Mental health, ya’ll- this is never an easy thing to talk about but I’ve blogged on this subject before and I got a great response from it, which tells me more people want to have this conversation!
As someone who deals with depression, or battles rather, I can tell you how hard it is to explain how you feel to someone who’s never experienced it. It’s even harder to explain when the other party already thinks its “all in your head” or that you can just choose to be happy instead. However, when the person you love doesn’t understand it, it can be heartbreaking.
My boyfriend David is learning to deal with my depression and how to help me, but its definitely been a struggle! So this post is for the significant others of people who are depressed to help explain everything as best as I can and more importantly, tell you how to love them unconditionally.
*Note depression can impact people in many other ways than what I’m going to describe, this is purely based on my experience.
Depression is Unpredictable
Depression is a strange thing. Some days I can function and then other days it hits me like a ton of bricks and it hurts to get out of bed. Certain times of the day can be worse than others too. Mid-afternoons and late evenings are usually the worst. Typically, when depression does hit me, it’s there to stay for awhile. Unfortunately, I can’t control when it happens and neither can the person you love. If we could, don’t you think we would snap out of it as its so commonly suggested?
Depression symptoms vary from person to person. Web MD notes that the most common symptoms include hopelessness, guilt, irritability, loss of interest in hobbies, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, change in appetite or sleep habits, and aches & pains.
My boyfriend can probably attest to my irritability. Random things will set me off and then right after I’ll feel guilty and just turn into a sobbing mess. Your significant other might have other combinations of symptoms but this gives you an idea of what’s common.
Depression has Many Causes
If you’ve spoken with many people who are considered clinically depressed, you’ll notice that the causes of their depression tend to vary. Sometimes its the stress of their job, like it has been for me, other times their genetics can also play a large part. Sometimes there might not be a clear cause, its simply a hormonal imbalance. In a case like this, its particularly frustrating because often enough, medication is the only thing that can “cure” the depression.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important that you understand that depression is unique to the person experiencing it. Even more so, it’s vital that you don’t suggest to your love that the cause isn’t something that should make them depressed. This is, quite possibly, the most frustrating thing they can hear from you, which brings me to my next point.
It Isn’t Always Rational
My job made me incredibly depressed and anxious. I was constantly worried I’d be yelled at by my boss or that I’d be fired, which in turn made me more depressed. Trying to reassure me, my boyfriend said its just a job and to forget about it when I shut my laptop at the end of the day. As rational as that was, to me it was more than just a job and depression wouldn’t allow me to think rationally about it.
An important thing to understand is that depression often takes you down a rabbit hole where one thought leads to another and rationality is thrown out the window.
Medication Doesn’t Mean Crazy
In my own battle with depression, I’ve taken several kinds of medication that would help balance my hormones. Sometimes they worked and other times not so much. Unfortunately, people who take depression medication are often given the “crazy” label or told that they don’t actually need it because “its all in their head.”
That line of thinking doesn’t help anyone. If the person you love has chosen to take medication, don’t brush off their hormonal need for it. While there certainly are cases of prescription drug abuse (which should be addressed immediately), the majority of time its just someone like me who wants to feel better and that’s likely the case for your loved one.
How to Love Them
Now that you have a better understanding of depression and how it impacts regular people like you and I, its important to talk about how to help and love them. Lucky for you this is a two-part blog series, which means next week I’ll be sharing tips and suggestions on how to love someone with depression. Hint: its’ not as hard as you’d think.