Your Partner Has Depression. Here’s How to Nurture Your Relationship

I’ve been dating someone in a mental clinic for the past six weeks now.

Despite him having debilitating depression, I am learning to love him every day in a different way. Unfortunately, in my previous relationship, I couldn’t handle it and felt like a therapist more than a girlfriend at times, but now being in the same situation myself can relate better.

So here are three ways to love someone who has a mental illness because:

“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” — Adam Ant

Side note: Those suffering from mental illness struggle to love themselves in the first place, so it can be tough to love someone who doesn’t know how to reciprocate because of their lack of self-love.

My story

I am writing this because mental illness is taboo and can squander a relationship when not handled with care and consideration, as in my last failed relationship… Now, being a sufferer of depression, I can try my best to understand my boyfriend the way he should be without being too harsh at times.

We met six weeks ago in the canteen. The moment I caught eyes with him, I knew there was a spark to be chased. Ever since sitting down with him to eat and talk, we became inseparable.

Other patients noticed the bond we had with one another and even new patients asked if we were together the whole time. We spent our time in therapy, walking in the woods, being weird, and listening to music while drinking the tenth coffee out of the vending machine.

So that is a bit about our love story… Let me walk you through the three steps I’ve taken over the past six weeks in a mental clinic to understand my partner better.

I may not be a pro, but I am getting there with care. It can be hard, but it’s possible.

1. Can you support them?

“It doesn’t have to take over your life, it doesn’t have to define you as a person, it’s just important that you ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.” — Demi Lovato

There have been in times in my life when I have been spiralling down and didn’t know what to do, although I knew that I had a large support system.

Only when I started opening up to my family and friends did I realise I am not alone. When coming to the mental clinic, you get to open up to people in a different, more vulnerable way because you know you are here for a reason and the other person too.

My other person here has become an extraordinary person to me now, and one of the ways we made it through here is because I am there to support him.

In the mental clinic, you tend to be very open about your emotions because that is the main reason you are here. Every day, we will check-in with each other in the morning and ask how we are both doing.

Some days it might just be “ok”, and we don’t delve further into it, but other days when there is a weird feeling within that needs to be out in the open, we talk about it more in-depth.

For example, one morning, I had anxiety, and his luring feeling of depression was present. We discussed ways to overcome these feelings and handle them because if we just ignored them, it would worsen.

When your spouse has depression or a mental illness, please support them by asking how they are doing and simply being there for them.

Side note: When there are times when you too are suffering and feel like you cant support your other half, just voice how you are feeling so that you can have time and space when needed. Being open about how you feel is key.

This doesn’t always mean that you will have to have engaging conversations about current emotions, but it may just be the question that shows you care and are there. But at all times, be willing to:

2. Listen to them

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” — Glenn Close

When asking my boyfriend how he feels, I can sense what his reaction is going to be. He will either say “weird” or “I don’t know”. Sometimes he doesn’t want to talk about it; other times, he does; it depends, I guess, on the day (as everything!).

When he wants to open up, I attempt to be fully present and aware of what he says to respond the right way or even listen.

As humans, we need people who are willing to listen to us with no judgment. I have spoken about this before:

So how are you going to listen to your partner when they are in need? Don’t be half on your phone and half somewhere else, but put it down and be there for them.

This is not so hard to do, trust me. Nowadays we are taken over by technology, but we must fight it and become more mindful of our actions when around other people, not just our partners. Setting aside time, for example, at dinner time, with no phones would be a good start.

This might not mean that you have to advise them as such, but simply listening means looking into their eyes, touching them, showing that you are there fully and finding peace with them together. This way, you can:

3. Accept them for who they are

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” — Joubert Botha

A significant aspect of mental illness is acceptance. Accepting how you feel and accept how the other person feels.

When you fight against feelings, you become frustrated and exhausted because you aren’t letting the feeling live and let go.

As a yoga teacher and well-being coach, I help people find peace by listening to them, accepting them, and leading them through strategies to aid their anxiety and emotions.

I do the same with my boyfriend. For example, he has a debilitating depression that has made him go to bed and sleep very often (every day after eating breakfast, for example, he will go back to bed for a few hours or during the day, at least at some point, his bed calls him back).

At times, I find this hard to deal with because I want to spend as much time with him as possible here in the mental clinic because, in my mind, it is not going to be forever, and I get sad when I think that I will have to leave soon.

Besides that, I want to spend time with him in general because I love it. However, on the other side, I understand that this is now his bad habit of going to bed, and I have to try and understand that maybe he needs to make himself feel better when he is feeling low. I have to accept this to let him get on with him and not make him feel worse.

There are many things I have learned from loving someone with a mental illness; here are more:

But most importantly, above all, learn to love them!

“The most memorable people in life will be the friends who loved you when you weren’t very loveable.” — Thought Catalog

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