With each passing year messaging about depression and its implications make their way to news mediums and blogs, reclaiming the word “depression” from its nonchalant usage in society. At this point, it would be difficult for one to feign ignorance on the matter; the inability to relate is perhaps the only reason a person can cite for their detachment from the topic. Having a partner with depression requires making an effort to understand what it is and developing empathy as you assist them in the journey.
The first thing to keep in mind is that it won’t be smooth sailing. One says you’ll have a blissful day with the one you love, only for it to be a showdown in the kitchen the following morning over siding plans you’re looking over for a home improvement project. It will likely be frustrating as the person does all they can to push you away. Here is where empathy and understanding of depression are essential. Sure, you’ll be vexed, but you’re less likely to catalyze the conflict if you’re aware what your partner is going through.
At some point, helplessness may kick in. The important thing is not to stop trying. Take a step back to recharge, regroup or get help, but don’t give up on the person due to the actions that come with a person being depressed. Create a safe space for your partner to deal with their depression; the reason most people are silent about their internal struggle is that they feel the other person might not understand or would judge them. It is in the assurance of security that they’re able to open up.
You won’t always get the approach right and even understanding what is doing on might initially be a challenge. In these moments, extend grace to yourself and know that you’re doing your best. With time, however, you’ll be able to tell when they need a listening ear or to be left alone. How does one find out what their partner needs? Ask. Keep communication lines open and be patient enough to know what certain terms mean even when it’s not expressly stated. Equally, ask them how they’d like to be supported and consider having that conversation on their better days.
The bottom line is to have unconditional love and keep communication lines open. Remember that you are instrumental in the person getting better and finding ways to manage their depression. It is also a fantastic learning experience as you’re able to spot warning signs in others and equip those around them with knowledge on the matter.