My boyfriend and I live a few hours away from each other during the school year and every time I leave him or he leaves me (even if I am going to see him in a week or two) I get really depressed that day and maybe the next day or two as well. And while it is good that I feel that way because it means he is very important to me, it can impact my work ethic and my mood for a few days. So I would like to know any advice on getting through that feeling of sadness and depression faster or at least know if is it normal?
Dear ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice,’
Ah, how simple it would be if you just lived right next door to each other. Then things wouldn’t be so complicated at all…right? Long distance can be very challenging, and withdrawal is real—especially after a temporary taste of the time warp vortex that is being around your loved one. But it sounds like your withdrawal symptoms have become debilitating, so it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at.
Let’s start with this: what you’re feeling is a valid reaction and response for you, given what this situation means to you. Sure, another person in your shoes could very well not be bothered at all, but that’s not to say that they’re more advanced, healthier or more normal than you. However, it does mean that you have a very particular flavor of lighter fluid inside you, that ignites a very particular emotional flame every time your boyfriend leaves. In other words: it’s not. about. your. boyfriend. The challenging part, the rewarding part, is that you have the opportunity to lean into these feelings and be able to identify what is being triggered. When he leaves, what need do you feel like is no longer being fulfilled? Is it love? Companionship? Approval? Safety? Take some time to sit with your feelings when you are in the depths of them, and listen. Most likely, what you feel like you are missing in this situation from someone else, is what you are not giving to yourself. Remember: the most powerful questions yield the most powerful answers.
If you ask yourself enough powerful questions, this process will all lead back to discovering a hidden belief about yourself and how you interact with the world. I recommend the work of Byron Katie as a resource to help you through this process. Once you’ve done some work sitting, listening, feeling into your emotions and understanding what you’re interpreting the facts of the situation mean to about yourself, it’s time to adopt some healthy coping mechanisms for when he does leave next time. Find or write a specific mantra that you can tell yourself to get you through these rough few days. One that feels real to you and makes you feel good. Keep a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you find yourself in the spiral of thought that may be feeding this hidden belief you’ve uncovered. Take yourself out for a date the day after he leaves. Go to the sunset with some fresh fruit and music, and journal. Make a playlist that sparks an unreasonable amount of joy in you, and have a dance party first thing in the morning! Schedule some time in with friends to do things you know will make you happy. Schedule these things into your life preemptively, and with a support system that can hold you accountable to following through with the things that you know will keep your head above water.
Ultimately, it’s not about making this belief or depression go away. It’s about learning and leaning into it, understanding it’s unique curves, crevices and intricacies so you can identify it and see it clearly for what it is when it comes up. Life wouldn’t be life if it were all happy all the time, so don’t get mad at yourself when you find yourself thinking thoughts or feeling feelings that don’t feel good. They have their purpose, and thus, they are perfect too. It’s our job to lean into learning the lesson that is the pain’s purpose. What this whole thing is really about—is the dance, the flow, the acceptance of light and dark. The invitation to play with your insecurities and your depression, so they don’t play with you.
Best of luck, my love.