Recommended article from one of our members
regarding loving a partner who is depressed:
I Dated A Depressed Person —
And Nearly Lost Myself In The Process
by Cheryl Yanek as posted on www.bustle.com
Almost all of us experience depression at some point. Maybe work
sucks; maybe you’re watching all your friends get married while your own dating life is a nightmare; maybe you’re so stressed at school
that nothing feels right. No matter the cause, the end result was that
you felt hopeless. But eventually, you dealt with it in whatever way
made sense to you — you went to therapy, you started medication, you
headed back home to your parents for love and good food. You figured out
how to heal yourself.
But loving someone who is depressed is a very different
story. I’ve been in two serious relationships with people who struggled with
depression and found that, though there are lots of ways you can support a depressed partner, only they can decide when it’s time to seek help.
Depression is something to take very seriously — nearly seven percent of adult Americans struggle with depression,
a disease that can take a toll of every area of your life, from your
health to your finances. But the life of the depressed person’s partner
is also often on that casualty list. When you’re depressed, it is often
hard to be a good partner. And when you’re the partner of a depressed
person, it can be tough to figure out what to do at all. All you can do
is be patient, supportive
and wait for them to get help — or get fed up and break up. Those are
the two main
choices, and neither are pleasant.
Is it possible to love a depressed person? Yes, of course — but
sometimes, despite your best intentions, you can lose yourself in the
process. When I was with my depressed partners, I loved them — but I
also felt stressed and scared. This isn’t everyone who’s dated a
depressed person’s story — but this is mine.
1. My Social Life Was Limited
When dating my depressed ex, I was forever heading to museums alone,
standing awkwardly in the back of concerts by myself, or missing movies
and parties because he didn’t want to go and I didn’t always want to go
alone. I got used to making up excuses about where
he was whenever I was alone at a party. In the rare case that he did
I’d arrive late and leave early. I could never tell my friends the whole
truth because if I did, they would be angry at him for not getting
help, and annoyed with me for staying in a relationship that made me
2. I Never Really Felt Supported
When my grandma died, I was a complete wreck. My partner was there
for me the day she died, holding me in the hospital while I cried. He
was at the wake and at the funeral. But a few days later, when I was
extremely upset after cleaning out my grandma’s house and sorting
through her possessions, he couldn’t support me. He was staring at the
ceiling instead, lost in his depression. I became angry. “Can’t this be
about me, just for once?” I asked. “Can’t you support me when I’m sad,
instead of the opposite? Can’t you hold me as I cry, instead of curling
up into a ball?” He couldn’t.
3. I Wished My Partner’s Depression Would Magically Go Away
I convinced myself plenty of times that things were getting
better, that my partner’s depression was improving, after a magical day
or week when they seemed different. But each time, it was only
temporary. It hurt even more whenever they crashed again, and somehow, I
was never prepared. I found that this cycle would continue indefinitely unless my partner sought help. Depression doesn’t just go away on its own.
4. I Felt Like A Jerk
It’s hard to always be there for your depressed
partner. After coping with their 49th straight day of moping, I found
that I was often ready to explode. I’ve said things like, “How could I
ever have been so stupid to fall in love with you?” Yeah, pretty mean.
But it can be hard to be patient and kind indefinitely to a partner who
doesn’t want to get help or change.
I know depression is an illness, but I found the the
girlfriend/mother/therapist role that I ended up occupying to be
difficult. It was my job to convince him to go to work when he didn’t
want to; to assure him he was good-looking; to make sure he ate healthy
meals. Neglecting myself to focus on him left me bubbling with
5. I Didn’t Have Sex
What’s that? I’ll
never forget the day, years ago, when I went for my annual
checkup at my OB/GYN. My doctor asked me what I was using for protection.
“Nothing.” She looked at me funny, about to lecture, and then I said, “I’m not
having sex.” It
was especially awkward, as she had seen my boyfriend in the waiting room when
she called me.
It felt embarrassing. Coping with a depressed partner with a
non-existent sex drive made me feel like I was not in a relationship, or
like something was wrong with me. Having struggled with endometriosis
for years, I thought it might’ve actually been me. But it wasn’t.
6. I Neglected Myself
Years ago, while I was in the midst of a relationship with a
depressed person, I was shocked to realize that it was time for my
performance review at work. How had a year at work passed? I had spent
so much time focused on my struggling relationship that career
development, family, exercise, everything, had been pushed aside. I
couldn’t have a normal life.
7. I Ended Up Doing Everything For Both Of Us
Because my partner was too depressed to leave the house or care
about anything, I found myself handling every aspect of maintaining our
home, from the grocery shopping, to the cleaning, to the cooking. There
was little “me” time.
8. I Got Self-Destructive
When I was spending all my time around someone who was deeply
depressed, it was hard to avoid acting somewhat depressed, too. I found
myself avoiding friends, because I didn’t want to tell the truth
about my boyfriend. I found myself eating crap food all the time,
because that’s what my depressed partner had been eating. I skipped out
on good-for-you things, like exercise and family, that would have made
me feel better.
9. I Hid A Lot
After a while, I wasn’t sure what to say to friends anymore. I was
embarrassed about what my life had become. Even while living in the
middle of New York City, I found myself hiding
hiding at work, becoming more like the partner I loved. Other people’s
lives seemed unreal. Weddings, children, birthday parties, vacations
— how could those happy things exist?
When I tried to think beyond the relationship, I could not. The more I
isolated myself, the more dependent I became on the relationship for
everything — not just love. I became too paralyzed to think of anything
10. Mood Swings Ruled My Life
they were sad, I was sad. When they were happy, I was happy.
Unless I was
worrying about their next downfall, or still hurt about something they did last
time they were sad. It’s a vicious cycle, and even worse, it was out of my control.
11. I Forgot What It Was Like To Not Be Afraid All Of The Time
Any time I said the wrong thing, it felt like everything would
fall apart. The stress would sit in my stomach like a bomb, and when
exploded, I thought, “Here it is.” Sometimes, I wished I could be in a
normal relationship, arguing about dirty dishes or some other trivial
thing. After dating a depressed partner for a while, I had a hard time
even remembering what a normal relationship was like.
12. Eventually, I Became Depressed, Too
It’s not as easy to catch depression as it is
to catch a cold, of course — but eventually, it spread to me. I felt my
partners’ sadness. I felt sadness at
what our relationship had become, sadness at what our lives has become. I
didn’t know how to get out. Depression became my whole life. And
somehow, I was still asking myself, “How did I become depressed?”
13. I Felt Bad For Complaining
realize that yes, I just complained through this whole piece, and I’m not
the one with depression. My partners have suffered from something very serious,
something that requires medical help, something that was mostly out of their control. No one actually wants to be depressed.
But no one wants to date someone who is depressed, either. You love
your partner in spite of their depression, fueled by the hope that
someday they’ll get help, someday things will be better. Someday, things
will be the way they used to be.
When you’re dating a depressed person, you may find yourself at a
juncture where you’re facing down the two choices: to stick it out, or
to leave. If you decide to stay, try to remember why you fell in love
with them in the first place. No matter what, give them as much love as
But you can’t ever stop loving yourself in the process. Try to remember what you love, who you are, and stayed focused
on moving forward as much as possible in your own life. But as hard as you may
try, know that it’s almost impossible to move someone else’s life
forward, too. Only they can do that.
Images: Giphy (13)