There is, fortunately, a lot of information and help for people who suffer the torment of a major depressive disorder. But there is precious little help for or even acknowledgment of the partners of depressed people. Depression can take a serious toll on loved ones and on the relationship itself. Confusion, frustration, social isolation, loss of intimacy, communication problems, codependency, and sadness are some of the possible consequences of living with a depressed partner.
It's hard to watch the familiar, loving person you know become a distant stranger, one who withdraws or lashes out, or both. It means that your own need for emotional intimacy, companionship and social activity will be largely unmet by your partner for the duration of the depressed cycle. It's natural then, to focus your problem-solving attention on the partner, while you lose sight of maintaining your own health and simultaneously, and inadvertently, changing the relationship to something less than healthy and happy.
You, as the partner of a depressed person, need special care and attention. As you care for the depressed person, you must make sure you take care of your own emotional and social needs and of the relationship you value.
Time for a rewrite!! You've put another year to bed and now you get to decide if you like the program you've been living or if the next episode needs some tweaking or perhaps a major overhaul. You can make subtle or significant changes to the show. You can write an entirely different script or you can simply change the dialogue. You could add more interesting or supportive characters, and drop the characters that don't help drive the storyline. You can add more action or more contemplation. You have ultimate control over how your story unfolds.
What changes do you want in your story? A new business. Less eating. Gentler words. Reconnection with old friends or making new ones. Meditating. More physical activity. Stopping self-medication. Building a garden or a boat. There are so many ways to fill your story with your personal values or your own goals. What are yours?
The first task in a rewrite is to decide what you want to change that will promote the story you want told. Of course, the follow through gets tough when the weeks begin to roll into old patterns, so vigilance is paramount.
Here are some very clever ways to make those changes, then keep them in place after making them.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.