Love & Depression : When Things Are Bumpy

Care is a state in which something does matter; it is the source of human tenderness.

-Rollo May

Everyone in every walk of life has had a relationship problem, once or twice. Those of us who suffer from depression, and more specifically bipolar disorder, it can be those little problems that will ultimately ruin a relationship. Smooth sailing is most definitely possible, but it will take an equal amount of effort from both parties.

The major difference between dealing with relationship issues as a person who can’t necessarily control their feelings versus a more stable individual is the fact that the blame game is easy for us to win: we blame ourselves every time.

I shall use my relationship as a running example. Peri and I are not the perfect couple. We have our spats, and we definitely have our differences. An issue we have had in the past was the amount of communication. In my depressive states, I would either want to talk to him 24/7 or not all. There was no in between, and to this day it is still something I am working on. But that is not a logical structure for communication to be based upon. He is the quiet type at most times, so when I feel as though I need him the most, it starts a rift with us because we’re both being our ultimate selves.

I will instantaneously blame myself. I have said things such as “it’s my fault we don’t talk anymore” or “if I wasn’t so useless, we wouldn’t be having problems”. The key to these types of scenarios is patience and the ability to know how to get through to your significant other. You won’t get it on the first try, people rarely do. By practicing how to effectively communicate with your spouse, you will pave the way to a less bumpy road. Here are a few ways to take those first steps and create progress.

1.) Familiarize Yourself With Triggers
Now, this first suggestion is not for those couples who have been together less than 6+ months. I say that because doing such a thing can become a tiresome act, especially when you don’t see yourself utilizing the information on a long-term basis. If you plan being in or already are in a serious relationship, paying attention to when an episode or mood swing is triggered can be beneficial. By doing so, you may relieve them of their sense of guilt as well as educate yourself on the do’s and don’ts.

2.) Take Up For Yourself
This step is aimed at the non-suffering spouse, if that is you. One of my triggers is Peri’s extremely close relationship with his best friend. This is an irrational trigger, but the first step to removing it is to identify it. Part of my bipolar disorder is a strong sense of jealousy due to my lack of affection during childhood. I project this jealousy onto him, attacking the closest threat, in my mind, to our relationship. Instead of allowing me to “walk all over him”, he will put his foot down and tell me how irrational I am being. Even if the trigger is something silly, like when I notice Peri doesn’t eat milk with his cereal, he doesn’t let me go off for something that is innately him.

3.) Communicate Through It
This step may seem strange when remembering the example of my relationship earlier. I do not speak for everyone with depression/bipolar disorder, but I know myself well enough to understand that no matter how much I say Leave Me Alone, that is the last thing I want. In my relationship, if I speak anything like that, especially whenever I show the physical signs of downing (going into a depressive mood), Peri will almost coach me through. He asks questions such as “What’s wrong”, “What Happened”, “Are You Sure That Is What You Want”, and my personal favorite, “I’m Still Here If You Need Me”. Giving them the option to come to you opens up a world of possibilities. Many times we feel as though no one is there, but just the verbal reassurance can really make a difference.

All in all, bumps happen. Honeymoon phases end. Relationships get tough. For those of us fighting the depression battle and those who are fighting with us, there is hope that smooth sailing is coming. It never rains forever.

With Love, From Daisy

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