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Depression and Relationships

Hey guys,

With this whole COVID situation and restrictions, my mental health has plummeted. I've been  in a depressive episode for almost a month now.

I has taken quite a toll on my relationship with my boyfriend. We have been involved for a couple of years and are both willing to put in the effort to continue having a healthy relationship. However, I have been having breakdown after breakdown and have had emotional slumps multiple times a day which I always tell my boyfriend about. I think it's really important to be open, especially about mental health rather than letting it build up, but should I be telling him everything at the risk of making my neggy feelings rub off on him and leave us both feeling low? Or should I fight it out alone and not put pressure on him to help? Or should we learn to set boundaries when breakdowns occur and know when to take a step back?

If you guys have any sort of experience or insight or tips to working through mentally hard times in a relationship, please share away! I know it'll all be better once we regain some freedom, but in the meantime, it is pretty tricky to navigate. 

Hope you're all taking care and thanks in advance.

Re: Depression and Relationships

Hi @mabawlswashawt! Thankyou for having the courage to open up about your struggles with your mental health. 

First of all, know that you're not alone. Many people's mental health has gone south during COVID. I agree that it it's definitely important to be open, but I understand your concern of not wanting to put too much pressure on your boyfriend. You should definitely not battle this alone though! In my experience that while it is important to be open with your partner about how you're feeling, it would be best to work on your struggles with a mental health professional at the same time so that your boyfriend doesn't feel pressured to take on the role of therapist when he is unable to do this. Are you at school or university? Is there a counsellor/psychologist at school/on campus who you'd be able to speak to?


Also, practising self care daily is really important and can help you get a hold on your mental health struggles, especially in unpredictable times such as these. Do you have any self-care strategies you are currently using? if so, do you find that they are working for you?


Take care Heart

Re: Depression and Relationships

Hey @mabawlswashawt . 


I really feel for you, navigating mental health stuff can be hard enough, doing it through COVID restrictions and the general weirdness of 2020 is even tougher, especially if it means that you can't do the things you usually would for your mental health and self-care. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through such a tough time at the moment.  I'm just wondering, are you seeing a mental health professional at all at the moment? Sometimes it can really help to have someone to work through what you're going through. 


It sounds like you have a really open and honest relationship with your boyfriend which is fantastic - has he been able to share much about how he's feeling about this? Every relationship is different, but maybe a middle ground of letting him know that it's okay to set boundaries if he needs to for his own self care could be one way to approach it with him. 


It has been such a long and tough road for some communities with the covid restrictions- is there anything that you've been finding helpful in terms of self care? 


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Re: Depression and Relationships

Hey Mabawlswashawt

This sounds so tough! Working through mental health struggles is hard enough alone, but it becomes even more challenging when you need to consider someone else as well! I'm sorry you are experiencing this and thanks for jumping online and opening up about everything.

I would like to offer some of my experience if that is of help to you. I have anxiety and have always felt torn between wanting to tell my partner everything and not wanting to burden her. As a result, what would often happen is I would bottle it up inside until I 'dumped it' all on her in a very brash way, which only made things worse. After this would happen, I would feel guilty for approaching it in such a way.

My partner and I saw a relationship therapist, and our communication style did a very positive 180! Now, we rarely have issues. Here is what worked for me! It is SO IMPORTANT I share how I am feeling with my partner. But I needed to learn the right way. Now, I see it as my responsibility to recognise when I am in a state of anxiety and understand that it is not my partner's job to solve that for me. It's my anxiety. However, I want her support, so I like to approach her when she is not absorbed in work and calmly discuss my feelings. I don't put any pressure on her or explain what she could do, etc. I just kind of outline of how I am feeling in a very honest way. What I have noticed is when I approach her like this, she is really receptive, compassionate, and I feel adored and supported now. She simply couldn't take it when I dumped everything on her like a ton of bricks.

I don't know what the dynamic in your relationship is like, but let me know if this sounds like it might work for you? Essentially, opening up and talking about my feelings in a compassionate, mature way really helped me discuss my mental health with my partner!

Re: Depression and Relationships

@mabawlswashawt I'm so proud of you for reaching out and I can definitely relate to this. First of all, I don't think you should fight this alone. My advice is to explain how your feeling in the moment don't let it all bottle, communicate that you don't expect him to have a solution for you and communicate what you need for example just talking or a distraction or to be left alone for a little or for him to check in on you later that day etc. It can also help to emphasise that your here for him. I'm not sure if this would help you both but I can help to find out your love languages and take a personality test like myers briggs (although this is not as valid as the other two I mention next) and BIG five personality test and enneagram test to find out how you both are and communicate to encourage more self-awareness so that you can adapt together as needed to better be there for each other. Hope this helps and everything goes well

Re: Depression and Relationships

Hi @clarii3105

First of all thanks so much for reaching out, I totally understand how you're feeling, it can all be so hard to navigate, especially at the moment! I think it's very important to feel like you have support and can process how you're feeling! However, I understand what you're saying when it can feel like you're putting too much on your partner. At a time when you're feeling okay, could you both have a conversation about your loving boundaries with one another? I know it might sound a bit silly but me and my partner actually have a code word we can use with each other to signal when things get too much - this helps us to communicate rationally when we don't have the resources or self-confidence to do so in the moment! 


Also, are there any other people in your life you can chat to (friend or professional), or any tools you have yourself to help you process how you're feeling? Sometimes I find journaling can be a really good place to start! Sometimes even after journaling I still feel like I need to discuss things with someone to help me process and that is totally fair enough, but it just means I have an avenue to help me when I feel down if my partner is also having a bad day and struggling too!