Guest Contributor: Katy Brennan
Recently I started a relationship with a person with depression. Note that I don’t say a “depressed person”, but rather “a person with depression” because their illness does not define them. I do not only love them because of their illness, but I also don’t love them in spite of it. You have to learn to love every part of them–good and bad.
I’ve learned a lot so far in this relationship, and one of the hardest things is seeing how worthless your partner can feel. They can be totally down on themselves when you only see their amazingness, and the worst part is that they can’t ever see themselves through your eyes. Despite you not always understanding why I chose them, these are 5 things I want my partner with depression to remember:
I will worry about you.
I know that you will constantly feel guilty about filling me in on your condition. You will always feel bad for feeling bad because you do not see how you could be upset over your life, but I want to hear these emotions. I will worry. Part of caring for someone is worrying when they’re sick, and with a chronic illness like depression that just happens to be all the time.
I do want updates on your condition.
I know you feel guilty about feeling sick. The truth is though that your condition is genetic. Just like my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is not my fault, your condition is not yours. The same way you expect me to share my updates on my condition, I expect updates on yours. I may become upset to hear you’re having a bad day, but I’m not upset with you. I’m upset that you don’t see how brilliant you are, that you can’t, and that I cannot do anything to help you. Despite my inability to help you though, please keep me in the loop because I care.
It is okay to let me in.
You are always going to push people away, and I understand that. You don’t want to let anyone else in on your pain in an attempt to shield him or her from it, but by some miracle, I got past that shield. Every day since then, I have been grateful to have you, and I want you to let me in. As I said before, I will worry, but that should not be an excuse to shut me out.
I will love you no matter how down you are on yourself.
You constantly ask me, “Why did you choose me? Why date someone so messed up?” The truth is that everyone has his or her issues. Your issues might be from mental illness, while mine are physical, and the next person’s emotional, but that won’t prevent me from being with whom I want to be with. Behind your “I’m okay” face and walls to keep others out, I see one of the best people I have ever met. I see someone full of kindness and compassion that was given quite the obstacle in life. No matter how hard of a day you are having though, I will love you. I know that you are used to people leaving you in your tough times, and so am I, but I am here to stay. Rather than hiding on your bad days, I will celebrate your good and hold your hand on the bad, but above all I will be here through both.
I will not try to reason with your mental illness, but I do always care about you.
I learned pretty early on that you couldn’t reason with mental illness. As much as you want them to see themselves as you see them, they can’t because they can’t control their self-image. For this reason, I may not be as quick to push you to do something or correct an opinion you have of yourself, but I do still care.
Any of you who have a significant other with depression, I hope you can relate to this list. It’s incredibly hard seeing them go through this on their own, but we are here for them every step of the way.
To my boyfriend, I know that you will never see yourself how I see you. I know that you cannot escape the depths of your mind. I know that I cannot “fix” you, and that’s okay because I don’t want to.
You are not broken.
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