My depressive mind was my own worst enemy. It became a master manipulator and distorted my perception of life, including my relationships, in a more negative way.
My low days made every aspect of my life look bleak.
It caused me to pay less attention to my then partner, I become disconnect and uninterested. I was less involved, more irritable, and some days it seemed impossible to enjoy our, what was supposed to be quality, time together.
Unfortunately that relationship didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean future relationships cannot.
People come into your life for a reason. It could be for a day, a season, or a lifetime. Whatever the reason, their purpose is to teach or guide you on your journey through life. There was a lot I learned from that relationship. I learned that I am ‘enough’. I (or you) shouldn’t have to feel the need to change in order to live up to someone else’s expectation. Either they love you for who you are, or they are not deserving of your love. Simple. Trying to live up to unrealistic expectation created a storm of uncertainty and conflict in my mind. Who I was trying to be was not my true self. It was conflicting with my self-identity, and my mind started to work against me.
I would like to note that my previous relationship did not cause my depression or anxiety, it just complicated it. It has been a long term illness that I mistakenly never reach out for professional help at the most appropriate time. I relied independently on helping myself through self-help books, and journaling, but it took me until recently to discover that those methods never truly helped. Over the years, instead, I learned maladaptive coping techniques.
When it comes to a partnership, you need to be upfront about your depression, and your partner will have to be willing to ride those highs and lows with you. Relationships take patience, commitment, mutual effort, honesty and a whole lot of love.
Be Kind. Be Humble.
On to the educational part now….
NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF DEPRESSION
ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP
IS YOUR SEX LIFE DIMINISHED OR IS NON-EXISTENT?
A long term lack of sexual connection in your relationship may signal that depression is present. Lack of sex drive can manifest from a variety of causes related to depression: hidden resentment, shame about sex, poor body image, feeling exhausted, taking medications, performance anxiety, and so on.
By addressing these problems, couples can use their sexual connection to reignite their passion and strengthen their relationship.
DO YOU FEEL HOPELESS ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
A sense of hopelessness is one of the central predictors of depression and suicidal thoughts. A cognitive distortion that so often comes with depression may be manipulating your thoughts into believing the future looks hopeless and that things will never get better.
Instead be mindful. When you feel your mind drifting to predetermined thoughts of the future, bring yourself back to the present moment. Acknowledge the negative thoughts and feelings for what they are (just thoughts and feelings), and fill your mind with positive past or future memories.
ARE YOUR EMOTIONS BECOMING YOUR WORSE ENEMY?
Most of us have a hard time dealing with negative emotions, but people who are depressed have particular trouble in this area. They tend to become overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions and therefore shut them down when strong emotions arise. With depression, you may react to strong emotions by becoming ruminative (thinking about the same problems over and over), denying or ignoring your emotions, or by becoming overly self-critical.
This means that in a relationship when conflict arises–as it always does in a relationship– you’re less equipped to deal with problems that elicit strong emotions. You may withdraw from you partner altogether, or you may push the issue and explode.
ARE YOU TEMPTED TO ACT OUT?
Men, in particular, who are depressed, are more likely to express their depression outwardly. If you’re a depressed man, you’re more likely to act out your depression through drinking alcohol, becoming aggressive, having affairs, or shutting out your loved ones and withdrawing. In addition, men have more somatic symptoms–backaches, headaches, and low sex drive. Men also have a more difficult time identifying their own depression, and are less likely to get help for it because they may not even recognize their behaviors indicate an underlying depression.
DO YOU FEEL ANXIOUS?
The problems that come with mixed anxiety and depression–sleep trouble, concentration difficulties, low energy, high irritability and worry, expecting the worst, and being constantly on guard, can also present a challenge to your relationship.
When you encounter the everyday relationship problems that arise, you often perceive that there’s grave threat to your relationship. It feels like the relationship is doomed to failure. This perceived threat can trigger heightened anxiety and excessive reassurance seeking–which can place your relationship under even more stress. This false alarm of danger to your relationship can be stressful for both of you, and leaves you with constant feelings of uncertainty.
Credit: Scientific America
DO YOU DOUBT YOURSELF?
Depression breeds self-doubt, which can color how you view your partner and how you think they view you. Someone with lower-self-esteem and depression may have a bad time with their partner and think. Self-doubt says you’re defective, worthless and filled with flaws.
Because self-doubt can be paralyzing, looking for evidence of moments you felt empowered or overcame adversity. Look for small ways to affirm that you are capable of affecting your path in life. Pick one small thing you can do right now to feel better, and do it.
DO YOU CRITICIZE YOURSELF?
Depression minimizes the positives in your life and magnifies the negative. So when your partner leaves their clothes out or doesn’t wash the dishes, you automatically think they’re inconsiderate and clearly don’t care about you.
When depression manifests as criticism, your partner might feel like they’re walking on eggshells and worry about being condemned.
What helps to counter criticism is noticing your partner’s positive traits and realizing that their less-than-stellar qualities don’t cancel out their positive attributes. Appreciation begets appreciation. When you show your appreciation to your partner, and they feel appreciated, they’re more likely to do the same in return, creating a stronger bond.
DO YOU HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS?
You may have an internal script that dictates the right things your partner should say and how they should support you. The problem with that is your partner hasn’t read your script. When the other person inevitably deviates from your script, the depressed part of you may react with dissatisfaction, disenchantment, or feelings of failure.
Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader. Communicate clearly and directly with them about how you’d like to be supported.
Credit: Psych Central
Making it Work|Supporting Each Other
Honesty is so important in a relationship. If we suffer from depression, it’s important to be open about this with our partner – even though this can feel daunting. Being honest helps our loved one understand us, and enables them to support us when times get tough.
Although we can’t live in our partner’s head, we can put yourself in their shoes. If we are in a relationship with someone with depression, we need to remain mindful that although we cannot see it, they are ill, and their difficult behaviour often comes from their illness, and not them
Good communication is incredibly important in a relationship. We need to feel able to express our thoughts and feelings, explain our behaviours, and advise on how we’d like our needs to be met. Encourage each other to talk – and LISTEN objectively.
If our partner struggles with depression, be patient. Remember mental illness isn’t logical, and our loved one may be just as confused by it as we are.
We might feel the need to offer advice, but this isn’t necessary: most likely they just want a safe place to voice how they’re feeling, and comfort in return.
SUPPORT EACH OTHER
There are many different ways we can support a loved one with depression. Here are some suggestions from the Blurt Community:
Kind gestures, reassurance, spend time together, listen actively, be there physically and emotionally, have patience, and practice the art of touch,
Remember support from outside of our relationship can be incredibly helpful too – we don’t just have to manage this between ourselves. Connecting with people in a similar situation can be very enlightening.
SHOW A UNITED FRONT
Healthy relationships are partnerships – in the truest sense of the word. When one person in the partnership is struggling, the other is there to unquestionably offer support. When you’re in a relationship, your depression is not just your problem, it’s both of yours.
Credit: Blurt It Out
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