I am an anxious and depressed girl.
I don’t mean that I get unnerved occasionally or life gets a little overwhelming sometimes.
When my anxiety or depression strikes, I grab my chest because I physically cannot breathe and I gasp for air, I cry until I gag, I stay in bed for hours and hours at a time, refusing to talk to anybody, I take medication to sleep just so I can get a break from my racing, jumbled thoughts.
If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, or God forbid, both like I do, then you understand the suffering and the pain. Needless to say, this is a very, very personal article for me to write. My anxiety and depression has worsened in the past nine months and it’s a struggle everyday, but I know that my mental health issues don’t just effect me. One of the people who it effects most is my boyfriend. When you love someone; their problems become your problems, their pain becomes your pain, their bad days become your bad days.
I turned my boyfriend down many times over when he first expressed interest in me because I wanted to save him, to protect him. I knew what he would be forced to face if we were to enter into a relationship together and I wanted to save him from that, even if it meant me losing an amazing guy. But, he persisted and he made me feel as if I wasn’t as broken as I thought I was, when in reality, I was still broken, but he just chose to love every shattered piece of me. He loves me regardless of every bad day, every flaw, every hysterical mental breakdown, every insecurity, and every mood swing he watches me go through.
He loves me regardless of any of it and has chosen to stay, even after seeing the worst sides of me. He has seen my struggles and he has met the demons I battle in my head every day. He loses sleep to comfort me, and throws away his pride during an argument just to hold me. He carries my stress on his shoulders, just so I don’t have to carry it alone. He has given me a glimmer of hope that no one else has ever been able to. He has shown me an honest and understanding love that I never knew existed until I met him, and for that, I am so thankful.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for depression or anxiety. There’s no way to make it just disappear so you can be happy again. There are stereotypes and stigmas that we face every single day, but to have that one person that does their best to understand you and believes in you, is the best medicine for it.
From the other side of it, I understand that loving someone who suffers is very confusing and very painful. You don’t understand what they’re feeling, but you wish you could take it away. You wonder if it’s something that you’re doing wrong, or if you’re causing it, but you’re not. Here are a few things your anxious or depressed partner needs you to know about their condition…
It’s not your fault
When your anxious or depressed partner spirals out of control in front of you, you may feel as if you had something to do with it, like you’re causing them pain, but you’re not. Understand that those who are anxious or depressed generally have more underlying issues such as insecurities, abandonment issues, or other mental health issues. We tend to be much more sensitive to things than most people and can take them much more seriously without meaning to. Don’t take these episodes personally.
We cannot control it
I remember the first time I ever had an anxiety attack in front of my boyfriend. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as if he was witnessing a bad accident. He looked terrified. I knew exactly what was happening to me because it used to happen on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, but he had never witnessed one before. He was scared because he didn’t understand why I couldn’t breath, or what was happening to me. He didn’t know what to do.
Now, as soon as he can see one coming on, he holds me tight, and calmly whispers “deep breaths, baby, in through your nose, out through your mouth.” By him comforting me and working with me through my breathing, I’ve actually been able to get my attacks more under control. He doesn’t understand what’s going on in my head during an attack, but he is still there for me the best he can be and most importantly, he understands that I can’t change it.
He knows that it’s a mental condition that I suffer from and I don’t just decide that it’s a convenient time to gasp for air and cry. I can’t control it, but I do my best to gain control back when it happens.
We appreciate when you take notice
My boyfriend understands that his mom brings on my anxiety. She is nice, but just not a warm person and I don’t do well around people like that. When we are around his family, he takes notice of my expressions, my breathing, and other small signs. He’ll hold my hand a little tighter, consistently check on me, and pull me close. If I do begin to feel a little overwhelmed, he’ll nonchalantly pull me aside so we can have a moment together and talk through it. The fact that he puts in the effort means the world to me instead of just throwing me to the sharks and expecting me to swim to shore on my own.
So if your partner suffers, take notice! Look for small signs that they’re uncomfortable or having a moment, especially in public. It’s much more comforting to know that my boyfriend can see my anxiety rising to the surface with a single glance. We don’t have to make a scene and I don’t have to explain myself. He just gets it.
It helps when you just listen, hold us, or ask us what you can do
Anxiety and depression do not necessarily have to be set off because of a particular person or event. It can happen out of nowhere. We understand that it’s a very confusing concept to those who don’t suffer, because it’s confusing to us too. I can’t always explain to my boyfriend why an episode occurred and if that happens and I’m at a loss for words, he just holds me and asks “baby, what can I do?” And I usually respond with “just love me.” That’s the best possible thing you can do for them in that moment. Just love them and remind them that you’re there to stay.
We are trying our hardest
When someone you love struggles with one or both of these conditions, it can be very frustrating, especially if the case is severe, but please, please remember what they are struggling with daily. I promise you that the person struggling is more frustrated than you are. They are fighting every single day to gain control over their own minds. They feel lost, weak, and hopeless. I beg you to please remember that they are trying their absolute hardest to fight these demons and overcome these mental health issues. Just be patient with them and stand by them while they fight.
Do you or someone you love suffer from mental illness? How have you helped them or how has someone helped you?