Depression doesn’t just affect our minds and our souls, but it also impacts our relationships. Whether it’s a parent, friend, or even a partner, our loved ones must go through it with us. They’re in it for the up days, the down days, and the days we don’t want to get out of bed.
It can be especially challenging trying to maintain a romantic relationship with a partner or spouse when you’re going through depression. After all, how are you supposed to make your other half happy when you’re not happy yourself?
It’s a struggle for sure, but you can both get through it. Here are some tips to help you along in your romance.
Realize that your relationship will be different.
First, you must accept that there are going to be extra challenges. Inevitably, no long-term relationship is all sunshine and butterflies. However, in addition to the usual stressors couples deal with, yours will have depression added to the mix. Gone are the days where the depression cloud is just lingering over you wherever you go, and whatever you do. Now, it’s hovering over you and your partner.
Acknowledge the additional hurdles, but also remember that your depression can get better and it won’t negatively affect your relationship forever. Stay committed to improving and don’t give up.
Don’t try to battle depression alone.
You might feel alone in your depression, but that doesn’t mean that you need to feel alone in your relationship. As hard as it is to admit, you need your partner’s help.
Be open with your partner and tell them everything that you’re going through at the time. And that includes all the negative thoughts, the bad feelings, and how depression is affecting you physically. Don’t leave anything out. For your partner to fully understand what you’re going through and be able to sensitize to it, you need to share it with them. Communication is the key.
Let your partner know how they can help.
The reality is, your partner or spouse isn’t going to be able to make your depression go away. In fact, they’re going to feel pretty helpless and hate seeing you down. But they can contribute in little ways. Sure, you feel numb most days, but you know what might make you feel better? Your partner’s amazing back rub, or their famous chicken soup, or a joke they tell, or even a surprise gift.
It’s true that they can’t fight it for you, but your other half can be there to support you and care for you through your darkest hours. After all, depression is an illness. Just as you need nursing back to health when you’re physically sick, you also need healing when you’re ailing mentally. So, don’t be afraid to tell your partner what it is that you need from them. And always remember that they want to help.
There’s no need to feel sorry for your partner or to keep apologizing. When you’re going through depression, it’s not your fault. It’s an illness that’s out of your control. It’s easy to put yourself down or blame yourself, but you shouldn’t.
Make sure you provide your partner with medical leaflets outlining depression, or online information from reputable health websites so that they can better understand it. Also, if you have regular check-ups with your doctor or a mental health professional, let your partner tag along. The only way that they’re ultimately going to realize what depression entails is if you bring them into the circle of trust and keep them in the loop.
Arguments will happen.
It’s a difficult time for the both of you, which means that tensions will be running high. Plus, it’s likely that your partner won’t be able to comprehend some of your thoughts or actions. The truth is that you never fully understand something unless you’ve been through it yourself. You can’t blame them for this. It just means that you will clash at times.
Even couples unaffected by mental illness argue. Yours is an even higher-charged situation. You might only bicker, you might have huge fights, you’ll probably do both, and you’ll most likely each say things that neither of you means.
Just try not to take any negative feelings out on your other half just because they’re the only one around. It’s easier said than done, but sometimes depression makes us lash out at our loved ones, simply because we feel so miserable. As the saying goes, ‘misery loves company’ but try your best to avoid this trap. And remember that you’re working with your other half to beat depression, not against them.
Sex might be off the table.
The elephant in this room is sex. A key part of being in a romantic relationship is being physical together and having sex with each other. However, when you’re having a bad day with your depression, you might lose the urge to be touched, much less get down and dirty with your partner. Frequently, having sex is probably the last thing that you want to do.
It’s a well-known fact that depression affects our mood so much that we don’t want to do anything, let alone something pleasurable. Depression makes us shy away from any light and happiness in the world; all it wants to do is plunge us into darkness.
The trick is not to let depression win. Got a low sex drive? That’s fine, don’t feel bad, it’s just a temporary glitch. Explain how you feel to your partner and then simply try another day.
Remember that you’re both in this together.
It can be tempting to turn against your partner. You might lash out, or push your partner away, out of pure frustration with what you’re going through. But, don’t forget that depression is irrational. It wants you to feel alone.
In fact, if you distance yourself from your other half, you’re only letting the depression win. And you simply cannot give in. It’s already taken over your mind and your life, don’t let depression take over your heart too.
Your partner is supposed to be there for you to lean on during tough times. Anyone can be there for the good times, that’s easy. For better or for worse, your partner should ride out the depression storm with you.
There’s no shame in asking for their help or letting them know that you’re having a down day. Besides, if there are two of you in this fight, then you both stand united against a common enemy. It becomes two against one, and those are instantly better odds, don’t you agree?
And that’s precisely what we’re doing here at Sad Runner. We’re mounting a collective, and we’re ganging up on mental illness. Together, we’re stronger and together, we fight harder. Please share the news of Sad Runner with others who are looking for support, so that we can keep healing and growing, together.