Depression or anxiety can affect one in five adults during their lifetime – is your partner one of them? There is hope for relationships, in this area, and you can help your special someone cope with their mental illness.
There really is no simple way to talk about depression or anxiety. They are complicated monsters which can affect all areas of your life. They are mood disorders, which are closely related to other issues such as PTSD and Bipolar Disorder.
For many of these illnesses, life can be difficult to navigate. One of the most struggling aspects of these diseases is dealing with them in conjunction with being in a relationship.
Nothing is more complicated than loving someone who cannot control their emotions…
I find it straining to connect emotionally with another human being. The main reason I feel this way is because my anxiety makes me question their motives, while my depression whispers that they hate me. If I am in an existing relationship, these illnesses work in alternate ways.
On some days, I may love to be around my partner, while on other days, I may withdraw, feel worthless and even have a lack of interest in his company. This puts a strain on otherwise simple activities and feelings.
I need my partner to help me cope with my depression.
Give me an instruction booklet and a bottle of pills to keep me in line. Just kidding, what I really desire is a way to live with my illness and still feel like a whole human being. What’s more, I want my partner to be okay with me.
Because, honestly, I’m not in this alone. Maybe I should start with a few tips, huh…If you want to help me, try these.
1. Things don’t have to be fine
I don’t always have to be fine. You don’t have to try and protect me all time from my emotions and the conflicts that will come. Don’t feel like you have to hide your frustration with me. I understand more than you think about how my moods affect you.
Things don’t have to be perfect, for either of us, so stop trying to shield me and I won’t be resentful. I just want to know how you really feel.
Things are not okay, but that’s okay. We can face the symptoms of my mood disorders together. You should talk to me, show me that you don’t understand and then show me that you want to try. It’s hard going through this, but I am sure it’s hard for you too.
Communication is underrated, it really is. When you learn to communicate about mental illness, it builds trust and intimacy. When you are able to communicate without judgment, you help others feel less like a bourdon and more like someone who is an integral part of the relationship.
Also, by seeing depression or anxiety as something you both have to live with, instead of something that affects only one of you, this will strengthen your bond and help your partner in the healing process.
2. Educate Yourself
Only one person in the relationship could have a disorder, or both of them could suffer. Either way, it’s important to be educated about mood disorders. There are so many options for treatment available, and it’s important to discover what works best in our situation.
From experience, I have learned that multiple outlets for treatment work much better than a solitary form. If you take the time to learn about all sources, you can equip yourself with tools to help both of us.
Maybe we can explore outlets like Mental Health America, American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy and NIMH all offer a wealth of free and low-cost resources.
We can also read through personal accounts, learning examples of what we might be able to use in our relationship. Two great examples are Therese Borchard’s Beyond Blue and Dan Harris’ 10% Happier.
I’m unique, you’re unique, and each person has their own way of coping with mood disorders. Read about me and what I deal with. Depression or anxiety disorders have triggers as well, and I want you to understand what sets me off.
Sometimes, it’s a lack of sleep, other times, changes or even meeting strange people? Over time, I’ve learned ways of dodging such triggers, but I need you to know these things too.
It’s going to take time, so, please. Ask me or ask others, I just want to feel comfortable while battling my illness.
3. Self-care is Important
Depression or anxiety are neither fun or attractive. I will get busy trying to survive and fail to take care of myself. I know you love me, but I don’t know what you think when you look at me when I stay in my pajamas all day and try desperately not to cry.
Although it may not look like it, I am fighting so hard. I have been caught in a negative cycle and it’s causing conflict. I have forgotten how to take care of myself.
Of course, I know that making self-care a priority is important, but I need your help. I need you to remind me that it’s okay to seek a professional. Can you help me implement a treatment plan so I can have some form of a structure when things get chaotic?
Also, as you help me get my life together, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. We have to be strong in order to beat this thing, and we will beat this thing, together.
Most of these tips can apply to both of us. I know that, at times, it seems like nothing will ever work, but be patient. Although you can’t see the changes in me, I feel them. Every day that I can feel semi-human, is a success that you have helped me reach.
Please keep loving me and being supportive. It may not be all I need, but it helps me keep my head above water.
Remember the facts
You may feel like the caretaker of your loved one, and in ways, you are. Remember the facts about depression or anxiety, and use them to formulate a plan toward healing.
For you and your partner, dealing with mental illness such as depression or anxiety may seem like hell on earth, but with time, tools and understanding, anything is possible.
Don’t give up!
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