How To Cope When Dating Someone With Depression + Dealing With Your Own
Warning: This post is pretty “wordy” If you prefer to listen, here is the audio version.
There are times when I hear people speak of the anxiety that they face and the depression that they’re in and I wonder, are we in a world where everyone is facing a mental disability, or is it a trendy wagon to jump on?
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe while playing a game that involves you to think quick and spit out an answer, then you suddenly overhear, “my anxiety, I can’t take it !!”
It’s laughable in the moment, but is it a genuine feeling or struggle? Or, is it convenient to say?
Growing up, I witnessed depression first hand from one of my parents. I watched as the streak was at an all time high, and when things just went 180 and dropped really low. I mean, can’t get out of bed- won’t leave the house-extremely sad all of the time-low. I confess, I couldn’t understand the depths of it as I do now.
For parents especially, there are a lot of pressures to not only try and figure your own life out, but also to make an attempt to lead another little person’s entire world.
The older I became, I decided that I would not allow the circumstances of my life to alter who I am as a person and how I respond to life and the people around me. I never wanted to connect with depression or the sorrow that tags along with it. It was enough to watch someone close to me.
Little did I know, I would date not one, but two people in my life who also struggled with depression; or the traits of such disorder.
This taught me two things:
You can not heal a person if they're unwilling to be healed. So, do your best and push forward.
Do not lose yourself in the midst of someone’s depression or else you’ll find yourself fighting your own depression.
I’ve told friends before: working with people who suffer from mental disorders or just being around them versus dating someone who deals with it are two totally different things. You’re a lot more involved when it comes to dating. I’ve experienced, for the first time in my life, sinking slowly because I was lost in someone’s depression. The scariest part of it all is that I didn’t realize it was happening. It wasn’t until I noticed life changes happening to me and my spirit felt gloomy. I felt very much unlike myself and I knew that it was time for a change. However, the hardest part is eliminating what you love.
So, how do you handle it?
Ask yourself this question: What is it about this person before their outbreak that caused me to love them? And, is it still worth it?
I understand that this may seem harsh. Why would you even consider whether a person is worth it because they’re going through a rough patch? “For better, for worse” isn’t it? Well, not necessarily. Especially if you are not married. Sometimes, you are in someones life for a season and after you’ve fought the good fight and learned that they’re not able to overcome, you have to begin to consider yourself.
I know all too well how much energy, time and tears are put into someone who can barely function because their disorder has taken full control. You begin to drain yourself—and what good is it to have two people who are in a life of sulk? It’s unhealthy.
Understand your strength.
Are you capable of lifting someone up everyday? Do you have the willpower to push out an immense amount of empathy to someone, even on your worst days?
If you’re an extroverted person, always full of joy and happy—can you still maintain this persona when the person you’re in love with is either always unhappy or prefers to stay in the house and in bed all day? It takes a certain kind of strength to be able to keep on pushing when the clouds feel dark and heavy.
More importantly, keep track of your incline or decline.
It is so critical to be mindful of your progress. While you’re doing everything to make sure your partner is lifted high, are you paying attention to your slow decline?
Are you absolutely caught up in their recovery, with no sight of any progress, but you’ve convinced yourself that you can help “cure” or “fix” them? This is also unhealthy. As you’re gearing up to save this person, you begin to set expectations. These expectations will eventually come down on you or give you a high rush that will never be fulfilled.
Ask yourself: Is a temporary break necessary or should you leave for good?
I remember constantly asking myself whether we needed a break. I do believe it would have been necessary to part ways earlier on to avoid any “bad blood.” One thing that I’ve learned from my experience is that not everyone is willing to accept their disorder. With that, they will find every reason to point fingers as to why their life is going the way that it is. If you feel this coming on, it is important to step away sooner than later.
Another question I constantly toyed with was: “Am I not loyal or a “ride or die” girlfriend if I left?” This was what kept me. I am a loyal person and I felt like I would have been the worst person if I left in the middle of someone’s breakdown. But, friends, this can backfire on you. And remember, there is no one to blame. It is part of the routine of this disorder.
If you’re no longer happy, do what is best for YOU.
Were you diagnosed with depression or anxiety? Well, I am no doctor and I am sure my suggestions are not clinically proven to help. However, I will mention this. As I shared earlier, I have had my exposure to those who fight this battle.
And yet, I have also had days where I found myself in the shower, stuck under the water for an extended amount of time and I allowed my tears to melt with the falling water—with no reason why and no person of influence.
I think we have to understand and make sure that we can define being clinically diagnosed, and having a draining moment in time that will indeed pass.
How do I deal with those moments?
I find that when I dance at random, like nobody is watching, I feel a sense of freedom climbing through my body. Whether it’s when I first wake up or before I go to sleep. It’s a great idea to dance until you have no more energy especially if you struggle with insomnia.
Listen to music.
I’ve realized that not everyone likes music. Insane. But, for those who do, music is therapy. Whether you’re listening to something that will make you sing your heart out, or release emotions that you did not know were built up. Also, podcasts fall in the line of “music to the ears” in the sense where you can listen to motivational podcasts or even hear people talk about their struggles and how they overcome.
Journal your emotions.
It’s imperative to understand what triggers you and how you can overcome it. If you find that you’re having random outbursts of tears or that your energy suddenly declined, jot down what led you to that point. I understand that sometimes you can’t pinpoint exactly what led to that point. However, what you can do is jot down what you did and how your thought process was the hour before that moment occurred. This will help you to find patterns.
You’re probably wondering why prayer is the last thing on my list. This is strategically done. Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last. We tend to grasp the last thing that we read and hold that in our memory. So, when you’re feeling low, I want prayer to be the first thing that you do.
Sometimes, what you’re going through may feel so strong that prayer feels useless and weak. That is all in your mind and a better reason to pray forcefully and LOUD.
Again, all of this information is from my personal experience—no professional opinions influenced.
I have learned what causes me to feel sad and I have found ways to shake it off. There are times when I can’t, so I’ll have to sleep it off—but I go to sleep with the mindset that “Tomorrow, it will be better.”