What Battling Depression Teaches You About Love


When my wine-soaked body rolled out of bed and opened my prescription bottle on Sunday morning, I took a deep breath and closed it right back up. Two tiny little orange pills winked at me from the bottom. I have to get a refill soon, I thought, and then wondered if maybe this time I shouldn’t.

For the first time in a long time, I’m where I feel I ought to be. I finally moved out of my parents’ basement, I finally got a real job, I finally stopped letting my heart shatter over stoner boys who would rather take naps than answer a text message. So, last Sunday morning, staring into the abyss of my prescription bottle, I decided not to take my antidepressants. Because, I thought, I’m in a good place. Because my self-worth is re-emerging from wherever it went to hide when I turned 13. I don’t care about my doughy white tummy or my involuntary solitude. I have started to see the beauty in who I am and what I mean to the people who love me.

Yesterday however, I realized that maybe part of that feeling of a foundation came from the tiny orange pills I closed the lid on Sunday morning. I got home from work, dizzy and lethargic. The cottage I share with my sister was empty and I plopped down and the couch and tried to focus on finishing my copy of “Ecstatic Cahoots.” All dark and thoughtful and it was doing nothing to aid the echoing silence of my home. Nothing to do. No one to talk to. My mind started racing. It went through my brain, more diligent than ever, and dug up the pits of darkness that I had successfully managed to fill over the last few months.

“Why are you always alone, Hillary?” I tried to push the thought away. Buried my face in a pillow, felt my eyes sting with salt water.

“No one has loved you in a long, long time.” My hands shook and I scrolled through my contacts for something, someone. I wanted warmth. I wanted someone to hold me and tell me it was okay. To rush to my aid because my heart was breaking and I didn’t know why. I have friends who are far away, friends who have fallen in love, all dear to me, but all very preoccupied with wonderful things that consume their thoughts and time. No one wants to be a nuisance and no one else wants to be bothered. I close my eyes again; squeeze them tight, and text a man I’d met that weekend.

It’s a problem of mine, even when I’m balanced out by an SSRI, that I need someone else to make me feel whole. I hate sleeping alone. I hate not having someone to lean on at a bar, an automatic beer pong partner, someone to walk me home late at night. I’m okay during the day. Content to sit and read and cook and nap while the sun streams through the window. But then night rolls around and the laughing crowds parade down my street, off to their reveling, all so familiar with each other, all living a life that I seem to have missed out on cultivating. So I date. I date like crazy. After dinner and a movie I always find myself in the dark curled up next to a near-stranger and I tell him things that I’ve been keeping in. “I’m afraid of death,” I whisper, and whoever it is pulls me in tight and kisses my forehead and I wonder if maybe it’s that magical moment and I’ve finally met someone. He tells me about his family, usually, about the time he had his heart broken at 17. And I listen and absorb it and tell him we all hurt and then we clutch each other like we’re the only two people in the world.

And men will listen. When there’s the slight hint of some physical gratification for them, they are all ears and arms and comfort. So I text this man and he comes over and I tell him nothing of the emptiness in my heart and just hope that the feeling of an extended embrace will be the salve that heals my wounds. Of course it isn’t. He leaves while the sun is still in the sky and I start to count down to when I can crawl into bed and go to sleep. I feel worse than before. I turn off the lights and fill up a mason jar with cheap red wine. The couch is my prison. I have forgotten how to move.

When I woke up this morning, my body was heavy but my heart was not. There’s something so reassuring in a new day, the cliché of a clean slate. I took my meds. I prayed for the first time in a long time. I made breakfast. I called the pharmacy to refill my prescription. I do not want to have to rely on them for the rest of my life but I am not going to wreck my body and mind by quitting them so suddenly. And I will not wreck my heart by relying on the touch of others to feel full. Love will come when it is simply a desire, not some kind of desperate need. And until then, silence will be deafening but I am the only person who really has the power to change that.

featured image – Leah Love