I wish I could go back in time and tell all the men I’ve loved throughout the years: you are enough, you have always been enough; it was me who was hurting; me who was lacking.
As someone who has struggled with depression for most of my adult life, I know the deep ache it can leave in someone you love as they watch you wither away in front of them. In a way, you want to set them free. You want to tell them, ‘please, go find your joy, there is none left in this house of my heart.’ On the other you want to scream at the top of your lungs, “I need you to stay, you’re the only thing keeping me tethered to reality.”
Loving someone who is struggling with depression is a major undertaking in it’s own right. As much as you want to fix the other person, it is imperative that you remember that everyone’s journey to happiness is their own. Whenever you doubt that, I want you to remember the following 9 things:
1. It’s not your responsibility to make them happy.
Oftentimes when we love someone, we tend to take their sadness on as our own. We can’t help but feeling like we need to save someone from themselves. This is natural, but it is also important to remember that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in someone’s brain, or they have a darker storm brewing inside of them that only they can calm. As much as you’ll try to make them happy, understand that your efforts are being seen and heard–even if they don’t seem to make a difference.
2. You can’t force them to get help.
As much as you may think tough love is the answer in this situation, the reality is that if you force someone with depression to get help before they’re ready, they will grow to resent you. And even if it is terrible to see someone you love going through a bout of deep sadness that feels like it is overwhelming them, remember that they’re the one that needs to decide when and how they seek out help.
3. They’ll try to hurt you at times, but remember it’s not your fault.
When someone’s life is chaotic and painful, they tend to hurt the ones they love the most. This is not to say this is an excuse, just remember they lash out because they’re hurting and unsure what they need at the moment.
4. Hugging them is the best way you can help.
If you’re punishing yourself because you don’t know how to make them happy, just giving them a hug will suffice. Depression is isolating even when you’re surrounded by love. The more reminders they have that someone cares, the better.
5. You will struggle with sadness too.
As I had previously mentioned, when you love someone who is depressed you will take on sadness of your own. You will be angry at yourself, and you will often feel like you’re not enough; which is enough to make anyone sad in their own right. Remember that their sadness is not a reflection on you and your value as a person.
6. They will struggle to see a future with you.
It is natural when you’re in love with someone to begin to plan a future with them. Having said that, it is also normal for people who struggle with depression to see a future at all. They’re so caught up in the storm that is raging inside of them that they forget they have a beautiful life ahead of them. If your significant other doesn’t talk about a future with you, please remember that it has nothing to do with you and everything that is going on in their mind.
7. But know that they want to.
Also remind yourself that they love you deeply even through all the depression. Remind yourself that they care and that they adore you and most of all, that they’re trying.
8. They can’t find happiness for your sake.
Similar to you not being able to force them to get help, they need to seek out their own joy in life for no one but themselves. As much as they’ll want to improve their life for your sake, this is a toxic ideology that will result in them feeling angry and guilty at themselves if they’re unable to get happy for your sake. Remind yourself that they hold the power to their salvation,
9. This is not your fault.
The person you love has always had the capacity to be depressed. There is nothing you can do, there is nothing you could do, to have prevented this. You must learn to remove yourself from the equation of their depression. You are enough. You have always been enough.