opinion

Single & Fabulous? | How to date when you're depressed

Anthony Gilét offers his advice as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

2018-05-18

As Mental Health Awareness Week comes to a close, you may ask, why would anyone want to date while they’re depressed?

Well, depression affects everyone differently; some of us conform to the stereotypical notions of daytime drinking in a dark room; while others experience milder and intermittent forms. Like most things in life, depression is not black and white, it’s “like the weather” as Stephen Fry puts it.

Realistically, one day you might want to hide under the duvets, and the next roll around in them with a filthy Spaniard. Like, just ‘cause I don’t have the energy to wash my hair doesn’t mean I don’t have the energy to suck some dick.

But now that depression is ten times more widespread that it was just a decade ago, we need to look at valuable resources to support ourselves, like meditation, gratitude practices and handy how-to dating guides:

Don’t be an open book

At least, not at first. While nobody should be ashamed of their mental health, there are times and places for the discussion. For example, this may not be one of them:

Realistically mental health and depression are still big (but thankfully decreasing) taboos in our society, so spilling your guts over his well-planned picnic may go down like a shit sandwich.

It’s easy to adopt a “they should accept me, for me” mentality, especially when we want a relationship based on trust and honesty - but give yourself time to figure out if they’re worthy of your disclosure. You don’t owe anybody anything on the first few dates.

But don’t be a closed one either

You may begin to naturally heal while with someone, (depending on the nature of your depression), and so having that discussion may not be a necessity until its behind you. He also won’t have ignorantly jumped to the conclusion that you’re a emotional wreck rather than a loving person who was just going through a tough time.

But similarly, you shouldn’t assume that someone isn’t willing to support you before you’ve given them the chance to. While telling someone you have depression may seem as much an aphrodisiac as flicking on the Human Centipede, it’s never that bad. So if your depression persists or get worse, communicating over distancing is always the better bet.

Don’t do it frivolously

While serial-dating can be relatively harmless when you’re feeling your usual self, you should be more cautious when your mental health is on the line. All it takes is one guy to ghost us, and we’re left mending sledgehammer holes in our self-esteem.

I once burst into tears because a guy didn’t make me cum. And then there was that delightful panic attack after my Greek Grindr hook-up was a no-show. Ironically, it didn’t quite feel like “fun now”.

Not feeling great at the time, or about yourself, also lends to a number of poorly-judged decisions; like wasting time with men who are totally wrong for you. I have to be grateful my depression wasn’t chronic, or I’d have wound up in a Streatham squalor with a destructive ego-maniac.

Don’t be afraid to cancel

While admittedly the only time any of us really want to feel blue is during asphyxiation, there’s no need to run from what you’re feeling. If you don’t feel up to it, you don’t feel up to it.

Remember that when your mental health isn’t at its full potential, you should always prioritize yourself. So if you need a day to lick your wounds, instead of licking the butthole of someone you just met, do it.

Just don’t use this as an excuse to mess guys around; you never know what they’re going through either.

Don’t expect it to make you happy

Many of us misconstrue solutions to depression, relying on other people for our own happiness; we think that if we can just meet a decent guy, all our problems will be solved. When has a man ever solved one of our problems, let alone all of them?

While we may feel lonely (yes, you’re allowed to admit that), leaving the fate of our happiness resting in the hands of someone we haven’t met yet is risky. Especially when retail therapy is a much safer bet; you can return the shoes, but you can’t un-suck his dick.

It’s healthier to realise that the root of our unhappiness is often bigger than just being single.

If in doubt, don't

Finding love while you’re depressed is by no means impossible, but you do have to be able to take care of yourself before other people. So if you need to take a break from swiping, scrolling and ghosting, do it. You’ll reach a stage where you’ll want to date again.

Anthony has launched to make education around mental health and coping mechanisms compulsory in British secondary schools. Sign his petition, read more about the campaign and check out his video below:

Anthony Gilét is a London-based writer, blogger and YouTuber – follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

To read more from the Single & Fabulous? series click here.