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.