From Pain to Joy - Xiaojie’s Story with Depression
Updated: Aug 20
In February this year, I wrote the following email about my personal story of a breakup. Today, I’d like to share this story with you, and encourage all who are going through difficult times or breakups to remember that you can find a way through the sadness or depression, and that peace will ultimately shine through.
Just this week, I found out that my ex-boyfriend has married the woman that he started dating after we broke up in 2014.
“It’d be a disaster if in years time, he’s happily married, and I am not. It wouldn’t even be fair. ….” I used to have this thought running around in my head. This was my worst-case scenario and I thought that it would devastate me.
My worst-case scenario became reality, but surprisingly, I am not devastated. I am truly happy that they have made it, that they are happily in love, and have started a family. There is a bit of jealousy, but who wouldn’t feel a tinge of jealousy over a couple like this? Mainly, I just feel relieved knowing that he has someone by his side. It was in this moment, that I knew that I had moved past the pain and am now able to rejoice in his happiness. I have always cared for and been concerned about him, but over the years, there have been times, when those feelings have been covered by pain and jealousy. Even so, the positive feelings of care and concern were strong enough to hold on and surprise me.
Many years ago, Daniel (of course I have changed his name for privacy reasons) and I were struggling with our relationship. Everything was great in the beginning, but after a while he made a decision to become serious about living as a Christian. Since I wasn’t (am not) a Christian, I started to find it challenging to communicate, and very difficult for us to do things together. We started to want to do different things in our free time and it became difficult to connect. I wanted to stay with him and so I kept on working hard at the relationship but was not seeing any results. All of this effort resulted in disappointments, misunderstandings and tears. Eventually, we stopped trying; we were both hurt, stopped talking, and did not end on good terms.
I didn’t realize that I likely had mild depression at the time. This escalated to moderate depression towards the end of our relationship, and now I remember spending days and nights in a relationship that I couldn’t feel optimistic about. I couldn’t be fully accepted and I couldn’t be myself. Daniel once said that his friends had told him that he shouldn’t hang out with me because I was a bad influence. I don’t abide by Christian rules and I don’t feel bad about it, but nonetheless, hearing this damaged my sense of self-worth and made me feel like a social outcast amongst his friends.
Many more things like that happened in our relationship. He would pray for me and I hated that because, in my mind, that’s the laziest way to do something good for others. He hosted bible studies, but I never wanted to go. He gave me a book about God and I read it out of obligation.
After we broke up, I slept for 10-14 hours a day for a month. I thought that I was just tired but it was actually depression (relationship breakdown is a typical life event that can lead to depression). Take a look at Lesson 3.1 Causes of Depression for more information about common triggers of depression.
It took me a long time to recover from that. But today, without all of the emotion, I am able to look at their relationship with peace in my heart. Daniel and his wife are perfect for each other. “She has such a pure heart for God” is something he once told me her. I remember that at that moment, I thought, “That is something I would never be able to offer him, the inspiration and strength necessary to help him hold up his belief.” I knew that that was something that he needed to restore his faith in God and be who he really is. It hurt me so much to know that I would never be that person. I know little about Daniel’s wife – I had only met her once before I cut contact with him, but I know that she is so passionate about following God. I could see what a strong believer she is and I wish that I could some day be hit by thunder and suddenly have a belief, any belief, that is so unshakeable.
She’s a very nice person, and definitely smart and hardworking too. Even for them, it’s never an easy walk to come together, and now they are married. It would be wonderful to spend you life with someone that can understand you and connect with you on such a deep soul level. When he prays out loud in a restaurant, he will now have someone by his side, who rather than sitting there feeling awkward (like I did), will be able to hold his hand and echo his words. I am glad that Daniel has someone by his side. He’s happy, he’s supported, and he’s well.
Now looking back, there’s no right or wrong. There are just differences. I spent so much time in pain and sorrow, blaming him and myself. Now I know, pain comes from rejection, which can be rooted in refusing to see things from another perspective. Pain also comes from trying to be someone who you are not; pain can also come from not letting go of something that doesn’t help you to grow.
Now, what a great joy to truly feel, “I am happy for you, Daniel. I am doing well myself, and thanks for all the prayers you once said for me.”
With love, connection and compassion,