Depression has become a regularly used word in society, without nearly as much fear or stigma attached to it. Nearly 40 million American's battle depression every single day, without adding in seasonal and situational circumstances. We are only 18% of the United States population, and require different kinds of loving from the world around us.
Imagine being in a room, one without windows and only one door, but the closer you come to the door the further away it still is. You begin running, thinking you can catch it, or maybe you lay down for a while and think about new ways to tackle your obstacle. The entire time there is a voice gnawing through your brain and telling you that you are too slow, that you don't deserve rest, and that the door is too much of a task for you, even when it is the single thing you have to do. Now apply that scenario to collegiate level work, taking on a part time job, and trying to live away from home. When grades come back less than what you hope for you begin to second guess everything, or when work upsets you so badly you have to go vomit in the back, or even the idea of leaving your bed is misery. To chalk it up, you never stop crying because that damn door is still just out of your reach and the people around you are reminding you how easy it is to just walk through it.
This is why people find us hard to love.
I can remember before being diagnosed, lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wanting to die and just pouring another drink. I would sit on Skype with my boyfriend, sobbing that I wanted it all to end, I wanted what to end though? My life? Maybe, but mostly just the agonizing pain I felt all the time.
When loving someone with depression there are so many things to keep in mind. This person has gone through hell in unimaginable ways, and telling them it could be worse will only drop them into a deeper pit. They require love, affection, and so much patience. They will cry, a lot. It usually is about things completely absurd. One time I cried about a salad because I thought my life was going no where, I would be stuck with a job in restaurants forever, and no one cared enough about me to put my order in correctly. I seemed like a lunatic, but in my mind I was silenced, I couldn't tell my server that I needed the salad without chicken even when I was a vegetarian. I felt
powerless over all situations.
Another key factor is knowing that this person will not get better when you consistently repeat that they need to "get their depression in check because they're being crazy." We are not crazy, we are fighting demons who cannot be stopped. There is a Trojan war in our heads and if you think we haven't tried to stop that, you're never going to get through to us. We don't need your criticisms to become the fuel behind our own.
We need affection in so many more ways. We need to be hugged and cuddled when you try to show you love us. I used to only be able to motor around for a few hours at a time then would need to lay on the couch for a while, I needed extra time to sleep but also a set time to wake up at. When I was first diagnosed, my boyfriend would come over just to lay on the couch and watch movies all day, bring me coffee and tea, and reassure me. It helped everything.
We don't talk too much. I was an absolute social butterfly and the life of every party, but when the world was shrouded with rain clouds and suffocating societal expectations, I lost my voice. I only really spoke with my family and coworkers. I came home from school and stopped all communication with my "friends" (read: drinking buddies) because I didn't want to have to explain myself. I felt silly, I felt guarded, and the last thing I needed was rumors about me being crazy. When loving someone with depression, don't prod. Let them come to you, we eventually will come around when we trust you.
For the love of God do NOT comment on our weight. Victims of depression tend to lose or gain massive amounts of weight. In December 2014, I weighed in at less than 100 pounds and I stand at 5'3. My family and my boyfriend's family wanted me to get checked for an eating disorder. The issue was that I wasn't afraid of food or scales, I didn't have the energy to get up and consume anything, and it wasn't the food item or a model's fault I felt that way. But I was constantly getting comments about how my bones stuck out, my fingers had gotten skinnier, or that my pants were too big. It doesn't help anything. We need positive reassurance when in recovery.
Pills are a big reason some people will not accept help. Do not take those away from us. Do not stigmatize them or call them some kooky name.
They are not "happy pills", they are hormones to balance the lack of serotonin and norepinephrine and truly do save lives. Having loved ones remind us that medication is a hoax or unnecessary is one way to ensure we never tell them anything again.
Depression is an illness. As much as Lymphoma, or Arthritis, or even the Chicken Pox is. That's the important part to remember, followed by the fact that it is something that can fluctuate. Just like when recovering from a cold, there are a few days of stuffy noses, watery eyes, and lethargy. Depression will affect different aspects of us on different days, or sometimes not at all. But it is a valid part of who we are, and just because it doesn't make much sense to some around us, it doesn't invalidate our own pain.
We only will get better if those around us support us in every way possible. I told my mother that I wanted to attend a small private school, live at home, and increase my hours at work 2 years ago. She didn't make any negative comments against it and here I am, setting goals for two more years in advanced, because this time I know I am worth it. I only got to where I am with the love I felt from every part of my life.
Being in a relationship is tricky, even in the best of circumstances. Humans are complicated and beautiful and crazy in all facets of life. Mental illness is only a small faction of loving someone who is depressed. We are loving and kind, and overcoming our own demons proves how hard we will work to help you overcome yours. Love is sticky and messy but we all deserve it, even those battling with our own minds.