Loving someone with depression is a lot of work. They’re suffering and obviously you want to help them out of the hole. Depression is generally linked with low self-esteem and hence some severely depressed people have limited motivation to help themselves, since they don’t think they’re worth it.
And, obviously, we want to help the people we care about.
And that’s part of the problem: the act of giving people that attention and love can just as easily motivate someone to wallow exactly because it gets them so much wonderful attention and love.
Worse still: person with low self-esteem is given love and support by partner; person feels unworthy of said love because of aforementioned low self-esteem; person then throws said love and support back in partner’s face, thereby confirming unworthiness, because what sort of person would be so unkind? An unworthy one is what. And boom: the circular argument is complete.
And make no mistake, there’s a sneaking contempt in there of the form “I clearly suck, so if you love me you’re some sort of idiot and therefore not worthy of my respect.” This is one way that people use their depression against their partner – and it’s an insidious trick, because the victim feels guilty for accusing the abuser of their abuse.
Thus depression creates victims that are not themselves depressed, and it’s as much a challenge for the person suffering to moderate their own behaviour – to seek help, to actively fight their condition – as it is for those trying to support to know when they need to get out for their own sanity and happiness.
Now, let me be clear: this isn’t about blaming people with depression. Depression is a nightmare: the pit, the darkness, the black dog. What it’s definitely not, however, is some sort of mystical Get Out Of Jail Free card for cruel behaviour.