Mental illness, including depression, carries a heavy stigma. Often we are embarrassed to talk about our feelings, our diagnosis, and the hurdles we face every day when we have depression. Even folks who are married for years, may struggle with telling their spouses about their new diagnosis, but what if you are in a new relationship? Should you tell your partner? If so, when? How do you bring it up? Unfortunately, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions.
One of the essential aspects of sharing your story is waiting until you are comfortable. Are you comfortable talking about your depression? If not, this may be important to discuss with your therapist. For you to feel comfortable sharing about your mental health, you must be comfortable with your diagnosis. It is essential to understand that there is no shame in having depression, which is not your fault, nor should it be viewed as a negative trait. Keep in mind that depression is incredibly common, and there is a good chance your partner knows someone else living with depression. Maybe your partner has even struggled with it in the past.
Finding the right time to tell your partner is an essential aspect of sharing your journey. If this is a brand new relationship, it may be wise to wait until you can trust your partner. You may be able to trust your partner right away. If this is the case, sometimes the sooner, the better so you know whether this is a long-term serious relationship. If you feel like you have been dating for a few months and cannot trust your partner with this information, you may want to reconsider the relationship.
Ultimately you want your partner to understand and to be able to hold space for you. There is no perfect timing when you should tell your partner about your depression, but there can be wrong timing. Avoid telling your partner during physical intimacy or if one of you has been drinking. Ensure you both are in a comfortable environment where you have time and space to talk about your feelings and your partner’s reactions.
It’s only about telling your partner that you have depression, but it’s also sharing with your partner how your depression affects you. Everyone’s journey is unique, so personalizing your experience by communicating how your symptoms affect you is crucial. What time of day or year do you struggle the most? How do you react when your depression becomes challenging to manage? It is equally important to explain to your partner how he/she can support you along this journey. Depression can be different for everyone, so it is important to express how your depression has shaped you.
If he/she is your best friend, he/she will be your biggest ally
Your partner is probably one of your best friends. As close friends, they should want to comfort you, and you should want to be open with them. If this person genuinely does care for you, telling him/her about your depression should not affect the relationship negatively. If your partner does not handle the disclosure well, then this may be a sign that this relationship was not meant to be. If the relationship does end at some point, it is important not to blame it on your depression or self-worth. Relationships end for many reasons, and many of these reasons are not our fault.
By sharing your journey with your partner, you are spreading awareness
By openly talking about your depression, you are breaking down barriers and stigmas associated with mental illness. You are also educating your partner about depression and how coping with depression may be easier some days than others.
AKUA Mind and Body treatment
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with depression and other mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA Mind and Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.
AKUA Mind and Body offers detoxification, intensive treatment programs, and outpatient treatment programs. AKUA Mind and Body uses a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment to help individuals who have been affected by depression to recognize their underlying triggers and develop healthy coping skills. Regardless of where you are in your recovery process, AKUA Mind and Body can help.