We just came back from the theatre house, she broke down and started crying. I knew about her mental health condition, I was with her when the mental health doctor diagnosed her of clinical depression. It was a very disastrous ride for both of us until we got this diagnosis.
This evening, my girlfriend started saying stuff like ” I am not good enough for you. I saw you look at me like I was not worthy, I am a mess. I am sorry if I caused you any pain and discomfort. I am sorry you’re like his because of me.” she kept at it for as long as 25 minutes. I didn’t hold her, I knew from experience to just listen. After she collapsed on our medium-sized black leather chair, I took her into my arms and told her how much I loved her and that I’ll always be here for her. I apologized to her for triggering her emotions; it was never intentional. You see, I’m only human.
I’m confused because I do not want to tiptoe around my girlfriend every time for fear of triggering her emotions. She speaks to her psychologists every month. But deep down inside of me, I’m scared I might hurt her in a way I wouldn’t even understand or recognize. So, I went all out researching and asking questions. Before we talk about the main issues of helping your lover who has depression, let’s understand this;
Clinical Depression: You see, this thing called depression, is not something you just guess you have. You can have all the symptoms and still not be able to self diagnose. This is why it is very vital to seek out the support of a medical practitioner in the mental health sector.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of suicide and every 40 seconds around the globe, someone dies by suicide. Trust me, nobody just wakes up and decides to want to die by suicide. The desire to sleep forever is a built-up of emotions of homelessness. When there is no hope, what is there to hold on to? This is the feeling.
According to the Health line, depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as persistent feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. So, what is clinical about this my lover’s depression? Wait, CLINICAL DEPRESSION is, according to mayo clinic “the more severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
To diagnose clinical depression, many doctors use the symptom criteria for major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.”
Yea, depression just like mental health issues varies. For my girlfriend, she was a very interested writer and a learner of new things. Suddenly, there was a lack of interest to even eat, bath, etc. She struggled to even write an article for two months.
Signs and symptoms of CD vary. Some are Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters, Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports, sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much, tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort, reduced appetite, and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain, frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide, unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches. Etc.
How Did I Help and Understand My Partner?
I decided to understand the illness and worked on understanding my partner. We worked on her planned routine together as instructed by the psychologists. I make out time for myself and made her understand that I have a life outside of her even though I love her and will always do; we travel to natural places void of buildings, we pray and meditate together. We remind each other of the little things we need to keep each other going. I became aware of my attitude too. I worked on that too. We decide to be intentional about how we treated each other and ourselves. We worked on lining healthily. So, here are some tips. Note: this might not work for everyone, you just have work on understanding the situation and each other.
Educate Yourself About Depression
Knowing what depression is and is not, can make it easier to support your partner with the condition. Learning about the symptoms often helps people recognize them in their loved ones.
Understanding and Validating their Feelings
Listening to your lover with depression and express empathy towards their feeling is blissful. For Empathy, it is the ability to understand and share someone else’s emotions. Reflection of what is said is a way you can demonstrate empathy. Do not tell them “things will get better’ or “just shake it off.” phrases like these will only make their feelings invalidated and matters get worsen.
Ask Them What You Can Do For Them
Your partner might just need a reminder to take their medication, a proper healthy home-cooked meal, a hug, a cuddle, or a hand to hold, sometimes, they just want to be left alone. Some helpful questions to ask your partner include; What can I do to help? Would it be helpful if I …?
I encouraged my partner to seek treatment by volunteering to accompany her to see her doctor. I ask her to allow me to hold her accountable for the things she needs to do like eating, exercises, journaling, etc. Note, you do not have to force them to do these things.
Depression can cause a person to lose motivation. This is why you’re there to help them get motivated by supporting them through these activities.
There Will Be Bad Days
Understand that there will be bad days, just like the one I had with my partner when we returned from the theatre house. You have to be ready to support them through this rough patch. This is always and most times expected from patients suffering from depression.
Look After Yourself
On a final note, you as much as your partner need to be taken care of. As much as you care and support your partner, your mental health is also important. Make out time to do the things you love to do. Meet up with friends, eat healthily, exercise, etc. You also deserve to be happy, do what makes you tick too. It is okay to socialize with others besides your partner. My partner and I understand individuality and we really worked hard to get to this point of living with each other and yet living differently.
I hope you get to love your partner enough to love yourself. Everybody goes through a phase in life. If you think you need help do not hesitate to also seek support. It is vital to also take care of you. Treat your MENTAL HEALTH as your PRIORITY.