If You Love Someone With Anxiety and Depression, Please Tell Them This
Let’s start off by saying it’s probably been a tough journey for your loved one. Personally, I had years of partners who would shame me for the things I’ve struggled with. It’s been thrown in my face, used as a weapon to hurt me and I always felt alone. I’ve felt broken and unloveable. Years of partners who never made me feel supported. The damage they did resulted in my anxiety and depression worsening. I didn’t know what it was like to be accepted, loved and supported — until recently.
By some miracle I’ve finally found someone who loves me when I’m happy and laughing, and who loves me just as much when I’m lying broken in bed sobbing uncontrollably. He assures me of that love. He tells me he isn’t going anywhere when I ask why he’s with me. That he signed up for the bad days too, not just the good. As my spiraling anxious thoughts make me think how awful it must be to be with me, he hugs me and tells me he will support me through it and will always help me when I’m struggling.
This has been instrumental in my ability to begin to try to heal from past trauma, and try to find the resolve and courage to face my anxiety and depression head on. I hope to eventually have less bad days (or at the very least, less severe pain and anxiety). When my anxiety is overwhelming me, which is whenever I am anxious, it creates a vicious cycle of getting down on myself because I can’t function “normally.” I feel even worse and even more broken until I’ve spiraled into my pit of despair and hopelessness.
Now, thanks to my supportive boyfriend and a wonderful therapist whom I trust to support me (but who also calls me out on any bullshit behaviors or mentalities I continue to carry with me), I feel safe and able to talk about it instead of suffering alone in silence. Once it’s out of my head and I’m able to speak on it, I’m often able to try to come up with ways to cope or create change.
Even when I feel hopeless, talking about it with my therapist and/or my ridiculously amazing boyfriend helps me see the bigger picture again. I struggle every single day to be happy and positive and not spiral into a “bad day” mentally. Having a nonjudgmental support system and a significant other who will constantly and consistently tell me my anxiety and depression are a part of who I am, and that he loves all of who I am, has been huge. He doesn’t make me feel bad for feeling bad. He doesn’t try to force change on me to suit his own agenda. It hurts him to see me hurting, but he waits out the storm with me. He doesn’t resent my journey through my mental and emotional distress, he acknowledges that it’s my journey, but also communicates that he will always be there “along for the ride” as he puts it. He has given me a sense of safety and security when all else feels lost. I am by no means trying to rely on him to be my hope when hope is seemingly lost, but I recognize that he makes me feel like my pain and sadness are OK. He doesn’t make me unloveable. He doesn’t make me a black hole of misery. He doesn’t make me feel unworthy of love or a good relationship. He is helping to de-stigmatize my struggles in my own head.
Tell them you choose them. Tell them you choose their happy days, you choose their sad ones, you choose their anxiety-ridden ones all the same. Tell them you accept them, all of them. Tell them how much they mean to you and the value they bring to your life. Try to make them feel safe and loved. You will likely need to do this time and time again, but I tell you confidently that it will mean the world to them. They will appreciate it beyond words. They may even possibly be able to begin to cope a little easier with your support. They may not be lost in their darkness for quite as long. Love them hardest and fiercest when they’re at their lowest so they can find the light and their way out. You don’t have to be the light, but you can help them see it.
Unsplash image via Priscilla Du Preez