Falling in love is one of the most amazing experiences of life. However, how do you deal when you love someone who is depressed? It can be a hard journey, but it’s not impossible. First the very first thing that you should do when you love someone who is depressed, is to never ask why.
The reason for this is that they don’t know what the reason is. It is not a straightforward ailment with clinical reasons. It’s in their minds and they are not in control of how they feel. You need to be mindful of loneliness, lethargy, darkness and hopelessness that your loved one is going through.
As a partner you need to be present for them through all their hardships, till they can come through the other side. You need to be kind and supportive of their journey. It’s hard, but its one of the most impacting things you can do for them.
To help you in your journey of loving someone who is depressed, here are some points to remember. These are simple guidelines that you can follow to help your loved one heal and cope. Please remember that these aren’t universal clarifications as every person suffering from depression is unique. These are just a starting point for your journey.
7 Things to Remember When Your Loved Ones are Depressed
Depression is not a choice
This is the first and most important thing that you need to remember. It is a helpless and frustrating situation for your loved one. It makes them feel sad, empty and hopeless andcan even make them feel nothing at all sometimes.
Don’t ask them why they are depressed. They are not depressed by choice or due to any specific reason. Depression can leave your loved one feeling paralyzed in their own body and mind. They are unable to enjoy or do things that they earlier enjoyed doing.
It’s not simply having a bad mood or a single bad day. You can’t simply “get over” depression. You must remember that your loved one hasn’t chosen to be depressed. They simply can’t see a way out of the feeling of hopelessness.
You can’t really understand depression unless you’ve experienced it
There are many hard life situations that can trigger depression. These include a divorce, loss of a loved one or even losing your job. However, there is no guarantee that experiencing these will create depression by default.
In fact, harsh life experiences are associated with the feeling of strong emotions and feelings. Depression, on the other hand, is marked by hollowness and is hollow and insufferable. It literally saps the very essence of hope, emotion and reason from a person’s mind and body.
Your partner simply doesn’t feel like their older self. They may even not feel like a human being. They are liable to constantly feel hopeless and paranoid. There is also the feeling of desperation, humorlessness and overall lifeless. They can become more and more demanding. No amount of reassurance from you and other sources will ever feel enough.
Telling them “it’ll be ok” or “you only need to get out of the house” or “you need to move on” is meaningless
Pepping someone you love with positive thoughts like these is usually a good idea. So, you may be tempted to do the same with a partner who is depressed. You think that you’ll be inspiring hope and easing their suffering.
However, for someone suffering from depression, these words have the exact opposite effect. These simple yet cliched phrases come across as empty and worthless to a depressed person. If anything, these words can come across in the absolutely opposite way of what you intended.
This is because, these words and phrases fail to address the reality of the depressed person. In fact, it actually agitates and triggers the anxiety. This can make the depressed person want to stay alone. Think of it like trying to fix a gaping and bleeding wound with a single band-aid.
So, what do you say to keep the person you love motivated? There is no universal answer to this question. You simply need to be supportive of your partner. You can try giving them a long and silent hug. Try this often.
Tell them that you love them, and that you aren’t the only one who does. Tell them that it is worth living for the people who love them, even when the feeling of letting go is the strongest. You can ask them to revisit the happy memories that are being suppressed by the depression. Tell them to exercise and take care of themselves, eat properly even when it makes them feel sick.
Most importantly, tell them that you believe in them and that you are there for them. Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it.
Try not to take their behavior personally
You need to understand that a person suffering from depression is always tremendously exhausted. This relentless exhaustion is one of the very common side effects of this condition. The very minimal task of waking up and getting out of bed every morning seems like a monumental and overwhelming process for them.
Another side effect of depression is that your loved one can feel absolutely okay one minute and then suddenly feel exhausted and drained the very next minute. Even if they are sleeping and eating properly, they can still feel depleted and tired. They can cancel plans in the last moment, leaving early from parties or even simply saying no far too many times.
What you need to remember is that this is nothing personal with regard to you. This is simply one of the side effects of depression. Try your best not to take these instances personally. Depression saps a person of almost everything in his life. A person can only offer what they have within themselves, and a depressed person has almost nothing left to give to others.
You need to understand that your partner may not always be as loving in return to you as you are with them. You need to understand that it is alright. When you stop taking their actions personally, you liberate yourself to love freely. Without the needless expectations, you can love more liberally.
You can also get frustrated
Dealing with someone who is depressed can be very difficult. But it doesn’t mean that you have to walk on eggshells all the time when you’re with them. You don’t have to cater to all of their needs at all times.
It’s ok for you to feel frustrated as well. It is true that people suffering from depression need to feel loved. They also need to feel that they are supported. However, if you feel that this neediness is causing a negative impact on your life, you’re allowed to feel frustrated and acknowledge it.
First you need to understand this yourself. Assess whether you are making too many sacrifices on your part. Understand whether it is having a negative influence on your life. The next step is to work out how you can continue to show love and support to your dear one without it taking a toll on you.
When you are frustrated, it is always a good idea to take a step back and create some boundaries. Find out how you can help your depressed partner while maintaining your sense of happiness. Most importantly, be patient. Explain your concerns to them and establish the boundaries that you need. Figure out a middle path that works well for the both of you.
You can be there for them even if they push you away
One of the scariest side effects of depression is that it isolates the depressed person. Even though they feel hopelessly alone, depression motivates them to search for more and more isolation. The feeling of being a burden on their family members and loved ones becomes and overwhelming presence in the minds of the depressed.
These feelings make them push the people that they love and need the most away from themselves. Depressed people seek isolation from those they need the most. This is not because of something that you did or did not do. It is simply one of the side effects that is common through depression.
If you see that your partner is pushing you away through their depression, don’t force them to do anything. Be patient with them, but as often as you can, remind them that you’re right there beside them. Assure them that you are available nearby if they want to talk or go out. But never force them to socialize or pressurize them to talk about their feelings.
You need to be gentle in your approach. Giving ultimatums or threats about leaving them will do no good. They won’t be magically cured if you tell them that you’ll break up if they don’t get better. If you feel the situation becoming too much for you to handle, you can choose to walk away from it. That is your personal choice.
They don’t want to deal with it alone
Contrary to what most people believe, people suffering from depression don’t always want to be left alone. Most people think that depressed people just want to be left isolated. While there may be times when people dealing with depression want to be in their own space, it doesn’t mean that they want to be completely alone at all times. They don’t want to face their fears and hopelessness on their own.
You can always offer to take them on a drive or out for a cup of coffee. Ask them if they feel up to going for a meal with you. Try to plan one on one outings with them instead of forcing them to go out in groups. This will help them come out of their routine and isolation. It will also help forge a bond between the two of you where you both can connect.
Such outings can often mean a lot to people suffering from depression. Ask them to go out with you when they don’t expect it. Gently and patiently remind them that they don’t have to go through the journey of dealing with depression on their own. Assure them that you are there for them.
This will help them build their trust in you and open up about their feelings and emotions. Once they are comfortable in sharing their feelings, this indicates that they are showing a high level of trust in you. You must not abuse this dependence or trust. You must take it very seriously when they open up to you.
When you someone you love is depressed, it can be a very difficult journey for the both of you. Depression can cause your loved one to withdraw and even push you away at times. You need to remember that this is not because of anything that you have done or not done. It is simply one of the common side effects of depression.
You need to learn to stop taking their actions and inability to reciprocate the love you show them personally. This will help you overcome the unnecessary expectations that can cause you disappointment and pain. You need to remember that depression is exhausting for someone who is suffering. Even the smallest of chores can seem overwhelming. This can lead them to say no to a lot more than what you would have liked.
While you need to provide love and support to the person suffering from depression, you should also not neglect your own happiness. It is ok for you to feel frustrated, and if you feel that their actions and needs are harming your own happiness then you need to set clear boundaries.
Be gentle and patient when dealing with someone who is depressed. Threatening and setting ultimatums will not help. A person suffering from depression cannot come out of it overnight just because you are finding it difficult to cope with their problems. Try not to compare their experiences with your own. Only a person suffering from depression can truly know what it feels like.
If you feel unable to deal with the situation on your own, feel free to ask for help. There are many counselling and support groups that can help. Remember to take care of yourself also. You need to be physically and mentally fit yourself first. Only then can you properly take care of the person you love. Otherwise, no matter how hard you try, you will have very little impact on their lives.