Depression’s Devastating Effects On My Relationship
Written by Michael Roque
A story about the effects of depression — and how it destroyed my relationship.
Before I ever experienced depression for myself, like many others I thought that depression was all self-pity and cries for attention. When someone would open up and tell me they were depressed, I would often respond to their confession with scoffs and a raised eyebrow — privately wondering to myself why they couldn’t just cheer up and get over it.
Come my twenty-sixth birthday, I’d wonder no more and begin to really understand the illness I had long overlooked.
I began to understand the absolute monster that depression is when it came across my path and ripped apart my entire world. Everything suffered: my relationships, friendships, and my self-worth all eventually plummeted to rock bottom.
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Pulled back into my past
In 2014, I was living a great life.
I had moved to Israel, made tons of friends and was even starting to think about a serious career. Then walks in my mother, who through constant manipulation and begging somehow got me to return home.
Immediately upon takeoff, I was struck with regret and suffered my first anxiety attack in a decade; this would be just a small sign of what the next fifteen months would have in store for me.
Though it certainly wasn’t perfect, life wasn’t completely miserable at first. Almost instantly upon returning to California, I crossed paths with Brenda, an old acquaintance from high school. I hadn’t seen her in over half a decade. I found that she had done fairly well for herself in the years that had passed. The attraction was immediate.
We started hanging out, and within a month, a relationship had bloomed. Life felt just as it should — good. After all, we were just two young people enjoying each others’ company.
I was actually happy.
On paper, Brenda was the perfect match for me: we enjoyed the same things, she had a great sense of humor but she also understood mine, and she got all of my stupid references while even impressing me with her own.
We had known each other for so long that she was able to surprise me with what she knew and remembered. This shared connection to the past made the dynamic between us so much more intense. Before I knew it, the two of us were on a path to something very serious.
The longing never ceased
Despite the universe bringing this wonderful woman back into my life, the calling to return to Israel grew louder and louder.
No matter how much I tried to quiet that voice, when I pictured my future, I would picture it not with Brenda. My thoughts were thousands of miles away in Tel Aviv. When I thought of friends, it was the ones in Israel that would come to mind, not the friends in LA.
I began to see myself as physically stuck in my past while my dreams, hopes, and future resided on the other side of the world.
Aside for Brenda, not all was well in LA. I harbored anger towards my mother, feeling she had manipulated me out of a life I felt was ideal.
Whereas Israel was warm, back in my hometown I misunderstood. Los Angeles wasn’t the careless place I left behind two years prior; I began seeing it for what it was, a sunken economy overflowing with crime and an epidemic of homelessness.
When I voiced my hopelessness to my mom, she would discourage it and cast it aside as if it were nothing. Most of my family would follow that lead, no one could relate.
When I first started having these feelings, I didn’t voice them to Brenda; she was successful in LA, and trashing her hometown wouldn’t have gone well with her.
She loved her life and where she was living.
Also, I didn’t want to appear like a whiny, sad boyfriend — but still, the feelings I held deep down would surface, and that whiny, sad boyfriend is exactly who I’d become.
Every joke has a bit of truth
We were at a restaurant when I had my first negative outburst; Brenda had gotten a free refill on her drink, which is very much the norm in Los Angeles, but far from common outside of America, and I let her know it.
That lead into a dialogue about the health issues in America, and how free refills and chemical-filled foods were the biggest contributors to it. From that point on it became a tradition: every time we met up, between happy moments there would be a rant.
Sometimes it’d be the lack of free medical care provided to the people; other times the crime rate or the homeless explosion across the city.
Every single rant had one thing in common and that was a comparison between my hometown and life in Israel — every trashing was followed by me praising Tel Aviv.
Brenda couldn’t grasp this. Like everyone else I knew back home, she had never left the country and was stuck in this mindset that nowhere else could possibly be better. My actions and general negativity began to spark endless arguments.
When we were together, she obviously wanted to have a fun time and I stopped delivering that.
My general unhappiness spun out of control. It eventually reached a point where I’d become angry whenever she’d bring up the old days. High school was fun but far from the best times of my life, and I didn’t care to discuss it. Not amidst a personal crisis.
Me? A negative person?
It wasn’t long before Brenda started calling me a bitter and negative person — and she was right.
That is exactly what I became and it was the exact opposite of who I thought I was. There was nothing I liked anymore: not even myself.
I looked in the mirror and hated who I had become, and this was just the tip of my depression’s iceberg. Much, much darker times were to follow.
Brenda could no longer tolerate the sight of me and began encouraging me to leave America and go back to my precious Tel Aviv.
It wasn’t long after this that we broke up in her car outside my mother’s apartment. She asked me where I saw our relationship going, and I couldn’t answer her. I told her I didn’t know, but truthfully I did know — and it was nowhere.
She wept and I sat there feeling absolutely nothing except an obsessive longing to leave California.
That was the night it all ended.
We saw each other a few more times afterward, but there was huge resentment for me on her end.
Identifying the roots of my depression
Looking back, the source of my depression wasn’t solely moving back home, but also a huge feeling of inadequacy.
In Israel, I felt like a person who mattered.
I had friends, hopes, and opportunity.
Back in my hometown, I had nothing to show for myself. I didn’t have my car anymore, and I couldn’t find a decent job. All the people I had grown up with were becoming successful while I had to take the bus to a job that I hated.
Everywhere I looked, I tried to find justification for my situation and my low self-esteem — which is what ultimately drove Brenda away, and it’s also what pushed me to such a negative place.
Once Brenda was out of the picture, I decided I was done with attachments.
No longer would I reach out to anyone or form any friendships: I was just going to work an awful job, save money, and get back to Israel. From that point on, my sole focus was returning to Israel and reclaiming my spirit.
My recovery only began once I was on a flight departing from LAX. Sometimes, depression is not just an emotion — but a message to be uncovered.
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Originally published at The Wisdonian.