Life can take such vicious turns that you can never be really ready for it! After a dream destination wedding with the partner of my dreams, my world literally came crashing down after I came to know that my partner suffered from depression.
Even while dating for over a year, I did not have an inkling that he faced from something like this. Initially, we never really discussed this as I was did not know how to exactly react to it! In fact, I didn’t really believe there was something of this sort, defined in medical terms. After talking to a few experts and friends, I realized this is something that really did exist!
The biggest challenge was what came next? How do I deal with it? Confronting him about his depression was never a solution for me. We typically talk about how brain injury or physical impairment affects a person’s preexisting personality. But, we often misunderstand or take for granted disorders like anxiety or clinical depression. Depression can make your partner distant or even at times they might completely pull themselves away. A difficult, emotionally distant and impulsive individual might become extremely difficult as a result of his disability.
I saw my husband pulling away from me. For days, we would be just quiet and we would just talk to each other in monosyllables. It was difficult to break through to him. I would sob endlessly in his absence and when he was back would try to put up a happy face and be all happy and jolly around him.
I didn’t want to run away from him. I loved him the same as the day we got hitched and I wanted to help him heal through this. The following pointers helped me come closer to my partner and I really hope it does to you, too!
Understand the disability first
My biggest mistake has been to never really understand his illness completely. Initially, I thought it was just a phase but then I realized there was so much more to it. He would never really show his frustration to me but would rather go all quiet all of a sudden which made me doubt him on occasions. I even began to doubt whether he wasn’t interested in us, our relationship anymore? Misunderstanding your partner is the worst thing to do if you are trying to help him!
Communication is key
Depression can cause a lot of stress in any relationship but then so many other things can do, too. Communication is the key and initially staying distant and after letting him deal with his issues due to my ignorance, I realized communication was the key for us to string our relationship back together.
Give each other space
If you keep pestering your partner for answers or with questions like ‘what happened’, chances are you will lose him forever. I understood quite late that it’s not just depression that can make a man moody but there are so many other things that can be draining, too. Giving him the space or his time was the most crucial factor in keeping our relationship strong.
Its not ‘You’ vs ‘Him
It’s not a case of ‘You’ vs ‘Him’. Being naïve and worried, I never really understood his disability myself before pestering him with unwanted questions. Most of the times, he would leave the dinner table or our conversations midway as I kept either asking baseless questions or simply was not being helpful enough. Anyone can face any disability any time, the key is to work together and try and heal it.
Trust each other
I have realized that trust is of umpteen importance for us. The more I trust him, the more I find him willing to discuss his issues, his fears and his happy moments with me. Initially, after my outbursts or continuous pestering, he would rarely open up to me or even try to discuss his situation. Slowly as I gave him his space for bad days, I managed to nurse him back towards me and our trust increased in dealing with it together.
Be a reliable partner
He feels often depressed lately, and it does affect our relationship. Sometimes, just the thought of going out, or becoming intimate becomes a difficult task as his lethargy even makes me lose interest in these things, and it does hurt me a lot. But, then I realise when the other day he refused to go to a mall with me, it was just that he was tired and not overtly depressed. Being a reliable partner, is an essential aspect when facing a disability together.
Don’t let others decide for you
My family and friends were left dumbfounded when they knew of this! Their reaction ranged from ‘how did this happen’, ‘what will you do now’, to ‘you should leave him’. I didn’t know how to react to all of this at all. 2 months later, I met a counsellor who advised me to understand and deal the situation with my partner first, and then hear to what the others had to say! In doing so, I realized I wanted to give my best to the marriage and it helped immensely in us staying together!
Develop your own coping mechanism
Developing a coping mechanism is the key to not losing your balance. Initially, I was unaware of how to deal with him or his bad days, but then I realized if I wanted our marriage to work, ‘us’ to work, I needed to understand and not get scared of the phobia that I had developed of hid depression. This included me telling him that I was disappointed, or unhappy, or sad at his behavior occasionally. I realized bottling up my feelings was the worst thing that I could do to him in such situations. Trying and normalizing his situation has helped us the most.
In time, I realized each marriage, each disability and each couple faces different challenge. If you think you love each other and that should be it! It’s never the case, really! It takes a lot of effort and understanding, but mostly so all that needs to be done is to have the will to face it.
Author’s note: This is an extremely personal story from one of our users who wants to stay anonymous. Inclov respects her choice and thanks her for sharing her life story. This is an attempt at highlighting the story of the Other Partner – the person who helps her partner deal with his illness but in return their story is never brought to the fore.