My partner sent her first text to me after reading my essay about being chronically depressed and suicidal. She said it made her feel like I was truly alive. How ironic. She loved venn diagrams, so I used one to illustrate why I was terrible for her: I said I was a circle filled with black, and she was one filled with bright yellow. Intersected, there can only be muddy brown. The venn diagram that existed in her mind was different. In hers, I was a circle filled with psychedelic rainbow colours, it was a mini galaxy filled with stars and planets.
Honestly till today, I am not sure if she sees me beyond how I see myself, or she is deluded. I keep telling her the delusion will eventually lift, and she insists I don’t see what she sees.
When we first got together, I was in a better state of health. She described me as “cheerful”. I was upset, and I took that as a sign that she didn’t really know me, that the relationship would not survive. It took its time, but my darkness eventually returned, as it always did. She started witnessing how I would get really upset at the slightest of triggers, how I would just collapse in a heap of seemingly endless tears, how I would verbalise my suicidal ideation, how I would plead with her to leave me because I couldn’t bear to do this to someone I love, again and again. Perhaps those were the easier times because at the very least she could try to hold and console me. What was worse for us both were times when I would just go into a numb, silent, apathetic state that seemed to go on indefinitely. She wouldn’t be able to reach me, I am not sure if I was able to reach myself.
Early on, I made her promise that she would leave me once things got too hard for her. She keeps telling me I shouldn’t keep trying to decide for her. We celebrate every monthly anniversary we have because we both don’t know when. Behind the genuine happy smiles we contain on the instagram pictures we post, there were two people working really hard to stay together in spite of the odds.
My partner hardly has a spot of darkness in her, and I hardly have a spot of lightness in me. By being with her I know I’ll inevitably tarnish her being, but she corrects me, telling me I bring richness into her life, the feelings she never had. I am still not sure whether to believe her.
Every other day I’ll ask her why she loves me. She got slightly annoyed at first, but learned to understand that I have a pervasive fear of abandonment. Some days we talk about the meaning of life. I ask her if it is reasonable that I am depressed, looking at the state of the world. I ask if she takes it personally that I still feel like dying even though she’s present in my life. I needed her to understand the pain is mine, that I’m infinitely grateful for her but what is external cannot remove what is internal and rooted.
I have written a ton of posts about her generosity towards me, but those pale in comparison to the actual reality of the day to day work of being with me. All those times I tried to convince her she’ll be better off without me. The times I tell her I feel like dying. The times she accidentally triggered me. I shouldn’t be in a relationship.
But time and time again she schools me with her perspective, a perspective that is a consequence of a healthy psyche, a psyche that looks and feels very foreign to me. She tells me that the good outweigh the difficult, that I am unable to see myself, that if I could see what she sees, I’ll understand why she wants to be with me.
I am still not sure if I should believe her.
But this I know. That it is incredibly freeing to be with someone whom I can be honest with. She doesn’t try to fix me or implore me to get better, she engages my existential questioning and she accepts my suicidal tendencies. She doesn’t think I should stop having them or they are wrong. She may not understand what it means to have this feelings but she understands intellectually why I have them.
This is controversial, but for me, the space to be me with all my existential feelings and deep sadness, makes all the difference. It is the loneliness of being wrong, of being unaccepted, feeling like they are alone in coping with all that pain, that they are a burden to the people they love, that drives people to the edge. I know I can safely tell my partner how I feel without being judged for it. I don’t have to feel like I have to hide it. Hiding a huge part of who I am amounts to hiding myself.
I don’t want to get “better”. I have gotten better over the years and it’s never sustainable. It just makes the next drop more unbearable, because it deludes me into thinking I’ve “recovered”. I want to learn to sit with myself, with my difficult feelings. I want to learn to contain my own pain and co-exist with it, not to avoid it, not to get rid of it. The pain exists for a reason. If the pain should be gone one day it will be because I have reconciled with the cause, not because of any intervention methods (though for many people intervention is needed). I’m not advocating that this should be everyone’s choice but this is mine.
And I’m very lucky to have my partner’s support and witnessing. But she knows she will always have the choice to leave, and we know every month we survive together is a milestone — it is the acknowledged fragility that gives it its strength