How to Handle Your Partner Suddenly Saying “I’m Depressed and/or Suicidal”

By: Jana El Hini

Teenagers nowadays suffer from all kinds of mental health issues. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or OCD, this generation has got it all. Maintaining your own wellness is hard enough but what happens when your significant other indirectly asks for your help? How do you balance caring for yourself and someone else? But also…what do you do when you’ve got no experience whatsoever with mental illness, when you’ve managed to maintain your mental health? How do you deal with something you’ve never been through? Well, use this as a small push into the world of carrying each other to a better state and whatever follows, is your instinct.

When you find your partner seeking your help and comfort, you might find yourself somewhat bewildered, but once you realize the weight of this plea for help. You might want to ask the following questions:

1. Have you been sleeping more or less?

2. Have you been eating more or less?

3. Do you feel tired no matter the amount of sleep you’ve gotten the other night?

4. Do you ever catch yourself thinking of your death, do you think of yourself as suicidal?

5. How is your concentration?

6. Can you help me understand your feelings?

As much as these questions are a must ask, you should have something just as important in mind. There are things you should say and things you shouldn’t. There are phrases that’ll make them gradually feel better and phrases that’ll push them further away from you and deeper into their illness. So basically, avoid saying any of the following phrases.

1. When will you feel better?

2. Why would you even be depressed? You’re so lucky, your life is perfect!

3. This is all in your head

4. Other people have it way worse, this is nothing 

Let me just briefly talk about these minor to you, major to them phrases. Your partner is not in a bad mood, they didn’t have a bad day and they’re complaining about it, and they’re not overreacting. Depression doesn’t have to result from disaster or trauma, it could happen to the (seemingly) happiest person on earth. And you don’t have the right to disregard someone’s illness, just because someone else has visible triggers. 

When a person lays such responsibility on you, they might feel like they’re burdening you. So next up is how to debunk this feeling, making them feel welcomed and loved. 

1. Give them your undivided attention whenever they need to talk

2. Make sure they understand that it’s fine to not want to talk

3. Ask THEM how they’d like to be helped, don’t force them into something they’re not okay with

4. Don’t give up on them, don’t rush them (tell them to take their time)

5. Don’t treat them like a child by carrying their responsibilities, give them space to make their own decisions. Empower them

Most importantly, don’t forget yourself. You can ask for emotional support as well, just because they’re going through a lot, doesn’t mean you can’t ask for their help as well. You’re in this together, so get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. Don’t think negatively, be positive, for you and your partner’s sake.

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