10. Keep your jealousy in check.
Often, depressed people wear a mask around other people because it’s simply easier than being loud and proud about the reality of their life right now.
Clinical depression carries a real stigma and it’s rarely understood by people who haven’t experienced it.
Faking it and acting happy is much less humiliating than admitting to the average acquaintance that you cried today because you ran out of dry shampoo and can’t fathom paying the energy cost of taking a real shower right now.
So, why do I mention jealousy?
If you happen to spend time with your depressed girlfriend around other people, she might laugh, seem to have fun and act completely normal.
This mask can be one of the most confusing things about being in a relationship with a depressed person. One minute, they can barely get out of bed and hours later, they have rallied and are yucking it up with Bob at happy hour after work.
You might think to yourself:
“Why can she laugh with Bob and Jane but not me?”
“She’s still going to work, so why can’t she go to the football game with me on Saturday?”
“She was super sweet to her dog, so why the hell can’t she show me any affection any more?”
It’s enough to make you wonder if you’re seriously being taken advantage of, completely unloved, insane or all of the above. You might wonder why she is taking it out on you, when everyone else seems to get to see her good side.
The mask is one way that depressed people manage to keep their life from completely falling apart as they navigate and manage what’s happening with them internally.
The people closest to them might intuitively know something is completely off (but not always), but Susan at work doesn’t need to.
And it really, really sucks to wear the mask.
I can’t overstate how much it sucks to feel even more minimized in your relationship and like you’re being petty over your girlfriend’s friendly interactions with the cashier at the grocery store or in the happy hour smiley selfies she took with her coworkers and put all over social media.
The best way to handle this is to remind yourself that it is a FAKE coping mechanism to prevent her from losing even more.
A depressed person is not hiding any genuine happiness from you while giving it to everyone else.
What she has shared with you IS the real story, while other people are not seeing the whole picture. You are not crazy. She IS different around other people and she’s doing it for survival.
Don’t attack how she gets through her day, because it’s not an effortless thing for her at all. Every bit of that performance takes a TON of her energy. No one wishes it was different more than she does.
Remember, don’t take her depression personally. If you want to explode over how you’re getting the short end of the stick here, I don’t blame you.
However, I would recommend venting your jealousy and frustration to your therapist, coach and/or very trusted friends you can rely upon to remain objective.
Sharing this jealousy with your girlfriend will NOT bring her closer to you— in fact, she might push you even further away because now it’s clear how much her thoughtless behavior is hurting you.
Right now, she most likely can’t respond to your jealousy with genuine reassurance— depression clouds the empathy behind that normal, human response to a partner in pain.
11. Keep the big picture in mind.
Since she’s already actively getting help, your main priority is helping your depressed girlfriend pass the time and get through this time without succumbing to killing herself, ending your relationship or ruining your bond.
Your simple objective here is to run out the clock on your depressed girlfriend’s episode without pushing anything to a head or forcing any unnecessary serious talks about your relationship.
Eventually as she starts to feel better the hopelessness and thought distortions will begin to lift. That’s why trying to talk her out of it or reason with her in the moment is a pointless exercise.
12. Take suicide threats seriously.
If your depressed girlfriend actively threatens suicide, you MUST call emergency authorities who are trained to deal with this situation.
Hopefully it won’t get to this point and you’ll never have to deal with a suicidal person, but you MUST take someone’s suicidal threats seriously. If someone is threatening their own life or the well being of others, they are very ill indeed and you are not impartial enough to deal with it yourself in ANY WAY except for saying clearly, “I’m going to call emergency services” and following through.
The other thing this does is put in a powerful boundary.
You can’t and won’t be manipulated to act any certain way except dial your phone if she threatens her own life.
You don’t want to permissively accept a situation where your depressed girlfriend cries wolf about her own life enough times that you are lulled into a sense of false safety around whether or not “she really means it” or “will really do it.”
Also, as far as you’re concerned, threatening suicide is abusive behavior if it’s meant to manipulate you. If she’s suicidal, get her emergency help and let them sort it out.
I hope that helps, and again, I’m sorry you’re going through this.
Written by Elizabeth Stone
Originally appeared in AttractTheOne.com
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