What It’s Like To Be In Love With A Depressed Man


I just went through the wringer with true love. Still am, I guess, trudging through the dregs, through the wreckage, trying to find clues as to why this destruction took place. Trying to understand why I can still feel this person loving me, when all evidence points to the contrary.

He came into my life after a spinal cord injury and several related conditions had beaten me down to someone who was only an nth of the person I used to be.

It is profoundly painful to have someone pledge their undying love to you, to change their life around just to be with you, to awaken in you dreams you’d long given up for dead or to be found in another, distant life, and then decide they didn’t want you. I’d finally found the one who made me feel safe and loved, things I hadn’t fully ever felt.

And then he took it all away.

It was gradual and interspersed with the kindness and love I’d thought was true and unwavering. As mine was for him. Still is, because I am a fool.

He was present and helpful and loving and attentive. But sudden moments of hate would start to spring up. Out of nowhere, he’d snarl in my ear that I was the worst parent he’d ever seen. Or that I abused my cat because I was lax about cleaning the box. He flipped out if my cooking wasn’t spectacular. He insisted my children were spoiled brats. They loved him dearly and were shocked by his sudden outbursts that soon became as commonplace as his brooding; a darkness that fell over the house when he’d withdraw, and soon eggshells were the only floors me and my girls knew. He created elastic bands of loving us and then hating us that were dizzying, disorienting. Then he’d deny all of it, finding horrible accusations about me having sex with my ex or that my poetry, art & music were somehow attacks on him. I just couldn’t win. But I loved him, loved him with all my heart. I allowed his cruelty and suffered in private tears everyday. I found I had to edit my life to make him feel better. No more chatting with guy friends. I couldn’t manage that awesome teen band because he thought I wanted to fuck those little boys. I couldn’t even chat too long with my ex when we’d exchange the kids. I wasn’t supposed to work on my own music, but he stated my music wasn’t good enough for him to perform either. His music only. My life got smaller. He demanded every moment of my life for several months. I put my work on hold, thinking he really, really needed my complete love, all of my healing attention. I didn’t realize my very life force was being challenged and usurped.

We’d formed a wonderful little band together. At first he begged me to play with him, made me feel, after years in hiatus because of health problems, that I could perform again. And I did. Almost as well as it once had been. He was enthralled with me. He told me at first I was the most amazing singer and dancer he’d ever seen. But then slowly. I wasn’t good enough. He starts telling me my singing was weak, my dancing horrible. After only a few months of promising shows, he said he hated our band, he hated the way I performed. He said his mother hated my dancing, that his friends thought I was a joke. Even though people at performances always rushed to tell me they enjoyed my work.

Suddenly all our incredible experiences together, these mystical, magical things we shared that had brought us together, were my evil mechanations.

He accused me of making him believe he loved me, that somehow I’d controlled him. He’d cancel gigs without telling me, trying to get them as his solo shows. He’d blow off major dates and then say he never agreed to them. He retracted, re-canted or flat-out denied saying all of the wonderful things he’d said when he’d begun to love me. I began to notice he didn’t want me to talk to his friends and family, and they began to treat me differently. I noticed he’d seem to perform for them, if they were in the room while we were on the phone; often he’d begin yelling as if I’d said something horrible, then the phone would cut out. I realized after this happened a couple of times that he was hanging up on me and acting as if I’d hung up on him, calling me back acting indignant.

Yes, I was clueless. I was naive. But listen, buddy, I was in love.

And I say all these bad things he was doing with the understanding that he was alternately, in the same time frame, telling me he loved us, wanted to be there for me, wanted to make it work. He even went to couples’ counseling, kind of.

So perhaps you can forgive me a little for playing the fool. I was still always getting some positive feedback. But it was in the minority.

This is what happens when you fall in love with a man who suffers from an undiagnosed mood disorder and self-medicates with liquor every day.

Yes, I know. I’m not a doctor. But I am a good student. So over the last year, as he’d push and pull me, I looked this shit up.

My own therapist was concerned about him from the very beginning. He suffered from symptoms of anxiety, depression. He seemed to have some affect and reaction issues as if he were slightly on the autistic spectrum. He was the only one I ever really wanted, I loved his voice, his talents, I loved the one who loved me and desperately wanted him to remain somewhere in my life. But that person was a part of all these other unpleasant, irrational, unloving, often cruel people. I thought at one time I was strong enough to help him.

So even though I persisted, I tried so hard, believing he was suffering and needed support.

But as I tried to show him I was safe, that he could believe in me, he found more outrageous things to accuse me of. He discarded and desecrated what surely must’ve been the sweetest patch of magic in either of our lives.

From the first day of study, the diagnosis was clear as day. This man is profoundly depressed. He may be bipolar or even borderline. The articles, checklists and online tools all reported back the exact same things: I had fallen in love with a sick man.

He refuses to acknowledge that he may have a mood disorder, he denies he’s ever had any problems with anyone like he’s had with me. It’s all my fault that he’s living in his van on the street 900 miles away.

The problem is, even when you’re willing to give in to it all, to accept it all because the person you see is so much more than his illness, you will never escape their pain.

Because even now, with him far away, not wanting us, not thinking of us or needing us, I still cry for him every day.

Either way, if you try to keep them near and help them, or you let them go, they will continue to be in your heart, this beautiful person who is suffering so much and for so long, they have no idea it doesn’t have to be that way.