Love Your Relationship Even More

Being a good partner is not something that comes naturally, it is a learned skill.  It is all part of the process of interpersonal relationship growth and development. Many people, like you, seek knowledge about relationships, to learn relationship skills and to learn how to have better relationships. By seeking experience and gaining skills from your current and past relationships you grow and develop as a partner. Each relationship that you are in is intended to present the experience that you need to have to be in the next relationship on down to the one that is the final relationship and eventual lifetime partner. It is not helpful to regret, feel badly over past choices and wish you had done something differently. You did exactly what you knew to do at that time in your life, now you know more based on all of those previous experiences and information that you have gathered since then. You now have more life and relationship data to pull from. You can use this information along with new information that you seek out to build the relationship that you want.

"If your goal is to be close to your partner, everything that you do and say needs to be with that goal in mind."

The following are ideas and actions that you can utilize to develop an even better relationship with your partner. You will notice that all encourage mutual respect within your relationship.

Talk to one another in a way that promotes feeling close and being wanted. It is what you say, how you say it and when you say it! Your demeanor, tone, posture and attitude all factor into what you say.

GOAL: You would like to spend more time with your partner.

He has had a long day at work, he comes home late and he is tired. Shortly after he gets home you tell him that you feel like he is never home, that you want to be with him more and that he works too much.---What he hears is that no matter how hard he tries to provide for the family, it is never enough, he can’t do it all, he can’t be everything you need.---What he feels is that he wants to avoid getting attacked over not being around enough. It is all negative.

                                          OR

Again, he has had a long day at work, he comes home late and he is tired. You greet him kindly, he gets a shower, he has time to decompress, you sit on the couch together and watch a little TV. You say to him as you are enjoying the peace of being still how much you like spending time together, that you look forward to having this time together and you can’t wait to have more of this kind of time together.---What he hears is that you enjoy his company and want more time with him.---What he feels is that he too can’t wait to spend time together and that he knows how important he is to you. It is all positive.

If you look at the example, the goal was to express that you wanted to spend more time with your partner. The first conversation was all negative and would make most men feel like they would want to retreat and avoid that feeling of being inadequate in any way possible. The second conversation expressed that you want more time together, but in a way that draws him closer to you instead of repelling him. He feels wanted, appreciated and loved. It is all in what you say, how you say it and when you say it!

Take time to consider what you are saying, how it likely will be received and what you are trying to accomplish by saying it.
Be careful in the way that you are composing the conversation so that it will have the least likely chance of being misunderstood. It is important to make sure that the words chosen are with purpose and well thought out with the goal of the conversation in mind.

2. You must be respectful, even when you feel frustrated.

Avoid any type of personal attack. Never should name calling become an option. It is very difficult if not impossible to build a strong relationship when it is common practice to demean one another.

3. Maintain emotional control. In other words, do not react emotionally, even when you are upset and angry.

Do not yell or raise your voice. Speak calmly and wait for the other person to finish his or her thought. Sometimes, it is necessary to take a break from the discussion if you or your partner is angry or hostile. This would not be a good time to talk about anything important. It's okay to say, let's take time to think about this and come back to it tomorrow. (Being mindful to set a time to return to the topic so that nobody feels like the issue has been blown off).

4. Discuss controversial topics in a more structured setting and stay focused by thinking through your points and issues before broaching the topic.

It is a good idea to ask your partner when it would be a good time to discuss something important with him. This gives him an opportunity to have some control over the when and where piece of the conversation so that he does not get easily put on the defensive by a conversation that to him may appear to have come out of the blue.

5. Work to understand and show appreciation for your partner’s view.

Try not to think about your response while your partner is talking - listen to what he or she is saying.
Try to be objective and open-minded. You probably haven't thought of the issue in the same way he or she has. One of the benefits of being in a relationship is that each of you brings a separate set of unique experiences to the table. These life experiences shape the way that you view things and make decisions. It can be exciting to learn how your partner thinks and to discuss the ideas that he or she has.
You can become closer to your partner simply by taking interest in what your partner has to say. Keeping in mind there is often more than one good way to do something.

6. Communicate honestly and openly.

Avoid shutting down and making any type of derogatory body language. This includes rolling your eyes, sighing, walking away, tuning out, zoning out and ignoring. It is not okay to walk away from your partner in the middle of a discussion out of anger or frustration. If the conversation is getting tense or heated, it is appropriate to say, “Let’s table this for now, will you have time to talk about it tomorrow after work once we both have had some more time to think about it?” When you make a plan to talk about it more in the future it doesn’t make your partner feel dismissed or unimportant. It says, I value your opinion, I want to talk to you about this, but right now, may not be the best time since we are both frustrated.

7. Express your thoughts, feelings, concerns and issues constructively.

Identify your needs that are unmet and your concerns as items, not as demands or accusations. You might say something like…”I was wondering if you had thought of __________. Is that something that we need to consider”? If you come to the table with the goal of being right at all costs, you may find yourself eating alone.

8. Place your focus on solutions and not past indiscretions.

In other words, do not try to place blame for the situation on past problems. Do not bring up a laundry list of things gone wrong from the past. It is not helpful to focus too much on the past or too much on the future. Of course it is important to plan for the future with a balance in mind of living currently being the most important and most relevant because the current moment and day exists, the future is an unknown and does not yet exist. So, to worry about the future too much is not likely to be beneficial for thinking clearly and doing the best in the current moment that is already present. 

9. Try to look for solutions that meet the needs of both of you.

Look for a common ground and build on that. Sometimes, there may not be a compromise that is feasible. It may be that a decision has to be made where one or the other person’s suggestion has to be chosen. This is a great opportunity to be supportive and build your relationship up by accepting your partner’s solution, idea or suggestion because you value his or her opinion, you trust his or her judgment and you believe that he or she is an equal partner. This is a great way to show your faith and belief in your partner with the idea that one day your partner will do the same with an idea that you have. Keep in mind, if the solution, idea, or suggestion does not work out well, you do not reserve the right to say that is not the way you would have done it. You simply regroup together and figure out a Plan B to resolve the issue. No blame is ever placed on one another, there is no benefit to that, a partnership takes equal responsibility for the issue and the solution. Don’t spend time worrying about fault or what could have been done, simply focus on what needs to happen now. If approached in this way, you will build your relationship up even in a difficult moment. Think about anytime that you have done something that you consider to be a mistake, do you want or need someone pointing out where you went wrong and telling you how you should have done it or that they certainly would not have done it that way? Of course not. If you had the information that you gained from the point of decision to the outcome, you very likely would have made a different decision based on that information, but you didn’t have that information until now. Now that you have more information, you would be benefited the most by simply using it and moving forward, not by thinking about what you should have done or didn’t do or by being upset with yourself. Expecting perfection of yourself or your partner will certainly bring disappointment.

10. Realize every interaction, discussion, disagreement and conflict can help you improve as a person, a partner and a couple.

Every point of contact that you have with your partner builds up or tears down the relationship that you have. Viewing each interaction as intimate can help you stay softer and more focused on the goal of being connected and close to one another. In other words, the way you handle everything with one another will impact how close you are, how close you become, and how close you stay over time. In addition, keep in mind how you treat one another outside the bedroom will impact what happens in the bedroom (or what doesn’t happen). It is not easy to curl up at night with your partner and have connected sex if you have not been soft, loving and kind in every other interaction that you have had with one another throughout the day. If your partner puts you down about something or treats you disrespectfully, it can really make it hard to want to be intimate and sexually vulnerable with him or her.

11. Do not keep score.

Holding a grudge is a terrible waste of your precious energy! It is difficult to be in a relationship with someone who is keeping score of all of the things you did or didn't do. Keep in mind, both of you will miss things occasionally, you are both learning what each of you want and need and how to ask for what you need.

12. It is essential and it is your responsibility to make your needs known to your partner.

Your partner can’t read your mind, it is up to you to appropriately communicate your needs. If you do not communicate your needs, you do not reserve the right to be upset when your needs aren’t met.

13. Avoid being dramatic.

Keep a sensible attitude. Most things are not the end of the world. Even if it is a bad situation, there is always a solution, it is simply a matter of finding the best one. Don’t create drama, minimize it and minimize the life stress as much as possible to save valuable energy for one another and to simply enjoy life. 

14. All you can do is control your reactions to what happens to you. 

As Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning has stated, “If one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude.” The way we see events and respond can be a very powerful way to cope with stressors and life in general. The brilliant movie Life Is Beautiful, depicted a Jewish man and his family who were in a Nazi death camp and his humor and attitude shielded his son from the reality of the grave situation.
You can make a situation better or worse depending on your reaction and response. It is important to realize that you can’t control other people, including your partner. You have no control over what he or she does or says and you should not try to assume that control. Trying to control what your partner does, says and how they act is a recipe for an unhappy relationship. It may work for a while, it may seem like you are getting what you want, but in the end, both of you will likely end up resentful, angry and disconnected. If this concept of “self-control” is accepted, you will find that you can obtain a great amount of peace in your life. By focusing only on what you have control over…”yourself”, you can free your mind of all of thoughts about how you can get someone else to do what it is you think that you want them to do. Let others be who they are, do what they will do and make your decisions carefully as to if they have earned a trusted spot in your life or not based on their own choice of action.

16. Keep it in perspective.

Test the importance of the issue by asking yourself…Is this issue going to be something that based on the outcome will still be relevant in 6 months, 1 year or 5 years from now? If so, then it warrants more attention than something that you won’t even recall the relevance or occurrence of in a month from now. Essentially, look at the big picture and try not to overreact. 

17. Don’t forget that agreeing to your partner’s wishes also can give you a great amount of satisfaction.

Though I realize that times have certainly changed, I can’t help but give the all too common answer that I often received from the question that I asked men who had been happily married for a very long time—The Question: “What is the secret to being happily married?” The Answer: “I have learned to do what she wants me to do, most of the time.” This answer was always given with a smile and look of admiration towards his wife. This is not to say that anyone should be the “boss.” This is simply illustrating that there is a benefit for you when you please your partner. This is much different that agreeing with whatever your partner wants to avoid dealing with aggravation. In a good relationship, your partner’s wishes are likely going to be very reasonable.

Using these ideas and actions can assist you in building a healthy relationship and give you direction when potential issues come your way. If you learn and incorporate these guidelines into everyday practice you can protect your relationship and develop a strong and stable foundation.

I have stressed the importance of having mutual respect to have a great relationship. If you find that you lack respect for one another, trying a few of these simple activities and thought starters listed below can help get back on the right track to developing more respect and admiration. I have given sample thought starters with the blanks filled in to give you an idea of possible answers, please fill in the blanks to fit your relationship and your partner. It is important to have more thoughts of appreciation than thoughts of disappointment. It can be easy to get caught up in thinking about all of the things that have went wrong and this will often drown out all of the good things. Most relationships are not all good or all bad, there are always going to be disappointments, but keeping those disappointments in perspective is key to having ongoing admiration and respect for one another.

My partner is a really good person, he is so kind to other people who need help.
Think about one of your favorite moments with your partner.
One of my favorite physical qualities about my partner is her eyes, she has such beautiful blue eyes that light up when she smiles.
Think of a time when the two of you were very romantic together.
Spend a Saturday morning in bed watching an old or favorite romantic movie.
Think of a time when your partner was very supportive to you.
Think of a time when you were very supportive to your partner.
Use “We” language when discussing things that you are doing and your life together. If you have children together, always refer to the kids as our kids.
Think about when you first met and what you thought of him.
Cook breakfast together.
Describe a goal that you set together and reached together.
I am proud of my partner when I see how great of a mother she is to our children.
I remember why I love my husband every time he tells me how beautiful he thinks that I am.
Think of at least one benefit of being with your partner.
Plan a surprise for your partner that involves quiet and intimate time together.
One of my favorite things to talk about with my partner is our dream trip that we plan to take one day.
One of my favorite things to do with my partner is to take a long walk on the beach.
We are very different people, I like that we are different. One of the differences that I have learned to accept is that he is less bothered with making it to places on time than I am.
Plan to do something together.
Think of a difficult time that you weathered together and appreciate the fact that you had one another for support.
My partner is a very interesting person. I love that he is interested in reading and always seems to be starting a new book.
Think about all that you have accomplished as a team.
Spend a Sunday afternoon in bed watching an action movie together.
I am far from perfect. I am grateful that my partner doesn’t hold my missteps against me.
I truly enjoy laughing at funny movies with my partner, seeing her smile makes me smile.
Set a goal together.
Turn out the lights, lay in bed with one another and talk about anything that comes to mind until you fall asleep.
Let your partner catch you telling a friend about how much you love him.
Read a chapter of a book to one another in bed.
If you have divided household chores up between the two of you, go out of your way to do a few of your partner’s chores once in a while.
Make a point to make your partner’s life a little easier for her every day by doing something small for her.
Encourage your partner to spend time with his friends.
Write unexpected love notes, emails or texts to one another.
Go on a date at least once per week.
Drink a toast to your relationship.
Be your partner’s biggest fan and let her know it.
Tell her why you would marry her all over again.

Keep in mind that your relationship is a work in progress, you and your partner are growing together as a couple and as partners. Be forgiving as you learn together and strive every day to be a better partner.Love Your Relationship Even More

Being a good partner is not something that comes naturally, it is a learned skill.  It is all part of the process of interpersonal relationship growth and development. Many people, like you, seek knowledge about relationships, to learn relationship skills and to learn how to have better relationships. By seeking experience and gaining skills from your current and past relationships you grow and develop as a partner. Each relationship that you are in is intended to present the experience that you need to have to be in the next relationship on down to the one that is the final relationship and eventual lifetime partner. It is not helpful to regret, feel badly over past choices and wish you had done something differently. You did exactly what you knew to do at that time in your life, now you know more based on all of those previous experiences and information that you have gathered since then. You now have more life and relationship data to pull from. You can use this information along with new information that you seek out to build the relationship that you want.

"If your goal is to be close to your partner, everything that you do and say needs to be with that goal in mind."

The following are ideas and actions that you can utilize to develop an even better relationship with your partner. You will notice that all encourage mutual respect within your relationship.

Talk to one another in a way that promotes feeling close and being wanted. It is what you say, how you say it and when you say it! Your demeanor, tone, posture and attitude all factor into what you say.

GOAL: You would like to spend more time with your partner.

He has had a long day at work, he comes home late and he is tired. Shortly after he gets home you tell him that you feel like he is never home, that you want to be with him more and that he works too much.---What he hears is that no matter how hard he tries to provide for the family, it is never enough, he can’t do it all, he can’t be everything you need.---What he feels is that he wants to avoid getting attacked over not being around enough. It is all negative.

                                          OR

Again, he has had a long day at work, he comes home late and he is tired. You greet him kindly, he gets a shower, he has time to decompress, you sit on the couch together and watch a little TV. You say to him as you are enjoying the peace of being still how much you like spending time together, that you look forward to having this time together and you can’t wait to have more of this kind of time together.---What he hears is that you enjoy his company and want more time with him.---What he feels is that he too can’t wait to spend time together and that he knows how important he is to you. It is all positive.

If you look at the example, the goal was to express that you wanted to spend more time with your partner. The first conversation was all negative and would make most men feel like they would want to retreat and avoid that feeling of being inadequate in any way possible. The second conversation expressed that you want more time together, but in a way that draws him closer to you instead of repelling him. He feels wanted, appreciated and loved. It is all in what you say, how you say it and when you say it!

Take time to consider what you are saying, how it likely will be received and what you are trying to accomplish by saying it.
Be careful in the way that you are composing the conversation so that it will have the least likely chance of being misunderstood. It is important to make sure that the words chosen are with purpose and well thought out with the goal of the conversation in mind.

2. You must be respectful, even when you feel frustrated.

Avoid any type of personal attack. Never should name calling become an option. It is very difficult if not impossible to build a strong relationship when it is common practice to demean one another.

3. Maintain emotional control. In other words, do not react emotionally, even when you are upset and angry.

Do not yell or raise your voice. Speak calmly and wait for the other person to finish his or her thought. Sometimes, it is necessary to take a break from the discussion if you or your partner is angry or hostile. This would not be a good time to talk about anything important. It's okay to say, let's take time to think about this and come back to it tomorrow. (Being mindful to set a time to return to the topic so that nobody feels like the issue has been blown off).

4. Discuss controversial topics in a more structured setting and stay focused by thinking through your points and issues before broaching the topic.

It is a good idea to ask your partner when it would be a good time to discuss something important with him. This gives him an opportunity to have some control over the when and where piece of the conversation so that he does not get easily put on the defensive by a conversation that to him may appear to have come out of the blue.

5. Work to understand and show appreciation for your partner’s view.

Try not to think about your response while your partner is talking - listen to what he or she is saying.
Try to be objective and open-minded. You probably haven't thought of the issue in the same way he or she has. One of the benefits of being in a relationship is that each of you brings a separate set of unique experiences to the table. These life experiences shape the way that you view things and make decisions. It can be exciting to learn how your partner thinks and to discuss the ideas that he or she has.
You can become closer to your partner simply by taking interest in what your partner has to say. Keeping in mind there is often more than one good way to do something.

6. Communicate honestly and openly.

Avoid shutting down and making any type of derogatory body language. This includes rolling your eyes, sighing, walking away, tuning out, zoning out and ignoring. It is not okay to walk away from your partner in the middle of a discussion out of anger or frustration. If the conversation is getting tense or heated, it is appropriate to say, “Let’s table this for now, will you have time to talk about it tomorrow after work once we both have had some more time to think about it?” When you make a plan to talk about it more in the future it doesn’t make your partner feel dismissed or unimportant. It says, I value your opinion, I want to talk to you about this, but right now, may not be the best time since we are both frustrated.

7. Express your thoughts, feelings, concerns and issues constructively.

Identify your needs that are unmet and your concerns as items, not as demands or accusations. You might say something like…”I was wondering if you had thought of __________. Is that something that we need to consider”? If you come to the table with the goal of being right at all costs, you may find yourself eating alone.

8. Place your focus on solutions and not past indiscretions.

In other words, do not try to place blame for the situation on past problems. Do not bring up a laundry list of things gone wrong from the past. It is not helpful to focus too much on the past or too much on the future. Of course it is important to plan for the future with a balance in mind of living currently being the most important and most relevant because the current moment and day exists, the future is an unknown and does not yet exist. So, to worry about the future too much is not likely to be beneficial for thinking clearly and doing the best in the current moment that is already present. 

9. Try to look for solutions that meet the needs of both of you.

Look for a common ground and build on that. Sometimes, there may not be a compromise that is feasible. It may be that a decision has to be made where one or the other person’s suggestion has to be chosen. This is a great opportunity to be supportive and build your relationship up by accepting your partner’s solution, idea or suggestion because you value his or her opinion, you trust his or her judgment and you believe that he or she is an equal partner. This is a great way to show your faith and belief in your partner with the idea that one day your partner will do the same with an idea that you have. Keep in mind, if the solution, idea, or suggestion does not work out well, you do not reserve the right to say that is not the way you would have done it. You simply regroup together and figure out a Plan B to resolve the issue. No blame is ever placed on one another, there is no benefit to that, a partnership takes equal responsibility for the issue and the solution. Don’t spend time worrying about fault or what could have been done, simply focus on what needs to happen now. If approached in this way, you will build your relationship up even in a difficult moment. Think about anytime that you have done something that you consider to be a mistake, do you want or need someone pointing out where you went wrong and telling you how you should have done it or that they certainly would not have done it that way? Of course not. If you had the information that you gained from the point of decision to the outcome, you very likely would have made a different decision based on that information, but you didn’t have that information until now. Now that you have more information, you would be benefited the most by simply using it and moving forward, not by thinking about what you should have done or didn’t do or by being upset with yourself. Expecting perfection of yourself or your partner will certainly bring disappointment.

10. Realize every interaction, discussion, disagreement and conflict can help you improve as a person, a partner and a couple.

Every point of contact that you have with your partner builds up or tears down the relationship that you have. Viewing each interaction as intimate can help you stay softer and more focused on the goal of being connected and close to one another. In other words, the way you handle everything with one another will impact how close you are, how close you become, and how close you stay over time. In addition, keep in mind how you treat one another outside the bedroom will impact what happens in the bedroom (or what doesn’t happen). It is not easy to curl up at night with your partner and have connected sex if you have not been soft, loving and kind in every other interaction that you have had with one another throughout the day. If your partner puts you down about something or treats you disrespectfully, it can really make it hard to want to be intimate and sexually vulnerable with him or her.

11. Do not keep score.

Holding a grudge is a terrible waste of your precious energy! It is difficult to be in a relationship with someone who is keeping score of all of the things you did or didn't do. Keep in mind, both of you will miss things occasionally, you are both learning what each of you want and need and how to ask for what you need.

12. It is essential and it is your responsibility to make your needs known to your partner.

Your partner can’t read your mind, it is up to you to appropriately communicate your needs. If you do not communicate your needs, you do not reserve the right to be upset when your needs aren’t met.

13. Avoid being dramatic.

Keep a sensible attitude. Most things are not the end of the world. Even if it is a bad situation, there is always a solution, it is simply a matter of finding the best one. Don’t create drama, minimize it and minimize the life stress as much as possible to save valuable energy for one another and to simply enjoy life. 

14. All you can do is control your reactions to what happens to you. 

As Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning has stated, “If one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude.” The way we see events and respond can be a very powerful way to cope with stressors and life in general. The brilliant movie Life Is Beautiful, depicted a Jewish man and his family who were in a Nazi death camp and his humor and attitude shielded his son from the reality of the grave situation.
You can make a situation better or worse depending on your reaction and response. It is important to realize that you can’t control other people, including your partner. You have no control over what he or she does or says and you should not try to assume that control. Trying to control what your partner does, says and how they act is a recipe for an unhappy relationship. It may work for a while, it may seem like you are getting what you want, but in the end, both of you will likely end up resentful, angry and disconnected. If this concept of “self-control” is accepted, you will find that you can obtain a great amount of peace in your life. By focusing only on what you have control over…”yourself”, you can free your mind of all of thoughts about how you can get someone else to do what it is you think that you want them to do. Let others be who they are, do what they will do and make your decisions carefully as to if they have earned a trusted spot in your life or not based on their own choice of action.

16. Keep it in perspective.

Test the importance of the issue by asking yourself…Is this issue going to be something that based on the outcome will still be relevant in 6 months, 1 year or 5 years from now? If so, then it warrants more attention than something that you won’t even recall the relevance or occurrence of in a month from now. Essentially, look at the big picture and try not to overreact. 

17. Don’t forget that agreeing to your partner’s wishes also can give you a great amount of satisfaction.

Though I realize that times have certainly changed, I can’t help but give the all too common answer that I often received from the question that I asked men who had been happily married for a very long time—The Question: “What is the secret to being happily married?” The Answer: “I have learned to do what she wants me to do, most of the time.” This answer was always given with a smile and look of admiration towards his wife. This is not to say that anyone should be the “boss.” This is simply illustrating that there is a benefit for you when you please your partner. This is much different that agreeing with whatever your partner wants to avoid dealing with aggravation. In a good relationship, your partner’s wishes are likely going to be very reasonable.

Using these ideas and actions can assist you in building a healthy relationship and give you direction when potential issues come your way. If you learn and incorporate these guidelines into everyday practice you can protect your relationship and develop a strong and stable foundation.

I have stressed the importance of having mutual respect to have a great relationship. If you find that you lack respect for one another, trying a few of these simple activities and thought starters listed below can help get back on the right track to developing more respect and admiration. I have given sample thought starters with the blanks filled in to give you an idea of possible answers, please fill in the blanks to fit your relationship and your partner. It is important to have more thoughts of appreciation than thoughts of disappointment. It can be easy to get caught up in thinking about all of the things that have went wrong and this will often drown out all of the good things. Most relationships are not all good or all bad, there are always going to be disappointments, but keeping those disappointments in perspective is key to having ongoing admiration and respect for one another.

My partner is a really good person, he is so kind to other people who need help.
Think about one of your favorite moments with your partner.
One of my favorite physical qualities about my partner is her eyes, she has such beautiful blue eyes that light up when she smiles.
Think of a time when the two of you were very romantic together.
Spend a Saturday morning in bed watching an old or favorite romantic movie.
Think of a time when your partner was very supportive to you.
Think of a time when you were very supportive to your partner.
Use “We” language when discussing things that you are doing and your life together. If you have children together, always refer to the kids as our kids.
Think about when you first met and what you thought of him.
Cook breakfast together.
Describe a goal that you set together and reached together.
I am proud of my partner when I see how great of a mother she is to our children.
I remember why I love my husband every time he tells me how beautiful he thinks that I am.
Think of at least one benefit of being with your partner.
Plan a surprise for your partner that involves quiet and intimate time together.
One of my favorite things to talk about with my partner is our dream trip that we plan to take one day.
One of my favorite things to do with my partner is to take a long walk on the beach.
We are very different people, I like that we are different. One of the differences that I have learned to accept is that he is less bothered with making it to places on time than I am.
Plan to do something together.
Think of a difficult time that you weathered together and appreciate the fact that you had one another for support.
My partner is a very interesting person. I love that he is interested in reading and always seems to be starting a new book.
Think about all that you have accomplished as a team.
Spend a Sunday afternoon in bed watching an action movie together.
I am far from perfect. I am grateful that my partner doesn’t hold my missteps against me.
I truly enjoy laughing at funny movies with my partner, seeing her smile makes me smile.
Set a goal together.
Turn out the lights, lay in bed with one another and talk about anything that comes to mind until you fall asleep.
Let your partner catch you telling a friend about how much you love him.
Read a chapter of a book to one another in bed.
If you have divided household chores up between the two of you, go out of your way to do a few of your partner’s chores once in a while.
Make a point to make your partner’s life a little easier for her every day by doing something small for her.
Encourage your partner to spend time with his friends.
Write unexpected love notes, emails or texts to one another.
Go on a date at least once per week.
Drink a toast to your relationship.
Be your partner’s biggest fan and let her know it.
Tell her why you would marry her all over again.

Keep in mind that your relationship is a work in progress, you and your partner are growing together as a couple and as partners. Be forgiving as you learn together and strive every day to be a better partner.

My Articles

Karen Collins

​​MSW, LCSW

561-512-9743

Avoid "Shiny Object Syndrome" in Your Relationship


Shiny Object Syndrome is defined as the attraction to objects that exhibit a glassy, polished, gleaming or otherwise shiny appearance. Over time, you’ll find that your attention to said object is directly correlated to it’s shininess and your attention fades as the shininess wears off. This can happen in relationships too, as time goes by, a relationship becomes more serious with developing expectations and responsibilities to one another potentially detracting from the once shiny and fun relationship you once had. Starting new with someone else can seem shiny and appealing at least on the surface.  If you are in a relationship that has matured to the point described above, challenge yourself and your partner to shine the relationship up again. Let's face it, if you were to start anew with someone you see as shiny right now, you will have to put some effort into that start up relationship and eventually if you move forward with that person, that relationship will mature too. But what if you could prevent the dull from hiding your shiny and happy relationship? In part, it is about perspective, it is easy to think that it could be better with someone else without fully considering that you are still taking half of the relationship equation with you if you leave---yourself. Unless you are continuously self-reflective and purposefully growing as a partner, you will take a lot of the same reactions and behaviors right along with you to the next shiny relationship and the dull will follow. If your relationship has become less shiny, consider what is your part in that and what can you do to add the shine back to it?

If you have the tendency to seek shiny, you are not alone. Many of us feel this way from time to time and some act upon the impulse to seek shinier relationships whether ending the current relationship or having an affair. The key is to catch yourself in the thought process and challenge the thoughts that you are having regarding the status of your current relationship. In this process, being self-reflective to own your part in the satisfaction or lack of satisfaction of the relationship. Once you have reviewed your role and decided if you would like to make some changes or not, then you can determine whether or not you will re-create shiny in your current relationship or go find a new shiny relationship.

If you decide to re-create shiny in your current relationship you will have a couple of things going for you including the months or years that you have been together, how well you know one another already and likely many more that are individual to you as a couple. It may be wise to list these for yourself just to see them in black and white.

If you have a pattern of breaking up and getting back together again, consider a few things:

1. Do you break up when you are having an argument or during conflict?

2. Do you break up and then realize that you miss your partner incredibly?

3. When you get back together does it seem like all of the things you discussed wanting to be different never changed or only changed briefly and went right back to being problematic again.

The great news is these are all very fixable things!!!! Let's take them one by one.

1. If you typically break up during an argument or conflict you can decide as a couple that neither of you will do that. If one person begins to go there during the conflict, the other can gently remind the other of the decision not to break up during a heated moment. It's okay to say-"We are not breaking up, I want to be with you." You may also suggest that you take a break from the conflict and revisit it the following day when you both have had some time to rest. Try not to make a significant decision when you are both emotional. If you decide later that you do need to leave the relationship it will not be a decision made in a heated moment and will be more thoughtful.

2. If you break up and then realize how much you love and miss your partner, this is a good sign that there are some significant positives to your relationship and within your partner. The trick is to keep all of those positives in mind when you are together and to recall anytime that you start to feel distant or consider moving on from one another.

3. When you get back together does it seem like all of the things you discussed wanting to be different never changed or only changed briefly and went right back to being problematic again. It is important to make a clear plan of the changes desired, hold one another accountable for those changes in a positive way and to make every effort to approach this as a growth opportunity not with a we keep messing things up perspective. Keep in mind that you are both learning as you go how to be good partners and how to have a great relationship with one another. Depending on the depth of the changes desired, you may find that reading relationship articles, literature and books adequate or you may find it helpful to see a qualified and well-trained couples therapist. It is beneficial to learn the skills needed to have a positive and healthy relationship as early as possible in your relationship for your relationship to become as solid as possible. Unfortunately, many people wait to see a couples therapist as a last resort as opposed to a tool to become closer all along the way. Waiting too long to see a couples therapist can make for a challenging road for change and often allows for many years of built up resentment that could have been prevented all along the way had the couple learned healthy ways to resolve conflict earlier on in their relationship.

If you are in a committed relationship it is beneficial to adopt the mindset that neither of you are leaving, that you will work through whatever comes your way as a couple. This means that even in the toughest times, you do not entertain leaving or what it would be like to leave. If you catch yourself thinking this way, you can teach yourself to stop at the earliest signal that you are thinking of this by redirecting your thoughts to all of the reasons your partner is great for you. The energy spent on thinking about whether you should stay or go could be put to better use by thinking of all the ways that you could be wonderful partners to one another. By thinking about what you can do to be a wonderful partner and putting those thoughts into action you can create a relationship that neither of you would ever dream of leaving because it is that good.

Avoiding the Shiny Object Syndrome can positively impact your relationship. If you commit to staying and working through the hard times, enjoying the fabulous times and everything in between you will find that your relationship will appear shinier than anything new could ever be.

Building Your Relationship Up Even During Conflict

"If your goal is to be close to your partner, everything that you do and say should be with that goal in mind."

Viewing conflict as a normal part of any long-term, committed relationship and as an opportunity to get to know your partner better allows for a more positive vantage point when conflict arises. In most relationships, there will be differing of opinions and eventual conflict. Conflict can trigger the mind and body to erroneously react as if the situation is dangerous causing an over reaction and defensiveness as opposed to a productive conversation. Purposely providing safety for your partner to voice issues and concerns as they arise will build your relationship up and offer opportunities to get to know one another better and to become closer. Discussions involving differing opinions can be handled in a way that preserves the relationship as opposed to damaging the relationship. When conflict arises, use the following guidelines to build your relationship up and to keep it going strong.

Provide a safe environment for one another to discuss issues and concerns. A safe environment includes being respectful-no name calling, talking down to one another or yelling.
Don't take the issue or concern personally even though it is a very personal relationship. It's about talking the issue through to do something or feel better within the relationship. There is no blame placed, just "how do we do this better" kind of focus.
Deal with issues as they happen, do not let them build up and just wait for the explosive list of all the things gone wrong.
Let go of previous resolved issues, don’t harbor resentment.
Pick a good time to bring up the issue for both you and your partner.
If your partner thinks there is an issue, there is an issue, even if it is not an issue for you.
Report your feelings appropriately to one another-“I am upset about…or I love it when you do this...or I need this...”
Be specific and to the point-don’t expect mind reading.
Don’t bring up a laundry list of past issues. (Those should have already been resolved and filed away, right?).
Focus on your partner’s behaviors that may be bothersome if that is the issue, don’t attack his personality. “It bothers me when you chew with your mouth opened.” Instead of- “You eat like a pig!”
Try not to take your partner’s opinion personally and do not become defensive. An issue between the two of you does not make either of you a bad person or bad partner, just an opportunity to improve.
Do not respond to a “complaint” with a “complaint.”-“Oh, really, well you always…”
Try to learn what your partner would like to see happen, how does he want things to be? Look at this as simply learning how you as a couple can do things better.
Discuss options and decide what makes the most sense to both of you. (Easiest to do when drama and emotions are kept in check).
Be adaptable. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. It's not a big deal to change the plan when something isn't working like you want it to.
Resolve one issue before moving onto the next, if possible.
Don’t try to be the “winner,” this is not a boxing match that you want to be the undefeated champ in. You want to remain close and caring to one another, no winner, no loser.
Realize that you and your partner are still learning how to navigate your relationship. Do not expect perfection, forgiveness and learning to do better is key.
Enter each discussion with the intent to be closer by the end of it.
End the discussion with affection and a pleasant gesture like a hug, kiss, touch or smile. Better yet, have the discussion while curled up with one another.

Remember to provide safety for your partner to voice issues and concerns as they arise. Don't let your mind trick you into thinking that the situation is dangerous-if you are in a loving and committed relationship, conflict is not dangerous and should be a productive opportunity to become even closer to one another. Ask one another, how can we do this even better
.

Depression In The Media


In generations past, it was taboo to talk about mental health issues. If someone in the family was depressed or suffering from mental health issues, it was typically kept a secret and was thought as something to be ashamed of. The stigma of depression and mental health issues often caused people to not get treatment and to feel ashamed, isolated and different. Today, there is still a stigma, but it pales in comparison. Depression is represented in music and on television, some representations are still not flattering, but many are pretty accurate. Some famous people have acknowledged that he or she struggles with depression and have brought attention to the issue. It is not uncommon to hear a song that refers to depression or bipolar disorder. The younger generations speak more freely about mental health issues, know the terms used and the symptoms that would indicate a possible disorder. Depression and suicide are discussed in school. Parents are more aware of the signs and symptoms for their kids and for themselves.

After the suicide of Robin Williams, more attention has been brought to the depth of the illness. When a celebrity or someone who seems to have “everything” suffers from depression, people who may not have fully understood the gravity of the illness, may gain a better understanding in that it is like any other illness, depression does not discriminate. Depression may be situational in cause for some, but for many it is biological and therefore needs to be thought of as such. Nobody would think of judging someone who was diagnosed with diabetes, cancer or heart disease which can be biologically predisposed, caused by environmental exposures and/or by lifestyle such as poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse or smoking. Anyone with depression should not have to worry about being judged or treated differently for experiencing depression either. Compassion and understanding would certainly go a long way, just as it would for anyone with any illness. People rally around someone who is diagnosed with cancer, they often hold charity events and offer comfort and support. Comfort and support can only be offered to someone with depression if the person feels comfortable and somewhat safe that disclosing the issue would be received without judgment and negativity, otherwise it is often kept a secret. In secrecy, more loneliness and isolation is often experienced.

We may be heading in the right direction, but there is a long road ahead to see equality of thought and treatment for mental health issues and physical health issues. Both should have equal awareness, respect and treatment. My hope is that one day, anyone who experiences depression or any other mental health issue will feel as comfortable sharing with others as someone would about any physical illness that they may have. I have been in restaurants in the morning when groups of older men are gathered for their morning coffee. The men will chat about their physical health-their back pain, their shoulder pain, their prostate cancer, etc., but I have never overheard a conversation about their depression even if the depression may be “caused” by a medical issue. It amazes me that we can talk easily about our most private medical issues, but hesitate to mention anything related to our mental health.

The media and people using the media as an educational and informational platform about depression have assisted in opening the door to talk about depression. Talking about an issue is a great way to gain support, understanding, relief and the realization that you are not alone.

The movie, “Helen” released in 2009 is an excellent depiction of a very high functioning professional woman who experiences depression and the progression of the illness. Helen’s character is played by Ashley Judd. This movie provides an example of how depression is commonly experienced and how depression can be present for a significant period of time without friends and family being aware of it. The movie also shows how depression impacts the entire family, treatment options and common challenges faced in treatment.

In an article published by CNN titled “Going Public With Depression, written by Kat Kinsman, updated on August 22, 2012, depression is poignantly described in a way that only someone who has experienced it personally could.

Beginning of Copied Article

I am 14 years old, it's the middle of the afternoon, and I'm curled into a ball at the bottom of the stairs. I've intended to drag my uncooperative limbs upstairs to my dark disaster of a bedroom and sleep until everything hurts a little less, but my body and brain have simply drained down. I crumple into a bony, frizzy-haired heap on the gold shag rug, convinced that the only thing I have left to offer the world is the removal of my ugly presence from it, but at that moment, I'm too exhausted to do anything about it. I sink into unconsciousness, mumbling over and over again, "I need help... I need help... I need help." I'm too quiet. No one hears.

Several months, countless medical tests and many slept-through school days later, a diagnosis is dispensed, along with a bottle of thick, chalky pills. There is palpable relief from my physician and parents; nothing is physically wrong with me (thank God, not the cancer they've quietly feared) -- likely just a bout of depression. While it helps a little to have a name for the sensation, I'm less enthralled with the diagnosis, because I know it will return. While this is the first time it's manifested heavily enough for anyone else to see it, I've been slipping in and out of this dull gray sweater for as long as I can remember.

What doesn't help at the time are the pills: clunky mid-1980s tricyclic antidepressants that seize up my bowels, cause my tongue to click from lack of moisture, and upon my return to school cause me to nearly pitch over a third-story railing from dizziness. I flush the rest and, mercifully, no one bothers me about it.

If they do, I probably don't even notice; my brain is too occupied, thrumming with guilt, stupidity and embarrassment. Nothing is physically wrong. It's all in your head. This ache, this low, this sickness, this sadness -- they are of your making and there is no cure.

Now, 25 years later, I've lost too much time and too many people to feel any shame about the way my psyche is built. How from time to time, for no good reason, it drops a thick, dark jar over me to block out air and love and light, and keeps me at arm's length from the people I love most.

The pain and ferocity of the bouts have never eased, but I've lived in my body long enough to know that while I'll never "snap out of it," at some point the glass will crack and I'll be free to walk about in the world again. It happens every time, and I have developed a few tricks to remind myself of that as best I can when I'm buried deepest.

The thing that's always saved me has been regular sessions with an excellent therapist and solidarity with other people battling the same gray monster (medication worked for me for a little while -- I take nothing now, but it's a lifesaver and a necessity for some). When I was diagnosed, it was not in an era of Depression Pride parades on the main street of my small Kentucky town. In 1987, less than one person in 100 was being treated for depression. That had doubled in 1997, and by 2007, the number had increased to slightly less than three.

My friend Dave was part of that tally. We met in our freshman year of college, and he was one of the loudest, funniest, most exuberant humans I'd ever met -- and the most deeply depressed. Not that anyone outside our intimate circle knew; like many of us who live with the condition, he wore a brighter self in public to distract from the darkness that settled over him behind closed doors. Most people don't see depression in others, and that's by design. We depressives simply spirit ourselves away when we've dimmed so as not to stain those who live in the sun.

Dave saw it in me, though, and I in him; and for the first time in my life, I felt somewhat normal. Like I didn't have to tap dance, sparkle and shine to distract from the fact that I was broken. I could just be me, and that wasn't a half-bad thing in his eyes. I began to tell more people as plainly as I did other facts of my being -- I was born in New Jersey, my real hair color under all this pink dye is very dark brown, and I've suffered from depression as long as I can remember. I'm Kat -- nice to know you. Dave never made it that far. His cracks were too deep and dark, and he poured so much vodka down into them to dilute the pain. A year after graduation, in the late summer of 1995, I was unsurprised but thoroughly gutted when I got the call -- Dave had tidied his apartment, neatly laid out a note, his accounts and bills, next to checks from his balanced checkbook, and stepped into a closet with a belt. I see Dave in little flashes all the time, still -- hear his braying OHMYGAAWWWDD laugh around a corner and see his handsome gap-toothed smile in a crowd. I want to smack him full across the face for giving up and leaving us all, and I want to drag him to a computer and sit him down: Look -- we're not alone.

Dave was the first person I ever knew with Internet access. Among a million other things I wish he'd lived to see is the community of souls online, generously baring and sharing their depression struggles with strangers. There's no substitute for quality therapy (in whatever flavor you take it) or medication (if that's your cup of homeopathic tea), but by God, it's hard to get there.

To see your feelings echoed and normalized in essays like comedian Rob Delaney's much-forwarded "On Depression and Getting Help"; author Stephen Fry's legendary letter to a fan, "It will be sunny one day"; the ongoing, public struggles of widely read bloggers and authors Dooce and The Bloggess; and guests of the no-edges-blunted WTF Podcast from comedian Marc Maron -- all highly successful and public people -- is to dare to let a crack of blue sky into the basement where you've been tucked away. I can barely imagine what it would have meant to my 14-year-old self to read Delaney's words:

"The sole reason I've written this is so that someone who is depressed or knows someone who is depressed might see it. ... But after having been through depression and having had the wonderful good fortune to help a couple of people who've been through it, I will say that as hard as it is, IT CAN BE SURVIVED. And after the stabilization process, which can be and often is f**king terrifying, a HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don't think. Get help."

Or Fry's:

"Here are some obvious things about the weather:
It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
BUT
It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.

It really is the same with one's moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, and listlessness -- these are as real as the weather -- AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE'S CONTROL. Not one's fault.

BUT

They will pass: they really will."

Dave will never see those words, or these, but someone will -- including the 14-year-old me who still sometimes rides shotgun as I'm driving through a storm. I show her these words, these essays, these poems, these podcasts beamed out by the other souls who glitter out in the darkness. And I take her hand and lead her up the stairs.

END of Copied Article

 Famous people who have experienced depression and discussed it publicly have encouraged discussions regarding depression and fostered the realization that nobody is exempt from depression. It doesn’t matter how comfortable your life is or how many friends and family members are there to support you, it is like any other illness, it does not discriminate.

 In the April 2003 edition of Ladies' Home Journal Sheryl Crow spoke about her lifelong struggle with depression. As a child she would go through long bouts of depression and also struggled with sleep paralysis and a fear that she would die during her sleep.

Crow said "I grew up in the presence of melancholy, a feeling of loss over things that maybe I don't have or never had…It is a shadow for me. It's part of who I am. It is constantly there. I just know how, at this point, to sort of manage it."

Crow has also stated that her depression is inherited. "It's like a chemical thing in my family. My dad and I both have severe mood swings. We laugh about it, but we have really high highs and really low lows. I've had bouts of clinical depression and I've had bouts which are just garden-variety, or event-caused."

Crow wrote and sang the song “Weather Channel.” Read the lyrics to the song and you will get a good sense of depression and the way it is experienced.

 Sheryl Crow
"Weather Channel” Lyrics

Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren's warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it's coming
Just like before
There's a black dog
That scratches my door
He's been growling my name saying
You better get to running
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got no one
Who will bring me a
Big umbrella
So I'm watching the weather channel
And waiting for the storm
It's just sugar
Just a pill to make me happy
I know it may not fix the hinges
But at least the door has stopped it's creaking
I got friends
They're waiting for me to comb out my hair
Come outside and join the human race
But I don't feel so human
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got lab coats
Who will bring me a panacea
While I'm watching the weather channel
Waiting for the storm
You won't want me
Hanging around the birthday pony
Even though it's just a game
You know we are the same
But you're the better faker.

 
Brooke Shields published a book called "Down Came the Rain", in the book she bares her soul about her experiences with postpartum depression. She reveals that her problems first began when her daughter, Rowan was born and she was unable to form a bond with her. She felt like "a complete stranger to me", said Shields. At her lowest point, she had thoughts of jumping from a window and seeing her baby thrown against the wall. Thanks to the antidepressant Paxil and a sympathetic baby nurse, Brooke was eventually able to recover and develop a loving relationship with her baby. She has been criticized by fellow actor Tom Cruise, a devotee of Scientology, for her antidepressant use. She responded with an essay published in The New York Times outlining the scientific case for recognizing and treating postpartum depression using medication.

Robin Williams (1951-2014), the actor was a master entertainer and impersonator and he was a kind and generous man in his personal life. His suicide has left many thinking about the treatment for depression in that, if someone who could afford the best treatment could not manage his symptoms, how can any of us? But it simply is not that simple. There is no one size fits all depression management treatment, each person’s situation is different and responds differently to medication, therapy and developing additional strategies that assist in preventing and managing depressive episodes.

 I recently saw an interview on ET with Wayne Brady, comedian and actor. He indicated that he has depression. Though we all know Wayne Brady as the upbeat comedian-turned-TV star of shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Let's Make a Deal, he admits he has secretly battled with depression for years and describes the harrowing emotions he's experienced. "People are like, 'Wayne Brady's always happy!'" he says. "No I'm not. Because I'm human."

Brady further commented, "Having a bad day is one thing, having a bad week is another, having a bad life … You don't want to move, you can't move in the darkness," he explains. "You're like, 'I am just going to sit right here and I want to wallow in this. As much as it hurts, I am going to sit right here because this is what I deserve. This is what I deserve, so I am going to sit here because I am that horrible of a person.'"

He indicated that the constant self-doubt turned into a vicious cycle. "It starts this cycle where you tell yourself these lies ... and those lies become true to you," he says. "So, you stick to your own truth you've set up. 'If I am this bad, then why should any of this matter?' I feel at that point, you end up wanting to stop the pain."

Brady revealed he hit rock bottom last June on his 42nd birthday, recalling, "I was there by myself, in my bedroom and I had a complete breakdown … Just go ahead and imagine for yourself a brother in his underwear, in his room, you got snot … and that birthday was the beginning of, 'OK, I've got to make a change.'"

An event that especially hit him hard was the tragic passing of Robin Williams in August of 2014, who took his own life after a longtime struggle with depression.

Brady, who knew Williams from the comedian's appearance on Whose Line, tweeted on the day news broke of Williams' death. "When he was on stage [in] full-on Robin mode -- and I know this from being blessed enough to work with him -- you could not touch that man," he told ET. "He made all these people feel great. And at the same time, knowing that he had this sense of … what I make up in my mind, this low sense of self-worth, of belonging, of loneliness, of pain that all the money in the world can't cure, all the accolades and awards, and all the love from people all over the world … all that love could still not stop that man from saying, I am in so much pain.'"

He also points out the double standard in Hollywood when it comes to admitting to depression as opposed to a drug problem. "Nobody wants to out themselves so to speak, or if they out themselves, it's in a very -- I hate to say it -- Hollywood way," he says. "It's actually cool to go into rehab for some people. ... But if someone says, 'I'm clinically depressed,' that sounds like someone's making something up. It's like, ‘Psst, you're not depressed.'"

Brady now says he's currently on the road to recovery, he made a point of saying that his recovery began when he decided to do something about his depression.

A recent article written by Katie Maguire about Kristen Bell expresses this message from Kristen-Bubbly people can have depression too. Depression is one thing; shame is another. And Kristen Bell wants to make sure those two things stay separate. While Bell admitted that she was popular in high school, she confessed she was constantly changing herself to fit in and get along with her friends. “I’m extremely co-dependent,” Bell explained. “I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me. That’s part of why I lead with kindness and I compensate by being very bubbly all the time, because it really hurts my feelings when I know I’m not liked. And I know that’s not very healthy, and I fight it all the time.” The full article can be found at http://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/kristen-bell-depression-mental-health/

 One of my personal mentors, a psychiatrist, said something to me years ago that I will never forget.  He said, depression is just like any other potentially terminal illness, some people will die from depression. At the time, I was newer in the mental health field and did not fully appreciate that comment, in fact, initially thought it was a cold comment to make. I believed it was our job to help everyone and save them from dying from any mental health issue. But as I gained more experience, knowledge and understanding into the biology of mental health issues, I realized that he was right. Some people will eventually die from depression despite all of the resources, treatment team meetings, the inpatient hospitalizations, the new medications, the therapy, despite all of the providers care and effort, despite all of the person’s own efforts to manage the symptoms, sometimes, some people with depression will die due to depression. That is why depression and any mental illness needs to be treated like any other illness, with respect and support. It can’t be a secret due to other’s lack of understanding and ignorance.

It is important to understand that nobody is exempt from depression. It does not matter how educated you are, how wealthy you are or many people love you, depression can develop. For some people, there is a family history of depression, a biological predisposition. For others, events, life stressors and trauma that occurs can cause depression. Some people have both the biological predisposition and life stressors that trigger a depressive episode. It is helpful to know your family history, by knowing if there is a family history of depression, you can be more proactive to prevent and manage potential depressive episodes.

 It is possible to manage depressive symptoms. It is not always easy, like with any illness, there are times when the illness is less managed and times when management is achieved. Something to consider, fluctuation in symptoms is the nature of depression. Depressive symptoms improve, depressive symptoms return, sometimes with little warning, sometimes for no outward apparent reason, but this is another indicator that there is more going on than controllable and uncontrollable stressors, like a chemical imbalance that can be assisted with good self-care, healthy cognitions and medication (antidepressants). In knowing and accepting that depression is biological, there is the ability to find peace, some empowerment and reduced self-blame. Though there are many options for reducing the recurrence and severity of symptoms, many people who experience depression once will experience depression again. This is not something to fear, but information that can be used to better prepare, recognize and minimize a recurring depressive episode.

 I have found that people with depression are some of the most resilient people. Let me explain, consider waking up more days than not feeling sad, defeated, tired, yet continuing on, making it through the day, the week, the month, the year even though it may have been a struggle, they continue on and keep trying and hoping for a better tomorrow. Resiliency is the ability to recover, bounce back, take a hit, get back up and keep moving. That is exactly what people with depression do, they bounce back, recover partially, completely or in between depressive episodes. Recovery is typically not without effort, treatment and support.

 Depression is awful, the darkest feeling of loneliness and emptiness even when in a room full of family and friends. It is grey, cluttered, cloudy and painful. During an episode of depression, it may feel like there is no light, but eventually the darkness lightens, if only for a little while. The darkness can be so dark that not being here seems the only peaceful option. Fighting through the darkness can be exhausting, but resilience is evident by putting feet on the ground each day until the darkness lightens. When the darkness lightens, it may return, sometimes it is not as bad and sometimes it is worse, but it will likely return. When it does, it is recognizable and familiar, but the world will patiently await its departure to have you back again.