanks).

    Depression is, imo, the soul in crisis, desperately wanting more, desperately dissatisfied with the world’s status quo and it’s serious business. One has to find a way to be happy regardless, to eschew drugs if possible. Some depressions are basically chemical though and drugs then are the ONLY answer.

  14. 34
    Margaret

    The one thing   I have found is that there is no rhyme or reason in love. I have personally seen women who are arguably more compromised than the OP and have loving, stable, overall great men in their lives.   And, as Nathan so astutely pointed out, she appears to be far more self aware than many people, men and women.

    I think that all *any* of us can do,  is to continue growing and striving to be our best selves, whatever that may be.   The rest will have to sort itself out.   Human beings are all defective in some manner.   It is all in the eye of the beholder.

  15. 35
    Ann

    Nicole@27: You don’t really know anything about me, my education, or my life experiences, so it’s pretty bizarre that  you are  asserting that you know more than I do about anything in particular. Very weird.

    Here’s the bottom line here. The OP wrote in asking EMK if he thought anyone would date her given her condition and how she could go about finding someone. He said he didn’t think anyone would date her and others agreed. Others disagreed, I among them. Based on what I have seen out there, there are plenty of folks who find others willing to be in relationship with them, no matter what their handicaps. And if our OP meets one of those guys, do you think she’s going to say no to him because of anything we say on this blog? No. She’s going to go out with him!

  16. 36
    nathan

    Goldie, the reason why I used the term “screwed” is that she has been told the same thing for years, and is getting the same “keep working on yourself” message from many on here. If you kept being told to do the same thing year after year, and nothing much changed, wouldn’t you feel screwed?
      
    Anyway, I stand behind what I wrote above. There are plenty of folks out there without diagnoses. who are able to hold down jobs and otherwise look fine on paper, but are actually disasters in relationships. It just seems a little too easy to categorize someone like Kristi as “completely undateable” right now, whereas everyone on here probably has been on dates (or in relationships) with people who turned out to be completely the opposite (in a negative way) from what they appeared to be.
      
      

  17. 37
    Margaret

    @ nathan # 40   I totally agree with your assertions.

  18. 38
    Kristi

    First off, Wow. Look at the fiery controversy I seem to have started.
    Thank you EMK, and everyone for all your different opinions.
    I have a few things I want to say:
    It has been mentioned by a few people that you don’t know enough about my life/situation/dating history.
    I’ve been told many different things by many different professionals, most of whom were not very helpful at all. Some have told me to focus on my health first, others have expressed that they didn’t think I was too unhealthy for a relationship at all.
    I don’t work because I tend to be oversensitive to peer/coworker’s criticisms and this negatively affects my condition. Last time I had a full-time occupation, I got bullied/gossiped about by my peers which caused me to have a mental breakdown.
    However, just because I can’t contribute much money into a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to contribute.

    The two biggest problems I’ve had so far in dating
    1)       Not getting dates in the first place(No one wanting to go out with me before the depression issue even comes up)
    2)       The person I’m dating being abusive/abandoning me after they have found out I’m depressed.


    Angie@14 , “It shouldn’t be “Are depressed people deserving of love?”.   It should be “Am I capable of 100% dedicating myself to and being good to another person, and 100% refusing to let the depression bring negativity into the relationship?” (If your answer is “They should just deal with it” then I agree that you need to “Work on yourself first” b/c no one should be in a relationship if they aren’t willing to give the best of themselves, and you ideally want to find a person who complements you and motivates you towards your best, not enables you to be at your worst).”
    I’m capable of loving and dedicating myself to another person, I’m capable of honesty, and openness. (I don’t shut out close friends or partners when I’m depressed). I cannot promise to be positive at all times, I cannot promise to pretend to be happy all the time when I’m not, I cannot promise to never need help or support. But I could promise to support the other person if they went through stuff just as long they didn’t take it out on me. And I wouldn’t take my issues out on others, either.
    I’m still intimate when I’m depressed. Like I’m not this bitchy, reclusive person that yells at everyone and doesn’t have sex, doesn’t want to go out or do anything, ignores their partner, and all those stereotypes that go along with depressed people. I’m very loving and I love to spend time, give to, and support the person I love. I’m just sad sometimes.
    I want to learn how to minimize the effect of my depression on them as much as possible.
    Nicole@12 “they have learned perhaps when they need space and how to minimize the impact of their illness on those around them, b/c they took the time and did the work.”
    That’s funny that you say that, because that is precisely what I wrote the letter to find out. How to minimize the impact on those around them. That’s what I want to learn to do.

  19. 39
    Kristi

    Christy@30 “if   you’re unhealthy, you will NATURALLY attract unhealthy people.” . Yeah, that’s kind of what I’ve been experiencing, not just with dating, but with friendships, too. When you say, “I’ve had my share of people who were verbally abusive but had no “diagnoses,” although I really think they could have diagnosed with depression, too.”. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been experiencing with dating and friendships. Healthy people don’t want to date or even be friends with me. Instead, I get people who are either sick themselves, or healthy but abusive.
    And I’ve had my fair share of abusive people who weren’t depressed, rather took advantage of my depressed state to be mentally abusive/passive-aggressive/using/controlling, blaming me for my depression to make me feel bad, ect… Depressed people are very easy to take advantage of when they’re going through a bad episode. They have very little willpower or self esteem and might not even realize the other person is treating them badly…
    Saint Stephen@29 “Seriously, i really don’t think Kristi- given her present condition- is fortified enough to survive the casualties that abounds aplenty in the dating world, and a few rejection here and there would leave her contemplating suicide. Don’t even get me started on men who use women as cum dumps, a few encounters with such men and her quest for love might just have a tragic end.
    To me Kristi”s safety matters more than finding love.”
    Yeah, I know what you mean the last person I dated wasn’t so nice to me and it took a lot out of me. We met when I was in a depressed episode. She didn’t want anything to do with it, so we took a break.   We started seeing each other when I was just kinda coming out of it and she just dragged me back down with her passive-aggressive mind games. That, and she’d simultaneously be pressuring me to get better faster while being occasionally mentally sabotaging. It was like she was yelling at me to get up and holding me down to the ground at the same time. She put so much pressure on me to get better right away that the stress was actually making me sicker. After we cut contact, it took a few months for me to recover. I kinda feel like she (indirectly) almost killed me.

    1. 39.1
      amy

      Kristi, I totally get that!! You are not alone…
      No one is perfect, depression or not.. I have met men who do that mental sabotage thing, and women friends who see where your vulnerabilities lie and prey upon those, and believe me, these folks suffered anger issues from divorce, inferiority issues from a controlling husband, issues from childhood, children of adult alcoholics, many things in life that contribute to how we are. Why not go with it if you find a possible partner in crime, if they understand and care for you, two is often better than one on an island..

  20. 40
    Helen

    Kristi and Evan: I admire your courage for putting it out there as you did.

    Even before reading Evan’s response, I was thinking that Kristi’s therapists were right in saying that she needed to make herself healthy first before  entering an intimate relationship.  Maybe one problem is, Kristi, that they didn’t tell you how exactly you were supposed to do that.  Sometimes, telling a person “You need to do or be this” without offering guidance on HOW to do so can be frustrating and construed as insensitive, and therefore the advice is not taken seriously.  

    Especially if the advice is so broad as “You need to work on yourself first” – very true, but how and where to start?   I cannot offer directions (Kristi, hopefully your therapist can), but will offer you a perspective: ALL of us need to work on ourselves, all of us have weaknesses, none of us are completely healthy in every aspect of our being.  Also, even those of us who are not clinically depressed find it hard to take the proactive steps needed to change those weaknesses in our lives nd ourselves.  There are different degrees, but please know that  you are not alone in your struggle to become a healthier being.

    Maybe the therapists’ advice could be taken  in another way as: “Take care of yourself first; you deserve it.” Laura 3 started to get at some of this;  I agree and add  that, as much as possible, eat as well as you can, exercise and spend time outdoors every day  if you can, take time to meditate if you can, and sleep as well as you can.

    Taking care of yourself is loving yourself, and is always good to get in place before sharing that love with others. As Stephen 29 says, it’s a battlefield out there, and it would be an absolute tragedy if someone were to take advantage of another’s depression.

    Best  of luck to you.  

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