My partner and I both deal with mental illness. Some of my dearest friends do as well.
I have been surprised by the longevity of some of my relationships. Love between friends can burn just as powerfully as romantic relationships. The people I connect to are often people who understand anxiety, depression, loss, grief, and all those tough parts of life.
My partner and I recently both experienced episodes of depression around the same time. Yet somehow it didn’t tear our relationship apart. One of my lifelong friends and I only got closer when I became depressed.
Sometimes I have wondered how we can maintain a relationship while both being depressed. Other people have asked me too.
The words that have saved my life & my heart: It’s not personal.
Do not take it personally. It’s tempting, I know. What do we mean by “it”? Every.little.thing.
This is so hard. But it may free you. This sounds harsh at first, but it’s the kindest truth I have heard: Nothing anyone does is because of you.
Nothing. Literally. This is not hyperbole.
People do their best in whatever situation they are in (side note: “best” changes from moment to moment, depending on a number of things). They are responding to life based on their own perspective, biases, and choices. So are you.
When someone is depressed/anxious/having an episode, they sometimes say or do incredibly hurtful things. I’m not saying you should not be hurt. Be hurt. Feel it. But try, try, try not to take it personally. It doesn’t mean anything about you.
Honestly, this is one of the hardest things I have done but it’s worked for me in moments of extreme desperation. Keep reminding yourself of this, and in a moment when you need it, you will hear your own voice in your head telling you, this is not about you.
“It’s not personal” is so freeing because what follows are these beautiful realities:
you cannot change or control anyone (accept them & yourself, as you are).
you cannot save them (they must save themselves).
you are responsible for you (no blaming your life on someone else).