Depression Within Someone Else's Relationship

There is a tendency for those of us outside of a particular relationship to see the walls of it as fixed, solid, and most certainly not to be crossed - and for a lot of activities that is absolutely valid and correct.

If there is depression with one party within a relationship however, it can have problems. Firstly it puts the expectation, from those of us outside, that the partner will be all over it, the support required will 'obviously' be being shared, the skills an techniques are all within the relationship. In essence, it's being sorted and there's no need for us to stick our noses in.

That may be correct.
Or it may be a very wrong assumption.

A partner living with someone with depression is not only "just" another human being with no more skills, experiences, tools, or techniques than you or I, they may even be the opposite, someone that lacks the worldview to be that support.

That person, having to stand next to the depression, may also be so close to it that they don't see it, the classic "woods for the trees" scenario.

And finally, the person experiencing depression is, in my own experience, someone that struggles to communicate what is actually going on deep inside, the language to explain where they are, to truly give their partner the context of what is happening within. Especially if it happens at 3am.

As I wrote in Depression & Anger: The Dastardly Duo's Latest Adventures, the language of depression is weird,
It's been tough. Actually, I was explaining it to a friend yesterday morning: "It's like I have left a country that I am used to and have, or am, flying to a completely new place. Not like leaving the UK to come to New Zealand which has so much the same it's not really that hard. More like flying from New Zealand to Japan. I am in a place that even the basics are foreign to me and I am having to re-learn so much"
The person inside a relationship may, of course, benefit from being able to express themselves to a fellow 'traveller'.

It's a tricky one - on the one hand those outside can't make the assumption that the one lonely person who is 'meant' to be supporting is or can; on the other we have boundaries on relationships for good reasons that can, with such an intimate and potentially all encompassing reason, become a minefield.

My advice is talk, talk with all parties and be open and honest. Allow yourself to be wrong but push when you feel you need to. Be courageous for a fellow human being.

For the partner supportingWhat to Do When a Loved One Is Severely Depressed

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of showing up
  2. Don’t try to cheer him up or offer advice
  3. It’s O.K. to ask if she is having suicidal thoughts
  4. Take any mention of death seriously
  5. Make getting to that first appointment as easy as possible
  6. Take care of yourself and set boundaries
  7. Remember, people do recover from depression

For the person with depression"U OK hun" - It's All About The Timing, and especially 10 WAYS TO ‘REACH OUT’ WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
  1. “I'm (depressed/anxious/suicidal). I'm not sure what to ask for, but I don't want to be alone right now.”
  2. “I'm struggling with my mental health and what I've been trying isn't working. Can we (meet up/Skype/etc) on (date) and come up with a better plan?”
  3. “I don't feel safe by myself right now. Can you stay on the phone with me/come over until I calm down?”
  4. “I'm in a bad place, but I'm not ready to talk about it. Can you help me distract myself?”
  5. “Can you check in with me (on date/every day), just to make sure I'm alright?”
  6. “I'm having a hard time taking care of myself. I need extra support right now around (task). Can you help?”
  7. “I've been feeling so low. Can you remind me about what I mean to you or share a favorite memory? It would really help me.”
  8. “I'm struggling right now and I'm afraid I'm reaching my limit. Can I give you a call tonight?”
  9. “I know we don't talk much, but I'm going through a tough time and I feel like you're someone I can trust. Are you free to talk (day/time)?”
  10. “I'm suicidal. I need help right now.”

Never alone xx


New Zealand

  • 1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.
  • Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
  • – or email or free text 5626
  • Anxiety New Zealand - 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
If it is an emergency or you, or someone you know, is at risk call 111.

UK (via the BBC)


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