For men, in particular, this approach can backfire greatly.
Men, by their very nature, are trained not to talk about their issues.
Indeed, any pressure on a man to open up, or to accept help, often backfires. You will never be able to lead someone out of the dark tunnel, all you can do is stay in the tunnel with them until they feel strong enough to lead themselves out. In many ways, hearing my loved ones tell me about their darkness was worse than living in my own.
Men revert into themselves, put up emotional barriers, and shut down.
When you date someone, it’s hard not to think their illnesses are your responsibility.
If their symptoms and happiness are not improving despite your best efforts to help and support, you might believe it’s partially your fault.
It can be a massive struggle just to make it through each day. The people who are often forgotten are the loved ones of a person with depression. Knowing somebody you love is struggling with depression leaves you feeling incredibly helpless.
You feel if you could say the right thing, or do something special, that maybe you will be able to help them to get better. You try a gentle approach, you try a firm approach. You say encouraging things, you get frustrated and argue. From my experience, the big mistake that people often make is that they treat depression as a mood, as if saying or doing the right thing will lift the depression. This is because my depression completely changed my entire outlook on life, and it changed who I was as a person.
The instinctual reaction for a male is to insist they don’t need help, that they can manage by themselves. When I was at my worst, everybody I tried to talk to would give me an opinion on how I could ‘make things better’. I just wanted to relay how I felt, and for the person to listen, give me a hug and reassure me that however long it took, they would stay in the darkness with me until I found my own way out. They talked, and they advised, and they suggested, and they tried to help, but they didn’t LISTEN. When they finish, hug them, tell them you love them, and that however long it takes, you will be there until they find the strength to get better.
This sometimes makes small issues transform into big stressors.
Again, it’s important to be patient with partners who suffer from depression.
Separating the idea of you from their depression is the only way to love a woman with depression without resenting her or feeling you are at fault.
Mc Coy urges people to remind themselves it was not her choice to become depressed, too.