Next, do the work to get them there if they are at least half-way receptive. Don’t be like, “You need therapy!” ever. Remember that the goal is to get them help that will make it easier for them to climb out of the pit.
You can’t do the hard part for them, but you can do some legwork that will actually make a difference.
There are times in relationships where it’s time to knuckle down and be the strong one. A seriously depressed partner is one of those times. Accept that for the time being, you might be taking on more of the hard work and help them out. Even if they can’t show you their appreciation right now, most likely your effort is not going unnoticed. They are watching out of the corner of their eye.
5. Don’t patronize them.
They are depressed, they didn’t lose half their IQ.
Don’t ask them questions like “are you sure you want to do X,Y or Z?” Just go with the flow, help and accept that there will be good days and bad. They aren’t “moping,” so don’t make jokes about it, even when your intentions are good.
The depressed mind lies. Depression causes them to rake themselves over the coals all on their own. Any added insults from you in the form of pitying behavior or jokes will make them feel increasingly worse.
6. Do not share the private details of their illness with your friends or family.
The experience of clinical depression is extremely private and your partner’s business. Since there is such a huge stigma surrounding depression, the last thing they want right now is to have to explain to people, that “no, they aren’t crazy”.
Even though you might understand that your relationship might be going through their depression, you owe it to your partner to let them share about their illness when and if they want to.
Try to carefully get your partner professional help, but don’t mistake getting them professional help with telling everyone they know in hopes that someone has a magic wand. They don’t.
Depressed people often mask what’s really going on with them to everyone, so even if you suspect that something is wrong, ripping that mask off will only cause the depressed more shame around a condition they would love to control, but can’t.
If you need support because going through this is taking a toll on you as well, talk to a professional or someone far removed from the situation who can be expected to maintain your full confidence. There is a good forum at Depression Fallout where people with depressed partners support each other that I highly recommend also.
7. Enjoy the good times.
When things is good or their mood lifts, enjoy the heck out of it.
It’s so easy to let yourself slide down with them and it’s vitally important that you resist the urge. That’s why you should get while the getting is good. Don’t ask questions or ask why they aren’t like this all the time. Remember, it’s not a choice but there can still be good times. Appreciate them when they show up.
This leads to my next point…
8. Take care of your own emotional health.
Moods in relationships are contagious. It’s really easy to let yourself slide into the pit with them. It’s easy to get resentful if you feel like you’re doing everything.
A depressed partner can make you feel like you’re having a one-sided relationship.
In a sense you are, since depression tends to creep in and take everything over. The best thing you can do is to maintain your autonomy when it comes to doing activities that you enjoy and that keep you sane.
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Written by Elizabeth Stone
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