Mental Health – What does it mean for you?
16th May 2018
I had never really given mental health a thought growing up. I hadn’t considered how it was for the person dealing with the illness and how it affects them daily and for the future. I hadn’t thought about how it would be to support someone, anyone (a family member, a partner, a friend). The reason, and I think it would be the same for anyone, is that I had never met anyone that I knew was suffering with mental health conditions.
Recently, that changed. I have learned an incredible amount as 2 years ago I met my partner who has depression. I knew about it very early on because she told me and was very open about it. I thought, being a ‘fixer’ of problems that being supportive, talking things through and trying to be logical and practical about the way she thought and how she felt would alleviate what she feels and basically make it all better… Yeah, that doesn’t work. Unfortunately.
I’ve had to accept that I can’t fix it, which for me has been really hard to do. It feels like a failure on my part that I can’t do anything. It makes me feel helpless and frustrated that I can’t take away the pain that the person I love feels. What I didn’t understand, or what I may not have appreciated is with depression and other mental health issues is that it can feel like there is no escape. I’m a very sporty person and take training seriously so occasionally have injuries that need looking after. I can deal with those in the knowledge that it might be 2 weeks, 4 weeks or longer but at the end it will be alright. With depression, it’s very real thoughts being repeated. Again….and again….and again…..and again, and they’re not the nice kind. It looks like there is no way out and watching it drain the energy out of someone is hard to see.
Thankfully, we have become a lot better at talking about how we both feel. It can’t be overstated how important it is to be honest with how you feel. Whether you are the one suffering or the person providing support. Supporting someone with mental health issues can be tiring, stressful, upsetting and confusing. Even more so for that person as they’re trying to understand what they feel themselves. But, at the same time seeing the person you care about come out the other side of a particular hard time is the complete opposite.
Personally, I thought that I shouldn’t voice what I felt. Why does it matter how I feel when I’m trying to help someone with depression? Equally, she thought I can’t say how I really feel he has too much going on right now. After speaking about it, we both found that we just wanted to know the other is ok. We both just use a simple rating scale 1-10 of how we feel and if we can put a reason behind that number. But, if we can’t its ok. It’s fine to just feel good or bad without a particular reason.
I’ve found that just being with my partner in the bad times is what’s needed. I don’t need to do anything, or say anything (which can be hard….I talk, a lot!), she just needs me by her side to help her through. I’m happy to say for a long time now, the down times are not as regular as they used to be.
Sometimes the little simple things can be the most helpful.