posted by 💡11 Encouraging Sienna Toucan on 08 August, 2020
(content warning: talks about some pretty traumatic things) i have been dating my girlfriend for a year and a half (i’m 23, she is 22 btw). she is literally my best friend, we live together and we are planning marriage. but i’d really love some advice on helping her deal with depression. it breaks my heart to see how much she is hurting sometimes and i don’t always feel like i know what to do. basically the reason she is going through this is she has had a really tough life and it has left deep scars. she grew up in poverty with her alcoholic mother, who neglected them and had lots of boyfriends some of whom beat her up in front of my girlfriend. her only friend was her little sister, the two of them were often hungry and scared and they literally had to steal from supermarkets sometimes to get food. my girlfriend kinda had to shoulder all the responsibility of taking care of her sister from a young age, she became like her mum cos their real mum was no use. so it broke her heart when her sister got addicted to drugs as a teenager. my girlfriend tried so hard to help her get clean, she even dropped out of art school and got a job so she could pay for her sister to go to rehab. but nothing helped and eventually her sister ran away after stealing half my girlfriend’s stuff to pay for drugs. they aren’t in contact anymore which was heartbreaking, it was like losing her best friend. also she couldn’t go back to art school cos she’d given up her scholarship, so it felt like she had messed up her only chance in life for nothing. so she kinda sank into depression and ended up in an abusive relationship which ended when he sexually assaulted her and she tried to kill herself. anyway she has got her life back on track, she is now working as an illustrator and has a good career, and she has never considered suicide again. but i can still tell how much she has been hurt. she is a very tough person and hides her depression so well that most people haven’t any idea about it. thats partly cos she kinda has trust issues and doesn’t really let anyone except me know her feelings, she says that she has been betrayed so many times that she feels like i am the only person she is comfortable trusting. so i am the one who sees how she is at the end of the day, when sometimes she is fine but some nights she can barely stop crying and she barely sleeps cos of all the nightmares about her past. its just sometimes i struggle to know what to say or do cos i come from an upper middle class background, i had a happy childhood, and i have no experience of the kind of hell she went through. i try to be there for her wherever i can and just to listen or to be there to let her know i love her. i think it helps (she says so anyway) but i still hate seeing her hurting this badly and feeling powerless to help her deal with it all.
hey friend, your girlfriend as you said, is one tough lady. being through all of that and coming back brightly is no easy feat. she's an inspiration, really. i've had a rough early life and gonna give you advice based on how id like to be treated. take it with a pinch of salt as everyone's different. you're an amazing boyfriend trying to be an active support for her. my advice would be.. stay with her. in the dark of the night, when she's vulnerable and needs support, just stay with her, physical support helps a lot. cuddle her, try to distract her gently by food (this is me, sorry ^^') or a movie/cartoon or something. if she's crying ,let her cry and ask her if she qants to talk about it and go with her reply. tough cookies are usually guarded and proud (the good pride) they usually dont want to be a bother.. you know she trusts you and would come to you. id suggest you letting her know that (usually in a calmer setting, not while she's disturbed so that she can really process your emotions behind your words) you'll be there for her, whenever and however she needs. she'dvery much appreciate it, i think. as for you, my friend. do not feel guilty about sharing your good memories of childhood and experiences. its not your fault. she might be happy for what youve had and you know she didnt have a happy life before, so make it happier now. live life like you love. :) im sorry if i read to much into the situation and went off tangent. ^^' stay strong and happy for yourself and for her, my friend.
hey :) thanks so much for replying. yeah, she is an incredibly tough person. i have only really scratched the surface in describing the stuff she had to go through in her life. if i had been through a tenth of it myself i think i'd be a total wreck and barely able to function. and yet 90% of the time she has things totally together. your description is completely right when you say that 'tough cookies are usually guarded and proud.' she has had to look after herself with no one else to rely on for so long that she is really self-reliant, but she also struggles with letting her barriers down and really trusting anyone or letting anyone in except me. thank you for all your suggestions about how to help support her. i think you are so right that the best i can do is to be there for her in the dark of the night when she's feeling low and try to listen and understand. and to be there for her to cry with. she has been doing ok lately except for a couple nights ago when something that she saw on tv gave her a bit of a flashback from her childhood. i just let her talk about it and kinda held her close to me and told her how much she means to me and how i'll always be around for her. she actually said to me afterwards that she felt like i was the only good thing she had ever had in her life. it makes me feel like crying to think of all she had to go through and the long painful nights when she had no one to confide in and no one to fight her corner. but at least she has me now. our relationship is actually stronger than ever at the moment to be honest. thank you for taking the time to read my post and to write such a thoughtful reply.