John Legend and chrissy teigen

What We Can Learn From John Legend About Supporting a Partner With Depression

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After Chrissy Teigen wrote a heartfelt essay in Glamour about her experience with postpartum depression, her husband — singer John Legend — shared some insight about it’s like to be the spouse on the other side.

Legend told E News he was proud of his wife for speaking up.

She showed me the drafts when she was writing it and I knew it would mean a lot to a lot of women for them to see that. By acknowledging the pain that she’s going through, in doing that she also acknowledges the pain that a lot of women go through after they have a child. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it. A lot of people feel alone when they’re going through it and for her to let people know that they’re not alone, I think was really powerful.

He also gave advice for other husbands who are supporting a parter with postpartum depression.

You have to be present. You have to be compassionate. You have to understand what the reasons for them feeling what they’re feeling are. I think once you know the reasons. I think you can be more helpful in identifying what they’re going through.

To see what else people who are supporting partners with depression would add, we asked our mental health community to share their tips for supporting a spouse or loved one with depression.

Here’s what they shared with us:

“These apply to both genders, but especially my fellow men: 1. Resist your natural instinct to fix everything. Sometimes all they want is for you to listen. 2. Do not take your partner’s feelings personally or as an indicator that you did something wrong. 3. This one’s sometimes hard to talk about, but if your partner’s sex drive is lower as a result of his/her depression, do everything in your power to not let it affect your ego or self-confidence. It’s not your fault, but patience is really critical here.” — Nerris N.

“Do not ask them ‘what their problem is.’ They don’t even know half of the time. You won’t and don’t always have to understand what’s wrong/going on. Just be there, let them them know you care and they are not alone.” — Jade S.

“Be patient with them and don’t take things personally. Don’t ever ask if you’re the reason why they’re depressed. Be tender and warm, but back away when they need it. Just let them know you’re there for them, always.” — Christa R.

“I think the most important thing that often gets overlooked is that the person who loves a depressed person needs to take care of themselves, too. You will be zero help if you’re burnt out from dealing with your partner’s depression and constantly putting your own issues aside. Take care of yourself too, so you don’t grow to resent your partner. They need you more than you know. Sometimes even just sitting quietly in the same room as them will be comfort enough.” — Cass J.

“Remember it’s not personal. They really can’t help the way they feel. Just be there, and instead of asking how you can help, offer ways you’re available to help (for example: ‘I’m going to fix you some lunch. Does x or y sound better?’)” — Ashleigh E.

“Tell them you still love them, no matter what, even in bad days. Stand by their side and help if possible. You can only give love — but that means a lot to someone with depression.” — Kim W.

“I have depression and anxiety. My partner is so amazing. The best thing he does for me is he is patient and supportive. He will hug me when I need it. He rubs my legs when they shake. He listens to all of my anxious babble and tells me everything is OK. He uses logic to ground me and always throws a joke in to make me laugh.” — Jade T.

“Try to create the most comfortable environment possible. One thing that has also helped is attending therapy together every once in awhile. It’s helped me to better understand what he’s going through and the therapist can give us advice and direction on how to manage certain symptoms.” — Lindsey S.

“Be patient and be proud. Seemingly little things can be massive milestones. Be proud of the progress they make. And love them no matter what.” — Erika F.

“Don’t give up on them, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. You can’t fix them yourself, but you can support them and be there for them. My boyfriend and I both live with mental illnesses, so it can be trying when both of us are going through that. But we love each other very much and we wouldn’t want to change anything about each other.” — Shelby S.

“Educate yourself. Seek out help with groups online and in-person, such as NAMI. Helping your partner is difficult, but arming yourself with knowledge and tools will greatly help yourself, and in turn help you aid your partner through your journey together in life.” — Jeff V.

“You don’t always need to know what to say and how to say it. Just being there with open arms and a willingness to listen can mean so much more than words.” — Melinda S.

“Remember self-care! Take good care of yourself, you have to put on your air mask before you help someone else with theirs!” — Jessica D.

“Just be there. Gently push them to seek professional help. Don’t let them think that depression is just something you ‘deal with.’ That’s dangerous.” — Haley B.

“Never tell them they ‘need to get over it,’ or ‘just be happy.’” — Jessica W.

What would you add?

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Cyberbullying Affected My Mental Health When I Started My Acting Career

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This piece was written by Mavournee Hazel, Australian actress on TV show “Neighbours.”

A lot of people have had a glimpse of being bullied at school and I personally experienced cyber bullying. It was horrible. I lost all my friends and I pushed people away and wouldn’t open up about it. 

Just prior to being offered my role on “Neighbours,” I was living in Sydney with no money and very few friends. I was lucky the friends I had were close friends and they still are dear friends today.

When I got offered the role, I thought, Right! Everything is going to be fine. On paper and to my audience and followers it looks like I have everything in the world as well as all the answers, but I don’t.

There are times in this industry when you are put under a magnifying glass and you’re vulnerable to criticism because you’re in the public eye.

A good circle of friends is so important. When I first moved to Sydney, I didn’t have anyone. While I have always been one of those people who liked being alone, there’s a massive difference between being alone and being lonely and feeling like you have no one. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

The importance of having a great support network is everything. Staying connected to people in your world who genuinely care about you can make such a difference to your well-being.

Now I’m in Melbourne and the cast is my other family. They know exactly what I’m going through and that is so important.

The irony with depression is that when you’re in that headspace, you really don’t want to talk to people and socialize. When I experienced depression, I pushed everyone away from me. That was one of the first signs that something was up with me. I used to love going out with my friends and then I didn’t. It’s little things like that that showed me I was struggling.

A lot of people think this is part of life and sometimes it is, but recognizing something is wrong, listening to your gut and talking to someone you can trust are key in avoiding long term problems.

If someone else around you seems depressed, be there for them and check in. Ask how they’re doing and don’t give up on them. You can be the one to start a life-changing conversation.

People think as actors, we are untouchable. But it’s the opposite. We are touched by everyone and so exposed. And then there are the expectations you need to meet and you wonder if you can keep up the façade and be a rock and even a role model. That was scary for me. A role model? I felt like I could barely take care of myself.

When I first started my role, the amount of people who would say “I want to be you!” was overwhelming. I’d be like, “No you don’t. Be yourself because if you’re striving your whole life to be someone else, you’re always going to be a second rate version of that person.” 

My life goal is to be myself unapologetically and to be happy in being myself. No amount of comments, likes or followers is going to validate that for me. It’s an intrinsic thing.

A fellow actor on the show who plays my older sister, gave me some great advice a while ago. I was talking about how overwhelmed I felt being thrust into the spotlight and I started comparing myself to others. When I said, “I’m not getting celebrated for being me, but I really want to be myself,” she responded by saying, “Stop. Comparison is the thief of joy.” That really resonated with me.

 R U OK? is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year. But every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at ruok.org.au.

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Photo via R U OK? Youtube channel.

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Why It's Important to Ask R U OK?

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This piece was written by Tanya Hennessy, Canberra breakfast radio host and comedian.

I haven’t been listening.

I’m starting to hear now, but for a really long time I wasn’t listening.

I couldn’t hear positives. I couldn’t hear anything good. Because when we moved to Canberra, Australia, for a radio job last January, Ryan (my co-announcer) and I were mercilessly bullied online. It took a massive toll on my life, my mental health and my confidence.

We took over from a well-loved show and it was tough. Like really tough. People were so passionate about the show we took over.

The things people were saying about us even before we were on air were awful. Getting online at that time was horrific.

I moved here alone. I left my boyfriend in Queensland and my family was five hours away. At the beginning, I debated if radio was what I really wanted to do.

I was painfully alone. And people were raining down hate at every turn.

I can’t say most of what was written to us because it’s very violent, but here are some of the comments so you get the idea:

“This is why women shouldn’t be on the radio.”

“She is an embarrassment to women.”

“Ryan and Tanya are the worst thing to happen to Canberra.”

“This show does my head in. I can’t stand them. You have lost me as a listener forever. This is the worst radio I have ever heard.”

Someone started a Facebook account called “shit104.7” and tweeted us how bad we were. During Skyfire, (an event with 110,000 people we were emceeing and live announcing at) they called Ryan “lazy and boring” and me “Shouty Mc-no friends.”

On air, I shared I was struggling to find new friends and I was bullied for saying I was struggling.

Someone said, “I can see why she has no friends. This chick deserves no friends.”

A part of finding new friends for me was doing new things, so I did a dance class. I’m not a dancer. I was out of my comfort zone completely.  But I went along and at the end I did a Facebook video post about how liberated I was to find some new friends and I was proud of myself for going to this dance class. Then I saw a comment on Facebook that became my tipping point.

The comment said, “I want to hit this woman over the head with a chair.” That same person also messaged me on my page and said, “The things I want to do to you are so brutal I can’t even write them down.”

I was crying most days. I needed my family and friends to ask if I was OK. I needed my boyfriend to have conversations with me. I needed to talk it through. I needed them to reach out. I needed to talk.  

My mum and dad were here a lot. I needed them. Without my mum and my boyfriend I don’t know if I would still be in this job.

Without that conversation and connection I honestly doubt I would have stayed in this job. It was really very serious. Someone needed to ask if I was OK. Because I really wasn’t.

Right now, I’m fine. I have come through it.

I maintain moving has been the best decision I have ever made. I have come out of it better. Stronger. I now have procedures and ways to deal with the hate online and the spiraling anxiety and depression.  

I needed my people to reach out and ask if I was OK. Because simple conversation, human interaction and compassion can help people from making serious life or death decisions.

Through connection and asking one question, you can save a life. That is what R U OK? is all about.

I wasn’t listening and the only question I could hear was – are you OK?

I’m so thankful I was asked this question and that’s why I am so proud to work with R U OK?

We get so busy and caught up in our lives that we sometimes forget to ask. But we have to make time in our days. We need to reach out. You are not alone.

Find the right time and ask R U OK?

 R U OK? is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year. But every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at ruok.org.au.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via Tanya Hennessy Facebook Page.

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Why I Don't Like Hearing 'It Gets Better' When I'm Depressed

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If you have ever had a tragedy of any magnitude in your life occur, you have probably heard that “it gets better.”

This phrase has never comforted me. To me, it sounds like a motivational poster out of a doctor’s office. There is a reason that people don’t read those.

Telling me that in some distant future things aren’t as crappy as they are now is so frustrating to me. If it can get better, why isn’t it? Why have I gone months at a time in deep spells of depression? Why am I at war with myself 24/7?

I know you mean well when you tell us that. I don’t blame you for not having the experience to know that “it gets better” is for me the most overused, least effective and flat thing you can say to someone with depression.

People who struggle with any type of mental illness sometimes feel stuck in a prison of our own making and we don’t know when we are getting out. All we know is we feel like we have no control, and that we feel all alone.

If you want to offer your support — tell us you’re always there to talk. A shoulder to cry on is a thousand times better than an empty promise. We want someone to be available to talk to. We want to know we aren’t all alone even though it seems like we are.

Depression puts you in a vulnerable state. Its almost like being stuck in the dark. You hear everything people tell you, but you can’t do anything about it. We are stuck in our own heads, unprotected against the attacks of this fallen world.

The truth is, we don’t want it to get better. We want it to be better. If it were up to me, I would wake up in a perfect world with no pain, no depression, no anxiety, only happiness. Maybe someday the world will feel like that again, but right now it doesn’t.

So sit with me. Ride out the storm. Don’t tell me that somewhere there is a beach where we can rest. Take me there.

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Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic

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7 Tips for Times You're In Between Depressive Episodes and Feeling 'Good'

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I sometimes get periods of time when I’m not particularly struggling with anxiety or depression, but I’m stuck in a rut somewhere in the middle, reevaluating my life and unsure why I’m doing so. I can never think logically about what to do. I can’t cling to any sense of identity or concentrate on anything to take my mind off it. It is such a specific numbing feeling and at the same time very blurred, making it completely overwhelming. It’s a topic I haven’t yet found to be addressed from a mental health perspective and I know various others who experience the same feeling. None of us have read an article about it before and it’s time we did. To tackle this, I thought I’d really put my mind to the test and try to give some good ol’ advice.

Here are some tips for when you’re feeling like a loose end that never ties up:

1. Talk to someone.

Whether it’s over the phone, through a message or in person, sharing your “thought load” with someone can take the pressure off you. I normally find once I admit to feeling down or lost, I start opening up about it and there is a feeling of acceptance in the air. Leading me nicely to tip numero dos.

2. Accept your situation.

Acceptance is one of the hardest things, but being aware when you are feeling a certain way can be quite comforting sometimes. I find when I realize how I’m feeling and say it out loud, it motivates me enough to find a new spark of identity or at least create some movement amongst my thoughts to think clearly. I believe acceptance of a situation is halfway to recovery.

3. Try a change of scenery.

Moving somewhere new can do a world of good. If I’m in a cold room with no sunlight, I will tend to move to a warmer room with the sun shining in, where I can cuddle my dog! I find it allows me to be a little more comfortable and I can then put more of my energy into thinking clearer and realizing I’m not a lost soul.

4. Listen to music.

Listening to music really can change my mood quite dramatically. If I want to feel more thoughtful, I will listen to calming music with honest lyrics. If I’m feeling a little lost, I will try to put on music that will either distract me or give me the knowledge that I’m not lost and alone. A band that currently motivates me is called “The Lone Bellow.” Their music is a mix of upbeat feel good tunes and storytelling ballads with a folk/country flair. Be sure to have a listen.

5. Have a network of support.

Make sure you have a network of people around you. Knowing you have friends and family supporting you will give you comfort if you ever feel on your own. They can distract you from your mind’s situation for a little while or just cushion the blow when times are rough. And I know, times can get so frickin’ rough. You must also remember pretty much anyone who is human will have a time when they feel lost or don’t quite know what direction to take. Though we lead vastly unique lives, most of us will share similar feelings and situations. Stick together.

6. Use your calendar.

Schedule something in your calendar. Don’t completely fill it because sometimes this makes it harder to achieve tasks. Just one or two things to give you direction. The other day I went to the library by myself (a massive achievement for the anxious side of me!) and I really enjoyed scanning the array of books on every shelf. I borrowed a couple of books about writing and also found myself drawn towards the photography section – a hobby I haven’t really touched for a good few years. This one hour of my day gave me heaps of inspiration, aspiration and direction.

7. Be mindful.

Go for a walk, exercise, meditate or be creative in some way. Painting is one of my favorite things to do as it feels incredibly therapeutic and I end up focusing more on what my paintbrush is doing than what my head is doing! Yoga is also a love of mine. It gets the oxygen flowing, gives me space in my head and tricks me into doing exercise!

Many of us will have “off” days where we feel a little lost and other times when we will go through long phases of ruminating on thoughts and feelings. Be it one day, a week or several months when you find yourself feeling this way, I hope you utilize these tips and get back to being the amazing, unique person you still are.

Follow this journey on Sarah’s Headspace.

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Thinkstock photo via Transfuchsian.

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When Daydreaming Becomes a Nightmare

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Daydreaming in itself isn’t a problem. Everyone daydreams every now and then, right? What’s wrong with that? But for me, daydreaming is debilitating and it interferes with my ability to live my life. It has become a nightmare for me and it’s not one I can just wake up from.

I’ll give you an example. One night, a few days ago. I was exhausted. Eyes heavy, ready to fall asleep on my face, exhausted. But I couldn’t get myself to go to sleep. I have this problem with daydreaming. I lose track of time while in my fantasy world — hours and hours of time. The next thing I know, it’s 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.

That is one of the many challenges I face because of my problems with maladaptive daydreaming. It feels like I spend as much time in my fantasy world as I do in the real world. Sometimes, even more. In a way, my fantasy world feels like a safe haven. One that protects me from the real world, but does way more harm than good.

My daydreaming has given me the illusion I am in control. In my fantasy world, I can control the characters, the setting and every little thing that happens. If something in my life feels too overwhelming, I can just pop on over to my fantasy world and everything is suddenly OK. However, maladaptive daydreaming has contributed to me ignoring my problems. So much so, that by the time I notice them, they become way too difficult for me to handle on my own.

One of the things I had willfully ignored was my mental health. Depression, to be more specific. Instead of dealing with my depression head on, I would pretend it didn’t exist. My fantasy world would provide an escape where I wouldn’t have to worry about my depression. In my fantasy world, depression didn’t exist at all.

However, it wouldn’t last. Soon, even my fantasy world couldn’t protect me from my depression. Even though it provided a respite for quite some time, in the end, it caused me more harm than good. I lost the control I didn’t even have in the first place. The one thing I knew I could count on to protect me from the real world failed me and I did not know how to fix it.

That was when I made the decision to start going to therapy to cope with my depression. It was the best decision I have made for myself. While I do have better control of my depression, I still struggle very deeply with maladaptive daydreaming. I don’t want to live in my fantasy world anymore. I want to live in the real world. However, addressing my maladaptive daydreaming is difficult because I have to address what I daydream about. It’s a vulnerable place for me and in a sick way, it’s the one secret I feel I can keep to myself. I am scared of revealing that side of myself.

My therapist told me being courageous is not doing what you need to do because you are not scared. It’s doing what you need to do even though you are scared. And believe me, I am very scared.

While it’s easier said than done, I need to be courageous and face my maladaptive daydreaming head on. If I gathered the courage to combat my depression head on, I can do the same thing for my maladaptive daydreaming. I cannot let it rule my world anymore. I have to fight it. I know I can defeat it. I just have the gather the courage to confront it.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

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