As well as looking up reviews, recipes and having a good old nose at people’s lives, the bloggesphere is such a wonderful place at making me feel less alone. I’ve said time and time again that I love speaking to every person who has entered my life since starting Blogger & The Geek. It’s wonderful having a close community and a group of girls I can call my friends. I also think it’s a wonderful place to discuss things which aren’t usually discussed, such as mental illness. It’s amazing how brave people have come over the past few months and opening up on their illnesses and darkest thoughts. I’m a very very lucky lady who suffers with no mental illness issues, however, I share my life and my home with someone who does. I haven’t found many posts that offer any help or share their experience for the people who are trying to be the supportive friends, family members or partners.
My boyfriend suffers with depression and I’ve known this since day one. It’s been an ongoing battle he’s been fighting for years and it’s a battle I’m fighting as well. Before I met him, I knew very little about mental illness and had no idea on how to help someone or live with it. So, when I experienced his first ‘down’ period it was a total game changer for me. I’ve spent many hours of our relationship in tears or worrying about him. I completely adore my boyfriend; he’s the funniest, warmest and most loving person I know, but, when his depression gets on top of him, he becomes withdrawn, uninterested in life and keeps himself to himself. He’s the complete opposite and it’s really difficult for me to get my head around. I used to loose my temper with him or get upset thinking that I caused a down period. Luckily, now, we’re in a much better place and we know how to get through the down periods. These are the 3 biggest things that help me.
Understand it’s not your fault or nor theirs
This is one I really, really struggled with. I won’t lie to you; 19 year old Becky was a bit pants, dramatic and insecure when The Geek was going through a down patch, I’d often blame myself and rack my brains trying to think what I’ve done. I’d then realise that I hadn’t done anything then just think he’s a bit of a knob for making me feel crap and feeling crap about nothing. I struggled with the concept that his down periods were different to mine. My down periods are usually very circumstantial and I can pin point exactly what’s caused it. I didn’t understand that he just felt like crap and it was part of his mental illness. I only truly understood it when I messed up my pill and spent Boxing Day morning crying in bed, and then I cried more because I didn’t understand why. So, in my confusion, I made up an argument so my boyfriend didn’t think I was loosing the plot. I wasn’t until he figured it out and said to me, ‘This is how I feel when I feel down’ did I realise what he goes through. With this little change in perspective, whenever the Geek tells me he feels like pants I remember it’s part of his illness. I remind myself that I wouldn’t blame myself or him if he had the flu. I occasionally struggle with this if I’m stressed but, I gotta breathe and remember; it’s neither of our fault.
Escaping from the world isn’t a bad thing
I’m a firm believer that if something is making you feel sad then you need to fix it or face the problem head on. Unfortunately when it’s an illness this tactic doesn’t really work. My boyfriend tends to escape to his computer when he’s feeling down. We generally do spend a lot of our time doing our own thing but as mentioned before, he’s pretty unresponsive when he’s in a depressive episode. So when I’m sat down blogging or doing my own thing and I wasn’t being spoken to, it’s safe to say I used to get pretty mad and end up leaving. I used to think, ‘How can you just play games instead of fixing your life?’. I’ve learnt now that although he wants to slay dragons and things, he does want me sat there as he feels less alone. Since having Rufus, when I’m out with friends and he’s feeling pants, having a dog potter about our home has really helped. Dogs really help you feel less alone.
I used to feel incredibly alone with my inability to deal with my boyfriends illness. I felt I couldn’t speak to anyone about how crap I felt or how I was struggling because they’d think of me as a monster of a girlfriend. I didn’t feel comfortable opening up and asking for help. Nor did I want to tell my boyfriend I was struggling and I didn’t understand at all. I felt as if I was trying to save a sinking ship. One day, the world kinda got on top of me and I spoke to a friend about it who told me they experience the exact same thing. They encouraged me to speak to my boyfriend about it and I asked him for tell me when he feels really depressed so I knew not to take things personally. I can’t express how much it helps him saying that one sentence. It saves on arguments, my state of mind, his state of mind having deal with diva me.
I’m by no means a health care professional or an expert in the field. This is simply what works for my boyfriend and I and helps with our war on depression. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with and have had to try and understand but it’s really opened my eyes to mental illness and how difficult it is for the sufferer and how lonely it can make you feel. If you really are struggling there are some fantastic charities out there who can offer help MIND provide an amazing list of how to help people who are in my situation and I wish 19 year old me found it sooner.
I’ll leave it on a final note: remember that you’re not alone and so many people are willing to help.