Depressed loved one
I am a smart, strong, joyful person; a friend to many, a wife to an amazing man and a mother to three beautiful and energetic kids. Life happened and I became suddenly ill. An illness that changed my life and loved ones forever. As a result, the able, go-getter and hyperactive me became idle. It didn’t take long before depression crippled me deep down the rabbit hole I could not attempt to escape from. Yes, the smart and strong person that survived the unthinkable as a teen is now a depressed loved one with… no motivation to fight this demon. I eventually did seek help thanks to my very supportive husband.
To my very supportive husband
You are indeed a man of your word, a man with incredible patience. I remember the days you would take me to the bathroom and give me a shower after you have worked long hours at work. You didn’t mind getting wet while giving me a shower because you knew long before my illness, I have always loved a warm bath. You would cook and care for our kids and make sure I was okay. Oh, dear husband, I see all your support and love every day, I appreciate everything you did and still do. You see, depression is not just a feeling of sadness and helplessness, it’s more complicated than that. It’s a chemical imbalance that is too complex to explain. Although it seems as if I don’t see and feel your love and support, dear husband it means the world to me to know that you are in my corner and that you got me. You see, depression is so complex that I, myself, don’t understand what is happening in my world sometimes. As a result, I get angry and frustrated with myself. But know that your love and support, and the love of our kids is the fire in me that keeps burning the numbness inside me.
To others supporting depressed loved ones
Know that you are doing the best you can to support your loved ones. We understand it’s not an easy task especially when everything you do does not seem to be helping. It’s not unusual to even blame yourself for your partner’s pain and sadness. Moreover, it’s in human’s nature to want to solve problems whether they created it or not. Know that you are appreciated and loved, even in our depression bubble, you are the light we see through.
Other ways to help your loved ones with depression
Learn about depression: depression is not an illness that someone can snap out it. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects a different part of the brain which in turn affect all aspect of life. People with depression can have few good days in a row and experience a significantly depressed mood once again. Depression isn’t always understood by loved ones and it’s understandable as it can be difficult for the depressed to express his feelings or thoughts. Symptoms can include the following: loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, anger outbursts, change of appetite, anxiety, sleep disturbance, feelings of sadness or hopelessness and so on.
Be present: we often focus on fixing things that we lose sight of what is important. You might think of finding the best treatment available, or a support group is what your partner needs. But, most often, all she needs is for you to show up. Yes, you don’t have all the answers, that is okay. All you need to do is just sit and listen. Be present, offer hugs, hold your partner’s hand, respond with encouraging statements such as “You are important to me”, “We will get through this together”.
Supportive home environment: create a home environment where your partner feels supported and loved. Create a routine your partner can maintain to reduce stress, make plans together, exercise together, give positive reinforcement, and focus on healthy eating. Constant communication is key to helping one another go through this challenging period.
Focus on small goals: depression is overwhelming, getting out of bed can feel like an impossible mission to accomplish. So setting a small goal can be very helpful in reducing stress. Getting into a bedtime routine can make a significant difference. For instance, for someone who’s having a hard time getting out of bed, taking a baby step approach is essential to his recovery. Focus on getting up, then a shower, then a healthy meal, and move to other activities that might motivate him to stay up.
Know the warning signs of suicide: it’s important to know the red flag and get help immediately. Help is available, you just need to ask. Some of the signs include:
- Social withdrawal
- Talking about suicide
- Preoccupied with the thought of death
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior
- Developing personality change
- Saying goodbye
- Changes in normal daily routine
- Extreme mood change
- Getting a means to take one’s life, buying a gun
It takes patience and love to care for a depressed person, but if you stay consistent with these tips, you will see progress in your partner. Taking care of a depressed partner can take a toll on your health, remember to practice self-care and create your own support group during this time.
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