7 Ways to Help Your Spouse Feel Secure During Your Depressive Episode

By Guest Blogger, Rebecca Lombardo

depressive episode

Many people have asked my husband and me how we’ve stayed together for so long with my mental illness looming overhead.

It’s a fair question; I know many couples that have ended up divorcing because one or the other couldn’t handle the added pressure of mental illness. I think in our case, that added element of pressure only made our marriage stronger.

Hope During a Depressive Episode

I don’t doubt that some people with depression or anxiety say to themselves, “I can barely take care of myself during a bout of depression; how am I supposed to worry about someone else?” To that I say, “I understand, and I’ve been there,” because I was diagnosed nearly 25 years ago.

I know from experience that when you stick together during the bad times, the good times are so much sweeter. On the day we got married, my husband said, “Well, you’re stuck with me now.” But I didn’t always make it easy for him.

Of course, at the beginning we struggled. We struggled a great deal, but we knew that we loved each other enough to keep working on the relationship.

If you truly love your spouse, you can gather enough strength to show you care for them, even when you don’t even have the energy to get out of bed.

Communicating During a Depressive Episode

It’s essential that your partner be made aware of what you’re going through. You can’t just shut down and isolate. The next time you go looking for their support, they may not be there because you’ve made them feel alienated.

Once I learned to utilize the seven methods listed below, we began to communicate better, even in the darkest of times. For many, these techniques may be common sense, but for those of us with a mental illness, sometimes we need to get out of our own way and just focus on the basics..

I’m not suggesting that you jump into the list with both feet. Take your time and find what works best for you and your spouse.

  1. Talk to your spouse and tell them what you are feeling. As soon as you feel yourself falling into a depressive episode, let them know, even if you’re having trouble coming up with the why and the how,
  2. Assure your partner that they are not the cause of your mood. Sit down and tell them point blank that they have nothing to do with how you’re feeling. You have no idea how powerful something so simple can be.
  3. Tell them that it’s okay that they can’t fix the situation. This was a big one for my husband. He loves me and he didn’t want to see me in pain. So, he often felt as if he had to do something to make it better for me. Unfortunately, most of us need to work through things in our own time before we feel better.
  4. Offer them simple options to help you feel better. Maybe you’re having a craving for chocolate or you just really want a tuna fish sandwich. Ask your spouse to pick up one of these items for you. When they bring it home, genuinely let them know that they’ve helped, even if it’s just a little.
  5. Try to make sure you don’t take anything out on them. One of the biggest stumbling blocks early on was my temper, and because my husband was the only one around, he got to feel the wrath. This goes hand in hand with communication. You might simply say, “Look, I’m not doing well right now and it may seem like I’m taking it out on you. I’m sorry if I do, it’s not your fault.”
  6. Thank them for being there for you. Many times, the only real remedy for a situation is a “thank you.” It’s a rewarding feeling to know you’ve helped the one you love. Once your partner feels appreciated, they’re more likely to be supportive more often.
  7. If you’re having trouble giving your feelings a voice, write put them in a letter. This is valuable on many levels. It can help the situation in the present, but if your partner is anything like my husband, he’ll keep it and read it when times get hard again. If you’re truly transparent and honest with your emotions, it could be the best thing to happen to your relationship.

Give It A Try

I hope you’ll consider trying a couple of these the next time you feel like you’re sinking into a depressive episode.

You can have a strong relationship with a solid structure while enduring mental illness. It doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Believe me when I tell you that having a stable partnership takes one of the heaviest loads off your back in a dark time. Suffering through depression is exhausting enough, but knowing that your relationship is falling apart around you makes it ten times harder.

Do yourself a favor and just try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Rebecca Lombardo is the author of “It’s Not Your Journey” where she details two years of her twenty-five year battle with mental illness. As she recovered from an attempt to take her life, she wrote the book to purge her pain and raw emotions. Rebecca offers the reader support and guidance as she begs them not to follow her path.

Rebecca and Joe Lombardo host a podcast, Voices for Change 2.0, Live on Saturdays. Learn more about Rebecca at www.rebeccalombardo.com allthatwax2019.scentsy.us Tw: @BekaLombardo

GOT SEX, SECURITY or SOCIAL PROBLEMS?

Anxiety Attack Worry Less Now

When our survival instincts for procreation, security, and community exceed their proper function, we want what others have, lust for sex and power, and become exceedingly angry when our demands aren’t met. (Bill Wilson) *

Many of us have valiantly tried to satisfy our overblown needs through our own efforts. For example, my selfish search for emotional security drove me to sick relationships, overwork, and manipulation. In the end, I hurt both myself and others.  

So, how then do we grow out of the patterns that threaten our romantic life, safety, and productive relations? First, we must sincerely want to find a better way to live. Then, we look at our own part in our unhappiness, and take actions to become the person we want to be.

Most important, we find like-minded people to give us unselfish support as we come to trust a loving, protective power to fulfill our needs.

What’s the Problem with Exaggerated Needs?

We begin our journey by listing each survival instinct, along with the personal cost of trying to force the world to fulfill it. See if any of these needs and consequences apply to your life (add to the list, if you wish).

  1. Unmet Emotional Needs cause low self-esteem, perfectionism, addiction, self-harm, anxiety
  2. Threatened Material Security causes inflated ambition, dishonesty, overwork, worry, stress
  3. Dysfunctional Social Relations result in codependency, prestige-seeking, competitiveness, gossip, failed relationships, conflict
  4. Dishonest Sex Relations lead to promiscuity, disease, selfishness 

Driven by fears of losing what we so desperately need, we may have been selfish, dishonest, and resentful. To free ourselves from these patterns, we write about the following questions and share our answers with a trusted person (therapist, clergy, sponsor, or spiritual advisor).

In what ways did I hurt others or myself,? Where was I . . .

  • Selfishly seeking my own security, social needs, or sexual gratification; and ignoring others’ feelings?
  • Dishonest with myself and others about my motives to satisfy my security, social relations, sex needs?
  • Fearful of not getting my needs met, and trying to control people and things so I could feel .more secure?
  • Resentful about my frustrated demands for security, social relations or sex?

This work helps us see the futility of expecting the world and others to fulfill our needs. No matter how hard we’ve tried, it just hasn’t worked, as it’s caused harm to ourselves and others. After sharing our shortcomings with a trusted confidant, we go to work to overcome our negative patterns.

If we’re addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, overeaters, gamblers, or regularly numb ourselves from life’s disappointments, we need help. In my case, I found a skilled therapist and the 12-step programs of AA, Al-Anon, and ACOA.

Self-Compassion

As I met with others who had faced similar challenges, I realized I wasn’t the only one confused about how to keep myself safe and secure; that everyone’s instincts caused them and others trouble.

I came to see my old hurtful actions as misguided attempts to fulfill my own needs. For example, in my alcoholic home, I decided, “If I’m perfect, everyone will like and admire me, and I won’t feel so alone and afraid.” I went on to get good grades, advanced degrees, and professional awards. Eventually, those efforts led to anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic pain, and three divorces. Clearly, my attempt to ensure my own happiness was failing.

Loving Support and Security

As I joined with healthy others, I found I was not uniquely bad; I had been merely a desperate mess. Many of my recovering friends had done worse things than I had, and they had become good, reliable, caring people. Perhaps, with help, I could be a better person too.

Through the loving care of others, I began to own my strengths. For example, through my people-pleasing, I developed social skills that had to be balanced with self-care and boundary-setting. Ditto with my perfectionism; I certainly knew how to work hard–an asset–but only when I combined it with adequate rest and self-forgiveness.

Being immersed in groups of happy people who are healing their lives led me to my own source of security–a power greater than my fears. I was relieved that no one pushed me to believe in their definition of a “higher power.” Eventually, with guidance from my sponsor, therapist, and other spiritual teachers, I began to trust in an ever-present love that fulfilled all my needs.

These days, I often take a quiet moment to connect with this benevolent, caring power. In times of trouble, however, when I’m afraid my needs couldn’t possibly be met, I rely on my healthy friends to stream that positive power into my life and mind.

Knowing that love is always available gives me great security, and I’m ever grateful for that.

*NOTE: The ideas presented here are based on the Step 4 Inventory of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gigi Langer security

Gigi Langera person in recovery, holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and at work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and Murphy, her cat.

Worry Less Now Cover

Get Gigi’s new book, “50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking.” Available in audio, e-book, and paperback (5 Stars on Amazon). Click HERE

  • “This book is a winner.” Karen Casey, Bestselling Hazelden author
  • “Valuable, heartfelt manual.” — Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

SIX REASONS TO PRAY 🙏

Before I got sober, I didn’t pray, unless you count uttering in desperation, “Help me!”

Even though I didn’t know what it meant, I memorized the Lord’s prayer, just to fit in at my best friend’s church.


** I had no idea that connecting regularly with a Higher Power (HP) could solve my troubles and fears. **

My favorite author, Karen Casey, writes:
“(1) Prayer promises relief when we are anxious.
(2) Prayer connects us with our Higher Power when we feel isolated and full of fear.
(3) Prayer frees our minds from the obsession to plan other people’s lives.
(4) Prayer helps us take action when we feel compelled to change the circumstances of our lives.
(5) Prayer becomes a wonderful resource to draw on when living through our painful moments.
(6) And prayer gives us the willingness to accept God’s solution for every problem that plagues us.” (from “A Life of My Own”)


My friends say that praying is asking, and meditation is listening to the God of our understanding. So, I meditate to gain all the wise direction I can get! (I also attend meetings, do service work, and read inspiring spiritual texts to keep myself balanced and stress-free).

** HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH YOUR HP?

Gigi Langer Gigi Langer is a former teacher who quit drinking, only to find that her negative thinking, judging, and fears kept her in a cycle of worry, codependency, chronic pain, perfectionism, and overworking. Her award-winning book “50 Ways to Worry Less Now” (Amazon 4.8 stars) is available in paper, e-book, and audiobook. Honest, practical, simple. Relevant to anyone! GigiLanger.com/buy

HOW TO SUCCEED IN RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships Require Care. Follow these tips to find harmony and happiness.

Balance. Don’t make the other person the most important thing in your life. Have a variety of interests, friends, & passions.

Support. Talk through your concerns & problems with healthy friends or a counselor before sharing it with your loved one. Don’t make him/her your counselor.

Listen. When your loved one shares, don’t interrupt. When they finish, summarize what you heard. Don’t give your own story or suggestions. Instead, help them explore the issue with clarifying questions (“You mentioned _, tell me more about that.”). Ask permission to offer solutions.

Self-Awareness. Be honest about the motivations behind your words and actions. Where are you being controlling or self-centered?

Kindness. Focus on your loved one’s strengths and demonstrate care through your words and actions.

Forgiveness. Wait at least 2 days before discussing a conflict. During the talk (not through text or email), acknowledge your part in the disagreement and listen to their side of the story.

Don’t use substances as a way of avoiding feelings. If you’re drinking or using a lot, your relationships will often fail. Try no more than 2 normal-sized drinks a day; if you can’t stick with that, get help.

Meditation. If you’re moody or prone to anxiety, try the free app, “Insight Timer”. It guides you thru meditations for any situation or emotion.


** Relationships can be difficult; the healthier you are, the better are your relationships. **

Gigi Langer Worry Less Now

Gigi Langer, PhD. Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. When I quit drinking, I was left with only my fears and worries. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings.

Worry Less Now Cover

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. Gain practical strategies with directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (50 reviews) (Buy Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

REVIEW by Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden) “Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.”