Over 15 million people in the United States alone suffer from depression. Often along with this distressing illness come other issues like anxiety and panic disorders, excessive thoughts of death or suicide, and self-harming behaviors that range from physical self-harm to eating disorders to substance abuse.
Although I’ve spoken in previous posts about being there for your significant other (SO) and helping soothe their fears, ultimately our own emotional state is our own responsibility. A supportive and understanding SO can only do so much. If you are unwilling to help yourself, then no one else can help you either. Find the courage to look deep within yourself and discover your own issues and how those might be affecting your relationships.
When I’m in intense emotional pain, I often listen to Eckhart Tolle read his fantastic book A New Earth. This almost always relieves some of my agitation. I struggle with a crippling emotional disorder that sometimes gets the better of me, especially during times of hormonal or chemical imbalance, or during times of heavy stress. My husband, the most understanding and support man I’ve ever known, will stop everything else if necessary to help me through it, and I sometimes lean on him too much before I find my own footing again. But ultimately I must stand on my own or else I become a burden to myself, and I feel like a burden to my husband, although he constantly reassures me that I am not. He is a saint.
Back to my point, we all need some guidance and grounding from time to time, and if you or your SO struggle with depression or another mental disorder, then it can be more challenging for you and your relationship. It can also be more rewarding, as such issues only serve to bring the two of you closer together. After all, you are a team.
Tolle talks about something he calls the “pain body,” and his explanation of it as a construct of the ego is quite profound. When we are in the grips of our “pain body,” we may say or do things that we wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. We all have this “pain body,” although some people’s “pain body” is more dense than others. I call this state of mind my crazy space. When I’m in the grips of the crazy space, or “pain body,” it is like I am on a drug. I see the world differently, as if through a haze. I make irrational decisions. Once I am on the other side again, this becomes very clear, and I’m usually terribly embarrassed about it. Everyone has times like this, when stress or hormones or brain chemicals make you angry or irrational, and it is important to understand your SO’s crazy space, as well as your own, and learn how to deal with it. It is always temporary. Supporting your SO through this will only serve to strengthen your relationship and bring you closer together. Plus, when your SO is in their crazy space, they are not thinking clearly. If you are able to remain calm and objective, you can help them out of it. You can lovingly remind them that it is just temporary and it will pass. You can remind them to breathe or meditate or exercise or listen to Tolle or whatever it is that helps them through it.
Their love will deepen for you because of your patience and understanding, and yours, in turn, will deepen for them.
In order to do this and be there in this way for your spouse, you must ensure that you, too, are emotionally healthy and aware. If you can remain in a place of peace when your SO is suffering, then you will not get triggered into your own crazy space, something that happens far too often and results in arguing and saying hurtful things you don’t really mean.
As I’ve said before, relationships are hard work. The idea of finding someone without “emotional baggage” is a fantasy. Everyone has emotional baggage. We start accumulating it when we are just a child, before we even reach 2-years-old. At this age, our brains are like a sponge. Although a 2-year-old is hardly able to speak, they are absorbing everything that goes on around them. They are looking to their parents and forming ideas about relationships. If they fight, the child thinks that’s normal. If they don’t fight but feel hostile towards each other, the child senses that as well.
Everyone has issues to varying degrees, and it is essential to acknowledge this and learn to work through it for your own health, your SO’s health, your children’s health, and the health of your family/relationship. Aren’t they worth it? Aren’t you worth it?
Learn to meditate. (fun)
You may also try things like Tai Chi; daily walks to clear your head; exercises to bring you in the present moment, the only time that ever exists; or these things to find peace within. After all, it is what we’re all looking for, and we are not going to find it outside ourselves.
Many people say something like this: “When I get that promotion, book deal, break, <fill in the blank>, everything will be better.” It won’t be. Healing yourself and healing your relationship must come from the inside out. Find the courage to discover what you need to stop living in fear.
“In the stillness of presence, you can sense the formless essence of yourself and in the other, as one. Knowing the oneness of yourself and the other is true love, true care, true compassion.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Read my other articles on romance and relationships:
(Also available in hardcover, paperback, & Kindle editions, although I recommend the audio book, as his voice is very soothing. It is a great way to start the day by listening for 15 or 20 minutes as an exercise in remaining present throughout the day.)