Loving someone with depression and anxiety can be as hard as having it yourself. Having been in both positions, sometimes simultaneously, I feel quite qualified to make that statement. To see somebody you love so much going through something you know to be so awful makes you feel helpless, frustrated and sad.
On the surface, my husband is the happiest, bubbliest and most joyful person you could meet. He is the life and soul of the party, the one others go to in order to be uplifted. He is amazing. His constant desire to help others and bring them happiness is nothing but inspiring and he does it out of a genuine love and want to make the world a better place for the people in it and he wouldn’t change a thing. Helping others smile is what motivates him and always has been.
He is my hero.
But he is human too and underneath the surface he is as sensitive and fragile as the next person. Some days he struggles to wear a smile and some days he doesn’t manage at all. When you give so much of yourself to other people it’s easy to forget to hold something back for yourself. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.
His depression isn’t the same as mine. He deals with it differently and while I make no claim to be an expert on the subject, I feel this is true of everyone. No two people experience mental illness in the same way. Just because we may have been through similar experiences, it doesn’t mean we know how another person with the same diagnosis is feeling and it’s important to realise that what works for one person may be completely useless and irrelevant to another. What triggers my anxiety alleviates my husbands. When I’m not feeling good I’d rather stay in and cuddle up with a cup of tea and a trashy American cop show. When JJ feels anxious he’d much rather get out into the world and do something, when he’s feeling depressed he just wants to sleep. I’m sure for other people the triggers are different as are the coping methods, we’re all unique. It’s not caused by weakness any more than somebody getting the flu. It is something we can get better from but it’s not a quick fix. It’s not something to be ashamed of it is something to be learned about and understood.
But what is true, and what we can assume is this…the best thing we can do for a loved one who is depressed is to be there for them, to make sure they know how much they are loved when they are feeling unlovable. To make sure they know how much they are valued when they are feeling worthless. To let them know you are there when they are feeling alone. To offer them your patience when they don’t know how to express themselves. To offer them a friendly ear without the pressure of having to talk if they don’t want to. To just be there for them with the reassurance you aren’t going away and encourage them to get the help they need, whatever that may be.
I love you JJ, you inspire me every day.
Keep being you.