Dating Depression

by Stephanie Salazar
(New York)

My boyfriend has been struggling with depression for about two years. The first year I was sort of blinded to see how extreme it had gotten, but at the same time he was doing his all to cover up the bigger issue at hand. As time went on, he would start showing signs of the mental disorder, but still I would not bother summing up the courage to ask him what was wrong. I also knew he was the type of guy who would not dare want to "bother me with his issues." The only times I would actually be able to get some information about what he was feeling and understand his seclusion, lack of motivation to do anything, was when we would argue. It wasn't pretty, but I managed to try and stay strong, not take anything being said personal, and apologize for being naive and blinded about the real issue he was struggling with.

My first thought was thinking about ways to help him. However, I tried to take matters into my own hands and take initiative in helping him get "back on track". I knew that one thing he desperately missed was having the routine he was used to of going to school. (One of the things that lead to his depression was not being able to go back to school because he had to finish paying tuition, then not being able to go back to his dream school because the tuition was too

much and he lost his scholarship because of the year he took off to pay back) I decided to motivate him in applying back to schools and handling all his paperwork, which he was grateful, but his depression was beginning to get worse, to the point where he couldn't even leave his house and he would get anxious being around a lot of people. Once again, I blocked out these obvious signs, and was kind of selfish in my thinking. I thought I was helping him, but in fact I was blocking out all the things I didn't want to hear and assuming I was doing right by pushing him into doing something he was not ready for.

Over time I have learned how to be a better listener and not assume I can fix him. Thankfully, he has sought treatment and has greatly improved from the man he was in the beginning of the year. I have learned how to be more understanding and at the same time try to take him out of his comfort zone. One thing I saw that greatly helped was me going with him to appointments. It made him less scared and feeling alone. He has days where he is motivated and has the will to go on, but one thing one must understand if they have someone who is dealing with depression is that the process to getting better isn't easy.

There have been difficult days recently, and I feel helpless when it comes down to it. I encourage him to go seek help again, and try to be present as best as I can, but I cannot be there 24/7. I love him and know he is capable of getting out of this depression, yet at times it becomes hard for me to see him sad and without any strength to move forward. He has had days where he does not see the point of even trying to go on with life itself, and that becomes hurtful to me. I've had to make time out my days when I've had class or work, just to make sure I am there, present, to try and calm him down. I do see the improvement he has made, and especially remind myself as well as remind him about them when he has his bad days. "It is all temporary, you'll get through it, you are worth it."

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