I met him at the beginning of September, before the sun started setting early, before it got cold. He lives with depression, and as a part of that, seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
As the sun started to wane so did his smile and his excitement for life. It affected our relationship. So, how do you help your partner?
- Give him or her the space they need.
Luckily (or unluckily) I experience depression so I can understand how he feels – overwhelmed, exhausted, sad. Sometimes he needs space. I cut our phone conversations earlier than I’d like because I know he isn’t the “him” that I fell in love with, but I still love.
- Being happy won’t change much.
When I see my boyfriend or talk to him, for the most part, I try to remain upbeat and fill the dead air with my nonsensical rambling. But you have to know that your happiness or excitement will not necessarily rub off on a depressed person. It is like a clown in your face when you’ve just been broken up with someone. No matter how happy the clown is, you are not happy.
- Be patient.
This time of year is hard for so many people. People who experience SAD have an exceptionally hard time. (I know, I experience it too). Don’t expect your loved one to turn in a day, or a week. Give them time. Support them. Listen to them – even if it is nothing but negativity coming from their mouth. They need to know that someone cares. You are their someone.
Loving someone with a mental illness isn’t easy. I know. I am mentally ill and I know how it has affected my relationships. Honestly, it can be a bit shitty and judgmental. I think my boyfriend lucked out. He found a chick who understands the nuances of depression. There is no “pull yourself together” here, just “I love you and how can I help?”
Don’t give up on someone who is depressed, especially if they have SAD. It is merely a month and a half ’til their spirits lift. And even if it is straight-up depression – you may be the only one in their world they can freely express themselves to. Don’t take it personally. Remember the clown analogy. Still smile, but don’t always expect a smile in return.
Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net