5 Reminders for My Partner Who Has Depression
Recently I started a relationship with a person who has depression. Note that I don’t say a “depressed person,” but rather “a person with depression,” because their illness does not define them. I do not only love them because of their illness, but I also love them in spite of it. You have to learn to love every part of them — good and bad.
I’ve learned a lot so far in this relationship, and one of the hardest things is seeing how worthless your partner can feel. They can be totally down on themselves when you only see their amazingness, and the worst part is they can’t ever see themselves through your eyes. These are five things I want my partner with depression to remember:
1. I will worry about you.
I know you might feel guilty about “filling me in” on your condition. You might feel bad for feeling bad, but I want to hear these emotions. I will worry. Part of caring for someone is worrying when they’re not doing well.
2. I do want updates on your condition.
I know you might feel guilty about feeling sick. The truth is though, your condition is not your fault. Just like my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is not my fault, your condition is not yours. The same way you expect me to share my updates on my condition, I expect updates on yours. When I hear you’re having a bad day, I might get upset — but I’m not upset with you. I’m upset that you don’t see how brilliant you are, and that I cannot do anything to help you. Despite my ability to help you though, please keep me in the loop because I care.
3. It is OK to let me in.
You might push people away, and I understand that. You don’t want to let anyone else in on your pain in an attempt to shield him or her from it, but by some miracle I got past that shield. Every day since then, I have been grateful to have you, and I want you to let me in. As I said before, I will worry, but that should not be an excuse to shut me out.
4. I will love you no matter how down you are on yourself.
You constantly ask me, “Why did you choose me?” The truth is that everyone has his or her issues. Your issues might be from mental illness, while mine are physical, and the next person’s emotional, but that won’t prevent me from being with whom I want to be with. Behind your “I’m OK” face and walls to keep others out, I see one of the best people I have ever met. I see someone full of kindness and compassion that was given quite an obstacle in life. No matter how hard of a day you are having though, I will love you. I know you are used to people leaving you in your tough times, and so am I, but I am here to stay. Rather than hiding on your bad days, I will celebrate your good and hold your hand on the bad, but above all I will be here through both.
5. I will not try to reason with your mental illness, but I do always care about you.
I learned pretty early on that you couldn’t reason with mental illness. As much as you want them to see themselves as you see them, it doesn’t work like that. For this reason, I may not be as quick to push you to do something or correct an opinion you have of yourself, but I do still care.
Any of you who have a significant other with depression, I hope you can relate to this list. It’s incredibly hard seeing them go through this on their own, but we are here for them every step of the way.
To my boyfriend, I know that you will never see yourself how I see you. I know that you cannot escape the depths of your mind. I know that I cannot “fix” you, and that’s OK because I don’t want to.
You are not broken.
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