If you are the carers for a partner with depression, you are doing one of the most important jobs in the world – and the most important job in their world. But it is vitally important when you are going to do this job, that you don’t get so worn down that you can’t do it at all.
Depressed people are not themselves. They have a mental problem that will make them act, say and do things that can be very upsetting and hurtful to those around them. They can be volatile, angry and even abusive, when all you are doing is trying to give them support and encouragement.
When your relationship is in jeopardy and your love life might have faded, you are most likely also hurting. Your partner isn’t the person you thought you knew. You may be suffering feelings of pain, stress and anger. You may think of leaving and then feel guilt and remorse, even shame.
How do you take care of yourself while you care for your loved one?
- Firstly, you need to pace yourself. Depression isn’t something that just gets ‘fixed’ overnight. You are going to need stamina to partner your loved one in this race.
- Learn all that you can about depression. This will arm you with the knowledge to be able to recognise their behaviours for what they are.
- Be honest. Obviously be aware you are dealing with a sensitive person, but don’t be a walk over and explain to them if you feel mistreated.
- Language is important so try not to use inflammatory phrases. They aren’t going to ‘snap out of it’, so don’t ask them to.
- Keep it real. You can only care so much in a day. If you burn out, you will need the care yourself.
- Don’t be obsessive. Maintain other interests and social interactions, and remember to keep living.
- Share the load if you can. Are there others who care? There normally are and it’s fine to involve them to improve the situation.
Depression is a serious condition and requires professional help. One of the most important roles as carer is for you to help your depressed partner, friend or relative stay the course of their treatment, be that medical (drug) and/or psychological.