Depression is a nasty business. From the inside and the outside. Co-depressive, a state a person can reach after just spending long enough with a "really" ill/depressive person. Empathy is to blame. Laughing is contagious, but crying is also sometimes contagious. To see someone who is probably very close to you suffer even more.
Every day, every day anew. Everything is black, has actually always been black and will remain black. No matter what happens, spring or summer, autumn or winter, it's black. Social contacts seem intimidating, suddenly everyone seems to have so many expectations that you can't meet anyway. And it's just one: Please be happy again.
When a person suffers, you try to help them. This is almost an instinct, after all, the human being is a social being and lives on/from the community. Everyone suffers in his own way. The one more intensive, the other longer. The one quiet, the other loud. But after a certain point, everyone suffers the same: Depression - a paralyzing feeling that separates a person from their environment.
The difficulty of delimitation
In this case I can only speak from my own experiences, from my own experiences as a co-depressive. Because it is true, especially when a close attachment figure is captured by the dark fog and pulled into the black abyss, it is particularly difficult to distance oneself emotionally from all this and to preserve one's own mental health.
My challenge at that time was to set myself apart, because that is extremely difficult for me. At least emotionally. (Even if when reading my entries you get the feeling that I generally seem to have a problem with boundaries...) How can you ignore it if your partner is next to you obviously suffers, even though it obviously everything isn't so bad?
Understanding the disease
From its own perspective, it is not, not yet. For the person who is ill, on the other hand, every day is a torment, and this should not be forgotten or underestimated. Even if your own mind tells you that all these things/negative factors that allegedly contribute to the daily worsening of your partner's condition are only constructed and/or exaggerated/dramatized.
If the person concerned were able to think clearly and above all to reflect on his or her situation, he or she would not be ill.
...many forget. One doesn't say to an eating disordered person: "Then eat more. You look frighteningly thin", although some people probably do so (by mistake), simply expressing their helplessness and despair. Because if it were that simple, there would be no mental disorders/illnesses. As if someone voluntarily starves himself almost to death or lies in bed for weeks, in the worst case with suicidal thoughts.
In the nature of man no self-destructive urge is preprogrammed. This usually arises only through external influences (socialization [#societycriticism]; expectations [#lessguiltiness]; trauma) and is rarely congenital (exception: psychopaths).
Treatment / Drugs
Just because the affected person is not lying in bed with a cast and/or fever does not mean that he or she is not suffering seriously. A suffering that cannot be alleviated with a juice or a pill (unfortunately no dear pharmaceutical industry). Of course Medications are supportive and keep/accelerate the process However, this can never be done without a thorough psychological support and the will of the patient to Self-reflection ...to be done.
I am not against antidepressants or tranquilizers. However, I consider the easy handling of this kind of medication nowadays (in Germany also, but especially in the USA an even more evident problem) to be questionable. From my own experience I have learned that this "loose pill prescription" can be fatal.
Covering a mentally ill person with tablets, which in addition to deadly side effects can also develop a high addiction potential, must be supervised or observed. If no further care is possible at this time, one should therefore refrain from throwing coloured pills and the sentence "Take these regularly and come back in a few weeks, you will feel better then".
How the relationship suffers
That's when all the manipulative shit started. And I'm not accusing you of that. I know now that the disease can make you lose control and act (unknowingly) self-righteous and selfish. His emotions determined our daily routine and I consciously say "emotions", because sometimes it was just a tiny moment that could destroy everything.
Its increasing Dissatisfaction controlled our entire relationship. At first I tried to take all the annoying things away from him. I did the housework, went shopping and cooked the food. On the side I went to work and started my master. From then on friends mostly came to us, because he did not like to leave the house too much and was calmer inside, although I did not do that too often. At least not on weekends or evenings, because who knows what could happen...
Jealousy. No more, no less. At some point he admitted it. He was obsessed. After all, I was the woman at his side, he the man. In his eyes he should have been the stronger one - "the provider" - (Thank you expectations - Thank you patriarchy), but he didn't succeed and thus caused self-hate and even more dissatisfaction. Therefore it seemed legitimate to undermine my autonomy in the form of emotional blackmail.
At some point, a Therapy inevitable was. In the meantime, our (remaining) social environment had realized that this was not a simple temporary upset and that I alone could not be responsible for his recovery.
Above all, I didn't feel like being responsible for it anymore, because it is shitty exhausting and emotionally exhausting to watch your partner "dissolve" day after day. Dissolving is a good thing at this point, because at some point he found it difficult to keep eye contact, he almost avoided you and his posture collapsed. Not only was he closed, he looked like that. From now on it became dangerous: The initial moaning turned into an inner bubbling.
At least I assume so, because otherwise it would not have exploded in ever smaller intervals from now on. Aggressive outbursts that caused one or the other perfume bottle to shatter into a thousand pieces. Cabinet doors became punching bags. Psychological help was needed, that was obvious.
Clinic / medication / helplessness
After long discussions and much persuasion, he took the (emotionally) arduous path and went to the clinic. There he told about his Hopelessness, lack of drive and perspectivewho barely let him get out of bed.
After a look at the calendar, it quickly became clear that his suffering would unfortunately have to wait a little longer, as there was currently no one available to help him. (Self-fulfilling prophecy: Who should also be able/would want to help him?) But at least he was quickly provided with all kinds of medication (sleeping/tranquillisers and antidepressants), fortunately also in large quantities (...because, as we all know, a lot helps a lot).
It took less than six weeks (the search for a therapist again took longer) and the first suicide attempt had been made. Overdose. Medication and drugs. Leverage. Survived. The next day: admission to the clinic.
The shock was deep, as was the trauma afterwards. That's not what I asked for. I didn't want to (have to) see that. Admittedly, after taking his medication "appropriately" he seemed calmer from then on. Any negative outbursts had disappeared and a heavy lethargy dominated his appearance.
He just sat there. Neither sad nor happy. Mostly tired, conspicuously hungry, little dynamic. Sure, drugging someone protects those around him and most of all himself. That's also really hard to watch. Pure resignation. Stunned and paralyzed. Little alive, far from life.
Supposedly you are the only person who understands your partner, but you still can't help him. From then on my behaviour was tied to almost endless conditions. For apparently I had an incredible power over him and his suffering. Paradoxical when you consider that I didn't feel much more than absolutely helpless.
Depression is no fun
Professional - and by no means exclusively medicinal - help is required here. Even life partners, close friends, confidants can only rarely play therapist and ensure adequate care.
Supply. That's pretty much it in this case. Because a person afflicted with depression has almost infinite needs that need to be met. Unfortunately, it is hardly possible for him or her to do so alone, or it involves extreme effort, which is why the patient usually breaks down under this burden right from the start.
At that time it was also not possible for me to carry all this and finally I found myself in a vortex of infinite darkness that was to accompany me for months to come. Even after the separation, the intense moments and suffered helplessness did not let me sleep.
At night, the thoughts "What could I have done better? How could I not have seen this coming? Why wasn't I able to stop all this?" In my opinion, the lack of helpfulness of various institutions at the time also contributed to the fact that I was not able to easily process what I had experienced and put it aside.
From then on, I was accompanied by a constant mistrust and the feeling of being overwhelmed by even the simplest situations. Stubborn. Who or what could I still rely on? My gut feeling? No, that's what had let me down these past months. On our health system? No, my ex-boyfriend had simply fobbed it off with a few prescriptions and left it to itself, although he had the courage to ask for help.
Is depression contagious?
As ridiculous as it sounds, depression can be contagious. I'm not saying I question his suffering or presume to judge it. However, I want to show that the disease is not to be underestimated. Neither for the affected person nor for his environment.
It is important to set limits in such moments. Even if this sounds incredibly hard and like an unsolvable task, because you don't like to see your loved one suffer, it is the only right thing to do. It is fatal to feed the disease with excessive care. For in the end it is the task of the sick person to admit to himself that this condition does not correspond to normality.
Love your neighbor, but first of all love yourself!
I had this dream over and over again from then on. I was in danger. And I was blind. I always had the feeling that I had to blink strongly because I was blinded, but only unrecognizable outlines appear in the ray of light. My heart was pounding every time I woke up and my breath was going fast.
Yes, in the most intense episodes I woke up from an unmistakable gasp for air and almost sat upright in bed. Sweating and tears streaming down my face. What could that tell me? Why was I almost blind each time and seemed to be running from something, or being threatened by something.
The dreams were repeatedly intense and usually contained some detail; an experience or event that seemed to occupy my subconscious for a long time. Sometimes the scenario took place in my parental home; sometimes in my last relationship in another city; sometimes in a strange place, but then the actors had met me somewhere before. Either in a close circle of acquaintances, rarely from the family, but often completely incoherently from a fleeting encounter in everyday life. But one thing should never change: In the end I was always blind and desperately looking for help. I did not understand it.
After some time I searched the internet for dream interpretation books and psychological approaches to recurring symbols in the dream world. I interpreted my recurring blindness and helplessness. "They close their eyes, they may feel guilty, they may run away from something." Oh, yeah, okay. You could have figured that out for yourself.
A lot had happened and I did not always reflect everything. Sometimes, repression is simply the easier solution and in most cases, at least temporarily, it is more fun. Without fun there is no fun. Unfortunately, repression does not mean forgetting, and so most of it goes undigested into the subconscious. The stomach also prefers its food to be pre-chewed.
But what exactly do you think I should have - funnily enough - repressed? What had happened? No, quite the opposite. It was constantly in my mind and made me so restless and restless. And above all sleepless.
Sleep is so important. I realize this now every time I wake up in the morning after an eight-hour dose of sleep and feel rested. The night was not on the run and did not have to look for help.
But when did the moment come when all this changed? The moment I started to really care about myself. To face the thought and deal with them. And above all, to really do something for me. Not to keep living in extremes and going crazy instead of relaxing.
Flight into addiction
Admittedly, drugs are a great thing to create your own world for a while and live your everyday life far away from reality. There's always a rave somewhere. Never enough. I don't see it that way anymore. Drugs are dangerous. Especially in hard times they are pure poison. The same goes for sex. Pointless ONS doesn't make you happier. On the contrary. The tolerance level is rising. The high, on the other hand, decreases, like coke. Frustrating, exhausting... and unnecessary.
Ultimately, it was my move and new surroundings that pulled me out of the dark swamp and showed me that it was just an unpleasant moment in my life; an agonizing, if instructive, episode.
What would I have been back then without my best friend who showed me how beautiful and colourful life actually is. I love her for it, because I had almost forgotten that after the thought-heavy, problem-laden months before.
As are my needs. I had previously willingly put them on hold, as my goal was to defeat my ex's illness. It was my new partner who finally gave me the understanding and patience I needed to finally remove this dark episode from my thoughts.
His encouragement and sheer inexhaustible motivation gave me my Returning basic trust were the ones that made me shine again and gave me the strength to tackle new things and to realize myself. I am infinitely grateful to you for this - and always will be.
It sounds hackneyed and not very individual, but in addition to that it was mainly the travelling, Meditation, Mindfulnessthe beginning of a therapy, rest, a some structure, Sport and most importantly Yogaas well as the odd book or two that gave me a more constant inner peace ...to the people of the city.
Everything no longer seemed so existentially threatening. I've had my eyesight back ever since. It seems I no longer look away. I look inside myself. I listen to myself. This is not to say that it is the right and only solution for everyone and every problem.
It has helped me and I am glad to have gained this knowledge and to be one experience richer. Even if this is currently simply quite close to the work-life balance / mindfulness mainstream.
The realization came at Christmas, because at that time I realized that I had not had this dream for months. For having accompanied me for years, he said goodbye without much fuss and without any problems.
This article is a guest contribution from Nadine Primo
After finishing school I studied Romance languages and literature and history (Bachelor of Arts) and international history of modern times (Master of Arts) at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn. Currently I am doing a traineeship in an advertising and media agency to have enough time for my research and thoughts and to finance my writing.