What happens when you are the support for your significant others’ depression, but start to lose touch with yourself? Does this mean that you are being selfish by thinking about yourself? While at the time it might seem as if you, in fact, are being selfish, you really aren’t. You need time for your mental health as well.
Depression might not be apparent at first. Typically, at the beginning of new relationships, the symptoms of depression might be overshadowed by the excitement of getting to know someone new. This doesn’t mean that the person wasn’t depressed, perhaps you didn’t spend enough time with them to know.
Most times, once the symptoms start to show up, you might already be too emotionally invested. This might not mean that you wouldn’t have entered the relationship in the first place, but it does mean that you will have to adjust to this new side of your loved one.
Some choose to leave, because after all it is difficult to be in a relationship in the first place, and adding depression to the equation can be tough. That is a very personal decision and nobody really has a say but you.
Multiple studies show how living, taking care, and even being in contact with people who struggle with depression can take a toll on you. As it is quite common for you to want to be involved and supportive of your loved one’s journey through the instability of depression, but in doing so you might become either too involved or take the sudden changes in mood personally. While there are multiple ways to avoid falling into those patterns, it does take some time to adjust.
According to research conducted by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, about 40% of people living with a significant other who suffers from depression meet the criteria for needing psychological treatment. In order to have the appropriate tools to help your loved one, it is imperative that you take care of your emotional and psychological health.
One of the most difficult things is to be supportive of your loved one while you don’t really understand his/her situation all that well. An effective way to receive that support you need to be more understanding is to have your own counseling sessions, as well as joining a support group. Most people are not aware of the resources out there for people who are not diagnosed with depression but live or interact regularly with someone who does. Various sites range from being informative to sharing stories, to offering support.
Aside from finding a support group, it also helps to find activities to engage in, such as painting or exercising on some of your days off. This doesn’t mean that you are abandoning your loved one, it means that you are taking some time to cope with his/her depression in order to be of help, rather than get frustrated or angry. Sometimes in order to help your loved one, you need to prepare yourself, recharge and hope that he/she will understand why you do what you do, even if it is not right there and then. This doesn’t mean you care less, it actually means that you are caring in a healthy way; in a way that allows you and him/her to both heal and get better. Consider trying new activities or trying something you already enjoy.
Ultimately, you can be as supportive as you are able to, but it is your loved one’s responsibility to work on him/herself. What it’s, in fact, your responsibility is to realize when it is time for you to reach out. Your job or responsibility is not to block out your emotions to help your significant other deal with his/her depression. Your responsibility is to make sure that you remain emotionally and psychologically healthy so you can remain being supportive. Your feelings also matter and they should not be belittled. All the frustration, anger, sadness you might feel is just as valid as your significant others’ emotions and mental health condition.
If you feel like you are losing touch with yourself, it might be time for you to consider what tools you are using to cope with your partner’s depression. While there is no magic formula to discover what works for your particular needs and situation, professionals are always there to help you find what works. Do not get discouraged if what you try at first does not work, after all, many things in life require multiple attempts in order to work. Know that there are people out there who know your struggle and can be of help.
Know you are not going through this alone.