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Being in a relationship with someone going through a mental illness can be quite a challenge. Be it depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, you always wish you could do something drastic to make her feel happy and alive again. But the reality is a bit morbid for those undergoing any form of a mental health issue and even if it may seem like they might be pushing you away, they really need you by their side.
There is still light at the end of the tunnel and even though it may seem like she’s a different person while fighting her illness, you must remember that her illness doesn’t define the person she really is. So if your girlfriend is battling depression, here are ten ways you can lend her your support and be there for her during trying times.
Play The Role Of A Boyfriend
Even though you sympathise with her condition and you may empathise with it too, remember that you aren’t a psychiatrist or a psychologist. So don’t give her advice on how to overcome her mental state of being. Instead make yourself her sounding board and let her vent and cry as much as she wants to. The best thing you can do for her is to comfort her.
Never Say ‘Don’t Be Sad’
Be mindful of the words you use with her. People going through depression don’t need to hear words like ‘don’t be sad’, ‘it will all be okay’ or ‘it’s a phase and it will pass’. No it isn’t a phase and it won’t just pass like that. The person going through it really needs to make an extra effort for him or her to overcome it. They always need that extra push to get out of the grip of depression and lead a happy life thereafter. So make sure you are more encouraging than callous with your words.
Encourage Her To Heal
You have to take a step forward and constantly encourage her to heal. If she has chosen a healing strategy, support her all the way through. It could be visiting a professional to seek help or even medicating herself on time in order to get better. Whatever it is, be there to see her through her healing process. If she’s complacent about her healing (which she might be) then push her to go seek professional help. You can start by booking her an appointment and going with her to the doctor.
Turn Every Conversation Into an Optimistic One
There will be times where her conversations will be remorseful and full of resentment. She might experience a flux of sadness or anger. Try and turn these conversations into happier ones. Easier said than done, I know, but only you have the power to do that. If she is venting about what doesn’t feel good, ask her straight up what will make her feel good. If she tells you about her suffering, ask her what will comfort her instead.
Understand Her Triggers And Respond Accordingly
Depression also brings about a lot of repressed anger and rage. There are a lot unresolved emotions that amalgamate into depression and anxiety. So she may get upset and angry about things that may not bother you. For instance you not spending enough time with her due to work constraints can that upset her because she has very little capacity left in her to understand anyone else’s constraints. Remember, it’s all temporary and you have to be very patient. Recognise these triggers that get her angry and try and work around them.
Maintain A Healthy Distance Between Yourself And Other Women
She may be insecure with your dealings with other women. This is not because she is inherently insecure as a person. Her jealousy is not jealousy but fear of losing you. She may think she is going to lose you to other women who aren’t going through a mental health issue or her illness will scare you away and look for ‘normalcy’ elsewhere. Make sure you are around women who respect what you and your girlfriend have and only encourage her healing along with you. Don’t go looking for distractions! Help her heal instead!
Encourage Her To Partake In Activities With You
There are a bunch of things that help relieve stress and help build upon the lost enthusiasm and adrenaline. You can take time away from your busy life and pick up an activity with your girlfriend. It will really help her. It could be learning an art form together, going for a hiking trip or even a beach holiday. Do it often enough so she feels rejuvenated and starts to shed off some of the dead weight on her.
Tell Her You Love Her Often
The three magical words are magical indeed. Of course you have to usher in some encouragement for her every now and then. Apart from encouraging her to do better and complimenting her every now and then, don’t stop telling her you love her. She needs to hear these three words more than ever. She may be feeling lonely and might think there is no one who knows or understands her. You can change all that by telling her every now and then how much you love her and how you will always be there for her.
Give Her Time And Space To Heal And Grow
While physical proximity is a must in times like these, you should also encourage her to go back to her old self and what she enjoys doing. That is a healing mechanism and your encouragement will help. Sometimes she may need time off from everyone and everything. Grant her that time. She may want to share some silence while you are with her. Respect that and give her that time. If she enjoyed things like yoga, cooking, writing or reading etc. before and doesn’t indulge in these activities now, keep encouraging her to go back to her old lifestyle and start her healing on her own.
Don’t Give Up
I know it’s tough. It’s tough on you too. But when you took that step to hold her hand and give her your love, you also gave her a promise of being there for her through thick and thin. She would do the same for you, if the need ever arose. If it gets too much for you to handle (which it might, I won’t tell you otherwise) switch off once a while, go hang with your buddies, go play a sport, get traction from your work but don’t give up. The minute you give up, she will give up too and become averse to healing and people in general.
Depression isn’t easy to deal with. It’s quite a task to be there for someone who is undergoing it but remember, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. The person just needs positivity and encouragement and your presence to make it through. So if your girlfriend is battling depression, be there for her by keeping these ten things in mind.