Depression hasn't made me weaker, it makes me stronger.
I have written before about how depression has been a part of my life for a very long time. That's totally true, and it's something I manage and struggle with on a daily basis. I'm at peace with it as being a part of who I am as a human being.
I didn't date much in high school and college. This wasn't because I didn't want to (my insane libido is a testimony to that, I'm basically Tina from Bob's Burgers but fully grown, god help us all). I avoided dating because I felt my depression and anxiety made me too scary to love.
I was terrified of the idea that I would meet someone, fall for them, date them, and then have them discover the "real" me — the depressed me — and that they'd abandon me and run screaming for the hills.
Yeah, suffice to say self-esteem has never been a thing that has come easily for me.
It felt safer (albeit lonelier), to stay inside my bubble, loving people from afar, and keeping them away with a massive invisible force field that I turned on and off whenever I felt had to stop someone from getting too close to me.
In my most recent relationships, I think my boyfriends would describe me as clingy or desperate. This is only partially because they are jerks (well, one of them was not, one was a sweetheart who I miss on a regular basis). When I think back on my relationships with them now I realize how careful I was with all of my behavior.
I tried not ask for too much. I tried not to be too different from them. I avoided having big talks until I had a few drinks in me and my filter vanished. I tried to be cool, and it showed.
When I started dating my current boyfriend, I warned him that he would find me clingy. This was the only word I had to define the careful tightrope I walked in my previous relationships. It was a game, with me balancing like hell to seem not only normal, but perfect. The woman of each of their respective dreams. It makes me cringe to think about now.
With Buddy, it wasn't that way. He was so attentive, and present, and honest about both his feelings for me and what he wanted, that hiding who I was from him seemed not only impossible but also pointless.
I went out of my way to tell him all my faults. I explained my depression and my anxiety to him, and in the process I learned that these mental illnesses made it easy for me to ask my partner for what I want and what I need.
This is a lesson a lot of people never learn, or learn far too late.
I know I need time alone. I know I sulk. I know I can be grumpy. I know how to take care of myself, and I know how important it is to do just that if I want to maintain relationships in my life.
Depression makes me a better lover, it makes me a better friend.
It's tempting to feel regret about these things now. But I've never found regret to be all that productive to either my daily life, or my psyche. I'm learning.
Long ago I knew that I would always struggle with my depression and anxiety.
But only now am I fully realizing that this struggle isn't just making me stronger, it's making me better.
My current relationships are a testament to that.