As someone who’s personally familiar with the all encompassing lows of depression, I know how exhausting a major depressive episode can be. But more recently, as I’ve attempted to be more confrontational towards my mental health, I find myself less fixated on my own but that of my loving and committed partner. Living with a major depressive disorder is rough, but loving someone with a major depressive disorder can be even more difficult.
For those that know me well, I am a problem solver; I don’t like inefficiency or careless mistakes, and I approach most situations pragmatically. But when it comes to depression there is no place for pragmatism, and this was a lesson hard learned. After many years of trying to reason my way out of depressive episodes or shove my darkness inside, I’d say I’m in a relatively healthy place. I am finally on a medication plan that works for me, share a decently healthy level of communication with my boyfriend, and make more hearty attempts to assess my emotions and mental state.
All these improvements share a common connection: they are tools to support my mental health, not fix it.
How does this connect back to being in a relationship with someone who suffers from depression? When you suffer from a major depressive disorder, it’s hard not to make the depression the center of your universe. As I mentioned before, it’s all encompassing. But that makes it all the more crucial to have a solid support system in place, so that you can help your loved one be the best support to you. I like to think of my monthly mental health check-ins as a form of checks and balances.
I ask myself the following: Am I allowing my depression to become the most important thing in the room? Am I being patient with the people around me? Am I reciprocating the love and support my boyfriend shows me? Am I showing him my gratitude and appreciation for him? I find that in asking myself these questions and taking the time to reflect on my communication skills, I simultaneously take steps to drastically improve how my depression manifests and affects my loved ones and me.
The piece of writing I want you to take away from this journal is to show your partner how much you appreciate their support and patience. Validate their own pain and struggles, because it’s not easy loving someone with depression. Thank them again because trust me, you haven’t said it enough. When you’re around negativity all the time, it’s hard to avoid feeling it yourself. I have to remind myself of this constantly, as I have a tendency to be negative even without my depression. But I love my boyfriend unconditionally and more than anything in the world, so it’s my responsibility to check in regularly on my mental health and evaluate how it’s affecting my relationships.