Dating & Depression
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused everyone a lot of distress, challenges and changes. For me, a significant change has been finding a partner during one of the most challenging times for my own mental health.
Below is my insight into dating with depression.
Please be conscious of your own wellbeing before reading and seek help if needed.
Depression is a mental illness and is most often associated with persistent low mood and/or low motivation. Everyone experiences depression slightly differently and their route to recovery is different too.
It's me, not you
When you're with someone who is living with depression it can be really challenging to not think that you've done something wrong or upset them. That it's about you and something you've caused.
It's not. It shouldn't be.
Depression is something that they are living with, it's theirs to own. You can care for them and support them but it's important to remember that depression isn't your fault.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses and people live with it every day worldwide.
It's not something you can fix
Depression is incredibly complex and there's no quick fix, cure or magic pill.
Watching someone you care about in pain must be very challenging but it isn't something that you solve. Some of us just want to dive in and save the day but with depression that's not possible.
All you can do is support them and care for them and try to understand.
For me, my boyfriend shows their support by lightening the load and managing my own expectations and perfectionism. It could be reminding me that the chores can be done another day, or making me a strong brew (a cup of tea) or putting on my favourite show.
There's going to be good days and bad days
All relationships have their ups and downs. Dating someone with depression adds an extra element. Somedays I've not been able to find the energy to do what we had planned. Other days I've felt unbearably sad but can't find any release or pinpoint the reason why. The important thing is to not let the illness take over your relationship.
Supporting a partner during a time when they might be at their lowest is going to show your relationship at it's best - effective communication, sensitivity and caring with your loved one.
Depression is not you being weak, or something you should just 'get over' or something that everyone experiences.
It's going to take time
Living with depression can be incredibly frustrating. Recovery isn't quick, or easy. Somedays you think you've made it, to find that nope, the black dog is still there.
Your recovery may mean that you choose to take up therapy or counselling, you may have chosen to speak to your GP to take medication to support you, or you've supported yourself through careful self-care and management or a combination of some or all of these.
All of this takes time and adjustment and it's important to learn the importance of being patient with your partner and yourself.
If you think you may be suffering from depression I would encourage you to seek help.
But it gets better
Many people are able to effectively manage their depression and pursue recovery. You'll reach a time where their good days outnumber the bad, and the good days get higher and higher.
Remember that your partner is more likely to succeed with your support, understanding and help.
Some might be able to manage their depression with self-care, some may need talking therapy and others may combine this with medication or use medication alone.
Working in Partnership
The project is nation-wide, and we're making a real effort to engage with everyone interested in international student mental health, including universities, mental health services, students unions, sector bodies, charities and organisations such a private student accommodation.
The project is led by the University of Nottingham, in partnership with the University of Nottingham Students' Union, University of Leeds, Leeds University Union, SOAS, SOAS Students' Union, Student Minds and Campuslife Ltd.
Project funded as part of the Office for Students Mental Health Challenge Competition.