"I can't have a relationship because I have regular periods of depression. It's not fair to others."
I hear this sentiment often. I don't agree with it, and here's why.
To listen to the podcast version, click play
Tax and accounts professionals work crazy hours every April and December. Should they swear off relationships?
Academics who take PhDs are unbearable - for more than a year! Should they exit all relationships before starting?
Doctors, lawyers, police, nurses, and other professionals disappear at the oddest times to deal with emergencies, and they typically work extra over holidays. Should they stay single?
Of course they should not. And neither should you.
Depression Fuels Negative Thinking
|Don't listen to the depression dementors |
Depression is a mental health issue because it affects perception. Typically, depression removes the joy from life and focuses on the negative.
Depression is like living with Dementors.
So while the sentiment appears to come from care, I think the idea that you have to go through life alone and without the joys of partnership is really depression talking.
Depression is sneaky. It whispers that you're no good, can't be good, won't be good, don't deserve happiness.
It's nasty, and it's insidious. Don't listen to it.
Bet you're thinking that living with depression is still a challenge. You'd be right. So here's an idea for you: ethical depression.
Being Ethical About Depression = Practical Depression Management
Planning for when your dips hit helps you through periods of depression. If you work up a system, you can navigate the worst of it, reducing the burden on you and your loved ones.
To help yourself, you need to do some prep.
- Know your patterns
- Know your triggers
- Know what self-care routine you need to maintain your best health
- Map out your support network
- Have a detailed plan for managing your dips
- Set up rules of thumb that help you identify an emergency
- Have an emergency plan
Basically, this is all the stuff you will have put together with your therapist.
With the basics in place, you need to add two things:
Be responsible for your behaviour. Depression is a mental health issue but as adults we are responsible for our actions.
So, if you're angry when you're dipping, learn new behaviour. If you know there are periods when medication helps, figure that when/what/how and do it.
Communicate with your partner. Loving partners often hope to manage our troubles for us, which is simply not possible. So you'll need to have a series of conversations.
This is tricky because a) each episode of depression will be slightly different, b) your circumstances change over time, and c) it takes time and experience to discover what your partner is happy to do, and d) your partner's situation will change too.
Example: at 20, if you're at university and sharing a flat with roomies, managing depression differs completely from when you're 38, managing a team, and parenting a kid or furries.
Then, when you're 60, and retiring from a career and coming to terms with being older, periods of depression can really hit your identity and relationships, and managing it is different again.
Talk and Keep Talking
If you treat your depression like a business client who needs to be managed, you'll find it easier to deal with.
Know what you need, and discuss your thoughts and needs with your partner regularly. Do this while you're in a good space for maximum effect.
After every dip, have a post-mortem and update your thoughts on what's going on, and see if you need to make any changes.
|You deserve love and companionship|
PS, should you need help, hire me! I'm sensible, practical, very private and affordable. Also, I work online internationally.
Love, by John Hain from Pixabay