During a depressive episode, your marriage or committed relationship can feel as if it’s under a cloud, with negative energy, loss of intimacy, and an absence of regular social outings. Even so, there are ways for you to sustain your bond while also supporting your partner. Each of the ideas listed here were offered by loved ones who have experienced bipolar depression and know what they need from their partners.
#1 Empower Them
When your loved
one is experiencing depression, you might feel compelled to assume the position
of gatekeeper or act as an extension of their health practitioner. Allow your
partner the space to manage their own wellness plan. This doesn’t mean leaving
them to feel abandoned; it’s about showing them that you trust them to take
responsibility for their own care and diagnosis. Be there to help when help is needed.
#2 Practice Patience
a habit of compassion by listening actively and patiently—both more frequently
and more deeply, and without reacting or judging. Listen to learn instead of to
respond. Having patience also means that when you’re feeling discouraged, keep
in mind that depression does not last forever, and that finding the right
treatment protocol may take time. Keep your hope alive; after all, stability is
#3 Mind Your Defenses
Trying to not take things personally can be one of the more difficult habits to master, but it may also be one of the most important. Aim to detach from hurtful actions or criticisms by recognizing that these are symptoms of the diagnosis. Achieve this, and you will be better able to provide compassion. Of course, it is still important to hold certain boundaries in place; those can be agreed upon during an open conversation when the time, and mood, is right.
#4 Open Lines of Communication
Being able to talk freely and honestly about your partner’s depression enables both of you to feel closer and on the same path in managing the diagnosis. When your loved one is in a depressive state, it’s natural for them to not want to communicate; therefore, if you can gently and lovingly initiate and encourage conversation (without expectation), you can prevent a tendency to withdraw.
#5 Gently Encourage Socializing
It’s natural for someone with depression to want to withdraw from social activities. This can be frustrating for the spouse without bipolar and may lead to boredom. It’s important to be mindful and not allow resentment to build; rather, keep the bond you share together alive. Don’t give up encouraging your partner to try little outings together: going for a walk, taking a car ride, or venturing out for a Sunday-afternoon ice cream.
#6 Prioritize Your Own Well-Being
stressful on its own, let alone while watching the person you love go through a
dark time. It can also feel lonely. It’s important to let go of guilty feelings
when doing things that bring you joy. Beyond the obvious benefits to yourself, these
experiences will bolster you to be at your best while you help your partner. Commit
to your own well-being by scheduling time for workouts, hobbies, friends, and
more. Enter them into a calendar to ensure that you’re not putting them off.
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