Living with and loving my significant other, who by no fault of strength, intelligence or character, has struggled with life-long depression, has taught me three things.
Taking care of a significant other with depression is like chasing a rainbow.
You can see the beautiful happy ending. It’s right there. You’re about to hold it. If you could only do something different, do something better, then maybe you could reach it. You think that if you could just run a little bit quicker. If you could just let go of the burden of your partner just for a millisecond, maybe you could catch the rainbow and give it to them. But you’ll never reach it.
Taking care of a significant other with depression will stretch your soul to its limit.
Your loved one will stretch your soul to its limits. At first you think you can handle it, that you’re strong enough. But every sleepless night of suicide-watch stretches you a little bit. Every heart-wrenching crash minutes after a moment of sublime happiness, makes you doubt yourself. And then, you eventually start catching yourself thinking that it would be so much easier if you just gave up and left. And then you feel ashamed for even thinking it. But after so much pain, you’re not even sure if it’s even shameful to think that way. You will hit your limit.
Taking care of a significant other with depression will make you feel helpless and depressed too.
There’s no way around it. You will feel helpless like you’ve never felt before. The never-ending cycle of making them smile. Making them forget their depression. Making them truly happy. Then the crash. The unrelenting cycle of anticipation that things are getting better, that things are different now than before.
You never thought that gravity applied to happiness. But it does. They will crash and you will burn. No matter how much you prioritize them over everything in your life, how much time you spend taking care of them, how much of yourself that you give that you feel like you’re about to disappear, they will crash.
It’s not your fault, but it will feel like it. And you will have to prepare yourself for it.
I know I said that I only learned three things. I lied. The most important thing that I learned from taking care of my significant other is that:
People in depression live in darkness and feel so broken that they believe that the pieces that can make them whole don’t even exist anymore. It’s not for you to put it back together for them.
You are only the light that shows them that those pieces really do exist and that it’s in their grasp. They’re the only ones who can put it back together
I hope this has helped somebody out there. Writing this has surely helped me deal with my own feelings I hope all you flickering lights that feel like giving up never forget that a life depends on your presence and that the biggest obstacle to healing is that they feel that they are unlovable. Prove to them the contrary, no matter how much it hurts.
And never forget that even you can need a helping hand from family, friends, and maybe even your loved one who is depressed.