Dealing with depression is hard enough. If you want to be there for someone you love who is dealing with it, you need to remember a few things.
Stronger relationships, in which people who are passionately in love with one another, often see ups and downs together and tend to grow together through them. However, not all storms are meant to be fought in the same way, since some of them can't be seen or understood to begin with. Such is the case when it comes to loving a person who is suffering from clinical depression. While a lot of romantics might be feeling like they have got what it takes to be with their partner through the darkest of times, it is likely to get harder to live up to in practice.
But since your love may have the power to help your partner through their rock-bottom phases, here are 10 things that might help you love them better and have an informed approach to helping them:
Seeing your partner in pain and sorrow can be really hard and you'd find yourself wanting to tell them things like “it’ll get better”, or “you’ll be fine”, etc. But they might not mean much at all for them. Though you may find these things to be totally normal, a person suffering from depression is likely to feel these phrases as insults or empty words and make their state worse. It could make them feel like they are not enough, or just build an internal tension inside them of not being able to accept themselves. Though you might want to give them advice, try refraining and just being there for them.
Depression is one of the most painfully empty and frustrating experiences one can go through. There is an utter sadness - something that is originating from no apparent cause at all. There are times when they are feeling totally paralyzed in their own mind and body - as if trapped and unable to get the joy out of things they used to love. If you expect your partner to just "get over it", you're expecting too much to happen in too little a time. Though everything might seem too dark, try to be patient with them.
It's easy to get carried away in the whirlpool of emotions and the desire to see your love have an effect on a depressed person. But it's not always on you. Try taking a step back and see how you can help them, while also being able to be happy and feel fulfilled yourself. Patience is again advised while you are discussing concerns and what works for the both of you. Explain them the boundaries that you need to create in your relationship that'd help give the space to both of you.
Individuals suffering from depression often tend to feel that they are a burden on the person who is trying to take care of them. This is a frustrating feeling that they can't shake off and might just end up isolating themselves in the process to stop feeling that. They might often worry too much about stopping the people they care about from being happy - increasing their own sadness. If they become distant from you too, just try and let them know that you are there for them, whenever they are ready to communicate. Forcing them to hang out with you or spending time with you might clearly make them more uncomfortable or resistant.
As discussed earlier, your loved one is not depressed out of choice. Thus, if you were to use "I am going to break up with you, if you don't get better" card as a threat, it's not going to work. It is impossible for them to change themselves suddenly to avoid the finality you pose to them. If you are tired of their problems and feel that you can't handle it anymore, you can walk out. But using your free choice in order to impose a change on them is manipulative and cruel.
A lot of our culture's influence on our perception can make one look at depression as something that a person undergoes when they are not strong enough to deal with their problems and emotions. But that is not so. psychiatrist and philosopher, Dr. Neel Burton, discusses in his TEDx talk about how some of the most influential and important people in history have experienced depression. He explains the way our culture looks at and treats depression and how traditional societies differ in their approach, seeing human distress as an indicator of the need to address important life problems, not a mental illness.
A lot of the times, while offering help, we feel that sharing what we have gone through and trying to relate with them might help the other person. But not here. When you compare their struggle with what you have gone through, they might feel like you are just minimizing their pain. Suppressing their feelings is different than expressing your empathy - know the difference. When in doubt, you can just be there and listen. They don't need much.
It is natural to think that their sadness might be a reflection of your relationship with them when somebody you love is dealing with depression. Especially when they ask for space, you might end up blaming yourself for things. But it's not about you. Even though it is difficult to understand what they are going through, don't beat yourself up by thinking how you could have done things better to avoid the current distress.Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.