I have suffered depression, I have been down that black hole, not being able to see the light. The despondency, feeling of failure, feeling the world would be better without me.
However, I came out of the other end.
Most of us will at some time have the feelings of depression, some will slip down the spiral, some will recover quicker and just have the feeling that it was a close thing.
We all have a trigger that can set us of down the spiral, but we also all have a trigger that can begin the road to recovery though at the time we will not know what it is.
With me there were two triggers. The main one was the thought of my son, the thought that I may not be there to catch and guide him. The second was in realising I was suffering from depression. They were my triggers to recovery, those and the understanding and support of my friends and my brother.
But I want to talk, not about suffering depression, but about living with someone who suffers from depression.
Suffering depression has such a stigma that many of the signs are denied by the sufferer, much in the way an alcoholic will initially deny he is an alcoholic.
Knowing the symptoms of depression will help you to realise that your partner is suffering depression or is possibly heading that way.
Change in character, feeling constantly tired, insomnia, irritable, crying, drinking more than usual, these are just a few of the symptoms.
If you notice any or combination of these in your partner you can act to help define if it is the onset of depression and maybe help stop the downward spiral and reverse it.
How do you do this? Talk and listen, not just listen but hear, pay attention to what they are saying, even when they are having an angry episode, in fact more so as the will give you many clues.
Something triggered the start of depression, and believe me it can be something so inconsequential to you, but to them it is as the whole world has just collapsed. When you are suffering from depression every inconsequential negative aspect is magnified a thousand fold and you always blame yourself.
You will need to call up infinite reserves of patience and understanding and find time. Find time on two levels.
- Time to spend with your partner, time to listen, comfort, understand, encourage.
You need to take time to listen to them, get them to talk about what they feel, what are they worrying about and believe me this is no easy feat but you have to be gently persuading and encouraging, quite often they will loose their temper and it will be directed at you. Bite your tongue, do not loose your own temper. But at the same time do not show a weakness. Believe me this is by no way easy.
The first thing you need to achieve is for them to accept they are suffering from depression, this is often the first tentative step to recovery.
Encourage them to do an activity, any activity, from reading to cleaning to just going for a walk. Outdoor activities are quite often the best and can be nothing more than having a walk in the country or by the sea. Nature is a powerful healer.
Comfort them, tell them and keep telling them they are important, put your arms around them and let them cry if they need.
- But you must also make time for yourself, time to recuperate your own energies, time to understand, time to think what to do next.
Living with someone who suffers from depression is exhausting both physically and mentally and you need to take time out for yourself or you will find yourself coming unstuck.
You also need someone to talk to, someone who you can confide in, be it your best friend or family member, your doctor, or indeed a good life coach.
You also need to take time out to laugh and joke and really just relax, because when you are living with someone who suffers from depression you are constantly on your guard that you do not say or do something negative.
Then there is always medication. I would strongly, very strongly advise that you first try without resorting to medication, but there are many cases were unfortunately you will have to and of course you will have to rely on your doctor to prescribe this.
There are many medications your doctor can prescribe some stronger than others.
Not all will work and some may have side effects that can be worse than the depression, nearly all will be addictive. You need to note and monitor any changes in character and of course in general health.
Your doctor should mention all this to you and you need to let them know as soon as possible to any adverse reactions or effects. We are all unique individuals and what will work for one may not for another.
Any good doctor will be looking at medication as a tool to aid recovery over a short period and gradually reduce your input to try and limit any withdrawal symptoms.
I believe the bottom line is restoring a sense of worth and self belief in the person suffering depression along with a realisation that sometimes things go wrong in threes or more and that is life.
When things go wrong or you make mistakes it is not because you are worthless or a failure. It is in fact quite the opposite. It a sign that you are strong and good enough to keep trying and learning and that you don’t quit.