Living with a depressed person can be emotional torture. Feelings of helplessness, becoming overwhelmed and utter confusion are common. As the caregiver, you may take the brunt of the anger and indifference that your loved one exudes.
But the good news is that there are things that you can do to keep yourself together.
Consider these tips:
- Practice good self-care. It is natural to focus on the person that is sick, and you may feel compelled to do everything you can to bring back the person your loved one use to be. It is very easy to lose sight of your own care needs. When this happens you undermine your own health and your ability to get through the depression crisis. Keep your own life going, get out of the house and find outlets that help you relax and stay healthy.
- Find help for yourself. Living with a depressed loved one is very stressful, and it is easy to get sucked into the gloom. Find a support group, an on-line community, a counselor or a friend to confide in. Overcoming depression is a battle, and you need support to maintain your own well-being. Make sure you monitor yourself for signs that you are becoming depressed.
- Do not blame yourself. You are not the problem; depression is the problem. Nothing you have done could have caused your loved one’s depression. He or she may say that you are to blame, but you have to trust that it is not true. You cannot fix your loved one’s depression. He or she alone needs to commit to recovering.
- Educate yourself on depression. Learning about depression and the toll it can take can help you see your situation in a less emotional way; you will be able to identify when your loved one’s behavior is a result of his or her depression.
- Love and support. Offer your love and support by expressing your concern and offering suggestions on ways he or she might get help. Be slow and cautious, as you do not want to put your loved one on the defensive.
- Consider your own reactions. Living with a depressed person is painful. Painful situations trigger intense feelings and reactions. Look for patterns in your reactions when intense feelings are triggered. Jot down how you react when you are angry, sad, overwhelmed, hopeless or afraid. Understanding your own emotional patterns can make it easier for you to identify when you are being emotionally tossed about by your loved one’s depression. With this knowledge, try to step back and maintain emotional independence.
- Don’t judge yourself too harshly. This is tough stuff, and it is not going to happen overnight. Try to adhere to these suggestions, but also give yourself permission to stumble from time to time.
- Let go of the past. The relationship you once had with your loved one may never come back. Overcoming depression does not mean that your loved one and your relationship will just go back to the way they use to be. Living through depression changes people and relationships. Instead, try to learn and discover how to live with your loved one in the here and now.