Without my noticing the obsessive, inward focussed, over thinking part of my brain - the If I feed the monster with real human negative emotions and vulnerability there's a real Managing depression and anxiety in a committed relationship. The negative thinking is actually the depression speaking. It's what depression "This relationship broke up; I'll never find a partner." Listen for. Adapted from When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How To is one of the central predictors of depression and suicidal thoughts. Most of us have a hard time dealing with negative emotions, but people who are depressed have a relationship– you're less equipped to deal with problems that elicit.
Negative Filter You focus on the few negative experiences in your relationship and fail to recognize or recall the positives.
You probably bring up past history in a series of complaints that sounds like you're putting your partner on trial: You can also keep a list of positives about your partner to remind you to put the "negatives" in perspective.
We all do dumb things at times, but it's useful to take off the negative filter and remind ourselves of the positives. All-or-Nothing Thinking You describe your interactions as being all good or all bad without examining the possibility that some experiences with your partner are positive: For example, when Phyllis began looking for positives from Ralph, she realized that he was affectionate at times and that he was rewarding to her as well.
The best way to test out your distorted and biased negative thinking is to look at the facts. Maybe the facts aren't as terrible as they seem to be. Discounting the Positive You may recognize the positive things in your relationship but disregard them: In fact, if you start counting the positives rather than discounting them, they will no longer seem trivial to both of you. Vinnie was happy to learn that the very little things that he was doing, like complimenting Cynthia, made a big difference to her.
This in turn made him less critical. And Vinnie began keeping track of Cynthia's positives, which helped him recognize that an occasional negative -- which was probably due to depression -- was outweighed by the many good things in their relationship.
Shoulds You have a list of "commandments" about your relationship and condemn yourself when you're depressed or your partner when you're angry for not living up to your "should. Here are a few typical examples. Are these "shoulds" helping or hurting you and your relationship? I guarantee that if you have a lot of them, you are pretty unhappy. Rather than talk about the way things "should" be, you might consider how you can make things better.
Replace your shoulds with "how to" and "let's try. But you can make progress by acting differently and communicating in a caring way.
How Depression Damages Your Relationship & What You Can Do
Personalizing You attribute your partner's moods and behavior to something about yourself, or you take all the blame for the problems: Phyllis was doing a lot of personalizing, thinking that Ralph wanted to be alone because he found her boring.
But really Ralph was so burned out at the end of the day that he needed a little while to cool down. It wasn't about Phyllis; it was about Ralph's day. Perfectionism You hold up a standard for a relationship that is unrealistically high and then measure your relationship by this standard. You may think that you are holding up your ideals, but you are really putting you and your partner down. No relationship is perfect -- and no relationship needs to be perfect. Managing depression and anxiety in a committed relationship That was the early days.
And despite the uncertainties being countered by excitement and the rushes of dopamine and norepinephrine, I'm glad they're over. But how do you manage when depression or anxiety are part of a committed relationship? Depression and anxiety can magnify and distort emotions.
You need to be on your guard. When looking through their unnatural lens, you can start to feel that there is a problem with the relationship, or with one party within it.
How Depression Damages Your Relationship & What You Can Do
I like how it externalises the course most relationships run at some point, and shows how support can help a couple avoid crisis. A more detailed diagram shows the ongoing post-crisis path at different levels.
With the right support a couple can return to the original path. Well, in my experience; Establish it as something external to you both - distinguish between what is you and your relationship and what is the depression or anxiety. Step back and set yourselves up as a team, dealing with and managing the illness together.
Viewing it as external to you both stops it being associated purely with one individual or becoming too intertwined with the rest of the relationship. A lot of people say they find a metaphor such as the black dog useful as a way to clearly define the illness as an external party.
This brings me nicely on to; Find your own language to talk about it and use this to help your partner understand. Personally, when I get very low I get needy and dependent. Because these are more negative experiences one might have in a relationship anyway, it's important to identify that these are a result of the depression or anxiety and not of something else going on.
Try and identify how the illness makes you interact differently and explain this. Saying 'when I'm low, I feel really needy, so I might be a bit dependent and irrational today' sets you up much better to manage the day than communication purely based on the current feeling of neediness 'why are you going out today, I really want you to stay in, do you even love me?
This leads me on to; Examine your motivations before you act If you are feeling depressed, a symptom of that might be that you feel needy and dependent. If your partner doesn't realise this is a symptom of your depression they may well feel your behaviour is irrational - and tell you so.
You might feel that they don't understand you and respond by ignoring them or going quiet and refusing to open up. But what is your motivation here? Fundamentally, what you might want is for your partner to pay you the attention your 'needy feeling' wants today.
But playing these kind of games isn't the most straightforward way to get there. It may well start an argument or cause upset when it doesn't go your way and, for example, they just leave 'because you're ignoring me'. So instead - before you take an action which might affect your relationship - try to establish what it is that you really need and think about whether there is a clearer, more open path to get it.
Use what works even if it feels weird It's really common to feel as though a relationship should flow along wonderfully and if it doesn't then there is something wrong with it. In fact this is quite a disempowering viewpoint. You have the power to make it work if you both want to. Sometimes this involves finding tools and techniques to help. Some of the suggestions for managing really difficult times in relationships include ones using numbers to help you communicate when you're not feeling up to a long conversation.
Deciding what the numbers mean 1 might be 'I'm just about doing ok, but could use some love today so be patient with me' and 5 might be 'I'm really struggling, I don't even feel able to talk about it but I need you with me today so much I need you to prioritise me over other plans' and then using them to communicate how you feel could help when, in the moment, you're not able to put it into words. Another tactic if you are struggling to put everything you want to say into words is to try writing it down.
It might feel odd initially to hand your partner a letter or send them an email when you live in the same house - but you might find that it works.
You have more time to formulate what you want to say and they have more time to absorb it and work out how they feel about it. These techniques might not work for you but my point is that you shouldn't feel odd about using whatever does.
It's actually a really normal and healthy way to negotiate difficult times effectively. On a slightly different note - be prepared and open to trying things that you might not think is 'you'.
This might be a mindfulness course or some counselling - as a couple or individually. Finding new spaces and ways of managing and talking about how to strengthen your couple 'team' can be really valuable - and in ways you don't always expect.
Enlist the help of your partner in helping you to recognise when you're struggling and reminding you it won't last forever - and don't disregard it when they do.
In a previous blog entry, I wrote about how when you are in the midst of a depressive episode it's hard to imagine that you will ever feel better.