TiaMP: My FI and I both have anxiety. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand a lot of times – you get anxious over something and worry about it so much that you wind up not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. At some point it develops into full blown depression and then you get anxious over being depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
Depression is a mood disorder – but what people don’t realize is that it often causes physical pain as well as emotional and mental pain. I suffer from horrible fatigue when I’m in a low point. No matter how much sleep I get, it’s never enough. I also get muscle aches and pains as well. Sometimes there are headaches brought on by crying. And my appetite gets all out of whack too; either I want to eat nothing or I want to eat everything in sight. It’s one of the worst and most uncomfortable conditions I have ever experienced in my life.
The most important things to remember are these:
1. His depression is not personal. He doesn’t mean to make you sad and upset. If he could he would get rid of his depression in an instance, but that doesn’t really happen. Do your best to be patient and gentle with him.
2. Depression can be a life-long battle. It often makes a first appearance during adolescence or the teenage years and often comes back unexpectedly throughout life, though that isn’t always the case. Mine struck during Middle School, though I had shown some signs of anxiety and depression in Elementary School. It still affects me to this day, but I have gotten better at managing it.
3. Men tend to have a higher rate of suicide than women do. Why? Because women are more likely to seek professional help than men. I personally believe its because our culture teaches that men are supposed to be strong and silent – anything less is a sign of weakness. Seeking professional help is a sign of great strength and courage, yet this false ideal is what leads men to avoid seeking help in the first place.
4. You can’t fix him. No one, except your FI himself, can “fix” himself. He needs to take that first step of reaching out for assistance. If he can’t or won’t do that then he isn’t willing to allow others to help him when he needs it. He can still get better without help, but it is often a much easier process when you let others help you.
1. Make sure he knows that you are always there for him. Make sure that you tell him how much you love him and that you will always love him no matter what. Let him talk to you about things on his mind and do your best not to judge him for how he feels – doing so will allow him to feel more comfortable talking with you and he will be more open to sharing things with you as time goes on.
2. Exercise and nature can help sometimes. I know with me I always feel a bit more upbeat after a hike or walk outside. If I’m cooped up inside too much then I feel a lot more blah.
3. Continue attempting to interest him in doing things outside the home, but don’t pressure him to join in or go with you. Sometimes he may need to go out and be a part of things and other times he may really need some time alone.
4. It may be beneficial if he programs the number for the National Suicide Hotline (US Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255) into his cell phone. The person on the other end is trained to handle calls from people in distress and can help talk them down if they need help. He may also want to keep the number written down in his wallet as well. I hope he never has to use it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Above all else, remember to take care of yourself as well. Stay strong, healthy, and motivated to reach your goals in life. Speaking with a therapist or a support group may be helpful for you – they may be able to provide other methods you can use to help your FI when he is in a dark place. And seeing you go to meetings or sessions (and the benefit it provides) may help him be more comfortable in going himself one day.
I wish you both a lot of luck and strength.