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Yes, You Are Lovable With Depression and Anxiety

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Seth Gillihgan, PhD - Blogs
By Seth J. Gillihan, PhDClinical psychologistMarch 01, 2019

If you worry that your anxiety or depression will limit your chances for relationships, you’re not alone. Many people are concerned that having a psychological condition—especially a chronic one—might make them unattractive to other people. How am I going to find friends or a partner when I’m dealing with depression or anxiety? Who’s going to want to sign up for this?

The fear of rejection can make you think that your only option is to hide your condition – that if you tell the truth, people will leave. But, most people aren’t looking for perfection from you—they want honesty. Honesty is the foundation of relationships and true intimacy. And rather than your struggles being a deal breaker, the person likely will recognize them as a single aspect of who you are.

I’ve heard many of my patients describe their relief to find that dating partners were not put off when they acknowledged their condition. Partners who are familiar with anxiety and depression may understand the strength it takes to keep going. They might even live with these conditions themselves, given how common they are.

But what if they’re not accepting of you – what if, for them, it is a deal breaker? It’s true that not everyone will have a positive response to mental health conditions. But if this happens, or has happened to you already, remember that other people’s choices do not define you. If someone can’t see past your struggles, that says a lot more about who they are than it says about you. And just because that one particular person was not comfortable with your condition doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same response.

Still, when someone reacts negatively to you, it hurts. For many people, this kind of rejection can trigger automatic thoughts, like I’ll always be alone, that may feel true in the moment but are not based in reality. Watch out for related thoughts that might pop up in this area, such as:

  • Being anxious and depressed means I’m unlovable.
  • I don’t deserve to be happy.
  • Love is for other people; it won’t ever happen for me.
  • I’m too broken to ever be loved.
  • Nobody wants me around.

And perhaps the most disturbing thought of all: No one would miss me if I died. This belief is common among those thinking about ending their own lives, and is patently false. Don’t believe it—more people than you realize love and appreciate you, and would be devasted if you ended your life. The people who care about you need you, just as you are. (If you do have suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help: call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK or text 741741 to connect with a counselor at Crisis Text Line)

As with any problematic thoughts, start by recognizing them as thoughts that may or may not be true. Then share them with someone who cares about you and knows you well. They’ll be able to point out where you’re being too hard on yourself. If you haven’t already, also seek out the support of a qualified professional—someone who can work with you not only on the symptoms you’re having but on any harsh self-judgments.

Going through anxiety or depression or any other psychological condition doesn’t make you unlovable—it makes you human. And we love the person who trusts us enough to show us their humanity. Chances are there are people right now who are more willing to love you than you even know. Why not let them?

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About the Author
Seth J. Gillihan, PhD

Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Haverford, PA. He is author of The CBT DeckRetrain Your Brain, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple, and co-author with Dr. Aria Campbell-Danesh of A Mindful Year: 365 Ways to Find Connection and the Sacred in Everyday Life. Dr. Gillihan hosts the weekly Think Act Be podcast, which features a wide range of conversation on living more fully.

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