Last week I blogged about depression and what to expect when you love someone with it (if you missed that blog it’s here!) This week I’m sharing part 2 of the blog series on how to love someone with depression. I received a lot of great feedback from the last blog and definitely see a need for this subject to be talked about openly, especially in the context of a relationship.
What You Shouldn’t Say
Everyone puts their foot in their mouth from time to time. We say the wrong thing trying to help or just don’t understand the situation. While I’m sure most people with depression have had others unintentionally say the wrong thing to them when talking about it, it can still hurt. So if you’re dating or married to someone with depression, here are a few things you shouldn’t say.
- “It’s all in your head.” – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, depressed people aren’t crazy and we know better than anyone that depression isn’t something we make up.
- “It’ll get better eventually.” – In some cases, depression can resolve itself but often times it doesn’t. We get that you’re trying to make us feel better but this isn’t particularly helpful.
- “Just try to stop being depressed or snap out of it.” – Ummmm that’s not how this works. No one wants to be depressed and its next to impossible to just “stop.”
- “It’s miserable to be around you when you’re like this.” – We totally get that. Depressed people are depressing to be around. However, saying this makes us feel like we have to hurry up and feel better only for the comfort of someone else.
- “You don’t need medicine.” – First of all, unless the person saying this is a doctor, they have no business telling me what I do and don’t need. And second of all, sometimes depressed individuals DO need medicine to balance out their hormones.
- “Get over it, a lot of people are sad and learn to move on.” – Depression isn’t the same thing as sadness. You are sad because your pet died or a friend hurt you. An unfortunate event doesn’t have to happen to make someone depressed. You can get over a pet crossing the rainbow bridge, you can’t get over a chemical imbalance.
What You Should Say
To avoid saying something you shouldn’t, here are a few things you should say to your loved one!
- “I wish I understood how you feel but I’m sure it’s hard.” – It’s totally ok if you don’t understand what depression is like, the important thing is that you let the other person know that you sympathize with them even if you don’t know how it feels.
- “Can you explain it to me?” – Simply asking your loved one to explain their symptoms or what it feels like shows them you care and gives you a better understanding of depression and how it impacts them.
- “I may not be able to help but I’m here to listen.” – Sometimes just a listening ear can be incredibly helpful and personally, I’m always thankful for it!
- “I’ll be happy to go to the doctor with you.” – For those that see a doctor routinely for treatment or general help, it can be really eye opening to go with your significant other and talk with the doctor. He or she can explain depression and even offer tips on caring for someone with it.
- “How can I help ease your symptoms?” – Sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do, however offering to go on a walk with them or get some fresh air can be a nice gesture that shows you want to help.
David and I’s relationship has been through job loss, moving around, and distance. But nothing has been quite the challenge like my depression. It’s been hard for him to understand it because he hasn’t experienced it. By explaining how it feels and making sure he understands it isn’t his fault (or mine), its been a bit easier on both of us.
Every aspect of a relationship can usually be improved with open, honest communication and mental health is certainly something to be honest about. If you and your loved one struggle with this, try writing letters to each other to explain your feelings. David and I have found this to be a lot easier.
Ultimately, just be there for your significant other! Open the curtains for them and let the sunlight in! Sit down and just chat about something funny that happened during the day. Sometimes the little gestures can mean the most when you’re depressed.