For the healthy partner, it can be difficult to understand the inner experience of someone with depression. For the partner with depression, finding the words to articulate what’s happening can be impossible. Validating your partner goes a lot further, though, when the healthier partner has some idea about what exactly is happening.
Below are some real-life comments from people who have experienced depression:
- “Please take the time to learn about my illness, whether that’s doing research online, reading books, or going to a support group.”
- “Don’t make me feel bad about the costs involved with my treatment. I need medication, and I need therapy. What’s more important: the money or my life?”
- “Talk with me about what I can handle right now. I’m not a child, nor am I fragile. We didn’t stop being a couple just because I’m depressed!”
- “Sex may have to wait a while. I feel guilty about that, but it would help if you would be open to exploring other ways to be intimate.”
- “I want my partner to also go to counseling because I know my depression affects him/her, too.” (Tips on self-care and the benefits of support groups for partners here.)
- “If I had cancer or a broken leg, you would be supportive. Please don’t treat me any differently just because the illness I have is depression.”
- “I sometimes prefer to deny that I am feeling depressed, especially if I think you will judge me for it. It’s easier to get angry at you and blame you for my feelings.”
- “When I am depressed, I cannot see ‘the other side,’ that place where everyone thinks I will get to after I get ‘through’ the depression. It just feels too hard when I am depressed. I cannot ‘snap out of it,’ though I desperately wish I could.”
- “I may tell you that you should break up with/divorce me, because I can see how my illness is impacting your life. But what I really need is for you to be there for me, and help me through this. It’s my depression talking, not the person who fell in love with you.”
- “If I am becoming depressed, I may not actually realize that’s what’s happening. It’s easier to recognize from the outside than from the inside. Although it might be hard for both if us, I need to hear that you are noticing changes in my mood and behavior, because the sooner I get [back into] treatment, the better!”
Are you the partner of someone who has depression? What wisdom can you share with others about living with a depressed partner?
Or if you are the depressed partner, what else should the partners of people with depression know about your experience?