Remember: It’s complicated, but it’s not about you.
I’m so thankful to not be depressed. Depression might just be one of the worst things ever because it’s as if you’re sinking no matter how hard you try to swim to the surface. It’s as if you’re bound and gagged and no matter what knife you use to slice the bounds, you can’t.
I’m what they call a bubbly, effervescent woman, but I’ve experienced depression in my life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 14.8 million American adults have Major Depressive Disorder per year. That’s a lot of people.
So, whether you’ve been depressed for a few days, during a traumatic incident or breakup, for months or years, or perhaps you haven’t been depressed but know someone who has, chances are you’ve loved someone with depression before. Or been the depressed lover, as it were.
Here are some ways your depressed lover may love you differently than another:
1. We will sometimes emotionally retreat.
Depression is a tricky beast. Your lover may retreat from you due to no fault of your own in order to come with some pretty sad feelings, only to randomly return. And sometimes it may seem as if there’s no rhyme or reason to this pattern.
Know this: it’s not your fault. Your partner may retreat simply so you don’t have to deal with his or her unpleasant feelings and return when the person feels able to give him or herself without dumping a rainy parade on your head. It’s best to give your depressed partner the room to retreat as long as he or she can return without serious intervention.
If your partner is retreating to succumb to a dangerous level of depression, this is when you need to step in. One should only be allowed to wallow for so long before it becomes a huge issue.
2. We may not want sex as often as we used to.
A depressed lover may need less sex because he or she has a low sex drive, or your “blue” mate may seek out more sex to fulfill washing away that sad and dull feeling courtesy of depression. The former scenario is more common than the latter, but quite a few depressed lovers seek sex as therapeutic and will want a lot of touch, foreplay, and sex.
This is fine as long as the person isn’t seeking it outside of the relationship or to avoid dealing with uncomfortable feelings like a sex addiction. On the flip side, if your depressed partner doesn’t want to have sex this can be very hard on you. Talk to your partner openly about this and pay attention to your despondent lover’s bedroom habits.
3. We may seek out a shoulder to cry on that isn’t you.
Back in the day when I felt depressed, I had people I went to because I felt comfortable speaking to them about my lethargic mood. Your lover may decide this is you … or not. Don’t be mad. As long as your partner has someone to confide in so he or she can get past this down mood swing, that’s the most important.
It would be nice if this person was you but perhaps it’s better for your better half to unload on someone else — that way you don’t feel as if the relationship is more of a therapy-patient scenario.
4. We will experience mood swings.
I have friends and have dated men whose depression seemed to come out of nowhere, like some terroristic mood attack on their brains. Don’t be surprised if your partner is happy-go-lucky one minute and then the next day, slowly sinking into the fog of depression.
Sudden mood swings between elation and lows could be manic depression, and that’s not when I’m talking about. A depressed partner may seem fine and then start to drift into a sad state. Doing things to keep your partner active and less-stressed is key, but most importantly, your partner should be able to recognize the impending depression and trying to prevent being bogged down in its claws.
But if someone is severely depressed, he or she is going to have an immensely hard time doing that. You’ll have to be patient if you want to deal with this.
5. We are empathetic toward others with mental health problems.
Your depressed paramour will most likely be an empathetic and kind lover. Knowing what it’s like to deal with a mental health issue, your partner has a different outlook on life than Miss Mary Sunshine, which is a good thing — as long as the person isn’t emo 24/7.
6. We are great listeners.
A depressed lover can be a great listener simply because he or she has spent so many hours attentively listening to the sad and not-so sad voices in his or her head, dueling out reason. Your depressed lover will want to be by your side, as he or she knows how hard it is for anyone to understand his or her own dark thoughts.
7. We can be selfish sometimes.
On the flip side, your great listener/depressed partner can sometimes be selfish. He or she doesn’t mean to be, but depression has this nasty way of making you feel as if it’s just you locked in your own world, with your own morbid thoughts. It’s hard to see someone else’s perspective when trapped in your insular world of depression.
No matter how sad or blue your partner is today, be a supportive partner and see the value in your lover’s life experiences. And chances are, this depression too shall pass.