During depression both you and your partner probably find yourself wishing things could go back to the way they were. It’s just possible this might happen but more realistically they won’t. The experience of depression will have changed you both and it isn’t something easily erased from memory. Indeed anyone who has experienced depression will tell you they are under a constant shadow as to if and when the symptoms may return. But this same shadow can follow their partner.
They say nothing pulls people together like a common enemy, and depression can sometimes have that effect. For example, it isn’t unknown for couples to find that as a result of their shared experience their lives become more fulfilling than before. Despite the grim times they share some couples find they bond more.
Supporting someone with depression can leave deep scars. Your own feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness may rise to the surface. You may learn things about yourself that are both uplifting and shocking. Despite the trauma you may surprise yourself as to just how resilient you have become. You’ll have learned just how much you can rely on other people and whether the treatments offered were useful.
Accepting a partner warts-and-all can be a hugely empowering thing. This is about as deep as it gets in terms of communication, support, honesty and acceptance. Is it always like this? Unfortunately not. The sad fact is that relationships break down both during and after depression. You may be blamed for the situation. You may be an everyday reminder of the bad times and the vulnerabilities that went with it. But the relationship may suffer from a different perspective. As a carere you may have been supportive uring the worst times but now you feel so exhausted you feel you can’t go through it again.
Relationships can and do adapt to depressive illness. It is possible for couples to work together during the bad times and while depression is symbolised by dark days there is invariably light to look forward to.
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Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.