How do you live with depression?
Well, that’s a big bundle of complicated right there, from the cliché of “one day at a time,” to the numerous variables of therapy, lifestyle, personality, medication, support networks, triggers, coping skill…. and it goes on and on.
What I’m really thinking about today is – how do you love someone with depression?
I have my ups and downs, as do we all. But lately the downs have been a pretty long way down. I can hear the wawp wawp muffle of voices above me and the blurry outline of lots of, I think good, things happening.
What can I hear above it all? My partner, telling me he loves me. He looks at me with desperation and tiredness in his eyes. And I know it’s all my fault. But the funny thing is, I’m trying to tell myself it isn’t. I’m reminding myself about the complications of medication, the stresses that day-to-day inflict upon me and that good old brain of mine – just tossing chemicals about like it’s a careless high school lab party. (Not that imagine children in schools throw chemicals about).
All the while, I’m telling myself that I need to think passed my brain. Push passed this sinking feeling that is wrapping around my insides. My partner and my closest friend keep telling me they love me. I keep feeling sorry for them, because they see it up close when I fall apart.
So, how do I live with depression? How do help my partner to cope, when I am emotionally circling the drain? I don’t know, but here’s what works for me so far:
- Don’t look for a problem or a drama where there isn’t one. Sometimes it isn’t actually anybody’s fault. Sometimes it’s just the black dog, doing its thing.
- Talk it out. Be honest. Say what you need to. Listen. Then, for the love of god, shut up. Some things can’t be solved.
- Walk through a doorway. Someone who I have a lot of respect for in these matters once told me that the mere act of walking through a doorway and into another space, can help us emotionally move into another space. (Not to mention, sometimes you just need to get off the floor).
- If you need to sleep, sleep as much as you need to. If you need to eat, eat what you need to. (And what will truly do your mind and body good).
- Only say sorry when you mean it. Don’t apologise for the things you can’t yet control.
- Say thank you.
- Laugh through the pain. Today my partner wiped my snotty nose with the back of his hand, just to get us both to laugh.
- Most of all, cut yourself some slack. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t get worried when you can’t run a marathon. If you’re mentally struggling, don’t expect to solve all the world’s problems in a day. Be proud of yourself for what you can do: getting out of bed, sweeping the floor, going outside, reading something, finding a song that cheers you up. Even if nothing helps you to feel better, try to be kind to yourself.
Do you have anything you want to add? Or anything you’ve found works in the past? Please feel free to comment.