I've always known that something was a little off with me. I cry a lot. I stress a lot. I push people away. It wasn't until recently when I went to the doctor that I was told I suffer from anxiety, which I had already been prescribed medicine for, but that the underlying cause of my problems was depression. Individuals who suffer from depression each have their own story and background. Depression does not always show the same symptoms nor does it always cause the same feelings and thoughts to arise.
If you have fallen in love with a girl who suffers from depression, congratulations, she is probably an amazing person. Please understand that she IS capable of love. She can love you like no one else has ever loved you. If you attempt to understand what she is going through, love her regardless, and support her endlessly she will become the best thing that has ever happened to you.
She may not tell you she has a mental illness right away and that is her choice. She already probably feels like a burden to you for no reason, so once she lets you know that she is diagnosed with a mental illness, she may then feel like you are going to treat her different as if she is fragile and will break. She does not want to be a burden, create a burden, or bother you with her personal problems even if she loves you. If this is the case and she does not tell you right away, do not take it personally. And once she does let you in on this part of her life, DO NOT get mad at her for not sharing this with you sooner.
So, she told you that she has depression and you totally aced your initial reaction. Now what? Reassure her that she is important to you and that you do not see her any differently. I know that I constantly crave reassurance because I often feel as though I am not enough, as though the world is against me, as though I do not do anything correctly. I have constant feelings of worthlessness, I cry a lot, and I feel as though no one understands and I have to keep quiet about everything I am feeling because otherwise people will stereotype me and label me as suicidal or just a hormonal, dramatic woman. Therefore, I usually keep quiet about my disorder and I can only assume that this is a similar experience for others with my condition.
You may be curious and want to ask her what causes her depression: you can ask her, but don't be surprised if she doesn't want to talk about it. If she says, "I don't know why I feel this way, I just do," THAT IS A VALID ANSWER. Do not get upset with her or feel as though she is lying to you. Sometimes there is no cause for depression and she really does not have any idea why she feels this way: therefore, it will only make her feel worse if you keep asking and she feels as though her answer isn't enough, valid, or what you want to hear.
She will probably cry a lot. Even over little things that you don't find important or worth shedding tears over. Give her a shoulder to cry on, and understand that depression is a chemical imbalance and she sometimes does not have control over her emotions. She may cry for no reason, and this is OK: it most likely is not your fault.
Depression is a tricky thing. Here are some things to keep in mind when a loved one is diagnosed with depression:
They may not be as excited as you are about things or be "happy" with things in their life. BUT, happiness is NOT impossible! Small silly things can still make them extremely joyous! Find out what they are passionate about and what brings them joy. (For me this is tiny succulent plants, artwork, and various other small things!)
They may become overwhelmed and stressed out very easily. This may be obvious or well hidden, but they are usually always stressed out about SOMETHING. Something always feels overwhelming, hopeless, or problematic.
They may be super sleepy all the time OR they may never be able to get to sleep! Because their sleep schedule is messed up, they will probably cry or be cranky or more stressed out. (If she is tired all of the time, take naps with her! But, also try to get her out of bed and out and about! She will know this is good for her, but she may be resistant, try anyway but don't annoy her too much, she may cry.)
Like sleep, she may either find food comforting or repulsive. If she doesn't eat often, find out what her favorite food is and try to take her on lunch dates! This is a sneaky way to get her to eat, while having a good time together! If she eats a lot, do not tell her she is fat, eating too much, or unhealthy. Take her on dates to walk in the park, cook healthy meals with her, or tell her you would love to start a fitness plan together as a couple!
Depression is real. It is not made up. People who have this disorder often wish they didn't and they are NOT acting the way they do in hopes of getting attention. (They usually do NOT want attention or people looking at them differently because they already feel as though they are isolated.) It can be brought on by certain situations and can come in waves, so some days are better than others. It can be hereditary, so they really may not be an explanation for their feelings.
SEE ALSO: How Girls With Anxiety Love DifferentlyThey may feel as though you are against them at times. They may feel as though they are not enough for you. They may feel as though they are a burden and that you would be better without them in your life. Reassurance and communication on your part are key. She is trying!
She is breathing! She is surviving! Celebrate that every day. Tell her how proud you are of her for small things. Bring her flowers, candy, or even hold her hand to brighten her day! In her world of darkness, be her light. Medicine only goes so far. Speaking from experience, if you are someone who loves her and she loves you, she needs you there. She needs you to be her rock when she can't hold herself up. She needs you to have a tissue when she is crying. She needs you to listen when she wants to vent or sit in silence when she is overthinking.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, know that there are people out there who are willing to help. The suicide hotline, 1-800-273-8255, is available 24/7 and someone will be there to talk, regardless of the situation. You are not alone. You are not worthless. Your life matters.