Best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

But I know that he’s doing his best, and so am I. He doesn’t forget because he’s lazy or doesn’t care. If anything, it’s like he cares too much.” It’s important not to feel personally attacked if they seem down or unattached to the relationship. It can be hard, especially on the worst days, to see through the mental fog of depression and be fully present and engaged, even with the person you love most Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.

best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

Apr 28, 2017 I’ve just helped my boyfriend Rob start a 2–6 week partial hospitalization program to manage his Major Depressive Disorder (MDD, also known as Clinical Depression). Yes, I have Rob’s permission to write about this (). I’d also like to note here that I’m not a doctor…I have just done a lot of research. If you have , . I decided to write this post because many of the people in our lives have little to no experience (personally or via a loved one) when it comes to Anxiety or Depression.

Not surprisingly, they have a lot of questions and misconceptions about MDD. Sometimes, I imagine how our society will talk about MDD and Anxiety years from now. Why can’t we speak about MDD the way we talk about other diseases?

Mostly invisible, somewhat genetically correlated, exacerbated by bad habits and extenuating circumstances, it’s tough to explain. Right now, most people get the wrong idea when they hear someone say “I have depression.” Rob went from a highly-motivated business owner working 60–70 hours a week and loving life to someone who sleeps 17 hours a day and has trouble getting out of bed.

How exactly do you explain that to your friends and family? How do you even understand it yourself, if you’ve never experienced it? I’m ashamed to say now that at times I was absolutely frustrated with him.

Why couldn’t he force himself to work? Cleaning our apartment seemed easy enough — why couldn’t he do it? I love this man, and was determined to figure it out. So he and I did what we always do when we face a massive challenge.

We researched the hell out of it and came up with a plan. Here’s what I learned that surprised me. 1. Depression isn’t “feeling sad” — it’s about the physical brain. A healthy brain develops over time and is directly affected by a series of positive habits — getting from exercise (improves mood), from achieving goals and (), from , ().

(but you probably knew that?) — rather, it’s the things you do in life that directly affect your brain (the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus), which in turn drives your emotions. It takes time for nerves to grow, which is the reason that it takes 4–6 weeks for antidepressants to have an effect. Normally, there’s a healthy balance of serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin that contribute to a (mostly) positive outlook on life, the ability to view the world with a neutral perspective, and provide the energy needed to accomplish things.

When you stop doing those things — exercising, drinking enough water, getting enough restorative sleep or sunlight — you run the risk of a downward spiral that can lead to Depression. The scientific community doesn’t really agree on the exact cause of Depression, only that it’s probably a combination of biochemical imbalance and behavioral modification (Add a on how readily the mainstream media latches onto the “chemical imbalance” theory). But most experts seem to agree that once you pass a certain level of severity, Depression can become too difficult to recover from without the assistance of therapy or medication (think of it like Diabetes — someone can be “pre-diabetic” and with positive life changes, they can avoid Diabetes).

This collapse can happen slowly over time. For us, it took several months of Rob having odd hours working alone as an entrepreneur for MDD to take hold (see: poor sleep schedule, poor exercise habits, plus a lack of social interaction). We adopted the “muscle through it” attitude, which ended up being the exact opposite of what we needed to do. Depression isn’t something you can just quit, just like you can’t will yourself to stop having diabetes. 2. There are different levels of severity when it comes to Depression.

And it’s more common than you think! , but more people have it than you think. According to the latest estimates from the , more than 300 million people are now living with Depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

That is almost 1 in 5 people. And it’s WAY more common for entrepreneurs — . For some, Depression can last only a couple weeks and naturally be phased out as part of structured recovery — getting back into the swing of thing with a normal schedule of healthy habits. For others, Depression is chronic and can last their entire lives (for most, it would appear, it comes and goes in waves).

It can take many forms — irritability, lack of interest, social isolation — the list goes on. Sometimes Depression can result from prolonged rumination on a specific traumatic event — a death in the family, job loss, postpartum depression. Sometimes, like what happened to Rob, your life looks pretty perfect on paper and there’s no triggering event.

Strangely, studies show that can contribute to relief of MDD symptoms (like a promotion, or marriage, etc.). So it’s different for everyone — which perhaps is what makes it so difficult to study. 3. Having depression can feel for some like the flu, or the worst hangover you’ve ever had. When I asked Rob what it was like, he said it felt a lot like when you wake up in the morning with the worst kind of hangover. Here’s how he described it (I’m paraphrasing here): Imagine that your body feels heavy and your bones ache.

You get waves of unpleasantness. You feel gross, unworthy of love. You feel guilt over how much money you spent on beer the night before, and how you are now wasting your day hungover.

You can’t force yourself to get out of bed, let alone take a shower or make food. And then comes the self-loathing. Which leads to ruminating. What was the stupid thing you said to that one person last night?

Clearly something worth a little anxiety. All the while, thoughts of suicide and wanting to not be alive are dancing in the back of your brain like a creepy annoying song that is stuck in your head. While this was horrifying to hear, it gave me some context.

. It sounds exhausting. It’s also to get excited about the future when you have MDD, which negatively colors the way your loved one with MDD might perceive the odds that treatment will help. 4. You should treat victims of depression and anxiety like someone who has just discovered they have a serious chronic illness.

There have been times in the last year and a half of working through this where I wished that I could tell people that Rob had some other weird, but more socially acceptable disease. If people understood the disease, I knew they would show up and help him.

They would also recognize the fear and pressure that I — girlfriend, loved one, quasi-caretaker — was feeling, and offer us help and support. When Rob posted about his hospitalization plans on Facebook, friends and family came forward with many comments like “We are proud of you!” and “It takes so much courage to get the help you need!” But should it? I agree that it took courage, and again I know everyone wanted to be supportive, but it’s only because of the social stigma that one needs courage to deal with a very real illness.

You would never tell your friend “Becky, I’m so proud of you! It takes such courage to go to the hospital for your cancer treatment!” If you are a friend or family member for a loved one with depression, bring them casserole. Or offer to run an errand for them. If you want to get them gifts, laundry service gift cards or cleaning service certificates would go miles and miles (basic things are hard, remember?). Small acts of kindness are enough to demonstrate that you understand, and validate their feelings.

Or just show up to hang out. Being there in silence is still supportive. Their pain is real, and sometimes deadly. Treat it seriously like the disease it is. Saying things like “snap out of it” or “what do you have to be depressed about?” are obviously insensitive and (even if you mean well), I might kick you. 5. There are actually a few different treatment plans that provide a course of action that’s reliable — but it can take a while.

The most frustrating part of watching my number one human go through this process is that I wanted instant relief for him, more than anything. But it takes time to find the right balance of meds and treatment. It’s a highly personalized treatment plan, and no two people respond the exact same way to medication or therapy. I could go through the various symptoms and treatment strategies, but does a better job than I ever could.

Different people find different processes that work for them. 6. Not everyone is on MDD medication for the rest of their life. I was relieved when the doctor informed me that for some, antidepressant medication is more like a runway — it’s designed to lift the symptoms of depression long enough to develop positive habits to sustain the right biochemical balance. The average time for depression medication/treatment is . I was under the impression before that if you had Depression, you would automatically have it for life.

That being said, there are obviously many people who suffer from chronic depression and can be expected to go through episodes for extended periods of time. that 24% of patients observed had another episode of depression within 12 weeks of recovery. The good news? There’s no conclusive evidence (that we have been able to find) that MDD is a lifelong disease.

There’s just not enough data on it yet. Is it possible? Definitely. 7. Help is out there, but finding the right treatment has been harder than we thought. After several months of slow decline, Rob and I read read book and book. They both cover a lot of what I’ve mentioned here in great detail, and gave us some perspective and hope. For 12 weeks (as The Depression Cure book suggested), we took the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change () seriously. It was really hard, but we saw great improvement for several weeks.

In fact, at the end of the program Rob’s doctor concluded that he was no longer clinically depressed. But it was difficult to sustain, so once again we are back to finding alternatives. We’re hopeful that the program will help. It’s more serious approach. As Rob says, “Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.” As the partner of a loved one struggling with MDD, all I wanted to do was help.

Sometimes, I lost my patience. Sometimes and I’d get mad over trivial things like chores and procrastination. I felt guilt that I couldn’t take his pain away. Nothing made me feel better about the situation other than actively looking for solutions to the problem. When your loved one is too depressed to pick up the phone or open their mail, you might have to step in to make sure that you’re both getting the support you need.

The following is advice for both of you — even if you are not currently depressed, these tactics will help to prevent you from slipping into Depression yourself while you’re helping your loved one. Things that helped us: Be social. Ask for help. , which control motivation and drive.

People with MDD tend to have a false sense that they are not worthy of love and that their presence is a burden. So please, call a friend up.

who are fighting MDD and hear their stories. Exercise. If you can change one single thing about your life, exercise more. I know, it sucks at first. But literally every book and I have ever read on Depression says that , increase your productivity, boost your mood, and .

Do it! It will take at least 3 weeks of this for you to notice a lasting effect, so be patient with yourself. This is the thing we both struggle with the most, but yielded the greatest benefits. Arm yourself with knowledge. Looking at this like a science experiment and a problem to solve rather than an intangible frustrating blob of sadness will help you form a plan and stick to it, whether you’re the one with MDD or you’re trying to help someone.

Promise. Plus, knowing how to separate the person from the disease is imperative. Talk to a professional. Start with your Primary Care Physician. Tell him/her that you’ve been feeling depressed for a while, tell them that you are worried you might have MDD. Depending on how they are structured, they might suggest an antidepressant there (or a series of tests to rule out Thyroid issues, etc.).

They will likely suggest that you see a therapist as well. If your insurance won’t cover it, . I also highly recommend attending a meeting near you. or write every day. Track your recovery process and reward yourself often to stay motivated.

Depending on what’s easy for you to keep up with, . We like , mostly because it’s satisfying, and can help you track your mood with data drawn from your entry. This step is important, because it will be easier for your care providers to determine a course of treatment and may even speed up your recovery process.

Stop ruminating. Ruminating, or over-thinking, is a pretty common symptom of Anxiety and Depression. . So how can you prevent yourself from ruminating? (Try ), create a disruption prompt list (a list of detail-oriented prompts that you can refer to and think on instead of ruminating — like what your perfect summer day would be like, or details of your dream home). for many people. And restorative sleep is crucial for recovery. So having solid coping mechanisms for rumination to make sure you get rest is really important.

Come up with a scale to communicate. For Rob and I, we have several inside joke scales so we can quick check in with each other about our moods. We used to call the early days we dated “asteroid days” when we both felt so unbelievably good that the world looked like the apocalyptic movies did right before an asteroid or alien spaceship crash-landed on earth. The I-could-die-happy days. Today, we use a few different scales to communicate what we need to each other.

There are a few that doctors use, which could help. But I’d recommend also having a 1–100 scale, where you clearly have a go-to-the-hospital number (like “5”).

Good days might be an 80, bad days might be a 20. Write them all down and track them against your habits and triggers. A quick look across the table at a party, you can simply say “17” and your partner knows that it’s time to go fix things. Know that this isn’t your fault. If you are in love with someone with MDD, know this isn’t your fault and it wasn’t caused by you. Nor can you single-handedly manage their recovery.

It’s really important to set some boundaries with your partner and figure out what your limits are. Obviously everyone’s relationship is different, and you need to figure out what works for you. But don’t lose sight of who you are to them — you are their other half, their love, their sounding board and support.

You are not their doctor, therapist, case worker or psychiatrist. Make sure they continue to know how much you love and respect them, and that you’re going to be there for them no matter what. If you’re reading this and realizing that you are trying to be their doctor, therapist, caretaker and significant other, you should get your own therapist ASAP.

Remember that it’s okay that you’re doing well even if they are suffering — you can’t be a lifeboat if you’re sinking yourself. And if they love you, they want you to be happy. Get some “you” time in, and don’t feel guilty for continuing to do things in life that make you happy. Again, you don’t want to slip into Depression yourself. Whatever you do, whether you have MDD or you love someone who has MDD, remember that you’re not alone and that there are resources out there to help.

The most important thing is to be open to talking about it and ask for support. I have known many people who suffered from MDD, and most of them fully recovered with time. There’s new information every day, and that gives us hope. Thanks for reading.

Take care of yourself. Love, Jenn P.S. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t mention my own mental health, which is to say that I have had Generalized Anxiety Disorder for many years now and I’m pursuing treatment as well. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about Rob and MDD. So more on that another time.


best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he - Dating Someone With Depression (5 Things to Know & 7 Things to Do)


best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

Overview Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.

Symptoms Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include: • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others.

Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why. Depression symptoms in children and teens Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences.

• In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight. • In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.

Depression symptoms in older adults Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as: • Memory difficulties or personality changes • Physical aches or pain • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things • Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men When to see a doctor If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as you can.

If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, any health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. When to get emergency help If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts: • Call your doctor or mental health professional. • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. • Reach out to a close friend or loved one. • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community. If you have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person.

Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room. Causes It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as: • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains.

The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes. • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.

• Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.

• Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression. Risk factors Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age.

More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment. Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include: • Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic • Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems • Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or having variations in the development of genital organs that aren't clearly male or female (intersex) in an unsupportive situation • History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease • Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication) Complications Depression is a serious disorder that can take a terrible toll on you and your family.

Depression often gets worse if it isn't treated, resulting in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life. Examples of complications associated with depression include: • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes • Pain or physical illness • Alcohol or drug misuse • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems • Social isolation • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide • Self-mutilation, such as cutting • Premature death from medical conditions Prevention There's no sure way to prevent depression.

However, these strategies may help. • Take steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and boost your self-esteem. • Reach out to family and friends, especially in times of crisis, to help you weather rough spells.

• Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening. • Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms. • Brown AY. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 17, 2016. • Research report: Psychiatry and psychology, 2016-2017. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayo.edu/research/departments-divisions/department-psychiatry-psychology/overview?_ga=1.199925222.939187614.1464371889.

Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Depressive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Jan.

23, 2017. • Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression/Overview. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Depression: What you need to know. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-what-you-need-to-know/index.shtml.

Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • What is depression? American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Depression. NIH Senior Health. https://nihseniorhealth.gov/depression/aboutdepression/01.html. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Children’s mental health: Anxiety and depression. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/depression.html#depression. Accessed. Jan. 23, 2017. • Depression and complementary health approaches: What the science says. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/depression-science. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Depression. Natural Medicines.

https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/medical-conditions/d/depression.aspx. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Natural medicines in the clinical management of depression. Natural Medicines. http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/ce/CECourse.aspx?cs=naturalstandard&s=ND&pm=5&pc=15-111. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • The road to resilience. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx.

Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Simon G, et al. Unipolar depression in adults: Choosing initial treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Stewart D, et al. Risks of antidepressants during pregnancy: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Kimmel MC, et al. Safety of infant exposure to antidepressants and benzodiazepines through breastfeeding.

http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Bipolar and related disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Jan. 23, 2017. • Hirsch M, et al. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for treating depressed adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home.

Accessed Jan. 24, 2017. • Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 31, 2017. • Krieger CA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 2, 2017.


best dating someone with major depressive disorder because he

I live with , too, which is difficult. But, to be honest, I’d choose living with over my depression any day. Over the years, I’ve pretty well through a combination of medication, , and lots of cuddle time with my guinea pigs. My husband, TJ, though, still experiences . And watching him struggle has given me a whole new appreciation for how heart-wrenching it is for partners to often be bystanders and unable to help with an illness.

Somehow, it feels worse to see him depressed than experiencing it myself. It’s taken me a long time to truly learn that. We’ve been together for a decade now, but it’s only been a year or so since I started to be supportive versus trying to fix everything.

A mix of therapy, working through the issue with friends, and improved communication have helped me analyze why I do this…and how to change it. Old habits die hard Before I learned how to really help my husband, I used to treat him in the only way I knew how. I grew up in an abusive household and learned at a young age that to avoid harm, I should do whatever I had to do to keep my abusers happy.

Unfortunately, this turned into an unhealthy habit, carrying over to people who weren’t trying to hurt me, like my husband. I became a super-pleaser…a smotherer. But in trying to make TJ feel better, I was actually pushing him away and making him feel like he couldn’t share his depression.

“It was pretty annoying,” he confesses, recalling my behavior. “One of the problems with smothering is that it doesn’t feel like I’m allowed to be sad. It’s like I’m already feeling messed up, but then I’m not allowed to be messed up or sad.” Over time, I realized how much I was negating his feelings by trying to cheer him up all the time.

Something that I was doing in my mind to “keep him safe” was actually harmful and causing him to feel . I’ve since learned that I’d been practicing “” — as sex and relationships educator Kate McCombs calls it — for years without realizing it. I was denying my husband’s autonomy by demanding positive feelings. I learned from my own , I know that we must all allow ourselves to feel and process feelings of sadness, anger, and all that comes with depression. When we don’t, these feelings are likely to find some outlet on their own.

Sometimes, this can even result in self-harm and aggressive behavior. Learning about all this helped me understand that I was stuffing my own feelings down, eliminating the negative in order to always be a Pollyanna for others — at least on the outside. It wasn’t healthy for anyone in my life. That said, even TJ admits it wasn’t all bad.

“I know, deep down, you were just trying to be nice and help. I mean, you did get me back on and now I’m not sad as much,” he tells me.

Antidepressants aren’t the answer for everyone, but they do help both of us. We both experience from our medications, however. This is difficult, as you might imagine. Baby steps Over time, TJ and I have learned to communicate more clearly about depression, something that isn’t always easy since he doesn’t like to talk about it.

Still, we’re making progress. We text each other throughout the day when TJ is at work. If either of us are having a rough day, we share that before we’re together at the end of the day.

This helps me communicate my pain levels as well, making it easier to ask for what I might need once he’s home. Instead of smothering and constantly being around, I give him more space. This allows TJ to process his feelings and have the freedom to both feel and express negative feelings.

I try to ask my husband whether he wants company or space before entering a room he’s in. I ask if he wants to talk about what he’s facing or if he needs alone time. Most importantly, I try to give him at least 15 minutes alone when he gets home from work to unwind from the day. Balancing roles Of course, I’m not always able to practice all of these habits because of my own health issues. There are times when I need more help or am in a lot of pain, and we need to adjust our routine.

Our relationship is a delicate balancing act between caregiver and patient. Sometimes I need more help and other times my husband does. There are odd times where we’re both doing well, but that’s not as often as either of us would like. This kind of dynamic can be hard on any relationship, but especially one like ours in which we both have chronic health issues. The hardest days are the ones when we both need more help, but aren’t capable of supporting each other as much as we need or want to.

Thankfully, those days are increasingly rare because of the strides we’ve made in the past few years. As we experience life together, I know we’re in it for hard times that lie ahead.

But I can only hope that our increased communication keeps us afloat during high tide. From our mental health expert “Like any other relationship, couples need to communicate with each other with honesty. Each member of the couple must also recall that they’re their loved one’s partner — not their therapist. And while members of the relationship can certainly be supportive of one another during difficult times, each must remember that it’s not their role to “fix” the other.

Such well-meaning intentions often lead to dysfunction.” — Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD, CRNP Kirsten Schultz is a writer from Wisconsin who challenges sexual and gender norms.

Through her work as a chronic illness and disability activist, she has a reputation for tearing down barriers while mindfully causing constructive trouble.

Kirsten recently founded , which openly discusses how illness and disability affect our relationships with ourselves and others, including — you guessed it — sex! Follow her on .


Love Someone Who Has Depression? This is What You Need to Know.
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