Living with the Depressed

Me: It's hard to live with someone who gets uncontrollable spells of depression. Generally, what advice would you give to a person in such a situation?

Aati: I'd say don't get too involved. That's the only way to survive it, otherwise you'll both drown. Just stay supportive, but stay far enough to extend a helping hand, not close enough for them to drag you down to the depths too. You'll be helping them doubly, because they need you but the guilt of making your life miserable would be far too great to handle on top of everything else. I know because I've been on both sides of this.

Me: When you say 'don't get too involved', you mean involved in that depressive state of mind?

Aati: Yes, you can probably sense what I am referring to. Becoming something for them to take out their frustration on, feeling like it's your responsibility to help them out, feeling guilty that you might be making it worse or feeling like you're not doing enough to help, and so on. Depression is one of the worst disorders to live with because it tends to reflect onto those around us. Very contagious, very pervasive.

Me: I feel I am comfortable with depression as a psychiatrist, fascinated even. But break down the distance, the doctorly-detachment, and I am as helpless in dealing with it on a personal level as any other human.

Comments

Komal said…
Aati's advice is good. I used to be a person with uncontrollable depression, so... well, nothing, I just thought I'd mention it :P.
mysticservant said…
The best way to protect yourself from people who are under influences that try to latch onto you (including depression), is to make yourself inwardly completely immobile. If you're stoic, and you maintain a clean and healthy state within yourself, then this helps the other person also.
Anonymous said…
i ran away.i have yet to find out if i did the right thing.
Malang said…
I really dont think there is a right answer to this.
As someone who's been treated for depression since childhood I can only describe the state as one of absolute apathy. I recall saying somewhere that its not like one is suicidal but merely that the thought of getting up, getting dressed and...living is so horrific one would rather be dead, every single morning.
Support systems are tricky I think. Depressed people somehow are always pretty good at emotional blackmail via self pity (personal experience) it's incredibly easy to suck people in and then project your misery on to them. I had to actually learn to cut people out of my life rather than depend on them because that was unfair to well-intentioned people, who just wanted to 'be there'.
sarah said…
as someone who lives with a depressed partner, I agree with what Aati says, but honestly its very very difficult to do. Specially when you share your life, day and night with that person. I yearn to be able to detach myself, and perhaps for certain personality types it might be easier. but i have always been extremely sensitive to my surroundings. So to try to detach myself from my partner and not allow his depression to affect me is like trying to change who i am. I still try, but its not not easy.

i would advise that if you are aware that someone suffers from such a condition, don't go deeper into the relationship. I know it sounds terribly selfish, but one doesn't realise what depression means till you live with it. what malang says abt the dread of facing each day is very true. and it breaks my heart to know that my husband faces that each day, but knowing that your partner is in such misery, is probably a very low feeling aswell.

i now love him too much to leave him specially when he is in such a state, but i also know that living with him will slowly take its toll on me also..its tough

i wish there were more support groups in pakistan though, it helps to talk and know other people go through the same things..
Anonymous said…
True. The urge to suck in your partner is sometimes too much. It's simply easier.

Hard as it sounds (and is), the only solution for the depressed is to somehow learn to deal with it, so that the relationship can become a healthy one...

I guess, I have learned to deal with it. But time will tell...
Anonymous said…
Thank you for this. I just stumbled upon this & reading the advice & the comments have helped me. I just broke up with my guy because that's exactly what was happening! There was too much of self pity & the blackmailing.. I became a puking bag for him just because I wanted to 'be there' for him. He would vomit all the negativity on me & expected me not to question or retaliate. And to make things worse, there was no reciprocity to affection. And all this has made me a little bitter as a person. So Thank you for this because this made it easier for me, at this tough phase, to understand why it was important to get out of it.