Dealing with my Boyfriend's Depression

My boyfriend has depression: here is how we make it work 

My boyfriend has dealt with depression for most of his life. Depressing right? Well, not so much. We have developed so much insight into our lives together by learning how to not just coexist, but thrive together. I am not his guide; I am following him on his journey like a happy little puppy (figuratively), and we make everyday worthwhile. 

Here is a list that we put together of things that work for us that I want to share with you. Of course, they might not apply to everyone but we feel like these are essential to maintain a meaningful relationship. It doesn’t matter that my partner has depression, what matters is that it is worth it, we understand each other and we work together. This article can speak to anyone in a relationship, but is specifically for you if you or your partner is dealing with depression. I totally get it, it can be difficult, and you need to know within yourself that this relationship is or isn’t what you want. Below are the keys to a successful relationship, whether a mental illness is part of the mix or not.

  1. 1. Educate Yourself

    Maybe you have done this already, but educate yourself about what your partner is dealing with. Their dark feelings are NOT because of you. Depression is not a choice, and understanding this is key. Understand the symptoms and what to do when you see them in your partner. Googling “boyfriend with depression” will yield endless results (82,700,000 to be exact). Some websites can be really helpful like HeadsUpGuys. I highly recommend checking that one out because it covers everything about depression in men and ways to tackle it. Despite all of these resources though, the key is to talk with your partner and understand how they feel, how their depression manifests itself and what triggers it. What do they need when they feel low? Do they need reminders that they are loved and that they are important? When do they need space versus when do they need to be close? Your partner will give you the answers.

  2. 2. Exercise trust and honesty

    Trust in the person and their feelings. Do not blame them for feeling low. When your partner makes a decision to miss the party, or to sleep in, you have to trust them and trust what they are communicating with you. Absolutely you should have a balanced discussion about how it makes you feel, as well as what they are feeling and how they came to their decision. Please respect that they know their mind best, and they have taken the time to express their feelings to you which can be scary. No one likes to feel sad, or lonely, or ashamed of themselves. You have to show them that their emotional needs do not make them weak.

  3. 3. Your feelings are equally valid

    You shouldn’t let your emotions become secondary to theirs. When you feel tearful, hopeless, or depressed, those feelings are no less valid and you deserve love and affection just as much as your partner does. Your partner’s outlook would be brighter if they didn’t have depression, but you make their life brighter and they want to see you be happy. Communicate with your partner and let them know what emotions you feel. They want to help you and they care deeply about what’s on your mind. Depression does not stop them from being a shoulder to lean on; they understand better than most that being upset is hard.

  4. 4. Recharge your batteries 

    When your partner is depressed, it can be easy for you to forget about your own mental health. You deserve time and space to understand how you feel. Check in with yourself. Are you motivated? Are you excited to get out of bed? Are you happy when you are with your partner? Do you have your own sources of happiness? It is not mandatory to always think positive around your partner. You do not always have to be the cure to your partner’s sadness. While it can be difficult to see them struggling, you must pay attention to your wellbeing and your resilience above all else. 

     

  5. 5. Sidenote: Meditate! 

    Focused meditation is the perfect way for both of you to clear the fog from your minds. This is a tool that my boyfriend introduced me to and now we both use it nearly every day. Just try it once. IT WORKS.

    Example: 

    4 seconds inhale, tense your muscles, 4 seconds exhale and relax your muscles. 

    4 seconds in, 4 seconds out and relax your feet. 

    4 seconds in, 4 seconds out and relax your legs. 

    Et cetera et cetera, until you reach your mind, focusing on your breathing and giving time for the tension to leave every part of your body.

  6. 6. Be a partner, not a therapist 

    Whatever you do, don’t be their therapist. It will wear you down and it’s not your job. You don’t need to have the solutions for your partner’s struggles. What you need to be is emotionally available and to be that light your partner needs when they feel low. You may need to change your approach day to day based on what they need, and that’s all part of the experience. Your partner is responsible for their happiness just as you are responsible for yours. 

Be patient with the process

Giving your partner a of couple days notice for something exciting or social is normal. They sometimes need time to find their outgoing side. Having a partner with depression encourages you to create a schedule together and pay attention to each other’s emotions. Both of you are still figuring out life’s hurdles and some days will be low but most days will be amazing. Figuring out my boyfriend and how we work together has made us so connected and conscious of each other. 

Let this advice guide your relationship, but remember that the key is to communicate every day, understand each other and respect each other.