What Can I Do? Depression is Damaging My Relationship
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Depression steals your energy, crushes your self-esteem, and inhibits your motivation. As a depressed person, would you expect to be interested in anything anymore? Probably not. So yes, depression is a very difficult illness that can also be very hard on your romantic relationships too. Symptoms of depression such as becoming easily angered and frustrated can create tension between partners, which makes it hard to connect with a sense of love and it creates doubts about the relationship.
Depression is the ultimate schemer. All of your life's perceptions become cockeyed from depression's masterful manipulations, where everything is portrayed more negatively. Your thoughts about yourself, your partner and your relationship can be easily twisted and warped to match a dooms-day image of the world. So what can you do? First and foremost, find appropriate care for your depression. Secondly, recognize how depression is warping your perceptions, and finally, learn helpful techniques to patch up your connection by creating a loving and sturdy relationship.
One of depression's tricks is to make you doubt yourself, which can change the way you see your partner and cloud your understanding of the way your partner actually sees you. - Does your partner love you or hate you? Depression may cause you to believe that the most negative option is true. When you're depressed, it's easy to give up and feel that your partner doesn't like you. It's easy to feel like things just won't last. These thoughts are entirely normal with depression. Depression is often temporary, so remember that it will pass! It may seem difficult to do right now, but trust in the belief that this is just a rough time. Trust that you will work it out, and trust that your relationship will hang tough and withstand this.
How can you trust in these positive beliefs? The first step is to to remember a time when you felt secure within yourself and build upon those feelings and memories to feel secure within your relationship. Remember that you are human and all of us have failures, setbacks, and are disappointed at times. It’s okay. It's depression's hold over you only consists in the degree to which you believe the negative thoughts that it creates.
Don't let self-doubt render you helpless. Think back to moments in your life when you felt empowered and overcame hard times. Profess to yourself that you have the right stuff to transform your life and take action, and find one small thing you can do right now to feel better and do it! This might be anything, like going outside for a walk or going to a movie with a friend.
Another one of depression's tricks is to manifest self-criticism and partner-criticism because the positives in your life are minimized and the negatives are magnified. Your partner might feel like they’re walking on eggshells all the time because of your constant criticism of them over many little things. Depression makes you feel like your partner is inconsiderate and doesn't care about you. So if your partner leaves their laundry out or doesn’t wash the dishes, they may feel nervous about being condemned for it - Even if it's only been 5-minutes!
The secret to fighting the need to criticise your partner is to focus on your partner’s positive traits and realize that their undesirable qualities don’t cancel out their positive characteristics. So if it drives you bonkers that your partner leaves a lot of clutter around the house from time-to-time, focus on their positives and find a way to contribute - Perhaps they are exhausted and could use your help cleaning up! Remember their positive traits. Perhaps they are caring and considerate most of the time such as when they often help out with your family or they are flexible in watching whatever movies you want, etc. What is it about your partner that led you to be with them in the first place? Each week, try making a list of several of your partner’s positive traits, for instance they are kind-hearted, write that down as a reminder to yourself, and write next to each trait how you can thank them for it. When you show your appreciation to your partner they will likely feel appreciated and they’re more likely to do the same in return, thus creating a stronger connection.
Communicate openly and honestly with your partner. Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader, and tell them clearly and directly about how you’d like them to support you. You may have a certain idea in your mind that says what the right things are that your partner should say and how they should say them to support you. The problem is that your partner doesn't know it. Often the depressed part of you may react unsatisfactorily or with discontent when the other person unknowingly deviates from your predetermined mind set. Recognize your ideas and ask yourself: What did you want to happen? When have things ever turned out differently from your expectations previously? What drove you to form this preconception? Explore how you feel and why the event is so important to you, but don't judge yourself in the process. Consider how you can manage similar situations in the future. Relationships involve two people who may have very different needs. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to act, feel, or think in any given situation.
Instead seek different a story line. Envision some things your partner may be thinking and to get the best idea, ask them! Also ask them for a certain behavior beforehand, explain why it’s important to you, and be open to other possibilities. Try to accept your partner’s behavior and how they do things without being too critical. Depression can be very stressful on relationships, so remember that there are many things you can do to strengthen your closeness, intimacy, and affection, and do them!
- Jeff Stein
In my twenty-year relationship with my wife, we have faced many struggles, and in our opinion, we have faced more than our fair share. Those struggles have taken a toll on our psyche individually and our wholeness as a couple.
My wife and I have faced challenges to our physical health through diagnosis of cancer and disability. We have faced financial defeat through unemployment and business failure. We have faced the challenges of extended family strife to the extent that we isolated ourselves from those family members, and we have faced periods of extended physical separation that kept us from growing as close to one another as we desired.
Please do not take my reflections as whining and/or complaining. I stand firmly on the belief that we have grown closer to one another through these adversities. The adage of, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ fits perfectly here. My wife is my best friend. She is my closest confidante. I trust no one else as I do her. I hope I am the same for her.
Our relationship's weaknesses are a result of the damage that all of these factors have inflicted upon us over the years. To be deserted by family members who have always said they loved you. To be sucker punched by a failure of your health at a younger age. To be knocked down and almost out by life. All of these will take a serious toll on individuals, but also on their relationships.
When faced with the trials and tribulations of life, our natural reactions seem to involve us becoming turtle-like. We retract into our shells and hide from every thing and every one until it feels safe enough to poke our head back out for a quick peek. Then, when we see a shadow of threat we can retract even quicker the next time. This becomes the perpetual cycle of our life.
If the original challenges do not cause us to be depressed, then the way in which we are living and reacting certainly will. We become distrustful of others and avoid at all cost the most challenging of circumstances and/or people. Sometimes that even includes our spouse.
When we are at this point of depression and despair, there is definitely an impact on our relationships. How could there not be? The damage that is inflicted upon our relationships may even be irreparable, and the struggle may become too much to bear. What can we do?
If you are like me, you need someone in which you can just go "blah". For me that person is still my wife. I can relax and share all of my feelings to her without judgment or ridicule. Even when the feelings may be about her and how she made me feel, I can still confide in her. We have established that we can tell one another what is on our heart and minds about the other as long as we show respect in thought, word, and deed.
My wife is my safe place, but it grew to be that, it didn’t necessarily come naturally. It took lots of hard work planting, weeding, and watering, before we could reap the harvest in our marriage.
How Depression Damages Your Relationship & What You Can Do. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/07/04/how-depression-damages-your-relationship-what-you-can-do/
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