Wife who struggles with depression shares genius hack for helping her husband support her
Sometimes talking things out isn't the best way to communicate.
Dealing with a mental illness is hard. Loving someone who is dealing with a mental illness is also hard. When you're the person struggling, you need support from your loved ones, but you may not be able to verbalize what you need exactly, especially in the moment. And when you're a loved one who wants to provide that support, you can feel lost and helpless trying to figure out what actually helps.
Johnson starts by acting out a conversation she and her husband often have she's in a depressive episode. She says she's sad and doesn't know why. Her husband asks what she needs, and she says he could be more supportive. He asks how he can be more supportive. In her head, she thinks, "I have about a thousand ways that I think you could be more supportive, but they're all tiny and little and insignificant, and it feels weird to have the conversation and tell you a thousand things that you could do, so instead I'm just gonna continue being sad and we'll both be frustrated."
"You're not saying anything," says her husband. "Please tell me what to do, because I don't know what depression is like and I don't know what to do."
End scene. Sound familiar?
Johnson then shares that she came up with a solution that solves this dilemma, helping her husband understand what support she needs when she's struggling. It's so simple, but not something most people would necessarily think to do.
Now the list is there for us to add to, revise, and to refer to! He feels more supported and capable in being supportive and actually helping and I feel more supported and, less depressed! #depression #mentalhealth #bipolar #bipolar2 #depressiontips #supportperson
Being unable to verbalize needs when you're in a depressed state is totally normal, so it's helpful to think about communicating those needs proactively, ahead of time, when you're feeling healthy.
What's brilliant about the written list strategy is that, as Johnson points out, body language and facial expressions can sometimes be misinterpreted, especially when navigating mental and emotional realities. Even longtime married couples can misread worry for annoyance or interpret a thoughtful pause as reticence or judgment, so sometimes writing things down—even clarifying questions like her husband did—is more effective.
In the age of email and texting, written communication has perhaps been overly dismissed as impersonal or as a way to avoid difficult face-to-face conversations. Certainly, it can be, but in some cases, writing things out can be preferable to verbal communication. This is one of those times.
Having those ways to be supportive written down also provides a tangible resource her husband can access any time he needs to, and that resource can also be updated in real time as needed.
People in the comments loved the idea.
"Extremely relatable as I just had a 10 min back & forth of 'what do you need' 'idk' w my partner before he was just like ok I’m making you an egg," shared one person.
"The fact that he typed out the replies shows how much he understands the way your brain works!!! 🧡🧡🧡" shared another.
"It's like the equivalent of "this could've been an email" in the workplace when they schedule a meeting. It makes a lot of sense, really!" offered another.
Many people asked if they could see her list as inspiration or jumping off points for their own, so she offered to email it to people who wanted it. (You can access that link here.)
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