Social communication with a depressed person feels so distant – even though they are standing right in front of you, coldness emanates from this person who not so long ago was loving and fun. The depressed person retreats into their private world in which visitors are not welcome, even those with the most intimate connections in the recent past. It is as if rusted steel bars separate the communication between the depressed person and the loved-one observer. The eyes of a depressed person can be blank, as if the light of their soul has been dimmed, or even disconnected. How do you talk to someone who is absent?
Such is the challenge of the loving partner of a depressed person. As the partner feels pushed away, the gravity of the suffering results in the partner working harder and harder at trying to bridge a gap in communication that is in ‘Grand Canyon’ proportions. To most who are trying to help, it is a feeling of desperation – What is going on? Often the extra effort to bridge a gap makes no difference. If this extra effort continues to be ineffective, the loving partner may erupt in anger, with a comment such as “How could you be depressed? You have everything – nice home, good job, and a loving family!” The response is ‘no response’ and maybe some crying. As this helping partner seemingly ‘fails’, both partners are lost in being unable to bridge the gap in their communication.
At some later point, when the connection seems like it is never going to happen, the loving partner attempts to reach the depressed person, pleading …almost begging … for him/her to explain what is needed in order to fix the situation. At this point, the hopelessness of the depressed person becomes the new norm for the couple, and the bars dominate the room.
Just a Thought …
Arthur J. Rathgeber