Dating a severely depressed man
You feel if you could say the right thing, or do something special, that maybe you will be able to help them to get better. You try a gentle approach, you try a firm approach. You say encouraging things, you get frustrated and argue. From my experience, the big mistake that people often make is that they treat depression as a mood, as if saying or doing the right thing will lift the depression. This is because my depression completely changed my entire outlook on life, and it changed who I was as a person.
You give them space, you try to get them to open up. What you must remember is that depression isn’t a mood – it’s a very debilitating illness. When their loved ones are battling depression, when they are in that darkness, human nature is to try and ‘fix’ them. Whilst there are things you can do, like giving the day a routine, and trying to find activities to keep the persons’ mind active, you are not going to be able to make someone “snap out of it”, it’s just impossible.♦◊♦Try to imagine that depression is like being in a dark tunnel.
If someone you’re dating confides in you about dealing with a mental illness, listen to what they have to say without assuming that you know what they are dealing with and how this has altered their life.
While not everyone’s experience is the same, when people have a major depressive episode, generally the world looks, feels, and is understood completely differently than before and after the episode.
If you make me feel like a complete self-indulgent drag that's barely worth putting up with, my first move once I'm feeling up to it will be to dump your ass and find someone who knows I'm more than worthwhile.
Evan, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I like your dating advice because it’s been quantitative and specific (rather than vague and unclear like most others’).
Here are some things to think about when it comes to getting into a relationship with someone with depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD or similar mental health conditions: As mentioned above, it is likely that you have already encountered someone with mental health problems in your dating life.
After all, 1 in 10 people throughout the world will fall into this category in their lifetime, and the more we pretend we don’t know someone in this group, the more we build on the stigma surrounding it.
If somebody had a broken leg, you wouldn’t tell them to go for a run. The person with depression can’t see a thing, because everything is surrounded by darkness. All they want to do is get out of the tunnel, but they can’t see where to go, they don’t know what to do.
You would be patient, you would understand that it will take time, patience and rehabilitation. Just because you can’t see an injury doesn’t mean that it isn’t debilitating. Your natural reaction is to lead them out of this dark tunnel, back to the light. You may think it makes sense, but for the person with depression, nothing makes sense. They can’t be led out of the tunnel, because the fear is too great, the darkness is too dark.
When the leg heals and you can walk again, it still can take weeks for it to regain full strength. Depending on how bad the break was, it may alter how you walk, what exercise you can do, even how you stand. I talked in my previous article about how, after my worst bout of depression, it took months before I felt I could do my job properly. Trying to drag them out of this tunnel is more likely to make them curl up and hide than do any good.
For men, in particular, this approach can backfire greatly.