Blog

5 Ways to Maintain Healthy Boundaries While Supporting a Depressed Partner

Life isn’t easy when your partner has depression.

Of course, you want to support them through this difficult time in their life. Yet, the energy and effort that it requires can be so draining. Sometimes, it feels as if their depression is taking up all the space in your lives, and there isn’t much room for anything else.

Is it even possible to support your partner while also taking care of yourself?

The answer is: Yes, absolutely!

However, it does require that you be aware of your own needs and set appropriate boundaries. How?

Consider these five ways.

1. Don’t Take It Personally

There will be times when your partner may be angry and upset. They may try to “get back” at you with biting comments and personal attacks. This, even though you are the one trying to help them.

Keep in mind not to let these moments shake you. They are signs of depression, and they can be really hard to deal with. Just know that in those moments, you are seeing your partner at their worst, when their depression really has a grip on them. Thus, try building some emotional space between the two of you so that, when these moments occur, they don’t “get” to you.

2. Take a Firm Stand Against Abusive Behavior

While you want to show support even during tough times, keep in mind that you should not tolerate unkind behavior from your partner. Just because they are depressed doesn’t mean they have the right to be either emotionally or physically abusive to you.

If your partner is making emotionally cruel comments, be firm and tell them to stop saying those things. Don’t tolerate physical abuse either. If you share a home, go somewhere you know is safe. Remember, you can’t help your partner get better if they are creating an unsafe environment for you.

3. Do the Things You Enjoy and Love

If your partner is struggling with depression, you might feel obligated to put all your focus and attention on them. That makes sense, as you genuinely want to help them get better. However, it’s a long road to recover from depression. By putting all your energy toward them, you neglect having the ability to regain some of that energy and recharge.

That’s why it’s important that you make time for yourself to pursue the things you love and enjoy. It’s not being selfish. Rather, it’s a critical part of avoiding burnout and maintaining balance in your own life. Have a discussion with your partner when they are in the right frame of mind to hear you. Let them know you care for them and love them, but sometimes you need a break too.

4. Don’t Enable Your Partner

Depression can cause someone to feel helpless, incapable, and unworthy. Thus, they rely on their partners to do things that they once did themselves. If your partner had a broken leg, for example, it’s logical that you would take care of them while they recover. However, at some point, they need to get up out of bed and start doing things for themselves.

The same is true with depression. Help your partner, but avoid becoming a doormat for their every want and request. Encourage them to do things for themselves, such as getting a snack from the kitchen or picking up after themselves.

5. Get Professional Therapeutic Support

It’s common to hear how depressed people need to see a therapist to heal from depression. However, you ought to see a therapist too. Caregiving can be emotionally draining, and it’s crucial that you get support too.

A therapist can be understanding about your needs, listen to your frustrations, and help with finding solutions. Also, having your own therapist is another way to set a boundary with your depressed partner. Your session is a place where you can vent and focus on yourself.

When your partner is depressed you want to help, of course. However, the best way to provide that support is finding a balance between your partner’s needs and your own. And that means setting and maintaining boundaries with them, which isn’t always easy.

Remember though that you don’t have to do this alone. If you would like to find out how we can help you get your own emotional needs met and feel supported, please contact us today for more information on my therapeutic approach.

Author

Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

Next Post
When Counseling Fails to Address Relationship Problems—What’s Wrong?
Previous Post
Survivor Guilt After a Large-Scale Tragedy: Relating to the Experience

Categories