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Coping with Depression from Being Single


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I read this article today that illustrates exactly how I feel and inspired me to start this topic: 'Coping With Depression From Being Single', on Livestrong website.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past to bring it up on this forum. I would really love thoughts on depression from/while being single.

I have severe depression and part of it is great discomfort/hate for myself. I logically know I must love myself and have things to live for. But I don’t feel that way. I often feel like nothing is going right for me, I have nothing to live for, and I want to die. One big piece of this is that I’m 27 and have dated a lot but have never had a serious boyfriend. I want a family some day. In fact, that’s all I want and all I find living for. However, I don’t even have a boyfriend so it’s unfathomable right now. 

I read the posts on this forum and though I’m so happy for all of you I feel terrible about myself. So many people with depression are married with children and I can’t even find a man to commit to me for a year. I feel like a terrible failure for this and it just exacerbates my self loathing. I really feel, even though I know it may not be true, that I could learn to really love myself and be well if I just had a ****ing boyfriend already who can love me, too. I don’t know how to reconcile this as I know I must be comfortable being single to live a fulfilling life.

I don’t know how to live a healthy life worth living, even while single, that completely loves myself. It eats me up. I want to die. 

Edited by 20YearsandCounting
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I felt like this for a REALLY long time. I dated tons of non-committal guys who all ripped my heart out, and I continuously felt rejected and unwanted, unattractive, not this or that "enough" blah blah. It was a terrible existence and many times I wanted to die and frankly I'm surprised I didn't take my life during those lonely and excruciating years. I turned to alcohol a lot and had numerous one night stands, anything to just feel okay for a day or two. After a while I totally gave up finding someone, and stopped wearing make-up, dressing nice....I was in grad school full time, working full time and in my very little free time I just binge watched netflix. Then one day out of the blue I met someone and we went on a few dates. Then I got super drunk as I use to do on dates, and me and the dude got it on, etc. I figured that was that, now that he's seen what an ugly loser I am he'll be on his merry way. Well, me and that guy are married now, happily. So...yeah. I guess eventually we all find someone, seriously. Just hang in there. Work on becoming who you want to be. 

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Sorry you're going through this miserable situation. I spent years feeling like you describe, and it is hellish. I would have done anything to have a girlfriend, at the time, but people smell despiration, and when you hate yourself others arent interested either. Sorry to say you have to go through the work of being ok with yourself, stop trying so hard, and stay out and about where people are. Find activities where people are, and stop thinking every potential mate...is a potential mate, and is going to give you a family right away. Thats way too much pressure for him and yourself.

 Im sure you have tons to offer, but you need to pace yourself and not scare guys away with " Hi, wanna go to dinner then start a family?"

All that crap about youll find someone when you quit looking isnt that ridiculous. I ended up married, and i never thought that would happen either.

Keep at it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey - ok so you're really not going to like my answer, but I'm going to say it anyway, because I hope it wakes you up at 27, the same way it did for me at 37. No man will EVER fill that void you feel in your life. You feel like you'll get validation and learn to love yourself more in a relationship..... but you will destroy any relationship, or any potential relationship by forcing it to grow and grow quickly. Which makes you feel worse, which starts the whole process again.

Weirdly, men have this sense about women who are showing signs of desperation. I'm not saying you're desperate and willing to settle for anyone, but that's the impression you might be giving off. I have spent that last 18 years in nothing relationships with men I didn't really care about because I hated being single. I've been single now 2 years and you know what? I love it. I've been promoted at work, bought my first house, hang out with close people who love me and spend my money on what I want. I've also (more importantly) sorted my head out and cleared toxic people from my life

I'm not saying if the right man came along i'd pass, but life is SO MUCH BETTER when you accept your flaws, embrace what makes you, well, you and find the confidence to stand on your own. I know its a cliché, but you deserve to be happy all on your own, and regardless of whether a relationship is on the cards or not, you will be so much happier when you learn to like yourself. Good luck and I hope you fall back in love with yourself x

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It's difficult to say whether a boy friend will help or hinder.   I look at it this way. If one is drowning a bf could come rescue or hold you under the water.  

A doctor once told me it's okay to use a crutch when I am not doing well.

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I know this kinda stuff is tough for you, Eileen, as it has been/is for many of us.  One comment I'd make on your OP is that there are no "musts."  Goals are useful, but when they become rules, imo, they can become unattainable.  It can become an endless loop of frustration and relentless self-criticism.  That's to say, you don't have to be perfect to deserve a good relationship.

I'll expand on what @Steveab63 mentioned about "smelling desperation."  From a male perspective, that has sent me running...the other way.  On the flip side, I'd point out there are unscrupulous characters among my sex who will manipulate that desperation for their own ends.  Narcissistic personalities come immediately to mind.  And in terms of your personal safety, those may be the most benign.

Edited by MarkintheDark
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There's a part of me that thinks that I am single because I'm depressed. No one wants to be around that, and I don't want to subject them to it. I always self sabotage every relationship I have, be it romantic or friendly. I always push until they break as I'd rather they leave because I gave them a reason instead of just leaving because I'm not enough. 

 

I signed up to this forum specifically to vent about my inability to feel in relationships, to deal with them, to cope. To find how others have gotten through it and how they can connect. All I want so desperately to be loved, by anyone at all, that I just jump from one poorly suited relationship to the next.

 

My last serious boyfriend was the reason I sought out professional help after years of struggling with depression and anxiety alone. I spent 3 years with a narcissistic sociopath that gaslit me for 3 years, emotionally and mentally abused me and ended up cheating on me in a long, drawn out, public affair while I was living with him. That was all over almost a year ago now, and I still have PTSD from that relationship, but I keep seeking out new connections because of my abandonment issues and hyper-sexuality disorder, running head first from one bad thing to another, and getting hurt every time. It's lonely and it's painful. But the depression makes me so numb to it all that it's not one big ache every now and then, it's a growing ever present dull ache that makes my whole chest feel numb and dull. It all hurts so much it's almost like it doesn't hurt anymore.

 

It is comforting to see on here how people have found people to spend their lives with, how so many posters have husbands and wives and children. My depression makes me a natural disaster, I'm like a hurricane or an earthquake tearing through the lives of anyone that gets close to me. The isolation is so terrifying, and every time I hurt someone, I just hurt myself more.

 

How can anyone love me if I can't love myself, if I hate myself so much? Self love is the key, but what do you do when it feels so far out of reach its almost impossible? I keep doing these awful things to people with no control over myself. How can I ever forgive myself for my mistakes or forget the pain that scars me and forever changes me into this ugly caricature of depression?    

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I'm single now. Have been for just over a year.

I've just been through a horrible divorce. It took a full year to get everything sorted...sell the house, find somewhere to live etc and I was treated poorly by my ex throughout. It added bucket loads to the stress of it all.

I was with my ex for 9 years. We had plenty of issues and I think he might have had narcissistic tendencies but I still loved him and I was determined to stay in the relationship to the bitter end. 

Previously I'd never managed to stay in a relationship longer than a couple of years. 

In hindsight it probably would have been better for my health and wellbeing all round if I had actually ended the relationship after 2 years.

Still, for whatever reason I needed to go through it and to learn from it. It was probably the hardest thing I ever did to be in that relationship but I must have learned a relationship 

encyclopeda  in that time. I feel like I graduated from relationship school. 

I don't see them as the be all and end all any more. I don't see them as the answer. I don't believe 'love' heals everything.  I don't believe in 'the one'. 

I don't have all the answers. I have no-one right now and dealing with that is massively challenging also. It's hard to say which is harder, being in a difficult relationship or being alone.

Most people would choose the relationship and I have to admit maybe it would have been easier on me to stay. But I think it would have crumbled anyway eventually. It would have just been messier if we had left it longer.

It's so difficult. It's unhealthy to be alone and like you say, how do you develop a relationship when you are starting with desperation?

Perhaps it's wise to start building on friendships and acquaintances.

 

 

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On 9/30/2018 at 2:10 AM, LostInThought said:

How can anyone love me if I can't love myself, if I hate myself so much? Self love is the key, but what do you do when it feels so far out of reach its almost impossible? I keep doing these awful things to people with no control over myself. How can I ever forgive myself for my mistakes or forget the pain that scars me and forever changes me into this ugly caricature of depression?    

This assertion from the mental health community that you *must* "love yourself" for someone else to love you is total hogwash imo. Do you think everyone in the world who is loved also accepts and appreciates themselves completely? No! There are millions of people in happy successful relationships who have very poor self worth/self esteem. Of course that isn't an ideal situation, but it happens all the time. Take many of us on this forum, for example.

How can you ever forgive yourself or forget traumatic events that caused you pain? Who says you have to forgive yourself or forget these things? You don't, and frankly, you won't. These memories will stick with you the rest of your life and you will cringe whenever you think of them. All you have to do, or sometimes all you can do, is move on from them and put them behind you. Just keep going, one foot after the other, and in time those memories will lose their power over you.

On 9/30/2018 at 2:10 AM, LostInThought said:

There's a part of me that thinks that I am single because I'm depressed. No one wants to be around that, and I don't want to subject them to it. I always self sabotage every relationship I have, be it romantic or friendly. I always push until they break as I'd rather they leave because I gave them a reason instead of just leaving because I'm not enough.  

This might actually be the reason you're single. Not because you don't totally accept yourself, not because you have baggage, but because being a downer/attention-seeker/game-player is unattractive. Also, being depressed in general is exhausting and all consuming and depressed people tend to have less hobbies, or work toward achievement. Work on becoming someone you would like to date - a healthy, well-balanced person with personal interests and goals, who also has a desire to be in a loving and mutually-fulfilling relationship. Have you read any self-help books about how to be a good relationship partner or how to have/maintain a healthy relationship? 

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14 hours ago, morecoffee said:

This assertion from the mental health community that you *must* "love yourself" for someone else to love you is total hogwash imo. Do you think everyone in the world who is loved also accepts and appreciates themselves completely? No! There are millions of people in happy successful relationships who have very poor self worth/self esteem. Of course that isn't an ideal situation, but it happens all the time. Take many of us on this forum, for example.

I agree, not every one who is loved loves themselves. Everyone is different, while some are unable to love themselves, they find someone who does love them regardless. I've thought this over and I personally though am not able to accept love as my self hatred stems so deep I can't accept that they truly love me as I don't see why they would, so I doubt them and push them away. I guess I shouldn't learn self love to find love, I need to accept that I can be loved. My issues stem from more than past relationships, being abandoned by my father at an early age made me feel as if, if the person that's biologically supposed to love me can't, why would anyone else? I keep going back to that mentality, being a scared child, desperately wanting my father to come back to me and be there for me. Life was hard, but I kept hoping that if only he'd come back, he'd make it all better, but that never happened, and when I met him again 13 years after, I found that he just didn't care. 

 

14 hours ago, morecoffee said:

This might actually be the reason you're single. Not because you don't totally accept yourself, not because you have baggage, but because being a downer/attention-seeker/game-player is unattractive. Also, being depressed in general is exhausting and all consuming and depressed people tend to have less hobbies, or work toward achievement. Work on becoming someone you would like to date - a healthy, well-balanced person with personal interests and goals, who also has a desire to be in a loving and mutually-fulfilling relationship. Have you read any self-help books about how to be a good relationship partner or how to have/maintain a healthy relationship? 

Depression is exhausting, it's a very difficult thing to live with. I'm trying, but the exhaustion gets overwhelming. From afar though, no one would guess. I over compensate by projecting the optimism I wish I felt out to the world and around people being the happiest person you can imagine. When people find out I'm depressed, they don't understand why. Every single person starts counting all the things I have going for me, they all say I'm beautiful, young, intelligent, successful and have so much going for me, how can I be depressed? And them saying all that makes it even worse. Why am I depressed? It feels like a heavy burden carrying so many reasons to be happy, but remaining unable to be so. 

 

My therapist keeps saying that I've been through so much, I'm stronger than I think, I can keep going and get through anything, and logically in my head, I know, I've been through so much and I keep going. But I'm tired. And I'm lonely. I don't want to be alone, but I'm so scared of being abandoned again I keep falling into a crying heap internally, breaking down the second I feel anything close to fondness for someone. 

 

I would love some advise, how can I learn to accept love without accepting myself?   

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8 hours ago, LostInThought said:

I guess I shouldn't learn self love to find love, I need to accept that I can be loved. My issues stem from more than past relationships, being abandoned by my father at an early age made me feel as if, if the person that's biologically supposed to love me can't, why would anyone else? I keep going back to that mentality, being a scared child, desperately wanting my father to come back to me and be there for me. Life was hard, but I kept hoping that if only he'd come back, he'd make it all better, but that never happened, and when I met him again 13 years after, I found that he just didn't care. 

I'm really sorry to hear about your father. As a parent, I can tell you that you don't mature as much as you think you would once you have a child. Some people aren't "kid people", and they can walk away from their offspring fairly easily, or get distracted by their vices, or circumstances or baggage. Whatever your father's reasons for being absent (not that any reason could justify it), try not to take it personally. I know that's like basically impossible, but that is the reality. It's not about you, it's about him and the fact that someone who probably shouldn't have been a father became one. Just like there are people who shouldn't be doctors or engineers or elected officials, but they somehow meander into that field and then they f**k up horribly. I'm sorry my metaphors aren't better.

It's really hard to accept that you are love-able, I struggle with this too on a daily basis. My husband has been very patient with me and my insecurities. Some days I just come to terms with the fact that some people apparently love me. For example, it was semi-recently my birthday and I came into work and the whole office had thrown me a surprise party. My first thought was literally "what is wrong with you people, what the hell is this?" because WHY would anyone care to do that for  me? It was so uncomfortable. But anyway, I guess just try to take it at face value and not really question it. You are loved, you are very love-able. It is what it is. You should probably ask a therapist about this and get sound advice.

8 hours ago, LostInThought said:

My therapist keeps saying that I've been through so much, I'm stronger than I think, I can keep going and get through anything, and logically in my head, I know, I've been through so much and I keep going. But I'm tired. And I'm lonely. I don't want to be alone, but I'm so scared of being abandoned again I keep falling into a crying heap internally, breaking down the second I feel anything close to fondness for someone. 

You are stronger than you think. And if you are young (say, under 35) then you just haven't met the right person yet, simply because statistically you haven't met/dated enough people to find your match. It's really kind of a numbers game. Most people eventually find somebody who they love and who loves them too, even if it's at age 35, 45 or 60+. Just keep living your life and I practically guarantee it will happen.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/3/2018 at 6:57 PM, morecoffee said:

You are stronger than you think. And if you are young (say, under 35) then you just haven't met the right person yet, simply because statistically you haven't met/dated enough people to find your match. It's really kind of a numbers game. Most people eventually find somebody who they love and who loves them too, even if it's at age 35, 45 or 60+. Just keep living your life and I practically guarantee it will happen.

Thank you for this, this was very helpful to read, makes it all seem more realistic and possible. Gives a sense of hope.

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As a recovering depressed person, here are a few insights I either learned from others, or by myself about depression and relationships...

  1. Most of the emotions I felt while depressed were... invalid is the best word I can come up with.  We hold beliefs that reflect our experience, but depression makes us biased towards negative experiences, make them weigh more in the balance and make us choose the negative interpretation of events.  I could never turn a negative into a positive.  I couldn't go from hating myself to loving myself.  I could, however, go from hating myself to "It's possible that I might be an average man".  I'm only talking about being open the possibility that you might be OK, that the negative interpretations might be false.  I found this to be a good first step.
  2. Every time you have a negative though, re-frame it so that it at least becomes a neutral thought.  "I failed..." becomes "I haven't succeeded yet".  "I am a loser" becomes "There are things I have yet to accomplish".  You might see that depression is a lot about stuff that happened in the past, but the only thing you have control over is the present and future. 
  3. Once you get to feeling "neutral", then you can start working on yourself.  In order to feel better about myself, I needed to actually have things to make me feel better about.  What kind of person do I want to be?  What kind of qualities do I want to cultivate?  What would I want to learn?  What would I want to experience?  Don't go crazy, pick 2-3 things and make time for them.  There are very few things that can't be developed whether it's a personality trait or a skill.  We live in the information age, you can google "how to be more [fill in the blank]" about anything to get ideas.  This will allow you to improve your opinion of yourself based on reality, on accomplishments, on decisions.  You should not rely on external validation, from friends, family, or a boyfriend.  It's nice when you get, it but you should not rely on it.  If you actually take decisions and actions to improve yourself and improve your life, it will have long-lasting effects, I guarantee it.  Or I'll give you your money back. 🙂
  4. It's better if you pick things you have greater control over at first.  For example, getting a relationship involves a large amount of randomness (right place, right time, right person).  This is something you keep in the corner of your mind, if the opportunity arises.  On the other hand, learning a new language, developing a skill, that is something you can control.
  5. Make sure there is a place for people in your life.  I say "people" not "a person".  We are, at heart, social animals and a good circle of friends, family and acquaintances is important.  There are LOTS of ways to meet people, and the easiest is to combine social activities with stuff you would like to improve from step 3.  I took up dancing myself.  This is how you cope with loneliness, you should not put the weight of relieving that feeling on the shoulders of one individual, especially if you are very depressed.  If you can't reliably call up someone to hang out, when you feel like you need it you need to add more people to your life.
  6. There is something to be said for emotional suppression.  Your friend dies, you feel sad, that is normal, you should grieve.  You lose your job, you feel worried about paying your bills, that is normal.  You ask a guy out and he says no, you feel like lying in bed for three days with a box of tissues and sad music.  That is not normal.  You should not feed invalid emotions.  By feeding I mean that there is a limit to how much time you should spend thinking or talking about a negative experience before it becomes a useless activity.  Most people will be happy to listen and support you if something negative happens.  The problem is talking about the same (or similar) things over and over...  It pushes people away, but the worst is that it builds up the problem in your head.  My hypothesis is that there is a feedback loop...  The more time you spend thinking about something, the more your brain feels that this this is important.  Don't put the spotlight on these thoughts any more than necessary.  Change the subject, do something else that you should be doing (see #3).  Go clean something, you will have a spotless house in a week! 🙂
  7. Lower your expectations.  People rarely do what you would like them to do.  And that's fine because you probably don't do half of what people would like you to do.  Get rid of as many as you can, even the ones most people have.
  8. Stop comparing yourself!  Accept that there will always be someone more intelligent, funny, charming, beautiful, tall, talented than you are.  There are billions of us, the chances that YOU are the best at anything are extremely slim.  And that's perfectly fine.  Most of us are not looking for "the best" or "perfect" anyway.
  9. People have very short attention spans when it comes to things that do not directly impact them.  That is to say: people are self-centered.  And in a way that is a good thing.  That thing you think was the "end of the world"?  Chances are everybody else will have forgotten it by tomorrow.  Just look at the news.  Very dire things happen on a daily basis, and yet, give it a week or two...
  10. Abandon preconceptions of what people find attractive.  Even if you don't believe you are attractive, the might be someone else who does.  Attraction is a complicated subject and while looks ARE part of it, they are definitely not the whole deal.

Well that's the most important stuff I found to be useful in my toolbox.  I probably have a few more tools lying around.  All I can say is that I managed to climb out of that pit of despair I was in many years ago.  All I can say is that many people have overcome it, there is no reason to believe that getting better is beyond your ability.

These things are simple but they are not easy.  Depression makes the negative thoughts automatic, these tools must be consciously and willfully used until they become automatic.  Nothing happens overnight, I took years, but I'm particularly stubborn 🙂

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  • 3 weeks later...

I understand how you feel.

I have been single for awhile now and while I like the solitude I wouldn't mind being in a loving, committed relationship. 

My last relationship was unbalanced though. I was so depressed and he was- not. Depending on him for comfort and positivity was destroying him. 

I don't think you must be fully accepting of yourself before finding anyone. People are in long relationships with many issues and insecurities. But I do think maybe some type of healing needs to be in place before it happens-to avoid what happened to me anyway. 

I am quite lonely. Very very lonely. But I would rather be lonely than in a relationship out of desperation for companionship. 

I am trying to remain hopeful that my person is out there somewhere. I don't look or search. I just exist and keep a small bit of hope someone is out there who will love me despite my flaws, trauma and all and when we meet I'll be healthy enough not to look upon them as a "therapist". 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all. Thank you all for your very insightful and informative perspectives. I’ve truly appreciated each and every one. 

For some reason I did not get these notifications and I apologize for not responding sooner. I’ve posted about this before and got no responses so I assumed I didn’t get any again. 

I was in a particularly dark episode when I wrote my first post, though my sentiments are still similar in my heartbreak of being single. I have bad depression but surprisingly it’s mostly well managed. But the dark parts feel like fire as I’m sure most of you know.

I’ve been busy at a new job that’s going well and it’s funny, I actually have excellent relationships with friends, family, and at work. I joke around and say it’s almost like God blessed me with amicability and good relationships because I’m cursed with an awful romantic life. I’m writing from a mostly good spot right now. I met someone at work that I’m trying to pursue and I’m trying to be healthy, with no expectations, and moving strategically but healthy. It’s very, very hard, though. I admittedly done that whole “write our whole life story together in my head” thing and I’m trying to keep strong and not crazy and protect my heart. 

I have to say, I resonated the most with @morecoffee because I really do think the mental health “loving yourself” concept is actually far more complicated than we like to think. For example, at this particular moment as I write this, I think I love myself. I’m young, beautiful, caring, smart, went to college for free, applying to law school, all those lists you may have done in therapy of things you love about yourself. I think and know this deep inside but with depression it’s often hard to FEEL that way exactly. I know through an episode I can’t feel it but all those things are still true. I can control all those things I wrote about mostly but I can’t control finding a good mate and having a family and that’s frustrating because it’s all I really want. I know my strengths and struggles but think I’m still worthy of love anyway. I know it’s hard but I’d be a good wife and mother.

I guess for now I’m taking it one step at a time and focusing on me, as I have always been doing and as you all mention. It’s very important. We can only control what we can and work on ourselves while putting us out there. Time will tell. 

One thing no one has spoken much about, though, is sex. Despite depression (or perhaps because of) I have a HUGE libido. I’m sexually frustrated everyday of my life. If it were up to me in an ideal world that doesn’t exist, I’d have a husband that loves me very much and sleeps with me everyday. How does one deal with terrible sexual frustration while being single and trying to be healthy about oneself and potentially finding a mate?

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