Depression is a serious illness that affects person’s mood, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. But how does it affect people living with a depressed person?
To say it’s not easy to live with someone who suffers from depression would be an understatement. You might experience a number of different emotions, such as anger. Anger is one emotion that is often experienced by both, the person with depression and the person living with them. They might frequently take their anger out on you. In those moments, they will tell you that it’s your fault that they are having a bad day. It’s your fault that they are not well. It’s your fault that they are not getting better. You try to be patient and understanding, although sometimes you can’t help but feel angry with them. And you might say things you don’t mean or do things you would never do.
And afterwards you feel guilty. Guilty for saying something that made them feel worse. Guilty for wanting them to get help so you can move on with your life. Guilty for having enough of everything being about them. Guilty for having a good day. This guilt makes you start to question who you are, am I really this angry, selfish person? This may then cause you to get angry at the person with depression for making you feel this way. Subsequently, that makes you feel even worse, because now you’re angry at someone who is suffering. And that somehow seems wrong.
You want to help the person suffering with depression. You try to make sure that their needs are met. You try to make them happy. Ensuring that they are ok becomes your everyday priority, because if they’re having a bad day, you’re having one as well.
However, living with a person with depression makes you feel like you’re not important anymore. Like your needs and your happiness no longer matter. Your life has become consumed by their illness. You worry all the time that every brief moment of happiness you experience together will suddenly end. You can’t enjoy the good times, because you know that one word or one seemingly trivial thing could change it all. It almost feels like that there’s a price to pay for all the good days as they are often followed by few bad ones.
In addition, there are days when you realize how tired you are of living the life that is controlled by someone else’s illness, negativity, anger and hopelessness. You want your life back. You want to make plans for the future. You want to make those plans with the person they once were, however, all you’re left with is the shadow of the person you used to know. You want to leave. You picture yourself packing your bags and walking out the door. You imagine experiencing relief and hope, but the moment you imagine yourself opening that front door you are pulled back. No, you can’t leave. Your guilt stops you from leaving. If you leave what will happen with them? Who will care for them?
And the worst thing is you can’t express your feelings as it could contribute to the depressed mood of the person suffering from depression. So you try and put on a brave face. You try to convince yourself that it’s not that bad. You try to disregard how tired you are. You try to ignore how much your continuous support has taken its toll on you.
Nevertheless, what is generally difficult to ignore is how their depression has affected your own emotional health. You might suddenly realize that you can’t remember the last time you felt really happy. However, what you can recall is feeling low, sad and lonely. They have you to help them. But who is helping you?
Most people who are living with a person with depression don’t think about seeking help. In their eyes they are not the ones who are suffering. Their loved ones are. But it is ok to seek help through this tough time and to talk to someone about your emotions and what you’re going through. Keeping your emotions bottled up inside will contribute to building of resentment and your loved ones will pick up on those negative emotions. Please don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone.