Depression has a loud and convincing voice that dominates the minds of those who suffer from it. No one is perfect, so sometimes the person you want to be with happens to have this illness. It can be difficult to resist arguing about how they view themselves and their lives. This means accepting your partner as they are.
It means letting them have negative, painful beliefs, even when you really want them to see things differently. You can learn how to support your partner and how to be supported.
Create or maintain balance. When we balance this well, we tend to feel fulfilled. We put their needs first and forget about ourselves. This is absolutely necessary and appropriate for a while. Otherwise, the relationship can become threatened. If you put yourself aside for long enough, you will end up feeling lonely and resentful. To begin creating more balance in your relationship, you must acknowledge that you have needs and at least some of them must be met.
Think about when it might be OK to put yourself first, and make conscious choices to promote more balance in your relationship.
Learn how to support your partner in their suffering. When the care you offer your partner is rarely helpful or well received, you eventually feel drained and shut down. You may need to redefine what being helpful to your partner means, and change the way you offer care. However, you can offer care in the form of support: Being empathic, sympathetic, compassionate, and accepting are all ways to be supportive of your partner without trying to change how they feel.
Be curious about what your partner is feeling, wanting, and needing. It may be as simple as giving them a hug or holding them. When we offer this kind of care, we join our partner in their suffering. When your partner expresses appreciation for your support, you will feel better about yourself in the relationship. Talk to your partner about what they find supportive. Focus on the positive.
Remember that your partner has an illness. Remember how much strength it takes to feel sick and in pain, and still go on. Communicate with your partner using new language. You can begin to practice new communication skills, which will help your partner learn them too. Following is an example of language you and your partner can use for a conversation, even when your partner is depressed.
How do you feel? Partner B the depression sufferer: I feel so sad seeing you in so much pain. How is it for you to hear me say that? I would feel sad too. How is it to hear me say that? I feel sad that the depression is causing me so much pain too.
I hate the depression! How is that for you to hear me say? Well, I feel good because I hate it too! I feel accepted, depression and all, and that you are here to support me. They supported each other by checking in after communicating how they felt.
These are relational skills that are worth practicing! You both need to learn to be supported, to offer support, to experience connection when it seems unlikely, to use new language, and to meet each other's needs as well your own needs.
Relationships are complicated, and people come with illnesses, quirks, past traumas , and struggles. At times this is scary and difficult.