Navigating a Fun New Relationship Where You Both Battle Depression
In any relationship, especially a new one, it’s important to know how to navigate the waters of mental health. One person dealing with depression is hard enough. But when both of you struggle, it’s even harder. Sometimes the darkness descends on each of you on different days and sometimes on the same ones. The bad days pass eventually, but they take a lot out of both of you. There are ways to make a relationship between two people with depression work, though. It just takes a lot of patience, understanding, and, most importantly, love. Here are some ways to help you navigate through it all. Happy World Mental Health Day tomorrow (hug a friend for no reason).
Cover Photo: praetorianphoto (Getty Images)
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Be Gentle With Your Partner
This one is important because, at the worst points of our “bad days,” we forget to be gentle. It’s easy to lash out when you’re upset, but that won’t heal the depression. It won’t do much of anything, really. So be gentle. When the depression is too strong, when it seems like everything is hopeless, don’t take it out on your partner. They're there to give you hope when it feels like there is none. You’re in this together and it’s important to remember that. Depression is a lot less lonely when there’s somebody by your side.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Being gentle with yourself is crucial, too. When you’re in the midst of a depressive spell, it’s easy to blame yourself. Depression likes to trick you into thinking that you’re less than, that you’re unworthy of love, that you’ll never be OK (all of which is bullshit). Even when you barely get anything done at work, spend half the day sleeping, or eat nothing but pizza rolls and Doritos, you are still OK. And on days that you’re not, guess what? It’s OK to not be OK. So be gentle with yourself, especially on your worst days.
Don’t Try to Solve Their Issues; Just Listen to Them
It’s a natural instinct, especially for men, to try to solve every problem that your partner faces. When they're hurting, it’s natural to want to help them, but sometimes, a person doesn’t want anything to be solved. Sometimes, they just want somebody to listen. The problem with playing Superman for your partner when the depression hits is that you’ve now put even more pressure on them to "get better." If you fail to "fix them" (and you will), they’ll feel guilty, like they let you down for not immediately getting better the minute after you did something especially sweet. Nice words and romantic gestures are good, but sometimes listening is the best gift you could ever offer your partner.
Don’t Make It About You
When your partner feels depressed, don’t make it about you. Again, it’s human nature (especially when you’re depressed yourself), to assume everything in the world revolves around you -- good, bad, or otherwise. More often than not, though, you don't have that kind of power. If you struggle depression, you will naturally assume that whenever somebody else is upset, it’s probably your fault. But it’s probably not. And constantly asking, “Are you mad at me?” will almost certainly add unneeded stress to both of you. Not everything is about you, so stop trying to make it that way.
Above All, Have Lots and Lots of Sex
Honestly, when it comes to depression and relationships, there’s no telling when somebody may or may not be in the mood. So, when they are, it’s good to go at it like a couple of bunnies. Not only will releasing some of that pent-up energy do wonders for your brain and body, it’s also an act of intimacy that really can bring two people closer together. There’s a time and a place for reverse cowboy, downward-facing dog, and whatever weird position you and yours like to utilize. But sometimes, face-to-face and pelvis-to-pelvis connection is just what the doctor ordered to combat depression.
Learn Each Other’s Love Language
If you’re unfamiliar with love languages, it’s a list of universal ways people both give and receive love. The five types of languages are: touch, time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. For example, touch means "Hold my hand while I make these tacos." Time means, "Let’s make tacos together." Gifts means, "Here’s a taco." Acts of service means, "I made you a taco." And words of affirmation means, "I really like this taco."
To be serious, though, understanding each other’s love language can go a long way in navigating a relationship, whether the individuals are depressed or not. Giving time or touch is sometimes all it takes to let your partner know that this, too, shall pass.