Being the partner or support person of someone with mental illness can be a tough gig. It can occasionally bring on many of the same feelings experienced by someone with depression as well as a deep sense of wanting, needing even, to help. What has made all the difference for us is finding opportunities to let the positive in, starting with a simple drive.
The very first Drive Against Depression happened somewhat unknowingly, when my husband Adam reached out to a mate for support at the beginning of his journey with mental illness. He’d started seeking help but still wasn’t in a good space, so when this good mate received the call there weren’t any expectations of what would come next – he just made himself available and the two went for a drive in Piglet. They both talked, both listened, held space for each other to be honest and allowed a reconnection over the simple pleasure of going for a drive and being in the company of someone trusted.
From a partner’s perspective, the shift I saw after this was profound. A spark and sense of belonging and being understood had returned in Adam that had been absent for a long time. He had ideas flowing and felt motivated enough to take his own little blue happy car out for a drive – not for work or needing to run errands but for the pleasure of enjoying the drive, some fresh air and doing something for himself. This next drive created another shift again and another crack of positivity and progress shone through. Could it really be that such simple acts of self-care and mateship could be so beneficial? Seems so, and we have continued to see that hold true.
Over the past few months I’ve started to get a better handle on the cycle of Adam’s depression, what triggers it and what helps. I’m more active with encouraging reconnection with activities and people I know make his world brighter and I’ve become more aware of what self-care I need as part of this process too. Things aren’t perfect yet, but they are progressing, and that’s good enough for me.