Dating can be hard, and it might be even harder when you are dating someone who is suffering from depression. But it is easy once you understand the nature of their mental condition. The stigma around mental health might sometimes steer you away in fear, but that is because we know nothing about the subject. It is merely the fear of the unknown. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are more common than people think.
If you have a partner who is suffering from depression, it would be useful if you try to understand it. This will help you become their support system and a source of encouragement in their life. Depression can make a person want to isolate themselves. Hence, your partner might try to push you away sometimes. This can leave you confused and hurt. And if such behavior persists, your relationship can turn sour. You can stop your relationship from going downhill, team up with your partner, and fight depression together before it makes you fight with each other.
Here are some tips that you might find helpful if you are dating someone with depression:
1. Try to be compassionate
Try to be compassionate towards your partner. Many depressed people suffer from low self-esteem. By being compassionate towards them, you can help uplift their spirits. Your partner may also have irrational thoughts. Don’t turn a deaf ear to them, rather listen carefully. Remember, being compassionate is among the most potent ways in which you can help someone fight depression.
2. Do not neglect your own mental health
Sometimes, showing compassion and always being there for your partner can be a little overwhelming for you. This makes it even more important that you take care of your own mental health, too. Helping someone does not entail ignoring yourself. You can not help others at the cost of your own health. Therefore, take some time out for yourself as well.
It is okay to not be able to be there for your partner sometimes. You do not have to feel guilty about it. If your partner’s condition is taking a toll on you, try to take some time off your duties and partake in hobbies that make you feel rejuvenated. For if you are not whole yourself, you won’t be able to make others whole.
3. Remember the good times in hard times
God forbade, but it is likely that, at some point, your partner will touch rock bottom or his/her depression will worsen. In such a situation, try to remember the good times and all the positive things about your relationship. Stay strong during this tough time as this is when your partner will need you the most. Remind yourself why you are still clinging strongly to this relationship and why it is worth fighting for. You will be more caring and patient with your partner. Seek outside help if their situation does not get better despite all your efforts. Reminders of good times will get you through these tumultuous times and will also be beneficial in the long run.
4. Encourage your partner to open up to you
The most isolating factor in this mental illness is racing thoughts. It makes it hard for people suffering from depression to share their thoughts. You should try to encourage your partner to open up, to speak to you more freely. This will also help you in understanding their situation and actions better. But be careful that you do not over-pressurize them to open up. Just clarify that they can always talk to you about anything. Make them feel heard.
Don’t interrupt them in between when they finally open up. Give your inputs once it finishes them talking. Don’t give too strong opinions as it could discourage your partner and they might refrain from sharing altogether in the future. Don’t just dismiss their views and thoughts, for this will leave them feeling hurt and they will recoil back in their shell.
5. Communication is always the key
Communication is crucial in every relationship, but in yours, it is even more important. Engage your partner in conversations and share as much as possible. Knowing your partner’s traits and habits will let you communicate better. Learn how to comfort your partner in times of distress.
Figure out what type of communication (verbal or physical) works for both of you and in which situation. Ask them why they feel the way they do and how they want you to help them. But never push them too much as it will exasperate them. If they are not in the mood to talk, provide them silent support. Something as simple as listening to songs while staring out the window together can help.
6. Be there for them but give them space too
Being there for someone does not mean you constantly pester them. If you overdo it, your presence will annoy them and create tension in your relationship. Keeping a healthy balance between being present and giving them space will be fruitful for your relationship. Do not be too pushy or overbearing when trying to help them.
Otherwise, they try to avoid or run from you. Know when it is time for you to take a step back and let your partner handle it. In case you still cannot stop worrying, maybe check up on them occasionally instead of frequently or just drop a text now and then, asking them what they are doing. Understand that everyone needs some alone time to process things. People get burnt out and need space to recuperate. This, in no way, implies that they do not care about you.
7. Just love them
At last, just try to love them with all your heart. Treat your relationship like any other regular relationship. Do not make them feel like they are different. They are their own person and have more to offer to you and the world. Believe and help them believe that, despite the challenges they face, they are more than their depression.