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5 Simple Truths And Tips About Dating Someone With Depression

There is nothing romantic about depression.

The same way you wouldn’t look at a battle field and call it art, or at a bloodbath and call it a festival. Yes, I’m equating depression with a massacre, because that is what it is.

Suggested read: Beating the blues: Dos and don’ts of dealing with a depressed partner

In The Host, Stephanie Meyer creates a beautiful science-fiction tale about the human body being possessed by an alien mind. The reader can distinctly feel the presence of two brains in a single body. I have always wondered if it is all a big metaphor for clinical depression, because it’s so accurate. However, depression isn’t always permanent. It could be as fleeting as the seconds on your wall clock, or as pervasive as the air. You never know.

“Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere.” – By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept, Paulo Coelho

depressed woman_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image Under Creative Commons License

Depression is akin to a roller-coaster ride. It’s the annoying third-wheel that is ever-present on a date. So, if you date someone with depression, you must be prepared to watch them flit away on a Bizarro time and again, or step onto the Behemoth with them, but before anything, you must know what a roller-coaster is.

What is depression?

Depression isn’t a math problem. Or, perhaps it is. The kind of math sum you dream of the night before your exam, with formulas that don’t make sense, and numbers ever-increasing. Let it suffice to say that this isn’t your average “2+2=4”, but it’s surprising how the majority see it that way. Depression myths are wildly spread, and are believed despite the absolute lack of any factual basis.

There is a difference between having depression and being depressed. Being depressed may be equated to a feeling of sadness, in various degrees. Having depression, is a medical condition that is not so easily understood as having hurt feelings. It’s as serious as any physical ailment and it erodes your mental immunity unless treated.

man depressed

Image source: Google, copyright-free image Under Creative Commons License

Depression can be of several types. You could have Major-Depressive Disorder, Catatonic Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dysthymia, Atypical Depression, Melancholic Depression, Post-Partum or Pre-Natal Depression, the list really is endless.

There is generally no exclusive answer for “why are you depressed?”, since it isn’t always acquired, or circumstantial, but also hereditary.

What does it feel like to be depressed?

Sabrina Benaim explains the essence of depression, in “Explaining Depression To My Mother” :

“Mom, my depression is a shape shifter.
One day it’s as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
The next day, it’s the bear.
On those days, I play dead until the bear leaves me alone.
I call the bad days ‘The Dark Days’…
…Besides, mom, I’m not afraid of the dark.
Perhaps, that’s part of the problem.”

You can watch it here:

Suggested read: Deepika Padukone shares about her personal battle with depression & anxiety

Trigger warnings are not a joke. Trigger warnings for patients, are as real as the ‘Wet Floor’ sign, or the ‘Crime Scene’ tape, and are not to be fooled around with. Neil Gaiman, on first discovering the phenomenon, wrote in his book ‘Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances’:

“I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them. I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the Internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them.”

Some things you happen to chance upon, open trapdoors beneath you, like the rabbit hole from Alice In Wonderland. Only you didn’t know it was there, and there is no Wonderland waiting. So, the world could debate for or against ‘trigger warnings’, but it’s only the ones who need it that understand its worth.

Now that you have a rough idea about the roller-coaster, let’s look into the ride itself:

As time goes by, our ailments become an inherent part of our lives. It is true of any kind or degree of illness one might have. You, as a partner, need to be attentive enough to side-step those sensitive areas while dating someone with depression. As I told you earlier, depression isn’t coordinate geometry, and as such, the hypotenuse to victory is far from smooth! Nonetheless, let’s not get pessimistic about it. Here are some tips that can help you when dating someone with depression.

1. Don’t bring the Pity Party home

dating someone with depression #1_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pinterest 

The most common reaction to any ailment, physical or emotional, is pity. While in the case of physical illnesses, in 9 out of 10 cases there is a solid cure and no stigma attached, mental issues receive the absolute opposite treatment. There is name-calling, and a bizarre hush-hush about depression, as though it were the second name of Lord Voldemort. You need to understand that we aren’t wallowing in self-misery, and don’t need to be felt sorry for. More than being a teary audience, you must hop onto the bandwagon and raid the town with us, even though sometimes it may only mean occupying a corner of the couch and sharing a tub of ice-cream in silence.

“You’re my friend. My comrade….Which means you should climb on the wagon for a while.” – Hunting the Eagles, Ben Kake.

2. Don’t lose track of your own world

This is true of any relationship. The first thing we witness in a budding romance is the gradual negation of private spaces. When John Donne wrote “Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one”, he referred to two distinct spheres: One that contains you, and one that involves both; the ‘me’, and the ‘us’ are, in fact, separate. While dating someone with depression, it is imperative that you hold on to your own identity, because irrespective of how beautiful love might be, it helps nobody if you sink along with them. In A Valediction Forbidding Mourning, Donne compares the lovers to the legs of a geometric compass. At least one leg has to be stable and steady for the compass to be able to function in the least. Therefore, as their corner stone, you must retain your own world, and not completely give in to the very processes you are trying to protect your partner from. This piece of advice doesn’t only serve to protect your relationship, but you as well.

3. Avoid triggers

dating someone with depression #3_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pinterest 

Triggers are very real, as discussed earlier in the article. Again, it is impossible to correctly predict where the landmines lie, but we all develop rough ideas through the ‘trail and error’ method. I have known patients who maintain diaries for every trigger they have encountered, and it’s hardly ever the same for two people. Gaiman writes in Trigger Warning: “I know a lady called Rocky, who is upset by tentacles”; some avoid listening to certain songs, or reading certain books because it reminds them of somebody they shared the memory of it with; some avoid dark rooms, because it fuels their sadness; sometimes, certain recurrent lines in conversations may also be effective triggers. As bizarre as a lot of them may sound, they are real. It is important for both partners to consciously discover the potholes and learn to present them differently. It will be devastatingly laborious in the beginning, but given time, the effects of the toil will make for a healthier relationship.

4. Acceptance/Letting them be

dating someone with depression #2

Image source: Pinterest 

This point takes for granted that you do enough to help each other. However, despite all your efforts, sometimes you have to loosen the grip and let them explore the dark labyrinths on their own, by which I mean letting them remain curled in bed and do nothing. As weird as it may sound, you do not always have to do something. Sometimes, letting the case rest is the best form of acceptance. “Take your time. I’m right here if you need me” in certain instances, works better than constantly pushing them to “snap out of it”. While it is detrimental to lay back and watch their depression take over, it is equally unhealthy to force exuberance into them at all times.

5. Know when to throw in the towel

“We must be strong enough, 
We must be brave enough,
We waited long enough now it´s time to say goodbye.”
– I Believe,
Joana Zimmer

Society attaches intense stigma with ‘break-up’s. More so if they think the person ‘needs’ you. Several people hold on to abusive relationships for the fear of being ostracized. If you believe that despite all your efforts, the bond is rushing downhill, it’s okay for you to step out. Whether or not they are patients of any kind, or old enough to handle it maturely, if you feel the association turning unhealthy, or find yourselves incompatible, then it is perfectly sane to call it quits.

Suggested read: How not to lose yourself while living with a depressed partner

There are an unbelievable number of people who still believe clinical depression is a myth, or a “phase”. I, along with several other patients can assure you that it isn’t. Several case studies register the apparent fear in some people when they discover their partner needs ‘therapy’ or takes ‘pills’ to prevent depressive behavior. In a world where information is 0.03 seconds away on Google Search, this attitude is baffling.

I belong to the old school that believed ‘love cures all’. While that may not be entirely true, it partially is. I’ve seen several cases register immense positive turnouts as a result of affection and care. So, listen to Joanna Zimmer when she says:

“Give a little bit of love and you get it back,
Give a little bit of pain, you caught in a trap.
For every little thing that you say or do, give a little bit of love and it´ll come back to you.”

That’s a wrap from us for now! If you liked what you just read, how about sharing it with your folks? For more on how to forge a healthier relationship, sign up for our newsletter today. J

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Article Name
5 Simple Truths And Tips About Dating Someone With Depression
Are you dating someone with depression? Here's a guide to help you through this roller coaster ride.
Meghalee Mitra

Meghalee Mitra

My introductions have always been "I'm too awkward for this." My exercise routine comprises oscillating between being serious and bat-shit-crazy, laziness, and hyper-activity. I love words, live for food, and am always looking for magic.