The best part about writing this column has been how many women are writing in with ideas and advice based on their own LTR experiences. One of these awesome ladies is Erika Blessman (@ErikaBlessman), a 20-year-old criminal justice student from Michigan who had the great idea of discussing LTRs and depression.
“I would love to give advice on dealing with depression when being with someone long-term,” Erika wrote. “Some girls with depression feel as though they can’t be in a long-term relationship, but that is not the case.”
I realized that Erika is right; this is a hugely important and under-discussed issue when it comes to being with your partner for the long haul, especially because depression is not something you can necessarily plan for. Sometimes it just happens. Erika is currently in a relationship and was willing to share what she has learned with us here.
AfterEllen: You mentioned that some people with depression think that they can’t be in an LTR? Why do you think that is?
Erika Blessman: Someone with depression might feel like they can’t be in a relationship because they don’t want to bring their partner down with them. They don’t want to be a burden in her life. Sometimes they will push someone away who could be perfect for them.
AE: What can a partner do to help or to make the depression better?
EB: As the partner of someone with depression, I’ve learned that just being a constant presence in her everyday life can make a world of difference. Telling your partner that you’re there for her is the best thing you can do. Validate her feelings at all times. Let her know that what she is feeling is okay and that this feeling isn’t forever.
AE: Are there things that a partner shouldn’t say or shouldn’t do?
EB: You should never force your partner to tell you what’s wrong. She will come to you. Communication is very important, but that doesn’t mean she has to tell you right away what caused her pain.
AE: What is the best way to bring up the topic of depression in a relationship?
EB: Most times, the person suffering from depression won’t tell you straight up. As the partner, you need to notice the signs. You should be the person to bring it up in a comforting way. In a way that says, “I’m here for you but I think you might need to see someone, but I’ll be next to you through it all.” That will relieve a lot of stress from your partner.
AE: When is it time to see a therapist or a couple’s therapist?
EB: The right time to see a therapist is when you’re ready. If someone makes you go to a therapist that you never wanted to see in the first place, that’s just going to seem like a waste of time. You have to admit to yourself that you need someone to talk to and you need help.
AE: Anything else?
EB: I just want to say there is hope and there is help out there for people with depression. There is someone who will love you to the ends of the earth and back and will stop at nothing to see your depression end. You deserve to be loved you are not crazy and you are never alone.
Have ideas for LTR topics you want to hear about? Know a great LTR couple we should interview? Send them to [email protected].
Caitlin Bergh (@caitlinebergh) is a stand-up comic. Visit www.caitlinbergh.com for more info.