When things get out of control and the avalanche of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness punch you right in the face, it’s natural that you want to get isolated. When you’re depressed you try to avoid any possible social interactions and contacts with people. But what does depression mean to relationships?
A relationship is always about two. In order to sustain high-quality and flourishing relationship, you need to communicate. As you know, communication is not only about talking to each other, it’s also about feelings, touches, visuals and other small things that contribute to the growth of the relationship.
When depression in a relationship hits one of the partners, this is where things get a little bit complicated. When we are in relationships, we expect all these communication types, attention, respect, value, mutual love, etc. The moment one of the partners gets depressed all these fancy things get cut off in days because your partner is seeking isolation, not communication. Why does it happen? And what should you do when your partner suffers from depression?
There are a lot of definitions of depression and also many biases or prejudices as to the nature of it. Some experts may call depression “an invisible killer”, “it comes out of nowhere and strikes everybody regardless of age, social status, financial situation, etc.”
That’s, of course, sounds exciting, terrifying and mysterious. However, at Lifetomake.com, we do not practice magic. Instead, we practice self-awareness, self-analysis, and self-development which helps you understand why you feel like you feel, why you are where you are, and what you want to get from life, and how you want to live it.
According to Harvard Medical School, the major causes of depression are:
Sometimes, the nature of depression is difficult to determine because it can be caused by a variety of past events, small abuses, childhood events, momentarily emotional and rational devaluations (like sudden drops of self-esteem, believes interferences, etc.) and many other things.
Depression doesn’t occur overnight nor can it be cured overnight. That’s the good and the ugly about depression, especially, in relationships. So, if you’ve found that your partner is depressed one sure thing which you can do is try to not get sucked into the depressive state yourself. The best way to do that is to not put yourself in the center of depression of your beloved one. Consider these 5 tips to deal with depression in relationships.
In relationships, we can’t stand seeing our partner depressed, sad or frustrated for any reason, and we try to find a solution as hard as we can. Often, we try to bombard our partner with questions “Are you okay?”, “What’s wrong?”, “Why don’t you tell me?”, and then our ego and self-esteem get into the game “Why are you rejecting me, don’t you love me anymore?”, “You’re getting cold, what’s wrong with you?”, etc.
A depressed person who gets these questions has no idea how to answer them. Most of the time we can’t explain what we feel even when we aren’t depressed. In the depressive state, however, the mental battle is just enormous, and so even if a depressed person tries to respond the best answer will probably be “You don’t understand.”
It feels like there is nothing you can do, and you have no power over it. Despite that you can’t really help your partner as a therapist might have done, you can try these 5 tips that can have a positive impact on your relationships and your health as well:
Depressed people aren’t very talkative, and if they are, it’s usually their “trusted” friends whom they speak to. There are several reasons why they don’t speak to their partners, but friends:
It’s good to learn from what’s happening when we talk to our friends. We sometimes trust friends more than our family, and there are some things you can learn about to help your partner deal with depression.
Don’t comment, listen. Listen and try to understand all the reasons and the bullshit lies they tell you and themselves. When we are depressed we don’t believe in the positive things, so we delusionally try to feed ourselves negative crap. When you try to understand, it doesn’t mean that you agree to it, but, at least, you may figure out what was the cause of the depression.
What do I mean by delusional state? Let’s assume you want to go to a rock concert because you love depressive rock songs, and because this is the concert you’ve been dreaming your whole life about. There is a certain type of people who will say something like: “Oh, don’t go there. You’ll get hurt. There is a crowd, and crowds are very dangerous. News tell that you can’t expect anything good being in a public place with a lot of people. Every day you can hear about terrorist attacks, etc.”
That’s something that you may hear. It’s some kind of a false perception and exaggerated hazard. People who are anxious or depressed all the time believe in it 100%. And it’s really tough to change these believes. So, don’t confront them. Listen to what they say and try to figure out the roots of their depression.
“How do you feel now?” *a moment of silence follows. And you’d be like: “Oh, sorry, you probably feel horrible, why am I so annoying”. And then the person would be like “No, no, it’s okay, I feel good”.
What has just happened? You have asked a question which you hoped to get an answer for. In this moment of silence your partner was probably thinking if they should trust you this answer or no, and how it’s gonna affect you. They might have as well tried to figure out how they actually feel now.
What you did was that you interrupted the person’s thinking and answering. And you’ve kind of fallen into the passive aggression “why am I so annoying”. Such a reaction made your partner feel bad for you and now they had to apologize for being silent for a second “No, no, it’s okay.” They also tried to solve your problem, not theirs. At this exact moment, they felt that you have no freaking idea of how they feel. They would rather talk to their friends than you.
Of course, you don’t know how they feel because you didn’t give them a chance to even answer that question. Anyway, I personally wouldn’t ask them how they feel, because we people have an autoresponder for that which is an “I’m OK.” thing. I’d ask start with “I feel like you want to talk, but at the same time, you’re not sure. Please, tell me what’s bothering you?”
Here are some other questions you may ask:
As you play around with these questions you’ll unfold the whole thing, and you’ll probably figure out what’s wrong.
The last thing that people want when they are depressed is to never be heard and understood. Even though they seek silence and rejection because that’s what their brain dictates them to do, they don’t really want to stay silent forever. They want to speak.
Start your conversation with something like “I feel like you want to talk because you’ve got so many things going on. I understand. What’s the thing that you’re struggling with now?” It really helps you to be neutral and engage your partner in a meaningful conversation.
Keeping in mind that your depressed boyfriend or girlfriend wants to speak, you should not approach them with “I know you’ve got a ton of problems. You can’t cope with them alone. Tell me what are these problems?” It’s like throwing a brick in somebody’s face.
Don’t show up as somebody who’s gonna solve their problems. Instead, show up as a reliable person who can really understand what’s happening. When you speak to a depressed partner strive for:
These 3 things will help a lot to make your partner great again. Nobody can resist empathy and understanding, and trustworthiness comes as the result of it. Be empathetic to your partner.
If you’ve ever been depressed you know this amazing feeling of isolation when you want to be alone and then you blame yourself for being alone. Hell yeah. So, if you found your partner in depression who wants to stay away from people and socialization, it’s okay.
There are two types of depression loneliness:
You’re probably not the cause of your partner’s miseries. So, try to love and support your partner because if things work out and your partner deals with depression they will probably love and respect you forever. What does love mean?
In this case, love means being able to shut up when necessary. It also means that you should speak when your advice is needed. It means that you should be able to cook, make a call, hand them what’s needed, etc., when your partner can’t do that for some reason. Avoid stressful situations, and don’t remind your partner of any past flaws or mistakes.
The idea is to create a perfect environment where the whole universe is supporting your partner to get the hell out of depression.
If your partner gets better you’re in the right way. If you feel like you do your best, and you know you do your best because you’ve consulted a therapist, but still things are just not working out. Leave. Quit this relationship because it will eat you alive.
Depression in relationships is a hard thing to overcome. However, what’s worth the prize is always worth the fight. Depression doesn’t hit you overnight nor it can be cured overnight. If you choose to help your partner overcome depression, it means that you’re the strongest and the bravest person in the world. It’s a long-term investment, but it’s worth fighting your tooth and nail until you win. So many people choose to quit when they face a problem. You’re not one of them, you’ll face the battle and you’ll win. Fight for your love.