Watching your loved one go through a hard time can make you feel helpless and confused, especially when they are inflicted with an illness that is not necessarily easy to see or can be measured by an X-ray. To put it simply, depression sucks, and claims the lives of many each year, especially in the Black community where there is a lack of awareness due to the systematic lack of resources.
When faced with your own battle of the blues, it's tempting to attempt to pray it away, party it away, sex it away, or think that shaming yourself out of a depressive state will cure it. If that were the case, there would be no mental issues in the world and no suffering; and if you look at the news, it seems the opposite is happening at an alarming rate. Most of us were taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated, so what happens when we never learned how to treat our own mental issues? How are we supposed to be compassionate towards our sister going through a hard time emotionally when we ourselves did not receive that type of compassion in our darkest hour? The answer is simpler than you think: we vibrate higher.
When it comes to depression in regards to your loved ones, you cannot fix them but you can support them while they attempt to fix themselves. The "saving" part should be left to the professionals who have studied mental health and received the credentials in order to assist patients best. Your job is to support your girl, and supporting is literally holding them up, helping them fight their battle while the professionals do their thing. Here are a few ways how to:
Ask how you can be of support to them at this time.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I even find myself missing this mark. We can't assume that our version of support translates well to another person despite us having the best of intentions. Simply asking what a person needs at the moment makes it 100% easier to get it to deliver it to them.
The answers may shock you in a pleasant way and is a great point of introspection for you and your loved one. Think about it, how often does someone ask you how they can support you? How often do you ask yourself how you can support yourself emotionally? This supports people, in general, to get comfortable asking for what they need by first defining it and realizing that the universe is not working against them.
Make your supportive presence as palpable as possible.
We are gifted with technology which means we have the ability to communicate with less commitment, effort, or inconvenience as ever before despite our distance. Check-in in a way that is best for you, as often as you feel comfortable. A little bit goes a long way. A quick "I was just thinking about you, how are you?" could mean more than you could ever imagine. Find a way to not overcommit yourself, but at the same time, be sure that you are there when they need you the most.
Pump up the intensity during this time. Opt for Facetime and phone calls so that they can feel the love in your voice instead of watching their moves on social media to gauge their life. Listen as their energy starts to improve as your conversation goes along. Ask if it's alright for you to stop by every once in a while, not in an inquisitorial way, but to let them know even at their lowest that you enjoy their presence. This will also strengthen your bond.
Let them know it's okay for them to take their mask off around you.
Shame and silence are deadly. Mental issues are a silent killer because most of the time people get so good at masking their problems from other people, and hell, even themselves. Giving someone the okay to not be okay is a lifesaver. No judgment, no overly critical energy, you are not pulling out the 'Bob the Builder' toolbelt, you are just letting her be. That in itself makes doing the work that they need to do to fight depression easier because they are not resisting depression, they are sitting in it and saying, "I'm a mess and I'm still worthy of love, happiness, and prosperity." Plus, there aren't enough bottomless brunches, girls trips, or memes in the word to help when life gets really real.
People go through real issues. Losing loved ones, jobs, apartments, purpose, and there is no rainbows and sunshine to preach. Sometimes a "girl, this must be so hard for you, I'm here if you ever need to talk" goes a whole lot further than an "everything is going to be okay". It is more than okay not to be okay! By giving someone permission to be a beautiful hot mess, you will start to have more compassion for yourself when you are going through a hard time.
Check-in with you.
Make sure that while you are supporting others, you are also pouring into yourself. The journey you take with your loved one through the darkness may trigger some emotions in you indicating where you need some healing also. Check-in with your emotional wellness often. You can't put the responsibility of saving or fixing anyone besides yourself on your plate. All you can do is do your best to be supportive while another person does their inner work. You cannot pour from an empty cup or give what you don't have.
All you can do is your best to let your loved one know that you believe in them, that they are stronger than they think, and that you will be there for anything you need. All you can do is be the light.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
The Truth Is, Everyone, Has Mental Health Issues
Say These Self-Affirmations To Start Your Day On The Right Note
How To Thrive When You Are In Survival Mode
Featured image by Getty Images
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- For friends and family | Mind, the mental health charity - help for ... ›
- Helping Someone with Bipolar Disorder - HelpGuide.org ›
- Depression: Supporting a family member or friend - Mayo Clinic ›
- Helping Someone with Depression - HelpGuide.org ›
New Jersey native creating a life that she loves while living in gratitude. She loves using beauty, and fashion to create a balanced lifestyle while prioritizing wellness. A devoted fur mom, and a full-time lover of laughter. She is out for revenge against the darkness by being light, taking her own advice, traveling the world, and letting you know that you are so lit! Connect with her via IG @iamzaniah
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images