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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?

Image via Creative Commons/Walt Disney Television

Originally published: March 15, 2017
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