Loving Someone Who Is Depressed
I had a major emotional breakdown several years ago. In my depressive state there was little support I could offer my wife as she suffered through my pain. In my depression I hurt to see her suffer but had no energy or strength to do anything about it. Like her, you may be in love with someone who is depressed.
What is it like for the one who is not depressed? You have been plunged into a world of confusion.Your loved one may seem sad but it is more than sadness. They may sit and stare off in space. Interest is gone; such as, sports, sex, work. An overwhelming fatigue may set in. Problems eating and sleeping may plague the one you love.
You are left frustrated, not knowing what to do. They have disconnected and you don’t know why. (They may not understand either.) They aren’t pulling their part in the relationship. It seems you are doing all the weight of the relationship.
You may feel guilty. What did you do to cause your loved one to withdraw? They pull away from you and other activities. People notice and ask why. You don’t have an answer.
There is uncertainty about what to do. Do you insist on their participation in activities? Do you just leave them out? What are you to do?
And there is fear. Will life ever be ‘normal” again? Is there a cure?
Where do you begin? Their depression may create a mirror depression for you. They withdraw. You withdraw from others or you may plan activities without your loved one. Their sleepiness may create sleepiness for you. Your self-esteem may take a hit. You feel you have failed in the relationship.
Your loved one’s depression affects you.
What do you do?
First, know you did not cause their depression. Their depression is not your fault. Depression is an illness. It will help you to learn all you can about the illness. This is not just a “sad mood.”
Do every thing you can to find out about the disease. One thing you may be able to do is go to therapist or doctor appointments with your loved one. If the therapist thinks this is best for the patient, your presence can both be supportive and instructive.
My wife went with me to my doctor’s appointments and her observations of my behaviors, of which I was unaware, were important in my treatment.
Here we learned we learned how to cope with with my symptoms.
Depression can aggravate the dysfunctions in the family. Every family is dysfunctional. Depression will exacerbate negative family interactions.
Adopt a mindset that you are in this “depression battle” together. Loneliness is a symptom of depression. Assure them you are there and will be there to listen and support in every way possible.
You can encourage them to do things they are up to doing. Taking walks together. Walking has an almost immediate impact on some symptoms of depression. Enjoying a funny movie together may be a possibility.
Reach out to others who are understanding. Support groups can help deal with depression. Getting help with childcare, or meals, may take some stress off of regular household chores.
Take care of yourself. Forty percent of those living with people who are depressed need to have psychological intervention themselves. Depression is a risk for the whole family. As high as 40% of partners need psychological intervention because of their loved ones depression.(Understanding Depression 2nd edition, Paul Robbins p.132) If you think you might need assistance in coping, develop your own support system including a physician, therapist, and a close nonjudgmental friend.
Keep your boundaries of energy, time, and help you offer. Act normally. Boundless positivity does not help neither does acting depressed. Keep focused on your dreams. You need to spend time with friends. If you deplete yourself there is nothing to offer your loved one.
Be Patient. Don’t over-expect. Depression may not have a short recovery time. Do the things that you need to do to stay healthy.
Stay healthy, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Here are Bible promises to sustain you and your partner.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present
nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”Isaiah 41:10
“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”Psalm 40:1-3
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33