What you need to know:
- If your partner suddenly starts acting out, this could be a depression red flag too
- Find a way to maintain a balance in the way you meet her needs, your needs, and the needs of the relationship
On June 12, 2021, the lifeless body of Dr. Lydia Wahura was found in the back seat of her vehicle at the University of Nairobi. The 35-year-old, paediatrician at Kenyatta National Hospital died by suicide. Detectives who visited the scene found three syringes, a suicide note, and drugs in the car. “She had injected a syringe on her left arm. There were vials of Ketamine and Midazolam drugs at the back seat which she may have used,” detectives said.
Dr Wahura’s case became one of the latest in the rising statistics of fatal depression which knows no class, race, career, or gender.
What can you do when the person you are dating suffers from depression?
The warning signs
Low to zero interest in sex. Shannon Kolakowski, the author of When Depression Hurts Your Relationship says that 75 percent of people who are depressed lack the desire to engage in intimacy for lengthy periods. “Low sex drive will manifest in a variety of ways including poor body image, resentment, shame about sex, performance anxiety or even medications,” she says. If your partner suddenly starts acting out, this could be a depression red flag too. “It is highly likely that she will act out her depression by getting into affairs, becoming aggressive over small issues, and shutting out friends, relatives, and even you,” she says.
Psychotherapist Caitlin Cantor says that when dating someone with depression, create a balance in the way needs are met in the relationship. “Find a way to maintain a balance in the way you meet her needs, your needs, and the needs of the relationship,” she says. This means that while you will likely prioritise your partner’s needs over your own or the relationship’s, you must take care not to prolong this. “Depression may not be an illness that will go away quickly and you must learn how to put yourself first while still being supportive of your partner and the relationship,” she says.
One of the ripple effects of depression in relationships is that it will put your perceptions of each other at crossroads. “If he is depressed, he may start to think and believe, ‘She doesn’t really care about me. I knew it wouldn’t last.’ On the other hand, you may be thinking, ‘We’re just going through a rough patch, but we’ll work it out and our relationship will last!’” says Ms. Kolakowski. Cultivate this positive line of thought in the relationship.
Remind and show her that you care about her. Your assurance should not end with a verbal reminder. Nairobi-based psychologist Patrick Musau says that you should strive to know the heart of your partner while she’s at her worst. “Establish what her hidden needs and feelings are. That way, you will be meeting her halfway through her recovery journey. In turn, she will be more willing to open up to you or to help,” he says.
Find new ways to communicate that will make your partner feel heard, validated, and close to you. Change your communication method if it is not connecting the two of you. Bear in mind that being connected does not include making your partner feel that they are a burden to you. “Such thoughts could push them over the edge in the delusion that they will be easing your troubles,” cautions Mr. Musau.