Depression is a mental disorder that is very complex. When living with someone who is suffering from depression is not an easy ride (especially if you are a therapist yourself). I can of course be a therapist to my clients with depression but when it is my partner I can not bring my work home with me. All I can do is support.
I made this decision when I met my partner, that I could either be a girlfriend or a therapist but I can’t be both. It was a decision I did not take lightly as I know I can help, as this is something I have lived through myself. In my 20’s I suffered depression and I was put on prozac by my doctor. I found out that after a while the pills stopped working and the doctor just increased my dose. I had my own journey going cold turkey, (I do not recommend this) calling the Samaritans and then getting the correct help I needed on my road to recovery. It was a road that took a couple of years but that does not matter. What matters is I reached my destination.
I learned that I could recognise the signs of depression approaching. I learned what I needed to do to keep depression at bay. I realised that depression, anger, anxiety are only our body making us feel these emotions to tell us something is not right. When I learned to listen to my body I learned how to manage depression. I now can see the signs and can make changes before the dark cloud takes a grip. I usually go into a comedy movie marathon to keep my spirits up. ????
As I have just said, there are signs and symptoms of depression and the best thing you can do is notice the signs and work out a method of reversing the episode of depression. The same is true when living with someone who has depression, feelings of helplessness, frustration, fear, guilt, anger and sadness may crop up. The last thing you want to see is your partner, mother, father or someone you love going through this but there is nothing you can do except support them, love them and be there for them when they need.
When someone you love suffers from depression, your support can play an important role in their recovery. However, depression is not easy to be around and it can wear you down if you neglect your own needs. Many of us put the person with depression first and forget about ourselves. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is, turn that feeling of helplessness around and start looking after yourself. This is the one thing you CAN do.
These guidelines can help you support a loved one with depression while maintaining your own emotional health
- Remember depression is a serious condition and no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to ‘fix’ your loved one only support them through it.
- Don’t take it personally, when someone has depression they can’t emotionally connect with you on the level they did before depression. Don’t make it about you it is not.
- Set your boundaries, people with depression can have bursts of anger or aggression. Don’t let them take it out on you. Tell them that is is unacceptable to shout at you. You are not a doormat!
- Depression sucks the energy out of the sufferer so make sure you are strong enough to cope when supporting another. You have to fix your own ‘oxygen mask’ first. If you are not ready, help them to find the help they need.
- Seek support in your circle of friends. As someone who is caring for someone with depression you need support too. Make sure you catch up with your friends and ‘download’. Don’t feel like you are betraying your loved one. You are giving your loved one space to talk when they need and you deserve to have the same.
- Carry on with your own life. What I mean by that is don’t let your loved ones depression stop you from living your life too. If your partner wants to stay at home, because they don’t want to be with people, leave them behind and look after yourself. You deserve time for you.
- Start looking after your health, eat good foods, exercise, meditate etc. It is as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
I hope these guidelines help you. It is not easy but remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Also remember that sometimes we all need professional support and if you need to go speak to a professional about this, then it is a great thing for you to do. Get the support you need because you can only help someone when you are strong. Make yourself and your own mental health your priority