Redefining Independence Day: Celebrating My Break-up With Depression

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We broke up about two years ago, give or take. We had been together since I was a child and we did everything together. We would lay in bed together for days; take occasional walks (he preferred indoors,); and of course, we made decisions together. It was like I didn’t know where one of us began and the other ended.

And our passion was intense. Our sole purpose was to destroy and destruct my soul and the life I was attempting to build. Our lives were so entangled, it took me years to break it off.

And I couldn’t imagine my life without him. After all, our relationship is the longest emotionally intimate relationship I’ve ever had. Over the years, I’ve had my slip-ups and we’ve gotten back together for a few months here and there – they were short, but they were intense.

He’s really persistent too. He thinks he’s like Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything, but he’s really just a creep who tries to disrupt my life and constantly remind me he’s watching me. He definitely stalks me, sometimes I can feel him close by. I sense him as he waits for a weak moment to swoop in and try to convince me why we belong together.

And it’s tempting to get back together. I feel comfortable with him. Being alone I feel so vulnerable and weak. Now I am free, but I am also naive and clueless without his guidance. Without his narcissism, I am forced to look within myself, to define life around this self, not him, and it’s really scary.

We broke up for a lot of reasons. Well, I was the one that broke it off with him. Not only was he overbearing and controlling, he was suffocating, insecure, and abusive. He taught me all I thought I had to know, but turns out, he was just warping my thoughts, crushing my innocence, and guiding me down his path, not my own.  He tried to keep me from seeing or talking with my friends, and resisted all my tactics to push him away. But I did. I got away. At least for now.

I’ve only ever been in a relationship with him, so I’m a little scared about being with myself, let alone someone else. But at least the next one will be present, real, and allow me to maintain my individual thoughts and feelings. I am gaining strength with the hopes that if my guard is down, he can’t completely take me back because I will have an arsenal of tools to keep him in his place. I will and have to be the last one standing.

So I take my pills every day. And that pushes him away. I go to the gym. And he gets farther. I eat healthy and get sleep. I can barely feel his presence. I call a friend or meet someone who makes me laugh. And in those moments, I almost completely forget about him. The scars of his abuse remain, and I know he’s always lying in wait, but I will continue to move on. Because as scary as it is to be alone; to learn how to do things without his support; to make choices and think about my future without him; I enjoy my independence. Fear derived from excitement and anticipation is so much better than fear from feeling powerless.

I no longer look at the calendar to see how long we were together; now I have begun to celebrate the anniversaries of the time we have been apart. It’s not easy. I’m still healing from the damage he has done and I will never be able to get fully away from him. And life isn’t perfect. Far from it. But for now, he’s far enough away that I can try to imagine the possibilities of life without the chain of our broken, dysfunctional dynamic wrapped tight around my mind and body.

For all of us who have been or are currently in the process of ending our relationship with depression, let’s redefine what “Independence Day” means this year. Let this year’s fireworks remind us that we are bright, beautiful, loud, and larger than life. We are explosions in the sky. And we will not stop fighting for our independence from the reins of depression.

Enjoy the bbq’s and beer if that’s your thing; consider turning up the tunes; and choose to smile, dance, and love completely. And if he dare attempt to crash your party, yell it loud and clear until he hears: “We are never, ever getting back together!”

Happy Independence Day, whatever that “independence” may mean for you.

(Yeah, that’s technically a Taylor Swift lyric, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t invent that sentence, so fuck it. Also, “Explosions in the Sky” is one of the most amazing bands EVER – they did all the music for Friday Night Lights. Just saying…)
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“Do You Really Think You’re Strong Enough To Do This On Your Own?”

A person said something today that I cast off at first, but has been bothering me all night. We were talking about London and I was telling him about DBT skills, and therapists I had researched, and how I was going to get my medications, and I had found gyms, etc. Basically, I was telling him about how I’m setting myself up there to try and have as much support and healthcare available to me since it will be an academic/social stress mess.

He then asked how I planned to live the year without my mom to lean on. Even without respecting his opinions, (it just so happens I don’t for this man,) when he said it, it really hurt my feelings. Because what he was really saying was: “do you really think you’re strong enough to do this on your own?” And the intimation was that I was not.

When I was depressed, I needed my mom for everything. She got me out of bed, she bought me food, she cooked for me, she sat with me and listened to what I’m sure was incredibly painful as a mother hearing her youngest child say. Since I have been getting better, we have been open about the relationship we developed over that time – the two of us and our dependency. Because while I needed her, I think she needed me too. I provided an escape from my father and from her life and gave it purpose. After all, my mother, while she worked full-time, truly loved being a mom to three kids and I think she misses that. She is a caretaker in her soul and I must say, she is good at it.

It’s taken us time, but we are slowly trying to separate. It can be hard because I have such a small support group that something that I would normally call a friend about, I might tell her. I hate doing it, I hate muddling the lines of our relationship, but sometimes I just get too lonely and need to talk to someone who has time to listen and cares. She’s also been going through a lot, whether she admits it or not, and I hope I provide an outlet for her, even if it’s not ideal or healthy in terms of a mother-daughter relationship.

But it has gotten better. Sometimes I will go to text her something, but I erase it and I just deal with it on my own. It’s tempting to want to complain to her at night, I used to do it all the time, but now I wait it out, I blog, I watch TV, I have a shitty night, and I deal with it. She also said she is trying to work on it too. Sometimes she doesn’t hear from me or I will text back “watching a movie.” In the past, that meant I was spiraling and she would often come out to be with me. But she says now, she knows I’m watching a movie, and if I need her, I will tell her.

I’m not going to say we have gone back to the way things were before I moved home. I don’t think they were entirely healthy then either. I was lying quite a bit until the end when I just was too exhausted to keep secrets.But my independence was so important to me, getting away from my family and creating my own definition of self – so having to come home, knowing how they saw me, and being too weak to protest was difficult. Having to rely on her to drive me into the city three days a week for ECT, no matter how much she said she didn’t mind, pained me. Even now, every time I go shopping with her, she pays. Basically, if I’m with her and we are running errands, unless I make a big scene, she pays. I hate money and I hate how it makes me feel, but I am trying to just appreciate this luxury while I have it. She knows I don’t have any and that I am frugal anyway, so I think she doesn’t mind, but I always feel like money always has strings attached to it, it creates a power dynamic, and I abhor it. It has played a large role in hurting my family and has ruined friendships as well.

So when he said that to me, he made me feel like he didn’t think I could emotionally handle my life. I love my mom to a point where it hurts, but I know I need to be able to live my life without her, even if we are still close and connected. I cannot turn to her for everything and I must define our relationship in a way that does not enable bad habits or weaken me. I tried to explain the idea of her weakening me to him, and he of course was befuddled. He didn’t get how someone being there to help you could make you weaker. But when I am with her, I wouldn’t say I turn into a child, but there is a part of me, a strength and resilience that falls away, and I can be lured into asking her to go into a store for me, drive because I’m tired, or help me with something because I just don’t want to do it alone.

When she isn’t there, those things still need to be done, but I do them because I have to. So as much as I love that she does things for me, that she enjoys it, I need to do those things, because that is what slowly builds my mastery of independence. It’s probably why when I travel, I tend not to talk to her as much. Because I become weak and allow my fears to escape. And sometimes, you need to keep that inside and use it as energy to push you forward. It makes me stronger by showing me that I can do these things – I can travel to London, eat on my own, deal with my loneliness, make difficult decisions. I believe she understands this.

I know he’s a fool and I shouldn’t put weight into his thoughtless and unknowledgeable comments. But I suppose there is a side of me that is scared that maybe I do need her more than I should. That maybe I won’t be strong enough without her and I will have to come home.  I suppose it was a mix of him having the audacity to invalidate all of the hard work I have done, stirring my anxieties up, and me allowing him to have that power to do so. It will pass but it just really pissed me off. Argh.

It should be noted that I did not tell my mom about this. :)