Sunday, 16 July 2017

How to support a depressed partner while maintaining your own mental health

an article from the Guardian on 10 July 2017

Looking after someone with chronic depression can be hard, as Poorna Bell discovered when her husband became ill. The first rule, she says, is to look after yourself.

Illustration of couple lying on bed
‘If your partner is depressed, you have to look after yourself or you won’t be any use to them.’
Illustration: Nick Shepherd

There is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self; just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems – in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression – is complicated.

Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed – the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.

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