How to Love a Depressed Man

 By IZ ZAKARIA

You meet him when he’s alone, probably smoking a cigarette outside of a bar, or looking for a book in the library. You start talking about something important, or at least it felt important at the time, like Plato’s Republic or the future of today’s youth, or anything pretentious like that. His depth is captivating, unique, and you don’t know it yet, but you’re already starting to fall for him.

Good days with him are exceptional, it’s different from anything else you have ever and will ever experience. His world is so different from yours and you’re just dying to be a part of it, and he lets you. He tells you about the amazing thoughts in his head, and his mind is wonderful indeed. He will single you out as the most important thing in his world right now. This makes you feel special. There’s no one else in this world like him, and he chooses you to confide in, there can’t possibly be another relationship in this world like yours. It will feel a bit like Aladdin taking Jasmine on the magic carpet ride, or Superman taking Lois Lane flying over the city. It’s magical. It’s exciting. It’s the best.

But from time to time, his bad days come around. And you do not understand it. He tells you that you’re the best thing in the world on Monday, and by Tuesday, he doesn’t see you at all, as if you don’t exist. In the morning, he brings you breakfast in bed, but by lunchtime, he’s furiously rummaging through his bookshelf. You don’t know why and he refuses to tell you what changed. He blocks everything out; he does not listen, not to you, not to his friends, not to his family, not to anyone. You wish you could help him. You can’t handle seeing him like this, not the person you love. Not the person who, just an hour ago, took you out on the best date ever. You feel insufficient. You feel you should be able to “fix” him, to make him as happy as he made you, but you can’t. You feel helpless.

At the beginning, the bad days are few and far in between but as the relationship progresses, it comes more and more often. His depression makes its way into your life. This world that was once full of wonders became dark and depressing, because it offers nothing that could fix him. You would not be able to help it. Laughing and smiling takes significant effort. You can’t tell anyone because you think only one person can possibly understand. The person who made you feel so exceptional that you become isolated, just like him.

You stay. You stay because you hold on to the few good days. You stay because the sadness in those beautiful eyes asked you to. You stay because you feel like you’re only good for him now, other people will not be able to compare. You stay for as long as you can until he leaves you. He leaves you because he cannot stand being the person who made you like this. He loved you once, after all. He leaves you because he can’t handle his own depression, and he knows you can’t either. He leaves you because he knows that it is him who is making you sad, it is him who is keeping you from everyone else. He knows this better than anyone else, so he leaves.

You don’t understand his reasons for leaving you, not yet, so you feel betrayed. Your mind went from cloudy to thunderstorms. If it was hard to laugh when you were with him, now it is impossible. Your friends, the ones who stuck around, try all they can to cheer you up, but you avoid them, because you are embarrassed of your sadness. You are embarrassed that you’re no longer the happy person you once were. You are embarrassed that you’ve let a relationship change who you are. You are afraid that your depression, like his, will be infectious. So you withdraw into your own little world.

You eat and sleep and work. Your life is the same, but it isn’t. You’ve changed. And every day, you look for the reset button, to go back to the person you once were, before you met him. You won’t find it, but you’ll find that slowly, painfully slowly, you will forget him, and you will be able to laugh again. Eventually. TC mark

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