How to Love Someone With Depression

One of the hardest things about depression is understanding it. This advice will help.

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Depression is devastating. When someone is suffering from depression, their entire life is blown apart. It can be a massive struggle just to make it through each day. But they aren’t the only ones who struggle. The people who are often forgotten are the loved ones of a person with depression. No-one tells them how to cope. They don’t know what to do. I would like to try and offer some advice to those people.

Knowing somebody you love is struggling with depression leaves you feeling incredibly helpless. You feel if you could say the right thing, or do something special, that maybe you will be able to help them to get better. But you don’t know what to say or what to do.

You try a gentle approach, you try a firm approach. You give them space, you try to get them to open up. You suggest things that can help. You buy them presents. You say encouraging things, you get frustrated and argue. Yet nothing you do seems to make any difference.

From my experience, the big mistake that people often make is that they treat depression as a mood, as if saying or doing the right thing will lift the depression. What you must remember is that depression isn’t a mood – it’s a very debilitating illness.

If somebody had a broken leg, you wouldn’t tell them to go for a run. You would be patient, you would understand that it will take time, patience and rehabilitation. When the leg heals and you can walk again, it still can take weeks for it to regain full strength. It may never be as strong again. Depending on how bad the break was, it may alter how you walk, what exercise you can do, even how you stand. It may never be the same again.

That is EXACTLY what depression is like.

Just because you can’t see an injury doesn’t mean that it isn’t debilitating. I talked in my previous article about how, after my worst bout of depression, it took months before I felt I could do my job properly. Even now, two years on, I’m not the same as I was. I don’t do overtime. I don’t work night shifts. I don’t get left on my own for too long. There are countless other little things as well. This is because my depression completely changed my entire outlook on life, and it changed who I was as a person.

When their loved ones are battling depression, when they are in that darkness, human nature is to try and ‘fix’ them. For a lot of people, this approach won’t work. Whilst there are things you can do, like giving the day a routine, and trying to find activities to keep the persons’ mind active, you are not going to be able to make someone “snap out of it”, it’s just impossible.

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Try to imagine that depression is like being in a dark tunnel. The person with depression can’t see a thing, because everything is surrounded by darkness. Every sound is amplified, every fear is magnified. All they want to do is get out of the tunnel, but they can’t see where to go, they don’t know what to do. Your natural reaction is to lead them out of this dark tunnel, back to the light.

This is the WRONG approach.

You may think it makes sense, but for the person with depression, nothing makes sense. That’s the nature of the illness. They can’t be led out of the tunnel, because the fear is too great, the darkness is too dark. Trying to drag them out of this tunnel is more likely to make them curl up and hide than do any good.

For men, in particular, this approach can backfire greatly. Men, by their very nature, are trained not to talk about their issues. We have been told, since the moment we could understand, that ‘men’ don’t ask for help. It has been ingrained upon our very psyche that to show weakness or vulnerability is to go against everything that defines what a ‘man’ is. It doesn’t matter that those stereotypes are hopelessly wrong, and decades out of date. The instinctual reaction for a male is to insist they don’t need help, that they can manage by themselves. Indeed, any pressure on a man to open up, or to accept help, often backfires. Men revert into themselves, put up emotional barriers, and shut down. You can’t force anyone to open up at the best of times, and pressuring a man when he’s at his lowest ebb will create more problems than it solves.

What you need to do is be there for them. If they talk, just listen. Don’t talk, don’t give them opinions. Just really listen. When I was at my worst, everybody I tried to talk to would give me an opinion on how I could ‘make things better’. The thing was, I wasn’t asking for an opinion. I just wanted to relay how I felt, and for the person to listen, give me a hug and reassure me that however long it took, they would stay in the darkness with me until I found my own way out. Yet no-one listened. They talked, and they advised, and they suggested, and they tried to help, but they didn’t LISTEN. That, more than anything, is what you need to do. Sit with them, let them talk. However upsetting or shocking what they say is, don’t give advice, just listen. When they finish, hug them, tell them you love them, and that however long it takes, you will be there until they find the strength to get better. You will never be able to lead someone out of the dark tunnel, all you can do is stay in the tunnel with them until they feel strong enough to lead themselves out.

Yes, it’s hard. In many ways, hearing my loved ones tell me about their darkness was worse than living in my own. Yes, it’s often thankless. And yes, at times, you will feel rejected. But don’t give up on them. Support them, love them, and be there for them until they find the strength to get better.

And most of all, when they talk, listen.

 

Photo—Chris Barber/Flickr

About Andrew Lawes

"I back this kind of guts and fortitude. You are not alone, my friend." Duff McKagan; Guns 'N' Roses

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His name is Andrew Lawes, and he is afflicted with a condition definable only as the Lawes Disorder.

For thirty years, Lawes has fought against the darkness in his mind. Depression, self-harm, suicidal impulses and full-on mental breakdowns showed him a hell unlike no other. Were it not for his career supporting, empowering and caring for adults with learning difficulties, he would have succumbed to the madness long ago. Instead, the unique insights into the mind, how interact with others and, most importantly, how to create a world within a world his work exposed him to gave him the hope to keep fighting.

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"Bless you for giving people hope." Jonathan Davis; Korn

In 'The Lawes Disorder', Lawes shares his uncensored reflections in an attempt to showcase the true nature of mental illness, before offering the support and guidance to others in similar situations that he is renowned for. Fourteen years of therapy raised more questions than answers; Lawes’ thoughts on religion, autism, interpersonal relationships, mental health, drug abuse and how the human mind works are the key to determining the true nature of the Lawes Disorder, how it applies to the wider world and how these issues can be managed, both individually and societally, to enable the reader to gain the freedom that comes with self-acceptance.

Buy it here: 'The Lawes Disorder' on Kindle

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For further interaction:

* Disorderville.com * Disorderville: Twitter. * Disorderville: Facebook. *

Comments

  1. Tom Matlack says:

    Thanks Andrew. As someone who suffers from depression I really appreciate this piece.

  2. You’re very welcome Tom. I hope it helps you in some way.

  3. What a great article…and such a good reminder to all of us to just try to listen a little better…I think most people can’t see how big the elephant is sitting there in the room…just gotta sit there and hang…can’t just push the elephant away….it’s too big….!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. We have this mentality of war on anything bad, like the war on drugs, cancer, poverty, or countless other things. We cannot force someone who is sick or depressed to get better. Many things can help and sometimes all you can do is wait.

  5. As another sufferer of depression, my depression is my dark little secret in a relationship. I have this fear of being rejected if I open up.

    • If you have a support system (either a psychiatrist, or friends and family) and you think you’ll survive being rejected … then do it. Telling someone the truth about yourself is more freeing than you can imagine.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this. This has put into words what has been so hard for me to express for two years. I started battling depression after a sexual assault and no one understood yet everyone was ready to hand out advice. My family tried to discourage me from taking medication and my husband insisted that I snap out of it because “I had nothing to be depressed about”. I am going to share this with several people and maybe it will give them insite into what I have been going through. I’m on two medications now and am doing 100% better but some days it’s still hard to get out of bed.

  7. Great article Andrew. Both my brother and my partner have depression and I think one of the hardest things a loved one/carer goes through is trying to ignore the desperation that things will never change. It’s exhausting always being patient, sensitive and supportive especially when the same ideals aren’t reciprocated. It is also hard to avoid getting depressed/anxious yourself, particularly when the disease consumes the better half of all your lives for a decade or more. The main difference between caring and loving someone with depression and someone with a broken leg, is that you are usually the crutch in depression. As a family member all you can do is take care of yourself and be there when you are needed.

  8. Nail. Head. Powerful. Thank you. x

  9. I was a single mother of boys and I tried to imbue my sons with the value of communicating, connecting, and expressing their feelings. And that it was alright to cry and talk things out. It’s hard to overcome society’s misguided machoism but I thought it was important to try. One of my sons suffers from depression and I remember telling him that it was a sign of maturity, NOT weakness , to recognize that you need help and to ask for it. I painfully sat with him a long time in his dark tunnel until he finally found a medication that helped him emerge. You are right – just being there for him and letting him know that was so important. He is very open about his story of depression in the hopes it will help others with their own. Thank you Andrew for your courage to make a difference with your own personal experiences and writings.

  10. I just want to thank you all for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. Bron is right, it is exhausting being there for someone who has depression, it’s so hard at times. You think you are getting somewhere, that the person is getting better, and then they regress, and it’s like starting all over again. It is a thankless task sometimes. But take it from me, you ARE helping. It may not seem like it sometimes, but you are. The person with depression appreciates it, even if they aren’t able to show it.

    • Thanks Andrew, if it helps at all, it is always worth it.

    • Thank you for the piece, Andrew. I am married to you, and I am now exhausted. I wish I were stronger at giving the time and space needed, particularly with no real promise of a lasting return on the investment. I can keep loving but it’s hard to keep living with him. I actually found this article by Googling, “how to love someone who is depressed” b/c I just had the nth discussion with my husband about his illness and I feel so hopeless. I’ll try listening more. Thanks too, Bron, for sharing how it feels … I feel that desperation.

  11. I’ve tried many times (and failed) to put this into words. Thank you for finding a way to simplify what most of of need during the dark days – just someone to listen.

  12. My Bf has and I listen, and will love him through is darkness. I don’t know if it will ever end though because he wont get help. He blames doctors, politics, medication and the sky being blue, for everything. I’m out of options.

  13. Luci Shaw in her book God in the Dark said, “The classic misinterpretation of the healthy on the sick is that wellness is a matter of choice and decision.” This is how I felt when I was going through depression – that everyone that didn’t have depression thought that I could “will” myself out of my depression – and that frustrated me so much.

    Here’s part of my story of suffering through and starting to embrace part of my depression (http://timandolive.com/embrace-depression/)

  14. My husband, my father …. heck most of my family have it. To say it’s hard is an understatement at times. The biggest problem is that its an issue that takes years if EVER to recover from. So it defines and often takes over your relationship with the sufferer. So yes whilst I love them dearly, there are times I just want to get in the car and drive away – spending time with people who make me feel good about myself instead of telling me constantly how the world is such a bad place and what a crap day they had.

  15. gabby watts says:

    I understand and appreciate what you’re saying about not underestimating just how big and complex a problem depression is. But, I found this part scary, “You will never be able to lead someone out of the dark tunnel, all you can do is stay in the tunnel with them until they feel strong enough to lead themselves out.” How can we possibly be in the tunnel with this person without becoming depressed ourselves? Surely the answer is not to get depressed right along with them until they can recover (which may never happen, realistically.)

    • Hi Gabby. I can understand what you mean, but the dark tunnel is all relative. What seems pitch black to someone with depression may only seem slightly dull to someone without, if that makes sense? Of course there’s a likelihood that, whilst supporting someone with depression, you’ll have some dark days. It’s important to take time for yourself too. Remember, you can get out of the tunnel. Just because you can’t make someone come with you, doesn’t mean you can’t inspire them to leave through your actions. Indeed, it is vital you take time for yourself to do things you enjoy, because the last thing someone who is ill needs is the feeling that they are spoiling a loved ones’ life.

      It isn’t easy, not by any means. I wish you the best. Feel free to email me if you wish to chat further.

  16. My ex was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after a major incident – it took years for it to set in. Like you say, I incorrectly tried to get him to talk about it, but that caused him to close up. It was going nowhere, and I was made to feel like it was all my problem. The relationship was going nowhere. Eventually I did read some advice that suggested I just be there for him… but because I was trying to skirt around everything and make everything seem “normal,” he resented the fact that I was trying to wait and see if things sorted themselves out. They didn’t.
    You say “if they talk, just listen” – but he didn’t talk at all. The relationship fizzled out, much to my dismay at the time, but it seemed to liberate him, maybe as he may have associated me with the traumatic event (although I wasn’t there, we were still a couple at the time). It wasn’t until a long time later that he realised he did need professional help, but by then he had moved on.

  17. Chris Kapot says:

    As one who has depression, I was about to email this to my wife. Then I reached this last part. Now I’m worried that she is going to expect me to ‘talk’. Mostly what I want when depressed is to be left alone, or if I want her company, I want a cuddle and a presence. But I don’t want to talk about my depression. I have a therapist for that.

    It might have been good not to raise that expectation so much. Sometimes people with depression will not talk, will not want to talk, and might stay that way for days or weeks. It’s nothing personal, and being there when needed is still important, it’s just that talking can be such hard work.

  18. Thank you so much for this article. I currently love someone who is depressed and I did all the wrong things like trying to make him feel better, asking him to talk about his feelings, not really listening to him, giving him advice or telling him what his problem was, etc. The funny thing is I am bipolar and have been through what he’s been through so you’d think I’d have handled things better but since right now I’m in a good place and out of the dark tunnel, I forgot what it was like in there and totally screwed up. Also since I’m a female, I talk things out, especially when I’m feeling manic and he doesn’t want to talk about anything personal when he is in that state. Your article was super helpful, I just wish I had read it a month ago before I screwed things up and scared him back into his shell.

  19. Amazing. I have never been able to explain my needs this well. Even at the age of 21 I as a manic depressive have had far too many experiences with severe debilitating depression (not that there is any appropriate number) And what you say is exactly it-it’s an illness and most importantly that only the sufferer can find their way back, no pep talk will ever help. The problem perhaps not addressed here is how you explain this to friends who in times of health are near, but seem to vanish when you’re not your ‘true’ self. And yes they are real friends but unfortunately most people find the ugly side of mental illness (ie anything besides super efficient, entertaining hypomania/mania) very confronting and themselves employ casual yet purposeful avoidance through lack of knowing what approach to take. In my most recent episode of depression I felt so searingly alone and I distinctly remember wishing over and over than someone would just come and sit with me, squeeze my hand let me cry on their shoulder whilst I blubbered out variations of the phrase ‘what is my life?’..excellent article-would love to read some more on the topic of mental health specifically it’s persisting stigma in modern society.

  20. This was finely written and very powerful advice, thank you for sharing.

  21. I don’t like the broken leg analogy but the dark tunnel one is the first one I have ever heard that made any sense to me. I always avoided the dark tunnel that my wife gets stuck in. It made me sick to my stomach. Tonight I am trying to bring some warmth and a small glowing candle. I’m actually typing this out as I sit next to her in a dark room, the screen of my tablet is like a flickering candle. I don’t know how long I can last in here, but I’m going to try.

  22. It’s just like that. My depression (and mania) went undetected for more than 20 years. Besides a listener, what I craved most was an explanation. Help is much more readily available today than when I was first diagnosed (about 19 years ago) and I’d encourage anyone who might think he or she is depressed to find it and use it.

  23. The daoeess in the tunnel is a powerful metaphor… It is undeniably how depression must feel. I recall a psychiatrist once told me many patients with depression can’t see the forest from the trees. I disagree on a few poitnts.
    there are many types of depression. Biological depression is rarely predictable and has a strong genetic component. These require medical intervention.
    Many times depression is caused by a trigger. In such cases, creating false optimism can help according a to a few psychiatrists I met. They said mindset can make all of the difference. In many cases, they assured their patients that the anxiety depression states were just a phase. Furthermore, hope sees to be the best predictor of suicide prevention. What better way to prevent your family member/friend than by giving hope. Assuring them life is worth living…
    The saddest part of depression is the stigma. I hope it changes.

  24. Louise Grace says:

    I loved a man with depression, unfortunately it came close to destroying me as well as him. It was the end of our marriage when he was unable to seek help after a year of agonising struggle for both of us.
    For those that survive I salute you, an enormous task for both the person with depression and those that love them

  25. For me, this could have been called “How to Love Yourself.” So often, learning to love yourself in the midst of depression is the hardest thing to do. Thank you for sharing.

  26. ELISA Davis says:

    My mum currently lives with my fiancé and myself. She’s 60 and single. I think she has depression however hasn’t admitted it until tonight. Her language and angry moods are really hurtful. She will say irrational comments that are generally blaming me in some way. I’m seriously struggling with this behaviour. I feel so frustrated and angry myself when she says things that are completely untrue. At the same time I feel really sad that she is feeling so much pain. I try to encourage mum to change her language, but she gets angry with me.

  27. I often feel that I no one will love me for me when they see my moods and low times. That they will leave because it’s all just too much for them to take. My self doubts. My anxiety. My over thinking. It’s too much for someone. I get that actually. Yet I want someone to be there for me despite all this. To love me despite all this. But I don’t know if there is someone like that. Or ever will be.

  28. Thanks for this Andrew. My partner of three years suffers from depression. It’s the first time in my life (I was 34 years old when we started dating) I’ve been close to someone who suffers from a mental illness. I learned early on that the best thing to do is, as you said, just listen. Just be there. When she cries I hold her. When she needs to talk, I listen. I have urges to give advice but I resist them. It can be very difficult to understand that no amount of encouragement or saying the “right things” will help. It often will have the opposite effect, because it can make the person even harder on themselves (“why can’t I just snap out of it? What’s wrong with me?”).

    It can weigh heavily on myself when she is in the depths of the darkness, but I also find inspiration in her, in her strength to find her own way out, in her awareness, in how she truly appreciates life when she’s not in that space. I wish that depression was recognized in our culture for what it is. Keep up the good work of talking about it and spreading awareness. This is so important.

  29. Yes, I agree. Listening is the best thing you can do. Being there in the dark tunnel with someone is giving support. Support is key in someone’s recovery. However, the person listening has to continue to take care of themselves. Attend counselling sessions or be part of a support group for loved ones who live with depression. Self care is essential to be able to continue to be supportive and listen. It is not your responsibility to fix… Just listen… be there and love..

  30. Thank you.

  31. Jocelyn Santana says:

    Thisi is an important article and one that I hope helps loved ones of depressed partners. I experienced the worst kind of abusive anger, verbal/emotional abuse from my soon to be ex husband when I was in the darkest depression of my life. His lack of empathy, angry helplessness and witholding of emotional connection almost led me to kill myself. He admits that he just doesn’t understand depression and he stays away from things he does not understand and calls depression “my crotch.” Amazingly enough, I am not depressed even though we are divorcing and i was demoted from my job. Once I was well enough to see that I was in an abusive relationship, the depression lifted. Depressed people need love, empathy, not abuse.

    • Pia, I actually had mt fiance leave me the very day that I had a brwak down and needed him most. Worked on trust and my own issues, and I am slowly beginning to trust that my current partner won’t do the same. He has got me through a job that nearly killed me, my Mother’s death, a serious illness, stress and sometimes serious depression that leaves me unable to even think let alone get anything done. The right person will do all the right things. Don’t be saddened by those who give up – they weren’t willing to give as well as take in the first place.

      • Amen to that! He emotionally abuses me and then unable to leave I go into severe depression for several years. Living like zombie for too long I made the decision that if I was staying I had to make things better. We had been doing better for a year when I discovered his affair. He said he had been unhappy, I wasn’t giving what this man/narcissist needed so he found someone who would. Deciding to stay together we are trying to work things out, but he now appears to have his own depression. I acknowledged that I hadn’t been giving/loving to our marriage and agreed to work on me. However he uses this to justify his affair, and fails to see that it was his emotional abuse of me that ultimately lead to our falling apart. He still cannot see how his past behavior led to this, and I feel his depression is the result of him not addressing his own issues, how he treats me, and his failure to follow through on many, many important things (control everything yet doesn’t do much that is positive to improve HIS situation. His health is deterioating, our finances are in the toilet, spends too much time devoted to job and ignores our problems (since they’re all my fault). Yet he wonders why things don’t improve. I know why but he refuses to look within himself and the result is depression. I really doubt that he’ll do much of the “hard work” to pull out of it leaving our marriage in jeporday. I still wonder why he didn’t leave when I found out about affair. Maybe subconscienously he knows that isn;t the answer, or she wouldn’t leave her husband. I guess I’ll nevr know that answer.

  32. I started crying as I read this article. I have suffered from clinical depression for 23 of my 35 years, and I know that people are at their wits’ end trying to deal with me, and I don’t have an answer for them, nor have I ever been able to pull myself out of it for more than a few weeks at a time. I am going to forward this article to them in the hopes that it will be easier to understand the problem if it comes from someone other than myself… Thank you.

  33. So listening is very important, I hear that. But how do you deal or comfort a depressed partner(loosely used term) who refuses to talk. For 2 years I’ve been dying to hear anything real come from his mouth, anything regarding how he feels and what brought about this vicious change in personality. The closest he gets is when he’s so drunk he can’t walk straight…that’s the only time he opens up about how miserable he is. It’s so sad. Other wise, it’s almost like he’s become an unfeeling, robot version of himself. Even most of his laughter doesn’t sound real..

    • Monica – Please get some help for yourself to get through this, either through Al-Anon or a counselor or both. I have struggled with depression for years myself, and I can’t say strongly enough that it does not excuse not working on getting healthy and trying to do right by the people around us. You need to protect yourself and take care of yourself first and foremost. I can see that you care very much for this person, but his refusal to even talk with you has got to be hard on you and, I’d argue, pretty unfair. Get some help and support from people who understand how to deal with these problems. Lot of free support groups out there if money is the issue. Good luck.

    • Monica … I think we have a lot in common. After financial and legal problems, the man I love has turned into a monster. He tells me he feels empty, a no good bum, he also tells me that the person he was is gone. One day he said he hates his life … He hates his job … He hates coming home. He also drinks too much and this is not helping finances, he drinks at home, but that is money going out each month that could be used for bills. He doesn’t see it that way. He gets angry when I try to have a reasonable discussion about it, he is in denial, and he always tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it (whatever the subject), if it has to do with our relationship or too much drinking. He always tries to blame outside himself, he lies, and turns it on me somehow. He says things that don’t make any sense.
      I found out there is an Alanon meeting nearby, I think I will try that for myself … I have talked to a counselor for myself, can’t afford to go again, but the one visit helped as she knows him.
      I keep praying for a miracle. This is so hard. Hope you are ok, would like to share experiences with you.

  34. Christian Lyons says:

    As a lifelong depressive who self-medicated for twenty-some years, this article rings true. Unfortunately, the downside to this debilitating illness is: we often don’t WANT to burden others with our problems, and so would rather keep quiet than force someone listen to the “woe is me” talk. When we’re depressed, we’re also hypersensitized to how others might react, and choose silence over talk, even if it’s with a therapist. At least that’s how it manifests for me.

  35. Duncan Rogers says:

    Very insightful article. However it seems incongruous to me to say at one point “What you must remember is that depression isn’t a mood – it’s a very debilitating illness.” and then at the end of the piece imply the very thing you argue against, that the loved ones should just hang in there until “they find the strength to get better.”. As if the person with depression just needs to buck up and “find the strength” to get better. While the rest of the piece shares some thoughtful, articulate insights…that last bit undermines it.

  36. GAYLE SPULNIAK says:

    FasterEFT can remove depression! Find a practioner! Now!

  37. silent_scope says:

    What if the person you love refuses to seek professional treatment for their depression, starts lying about anything and everything, actively seeks to drive a wedge between you and eventually refuses to talk/communicate at all? How does one continue to be supportive when all the above is causing you to lose confidence and become depressed?

  38. This is a very important article. I feel people do not understand how to cope or deal with a SO that has depression. I dealt with my SO’s for 6 years, it started a few months after we started dating. Insomnia was a big part of it during the night and thus she would sleep all day. I would spend countless hours during the night just listening, sometimes talking when she wanted me to tell her something about me or just plain watching TV until her body would get too tired and eventually fell asleep and I would sleep, waking up just a few hours later to get to work and the cycle started again.

    I was 16 at that time, there was no internet, or at least it was not as vast and open as things are now, and I wish I would have had some sort of article like this one to guide me but there wasn’t and I had to go use a trial and error approach, and just use my gut with whatever my heart told me was right.

    Eventually I realized psychiatrist wasn’t making any sense to her or me, she dropped off the meds that made her act like she was in la la land, her family was pushing her to do, act, think, confront, etc. I understood her times were not ours and patience was a must. Eventually she overcame her depression that had been triggered due to an external situation in her life, we lived together a couple more happy years and split up ( her decision). I do not regret a single moment of those sleepless nights, talks and the time we spent together. She showed me a lot about this sickness w/o doing it on purpose, and I feel luck y to know I’ve seen it in the eye and managed to do what was right at the time.

  39. padma badodekar says:

    Well as you said that you should just listen.. You can do this when the person is in front of you .. What if that person is writing to you about what’s going wrong with him through a msg or through a chat… Then usually it is assumed by the depressed that you are not interested in listening yo him because you don’t reply or even if you just do hmm then it is taken as that we don’t care.. What then? What can you do at such cases?

  40. This is a Great Article! I have a GF of 2 years that has been battling Depression for a little over a year now. I went to Therapy, as I felt like I was at my wits end in frustration. What I have found interesting in speaking to a therapist about these issues, is that there are some good insightful things that come out of therapy, BUT overall therapists don’t really relate to being in your position as a significant other of somebody suffering with Mental Health Illness. Therapy doesn’t really give you any insight on techniques or strategies for better results. This article is more on the money than what I’ve gotten out of therapy. Basically what I’ve learned is there are a series of things that do work even if you have made the mistake and pushed them away… #1 Give Space & Lots Of It (It’s Hard, but if you want to be with this person long term, it will greatly approve things, need to be extra patient) , #2 Don’t take things personal (Outbursts will happen, they will be nasty, mean, unreasonable, snappy, say hurtful things & not warm with you, that’s the depression acting out, not your partner), #3 More listening, less talking (They want your love & support, not your opinion, your 2 cents, your thoughts…just listen!) , #4 When they open up, don’t keep asking questions, just let it be! (Even though you want to understand them as much as you can, don’t pry, it’s for them to open up their depths to you, not for you to go seeking their depths. You’d be surprised how much they open up once you back off and allow them to come to you). When I finally realized my approach was causing resentment & issues between us, her & I were barely talking, she didn’t feel like I respected her. So when I realized what was going on, I flipped everything. It took about 1-2 months, but when she came to seek me out, things started to greatly improve. It really does work!

  41. I’ve dated someone with depression and did all of he things above. It is very tempting to tell them to get a job, have more hobbies, start exercising but I didn’t. I just listened and processed occasionally hinting at something which she did or did not think about/ act on. I was just content that she’s doing her best to better her condition. She was probably glad to have a listener and told me copious details, while I listened. In my endeavour to not hurt her, I never spoke of the things that I thought were really off. Not trusting anybody, judging everybody, inability to look upto and look at peoples’ virtues. With this bottled in me it was hard to carry on as I was in a relationship with hope. Ultimately she called it off over a trust issue and I still didn’t share my PoV/thoughts so as to not possibly hurt a mildly depressed person. In retrospect in not sure if my approach was correct. In a way this overemphasis on listening leads to slotting the person as a patient rather than a partner. She never learnt and never will many things about me that could have added value to the relationship, or given get a different perspective on life, much as my worldview was changing being with her. It was a lose all situation and nobody can tell one where to draw the line between being sensitive and treating them like a mature adult.

  42. blackshadow says:

    I am trying to support my husband, but he has recently told me he has had an affair. I love him very much (we’ve been together for 24 years) and am trying to support him, but am so hurt. He doesn’t know if he wants to stay at home with me and our two children. We are getting counselling but am I am fool to think he may come out of depression to find his feelings of love for me again?

    • I wish you the best. I’ve recently discovered my wife has attempted an extra-marital encounter with a friend (he was honourable and put a stop to it) . I know it’s because of the depression; it coincided with her lowest point that led her to get medical help and medication. I forgive her and we will prevail; except I haven’t told her I know yet. I’ve been waiting for the meds to level her off. I’m going to do it this week with the help of the marriage counsellor.
      Point being, there’s lots of literature out there pointing out that affairs are common, and is the depressions fault. Be kind and forgiving and patient. He has to take responsibility for his choices, but you can help by letting him know you understand the reason.

  43. a loving relationship of 6 months. I have recently discovered that my love is livingin this dark tunnel cause depression. that he’ll be okay for a few weeks at a time depression sets in out of nowhere.he didn’t isolate himself and starts to drink.I believe this is the reason why some of his relationships have failed. I have tried to assure him that I am truly in love with him and love him unconditionally. I have let him know that if he needs and listening ear I’m here for him. Houston so frustrating because I feel like there is nothing I can do until he decides to open up. how can i express to him that I am here and I’m here for the long haul

  44. My girlfriend lost her mother last spring and even though I tried to be there for her she pushed me away. She moved to another city for a shot term job to separate from her ex hi and but she wasn’t ready emotionally due to her moms passing. She was very elect ant to communicate and once she wasn’t truthful about here whereabouts fearing I would be upset. It raised trust concerns for me. She started meeting a close guy friend for drinks three different times to talk about her mother whom they both knew. I was understanding them but after she moved she pushed me away more and became easily angered so I broke up with her acouple times for about three days at a time. She then pursued other options on match . I caught her on it and asked about it after and she said she didnt go on dates. I spent two months trying to fix it. I just found out through another guy which was he guy she was seeing for the two months I was trying to fix. We were long distance and still are. She said she couldn’t take me breaking up either her and her depression. She is on medications now.

Trackbacks

  1. […] This is the second in a series of essays on depression from some of the Good Men Project’s most valued voices. The first in the series is here. […]

  2. […] on depression by some of the Good Men Project’s most valued voices. The first two parts are here and […]

  3. […] on depression by some of the Good Men Project’s most valued voices. The first three parts are here, here, and […]

  4. […] read there, but the site sounds like an excellent idea!  You should read their article about living with someone who has depression.  Good Men Project also republished my latest […]

  5. […] How to love someone with depression. […]

  6. […] How to Love Someone With Depression – This is an old article, one which I know I have read before, and I am pretty sure I have linked it on this blog before as well. But I don’t think it can be shared too often. If you have someone in your life who has been diagnosed with depression, be they friend or family, please take a minute or two and read this. It outlines what depression feels like and what you should and should not do in your effort to help. […]

  7. […] recently read an article (http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-to-love-someone-with-depression/) that has helped me to continue to gain insight into myself, my life, and how to “move […]

  8. […] 19, 2012 BY ANDREW LAWES 48 COMMENTS   […]

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