July 31, 2018 at 9:24 am #5031
I’m after a bit of advice. Has anyone here helped their other half through depression? We’ve been together about a couple of years and when we first met were both pretty active people. However, about a year and a half ago they got a foot injury that meant they had to take about four months off work. The doctors and physios didn’t really know what the problem was or how to fix it, lots of conflicting advice. While it’s a lot better than it was, it still flares up if they walk more than a few miles. They’ve not really been running since the injury, we tried a short easy jog through the woods yesterday, which was going well until the foot flared up after a couple of miles.
Running was their main escape, and work has been pretty crap with lots of stress since going back. Without the release of going running, it’s all been building up and often got too much. Work provided them with a series of counseling sessions, which apparently helped a bit, but they ended a few months back.
When we first got together, my other half was full of energy and generally happy within themselves. However, within the last year, and especially the last few months, they seem tired and low most of the time. Most conversations are about stresses and crap from work or other problems. They do have periods when they are happy but the down periods are becoming more frequent and longer.
I’ve had depression myself in the past, but beyond urging them to speak to their doctor I don’t really know how to help them. To be honest, there are times when I find myself getting fed up with all their negative energy and lethargy, finding it infective. Im finding it very hard and need positive energy to bounce back off of.
Does anyone have any advice?
- This topic was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Kyle.
July 31, 2018 at 9:26 am #5033
Keep encouraging your partner to go see the doctor then to keep going back until they get something that works. Medication can take the edge off enough to help people re-engage with the things that make life enjoyable if that’s what’s needed.
Encourage him/her to find a new enjoyable outlet to work around the foot, it will heal in time then running can resume but until then there are other enjoyable activities but it gets harder and harder to get into something new the more depressed one gets.
Have patience, keep talking make sure what you do together doesn’t makes things better not worse (eg drinking too much/often) however tempting the easy option can be.
If counseling works for your partner it’s available privately, it’s expensive but depression is serious, consider prioritizing it.
July 31, 2018 at 9:33 am #5044
They are pretty set against taking any medication, but just talking to a GP could help. Luckily drinking isn’t an issue as they are almost tee total.
They’ve started to take up a couple of other activities, and are slowly getting fitter, although often it’s hard to get them motivated to get out, and I don’t want to push them too much.
Thanks for your advice!
July 31, 2018 at 9:41 am #5053
I used to be like this, but maybe for different reasons. “Don’t want medication, it’ll mask the pain and I won’t know if I’m doing damage, and I don’t want it anyway”.
I got a shoulder injury and couldn’t do the rehab. Too much pain. Taking a few pills made such a difference that I could actually do the rehab and make progress. Maybe your partner has different reasons for not taking painkillers/medication, I don’t know, but it might be worth reconsidering.
July 31, 2018 at 9:28 am #5034
Probably not too much help, but concerning the running… if you have a local gym with one of these running machines, they are fantastic for people with leg/ankle/foot injuries or arthritis. It’s a zero impact running machine (like running through water).
My gym has a few and it’s not a particularly flash gym. Takes a few sessions to get used to it, but an excellent running work out that really focuses on your form and core.
You might also want to try some good orthotic insoles such as these ones which really helped ease my foot pain
All the best!
July 31, 2018 at 9:32 am #5042
Thanks, they’re definitely not a gym person, although they did join the local gym. Membership is mostly sat there gathering dust!
July 31, 2018 at 9:28 am #5035
Maybe help them find a new outlet that doesn’t involve so much pressure on the foot.
What about swimming? Could make it interesting by swimming outdoors.
Or, less physical, maybe photography? Lots of thought required to produce good images if you want. Can shift your perspective from inward to out. Gets you outdoors.
If you both weren’t so busy, I’d recommend getting a dog. Lots of outdoor time simply walking. However, your work may exclude that as an option.
July 31, 2018 at 9:31 am #5038
We did talk about swimming, and they started doing some around new year, but that has pretty much dropped off. They have started doing a couple of other activities that are less foot intensive, which definitely improves their mood when I can persuade them out, but I don’t want to be too pushy and put them off.
We’ve talked about changing jobs, but it would require a change of career, and they don’t really know what else they would do. I think it could be good for them, but don’t want to push them into something they don’t want to do.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Kyle.
July 31, 2018 at 9:29 am #5036
Probably stating the obvious but protect your outlets and your emotional health too. Don’t let their position pull you down.
The first principle of first aid is to not put yourself at risk or you create two casualties and then cant help them.
July 31, 2018 at 9:33 am #5045
Very true. My other half is generally very supportive and aware that I need to get out and do my on thing. Thanks.
July 31, 2018 at 9:42 am #5054
“Always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others”
You can’t look after your partner if you don’t look after yourself. Make looking after your needs a priority too.
July 31, 2018 at 9:30 am #5037
A familiar story. Firstly your “partner” (how I hate that PC term) needs to find a sport which keeps him or her fit and provides regular endorphins. Unfortunately, running is a high-stress activity and runners seem to be especially prone to injury so how about taking up cycling? Off road will suit a mountaineer because the route-finding skills and terrain are similar but road cycling gets you much much fitter and can be done from the front door and even an hour’s ride can see you coming home exhilarated and happily exhausted. Cycling is also low-stress so injuries are uncommon unless the bike is set up wrong. There are also plenty of informal clubs you can join and most bike shops have groups going out during the day and evenings. Having a small group of like-minded cycling buddies for company and for the craic is really the most enjoyable aspect of my life at the moment.
Which brings me to part 2, which is work stress. After 29 years enjoying the same job I have absolutely hated this year; my employer is going through changes, which have made the job extremely stressful and I have been bringing the stress home with me, which in turn affects home life. I am approaching retirement and have been wondering how I would disentangle myself from the job but now it has become clear. Your “partner” needs to make changes soon before the stress affects your relationship, which it is already doing from what you write.
July 31, 2018 at 9:35 am #5046
Hi there, sorry to hear about your situation it is something I have a lot of experience of. Other half is not only a psych but also bi-polar.
The first thing is to try and understand if it’s low mood from lack of exercise, shit lifestyle etc or full-blown depression. If it is full blown depression medicine really will help and without them, it could just persist on and on.
The second thing is to protect yourself mentally and emotionally. This is really difficult, it is a bit like being with a dementor (to use an apt pop culture reference.) Try to remember that it is not you that is making them feel down and that although they may not be able to express appreciation for any efforts you make it is there and will be remembered when they get better. Try to spend some quality time with other friends and family sometimes to give yourself a bit of a lift.
The third thing is to support them. Often in the little things. This is difficult and feels a bit like being a carer sometimes (see point two.) Try to get them to get outside. To move a bit. To eat and drink healthily (your job to make the tea and cook I’m afraid.) When they have the energy to do things they might like (low key trip to the cinema at a not busy time for example), a drive into the countryside to try a short walk (at least if they can’t do the walk they are in nature and fresh air.) Often this will all be rebuffed (e.g. they might only have one mouthful of your meal) and you mustn’t take it personally. Also if you really want to help them you must not give up on this – don’t push it but if you give up they’ll notice (not in an annoyed way just feel less supported to get better.)
Hope that is of some help.
July 31, 2018 at 9:39 am #5050
Also, having reread everything I would suggest (with the usual caveats) it sounds like low mood, which should lift with the right support, activities etc. They wouldn’t really be able to go for a jog if they were clinically depressed (perhaps a slow short walk.) – and often unable to really get out of bed.
Although it may not sound like much this is a very good thing as it is easier (relative term to improve) – it sounds like if you gave them their good foot back and a dream job they’d get happy pretty quickly.
July 31, 2018 at 9:39 am #5051
Thanks, that’s a really great post. There are a couple of other issues I don’t want to go into on a public forum, but the foot and work-related issues seem t be the main things. I think it’s fairly mild rather than full-blown clinical depression, not that I’m any kind of expert. As you say, they are able to go to work and do some exercise. If you gave them a new foot and a dream job I think they would probably be back to normal pretty quickly. It’s just a recent change, mainly in the last couple of months, where their default mood seems to have gone from generally ok to feeling sad and lethargic that’s got me worried it could be developing into something worse.
July 31, 2018 at 9:35 am #5047
Really sorry – I’ve been in the same situation. Lots of good advice in the other responses, so just to add that I found counselling for myself was quite useful. An opportunity to be honest and open about how I was feeling (fed up, guilty, annoyed etc. etc.) and to be supported. Also to maybe get advice about how you can support your partner.
July 31, 2018 at 9:37 am #5048
You are in for a long haul and the process will take tolls on your relationship and yourself. You already know that as you have the first-hand experience. Me too.
Accept you will have spells with negative feelings towards them. This is, of course, normal in a relationship, but there will be a lot more stress during both the depression and the healing process. If possible, try to share the responsibility between friends and/or family.
Counseling a psychologist specialized in depression gave me an understanding of the mechanisms of depression and what can be done. There are some myths and it is best to get them out of the picture.
Anti-depressants worked for me by taking away the deepest black holes and they have fewer side effects than the rumors goes. Some of the so called side effects are part of the depression. I know as I had some of them even before taking the pills.
Physical activity is great. If running is not an option, find another. I began working out in a gym. A physiotherapist working together with the psychologist helped med putting together a training program meeting my mental and physical needs. More endurance than power for me.
You could plan some regular activities involving both of you. Fool them into some action and fun. Regularity and fun is the way to get back to normal life.
Feel free to pm me.
July 31, 2018 at 9:40 am #5052
Thanks for your support, much appreciated. Some good advice there. Unfortunately, due to my work, regularity is not easy to come by at the moment. We do need to get better at planning some fun activities to make the most of our time off together though.
July 31, 2018 at 9:38 am #5049
Is there any chance of getting them to try cycling? That will help get the endorphins flowing!
July 31, 2018 at 9:43 am #5055
This might come across as a bit negative, and if so I apologize in advance.
Please try and make sure that your partner actually wants help, and if so that they want help from you. I wasted several years of my life and damaged my own mental health trying to help my then wife until it because clear that she considered me to be part of the problem.
July 31, 2018 at 9:43 am #5056
I’ve been there and it can be heavy. After some time I realised that I simply didn’t understand it and shouldn’t convince myself I did. And actually my best contribution was simply not making it worse with my own behaviour.
July 31, 2018 at 9:46 am #5057
Work provided them with a series of counseling sessions, which apparently helped a bit, but they ended a few months back.
Could you look into continuing the counseling out of your own (collective) pocket? That’s what I did when I found myself in a comparable situation a few years back. Likely only your partner could say whether the cost would be worth it.
I was reasonably fortunate in having a counselor who only required me to pay her what I thought the sessions were worth. I reckoned that it was worth at least as much as a good session of physio for a soft tissue injury, so paid her around the same as I’d previously done for that, and she seemed happy. (Obviously, if I not paid anything she wouldn’t have expected me to come back!)
I’d also second other posters’ suggestions of cycling as an alternative to running. With a decent cycling shoe it should have very little impact on the injured foot. You say that it’s too hilly round your way: that suggests maybe a mountain bike rather than road cycling. And/or (dare I say it) an electric bike – road, gravel, “adventure” or MTB. It may be seen by some as cheating but you still get exercise: you have to pedal to make it go, the motor just helps – and you can usually choose how much it helps as you’re going along, so an easy hill: not much, steep hill: everything it’s got. And you get the fresh air and countryside, both of which are good for improving mood.
July 31, 2018 at 9:48 am #5058
I think it’s worth persevering with the foot injury, and [your partner] trying to figure out what is actually the problem – I’m confident that there might be something left to fix. In my experience, the medical profession often makes mistakes (which is what humans do, I make mistakes all day long in my professional career) or miss little things, and so it’s worth getting a second opinion or becoming an expert. At a certain point, 5 minutes of an expert’s time becomes less useful than say 100 hours of your own body awareness and research (or whatever it may be). So it might be worth paying the coin for a real expert to examine the foot, or to become as ‘expert’ as possible by studying the foot’s anatomy.
Otherwise, my only other advice is to try and inspire the other partner to take up the ‘other’ hobbies that they might’ve been saving. I always say I quit playing guitar for when I’m too wrecked to run, and you can garden in practically any state. Old people and people confined to wheelchairs can still live fulfilling lives, so a young person with a relatively mild foot injury should be able to too.
Lastly, I think it’s worth being clear with yourself with what you’re getting into (or rather what you’re already knee deep in). If the relationship gradually loses all of its former characteristics, but you’ve got very entwined, but you then realize only much later you don’t want to be there anymore…, it’s harder to extricate yourself than if you had seen things coming. Equally, you might take stock and decide that you will do anything for your partner, and the act of mentally committing to that will help you through the tough parts.
July 31, 2018 at 9:51 am #5059
As someone else has suggested, is cycling an option? I appreciate that it’s ‘foot intensive’, but there’s no impact as such (if that’s what is antagonizing the injury)
Getting up in the hills on the bike calms me down a lot and always makes me happier. The exertion, the views, the solitude. All under your own steam and miles from anyone. Wearing insoles really helped me when I had a foot injury.
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