I want you to imagine yourself as someone who is optimistic about planning their anniversary date ideas. Imagine that you wake up on one particular morning and as you look at the sun shining through the curtains, you get up and open the window. You breathe in the fresh summer air as you turn around to wake your partner, who is fast asleep on the bed. With a loving look in your eyes, you notice that your once cheerful partner pulls away from your touch. This doesn’t bother you in the slightest as you think about how the sun may be shining in their eyes. You say to your partner to come join you for a morning walk before breakfast, but your heart nearly stops when you hear your partner’s reply. “I don’t want to get out of bed, I am depressed.” Depressed? You think to yourself. My partner is never depressed. Suddenly those anniversary date ideas look less appealing than they did a moment ago. Imagine yourself debating what to do. You can either accept it or reject it. You decide to accept it, but are not quite sure how. Imagine yourself as yourself now and learning how to do just that.

1. Accept that everyone has problems

When you learn to accept the flaws in other people, it is easier to accept that no one is perfect, so a mental illness, such as depression, shouldn’t be something to look down on as a flaw, but as a mental illness that can affect anyone, including yourself.

2. Accept the person’s mental illness as separate from the person

Mental Illness is separate from people, which means that someone is not their depression, but depression is simply a part of them. Their illness may or may not be able to go as quickly as it came, but it does not define the person suffering from it. Mental illness is a debilitating disease of the mind, and some people, unfortunately, let it control their lives, and there is no need for that. All you can do is to see the difference so that your partner may as well.

3. Accept the person with the mental illness

Sometimes it is easier to cast aside someone with a mental illness and to want to search for someone who doesn’t have one, or for someone with a more tolerable illness. What you should be doing is trying to accept the person as they are as they may also be trying to accept you as you are, even if you struggle sometimes to understand. Understand that mental illness starts with how we think. Our thoughts then affect our emotions, which then affect our behaviors. Therefore, if our thoughts control our behaviors, we must learn to control our thoughts, and that is very difficult to do since our minds are always busy thinking.

4. Accept that you may or may not be able to change anything

You may accept the person as they are, but it is very difficult to accept the fact that there may or may not be anything you can do to change anything. If that is the case, you must learn to live with the mental illness that is inside the one you care for, so that not only you can move on with your life, but your partner can as well. Your partner may have tried to stop the cycle of their thoughts, but they are lost in them. There is only so much you can do, especially since your partner must decide to change if help is to be effective.

5. Accept that you can decide if you want to be with the person with the mental illness

Moving on may be difficult for you to do, whether that is with your partner or not. Accept that you can make a change for yourself, but be careful about what it is you wish to change. You may leave your current partner only to end up with someone who is bipolar or is a sociopath. Perhaps being with someone who is depressed is no longer a burden to you, but a treasure to cherish.

6. Accept that you may have a mental illness too

Accept also that what it is you may want to change may also be present within yourself. Perhaps all those times getting out of bed, looking at the sun through the windows, smiling at your partner lying in bed, was nothing more than a pleasant distraction from your own worries. Perhaps you can say to your partner, “Don’t worry, I have been struggling with depression too, but I am here for you should you want me to be.” Perhaps by loving that which you fear in yourself you may also bring yourself closer to the one you care for.

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