If you’re dating a person with depressive issues, you have to realize they cannot retain love. They’re like a leaky bucket; you fill them full of love and affection and bold shows of adoration, and a few days later it’s all trickled away.
Most normal people can hold onto love for a while – a nice gesture will make someone content for a while. Whereas a depressive will be working merrily and suddenly some dark part of their brain will go, You know she’s lying. She doesn’t really love you. It comes out of nowhere, this bucket-puncture, and all the affection that’s been given just vanishes – unless you’re a depressive, you can’t know what it’s like to be mugged by your own brain like this, where you’re filing papers and suddenly you’re consumed by this baseless terror that the person you love most is on the verge of leaving you.
Your job, as their partner, is not to take their need for more love personally.
Yes, I know, it’s crazy, two days ago you bought them a pony tattooed with “HERE’S HOW MUCH I HEART YOU” on its flank and then took them on an expensive ride around candy mountain. They should know by now. But the very nature of their disease means that this, too, slips away from them. They’ll still be cuddled up with you, wondering.
If you get mad at them, it’s counter-productive. Then their stupid-brain goes, Oh my God, he’s angry, I’m screwing this up further, they must not really love me, and wham they’re in a frenzy. It’s difficult, I know, but you need to just nod and say, “Yes, I love you,” not the very reasonable riposte of “OH FOR GOD’S SAKE LOOK AT ALL THE PONY POOP IN OUR BACK YARD, DOES THAT REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING!?!”
You need to be calm, remember they’re pretty fucked up, and just say, “Yes. I love you.” Refill the bucket. And remember it’s gonna drain again, and that it’s nothing you’re doing wrong.
As the depressive, it is your job not to make filling the bucket their job. You must remember that your leaky bucket is not their issue. The temptation is strong to go, “Well, my bucket’s empty, so they need to fill it now!”, but you can drain your partners really quickly that way, and eventually they do stop loving you because you’ve made them into little Mickey-brooms constantly toting endless buckets…. Or worse, you find someone who will be willing to constantly fill your bucket at a price, which leads to abuse and dysfunction like you wouldn’t believe.
You got a bad bucket, which means that you’re gonna have to learn to function with it empty sometimes. Doesn’t mean you’re dying of thirst, man, it just means you can’t drink now.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.