You can spot them a mile off – someone who feels fulfilled, inspired and valued, and who adores their work. Whatever life throws at them, whether they have any mental health issues or not, they have a secure identity around their work and career – and it shows. Somewhere deep inside there is a sense of OK-ness. There is a sparkle, a sort of self-assuredness.
But if that work no longer is, and the person isn’t needed anymore – that sparkle can vanish so quickly. We know that some depression comes about as the result of a trauma – and to suddenly find that you don’t have a job can be hugely traumatic for many people. Especially if there is no redundancy package to cushion the blow, and when other jobs simply aren’t there to be had.
It’s interesting to me that people in their 50s and early 60s are the most affected by the shrinking job market. It seems so unfair – the world really was our oyster back in the day. Everything seemed possible, and if you chose to change jobs you could – quite easily.
Harder to find employment in your 50s
People are finding it more and more tricky to get back into the workplace now – and the longer you are out of it, the more your confidence is likely to drop. And it can be so demoralising to have to accept work which you know you are massively over-qualified to do, especially after years of experience. Or to be offered part time work, when you long to carry on being full time in a key role. Or not to be able to find anything at all. Equally, so many jobs have changed, and seem to require more administrative tasks to be completed than anything else.
It’s challenging enough if you are affected by the above yourself – but if it is your partner who is affected, you may find that you suddenly have to pick up pieces that you didn’t know even existed before. If he or she becomes depressed as a result of any of the issues above, you will be experiencing the fallout: the depressed behaviour – negativity or maybe anger, the confusion and the emotional turmoil. And this mightn’t show up for some time – depression can take a while to brew, and if there has been a sudden trigger, the symptoms may not become obvious until some time after the event.
On the other hand, you mightn’t even know that anything has happened. Sometimes partners keep their loss of job well hidden from their partners, making as if to go to work each day, and spending it elsewhere. Depression issues related to work are complex, and whether it’s to do with loss of job or feeling undervalued in the role, there is always a sense of loss, and the emotions and symptoms of depression are very real. You as the partner of someone affected needs to stay strong to support your partner, even though you might sometimes feel like throwing in the towel.
5 ways you can help if your partner is depressed:
- Know about depression and spot the signs. Then let your partner know you are there for them, no matter what. Let them know that you understand and that you don’t blame them in any way (because they may feel a failure, very ashamed and that they have let you down).
- Encourage them to talk about how they feel – preferably to someone qualified to help such as a counsellor. Talking to you is fine up to a point, but too much ‘listening’ and trying to help can bring you down yourself amazingly quickly.
- Encourage them to keep up social activities and hobbies, because they may feel less like doing them – as a result of depression or because they feel embarrassed.
- Spend some quality time together, but also keep a sense of your own identity and do things that you enjoy that are just for you. This is particularly important for you right now.
- Keep a sense of perspective, and look for the positive in everything. Help your partner to see that too, and make sure that you smile and laugh as much as you can. There is always a way forward – so hang on to that. And if you find that hard to believe sometimes – just pretend. That works wonders!
Get your free ebook: Staying Strong at www.mypartnerisdepressed.com