Life on the other side.
Hey everyone. Last week I told you guys about my depression and anxiety, and the struggles that came with dealing with those dark days in my life but today I wanted to talk about something we often forget about. Or should I say SOMEONE. There is always two sides to every story and we often lose sight of the loved ones who watch their significant other, sister, brother, friend, mom, or dad struggle with their mental health as they do their best to support and love us through those tough days.
My biggest fear as I struggled with my depression and anxiety was that I was going to lose Rob and that my closest friends and family members would think differently or less of me. It is hard going from being a happy person to a person you don’t even recognize, and I could not have continued life if it weren’t for my husband, Rob Z.
Rob and I came together for this to tell you about the other side of depression.
Looking back, there were a lot of things that Rob wishes he did differently and I feel the same. It was a HUGE learning curve for both of us. So, we wanted to write this for you guys just in case you’re ever helping your loved one through their mental health struggles and how you can support them through their tough days.
Here is Rob’s advice and perspective on how to help your loved one who may be dealing with mental health problems:
- Put your pride aside. I put this one number 1 because I believe it is the most important AND I think it’s the hardest to put into use. Natalie and I would be hours into a disagreement and there was no budging on either end. I knew how to end the fight, but I was too stubborn or I wanted to be right. What I learned later was, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t worth pushing Natalie to her mental limit. Even if I knew I was right, there was something pushing her to disagree and be upset with me. I learned to take a deep breath, put my pride aside, and tell her what she needed to hear. I would apologize for my part in the fight and be able to drop any anger I had towards her. At first it was tough. But seeing it work so well and keeping Natalie out of a very dark place was worth it to me.
- It’s okay to not be okay. This one was honestly the hardest for me personally. You see someone you love struggling for so long you just want to fix everything. I would tell her what to feel, or how to act, or what to do when she was struggling but I never took the time to listen. I wanted so badly to help her, I tried to do too much. Natalie didn’t need answers, or motivational quotes, or vitamins or anything like that. She just needed someone to listen and understand what she was going through. She needed someone to tell her “that sucks” or “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” She needed to know that it was OKAY to not be OKAY.
- It’s not personal. When Natalie would yell at me or say something rude, I took it personally. I would take it as a shot to my character and I would respond negatively. In reality I should have just brushed it off. Many times Natalie couldn’t control what she was saying or why she was saying it. So many times I could have avoided a fight if I wouldn’t have taken it personally.
- Mental health is just like physical health. Natalie was always afraid to seek help for various reasons and I always explained it like this…”If you broke your leg, would you go get it treated?” To me, mental health is just as important as physical health and needs to be treated as such. When you start taking care of yourself mentally, you’d be amazed at some of the results you see.
- Love and love hard. In a time where Natalie didn’t love herself, I knew I had to show her that she was loved because in her mind she thought that everything that she was putting us through was leading me to fall out of love with her. I knew the more love I showed her, the easier it would be for her to love herself.
We don’t have the magical answer. We just hope this brings you peace and comfort in the days that you just want to throw in the towel and give up on your loved one. It is hard and you can be brought to some of the darkest days of your life and wonder “what the heck am I doing?” But also remember that your loved one feels worse and they are trying so hard to become healthier mentally. Support and love on that person because they need it more than you know.