Welcome to part three of five in the Thriving with Depression in your Twenties series. If you haven’t pop on over and read posts one and two. The first post talks about specific tools you can use to thrive with depression while post two talks about common misconceptions about depression. Today, I’m dishing some serious dirt on depression and relationships.
Take a minute to do this for me: I want you to open up Google and type in “depression and relationships.” What do you see? A bunch of negative posts about how difficult it is dating someone with depression. At first, I was infuriated by some of these posts, especially this one. But then I realized not everyone is capable of dating someone who battles with depression.
Being in a relationship with someone who has depression is definitely not easy. It takes someone who can see past the dark days, who truly cares and loves an individual completely for who they are. I have a confession: before JP, I truly thought that my depression made me unlovable. Even when I was on medication, I never really had control over my depression (let alone my anxiety). While I’ve gotten better at figuring out when I’m going into a depressive episode, it’s still difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when and how bad it will be. I’m so lucky to have JP by my side in the dark days, but we didn’t just magically get to this place. Here are some key tips to keep in mind when dating someone with depression:
Open Communication is Key
As I’ve said before, talking about my depression is not easy for me, especially with JP. Past relationships have made me feel insecure about my feelings when I’m feeling depressed so I find myself holding back from really telling him how I feel sometimes. But without an open line of communication, there’s no way your relationship can thrive. Open communication should start the moment you start getting serious about your relationship. I can’t remember exactly when JP and I first started discussing my depression and anxiety. But when I knew we were moving towards a serious relationship, I knew that it wasn’t something I could keep hidden. You should never be afraid to tell your significant other about mental illness. In order for the relationship to be healthy, there needs to be a good deal of conversation happening. I know, it’s scary to initially tell someone about depression, especially in a dating situation. But if they’re worth keeping, they’ll be able to see past it. Communication also isn’t a one way street. JP knows that he can ask me anything he wants about my depression at any point. I’ve even told him that it’s okay to tell me when I’m pulling away because of depression. It is my belief that our open lines of communication are what gets us through those times when the melancholy sets in.
Patience is a Virtue… and So is Support
We’ve all heard the saying “Love is patient, love is kind” etc. Loving someone with depression requires a lot of patience. There may be times when your significant other doesn’t feel like going out for dinner or even taking a shower for that matter. Be patient. I have to take a minute to brag about how great JP is at this. I think he’s starting to be able to tell when I’m retreating into myself because of depression. I have a tendency of getting really, really lazy and I don’t have much energy. He does little things like take me out to dinner and a movie that make me want to shower and put effort into my appearance and go out. (Because, let’s be honest, I love showing him off too). I may pout at the suggestion, and complain about showering and getting ready, but he’s patient with me. Being supportive also goes hand in hand with the patience thing. Your partner needs your support (honestly, this goes for any relationship) when depression flares up. Society does enough minimizing, we don’t need it from the person we’re dating too. Validate your significant other’s feelings and let them know that it’s okay! Reinforce your feelings for them and make sure they feel your support. It will go a long way, I promise. Also, don’t try to “fix” us. There’s a big difference between being supportive and trying to fix things. I’m sorry but no amount of “You can do it’s!” is going to make me feel less depressed on one of my dark days (but we love that you try).
Don’t Take it Personally
Those antidepressant commercials, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that say something like “depression hurts everyone”? Well, they aren’t lying. But it isn’t personal. I know, I know, it’s hard not to take something personal when you’re in a relationship, especially when your significant other is pulling away from you, not being as affectionate, etc. It’s easy to go out and put on an act, pretend for just a short while that we’re not depressed. But please don’t ever think you’re the cause of the depression. You aren’t.
Be Honest with Each Other
This honestly kind of goes with open communication. I am a firm believer that if you can’t be completely honest with your boyfriend or girlfriend about literally everything, you’re with the wrong person. Tell each other how you feel. Depression sucks. It is hard to deal with and it can hurt. It’s going to have many ups and downs and that isn’t for everyone. You may not be able to handle being in a relationship with someone who has depression. That’s okay, really. Just being honest about how you’re feeling, whether you’re the one with depression or the SO, will help alleviate so much stress in your relationship. Also, be honest with yourself. Relationships are only valuable if they are healthy. And a toxic relationships definitely isn’t helpful to someone with depression. It’s okay to call it quits. Just do so with acceptance and understanding and knowing that you gave each other your all.
Thriving with Depression in your Twenties: Part Four
Wow, I can’t believe we’re at part four already! This series has been exhausting emotionally and physically but it’s been therapeutic and I’ve loved connecting with y’all. In part for of our #ThriveWithDepression week, we’re going to discuss tackling professional life when you have depression, something I’ve been dealing with a lot recently. Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for extra tips on thriving with depression in your twenties and follow and share on social media! How have you tackled depression in your relationships? Let me know all about it below!