Hello SteadyHealth Community,
I am writing to you all tonight because I feel as though I have nowhere else to turn, and am in serious need of thoughtful advice (TROLLS NEED NOT APPLY). Many of my close personal friends all seem to come to the same conclusion, which is to terminate my relationship with my long time boyfriend which you will all know as "K". However, none of these individuals have been involved with a partner who suffered/suffers from depression/anxiety, or have been through the disorder personally, so I figured I'd have better luck conversing with people who have.
Be prepared this is a long one:
K and I are in our 20s and have been together for about 5 years now. At the beginning of our relationship it was all candied hearts and unicorns, we were essentially a striking pair of rosy colored glasses skipping through girl and boy land; overwhelmingly cute and nauseating to all those around us. Then with time, as most relationships do, the butterflies turned to a warm fire, much less jittery and much more constant. We soon forged a deep friendship, and maintain that until this day.
AND THEN, like a dark ominous cloud, K's depression and anxiety returned. I had never experienced this side of him before and was taken off guard by his distant and erratic behavior. He explained to me that before we had met he went through a really tough bout of depression where his thoughts were morbid and consumed by death. At that time he had undergone two sessions of therapy and quit because he felt his shrink was uninvested and found no solace in their meetings. He was crippled by his OCD (fear of coming into contact with battery acid, lead, motor oil, chemicals in household cleaners etc.) and irrational anger (outbursts punching things, breaking items, even hitting himself). K said for awhile I'd been a pleasant distraction from all these things, but the morbid thoughts, rage and OCD had comeback now regardless. I vowed to help him in anyway I could.
I've been his personal confidant, shoulder to cry on, and umbrella in the rain. The moods come and go. One minute he'll be the happiest guy on the face of the planet, "I wanna live life to the fullest" and then the next he's a fatalist. He'll crush me to his chest and tell me he loves me more than anything and then he'll try his damnedest to push me as far away as possible. I'm on a K see-saw, which is frightening to my family members and close friends, because they fear he'll drag me down. I myself, went through major depression two years before I discovered K. I was even suicidal at one point, so in a way I understand how he feels. But unlike him I had a strong support system, my family, who sought out medical help for me. I agreed to go, got a therapist, didn't agree to meds, but found that talking was enough. Eventually I reached a good place, and now I have my good days and my bad days but I manage.
I've tried numerous times to convince him to seek professional help but he refuses. I tell him how much it helped me, but I can't force him to go. I just want him to get better.
I'm really trying to be there for him, but its hard.
Our intimacy is next to nil, he can't be happy for any of his accomplishments never mind mine, and lately I feel as though we're completely disconnected. He's completely disinterested in me and life in general.
I'm not looking to leave him, I love him.
I just need to know, how you guys in my situation cope.
Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you soon.
Firstly, I just want to say- I'm not a troll. You can visit my profile and see my previous posts, and see that I regularly reply to posts on the subject of mental health issues. I've had personal experience & now work in the profession of psychology, so I genuinely attempt to give advice based on my personal knowledge, as well research.
I can certainly understand your partners frustrations at treatment; however, he really didn't give his therapy a chance. Two sessions is not going to be beneficial to anyone, as a relationship with the therapist has to be built up. You've been through it yourself and by the sounds of it, you got lucky with getting the right therapist early on. Unfortunately, because of the many different kinds of talking-therapy that's out there- it can be a case of trial and error. I absolutely think you're right in trying to advise him to go back to therapy. This sounds like the best course of action, yet as you know- you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink! Ultimately, it has to be your boyfriend's decission to go back & try therapy again.
If you can, get some information off the internet on CBT- Cognitive-Behavioural therapy. It has a very successful recovery rate for depression & mood disorders, OCD & anxiety. I don't think your boyfriend would benefit from anything psychodynamic. The reason I say this is because he seemed to be functional at the beginning of your relationship, but has declined, and I don't think 'looking back & analysing' will benefit him in moving forward.
For further information though, can you elaborate on his past & current situation a little more? Family structure & attachments (i.e; is he from a single parent family? Siblings? Quality of relationship with mother and father?), friendships and social life (i.e; does he suffer with social anxiety? Does he have a close network of friends or not many close friends?) and career & achievements (i.e; education level & is he working now? Is he happy with what he does? What are his career ambitions?)
I don't expect or want massively personal info- you can be brief & slightly generic, if you want (for example; "1 brother- relationship, distant; parental relationships- mother; okay, father, bad- absent for childhood".)
The reason I've asked this is because depression is a set of faulty thought schemas. It's a constant inner scribe telling us that we're not good enough; we're useless, people are better off without us, we're trouble, we can't do that because we're stupid- others would be happier if we were dead. Then there's the replays of mistakes we've made in the past and a sense of doom & failure in everything we do (from the washing up to speaking to someone!) and constant anger- not at others, but at ourselves. We learn these from attachments figures, so if our parent(s) are constantly rejecting, comparing, smothering, abusing, a child- they learn to 'think' in the same way as their parent. I can't recall what psychologist it was that said it (it might have been Freud)- depression is inward anger; it's anger that is put on to us from someone else and turned inwardly. No baby starts off hating him/her self- those beliefs are created by the people that care for us. It's the same with coping strategies- we are not born knowing these. They are learned; thus, if we are not taught healthy, stress coping strategies, we turn the stress and sense of failure inwards and punish ourselves.
If your boyfriend was recieving CBT, he would be encouraged and helped to slowly change those thoughts or at least, manage them and express his anger in a healthier way.
He is taking his anger out on you because you're safe- he knows (or at least, trusts) you won't walk away from him. My son is my crutch- he can't walk away, he's too young and it kills me that when I'm in a low mood, he's the one that gets my nagging and moodiness. Subsequently, the anger leads to more guilt and self-torturing, because I know it's been shot at the wrong person.
My son has got quite apt now at simply ignoring me- he goes in to another room and shuts off. However, our relationship is tight and he always comes back to me when I've calmed down and tells me how unfair I was, but how much he loves me & knows it wasn't really me.
I'm very pleased now that it doesn't happen that often. For years now, my depressive episodes have been getting fewer and not so bad as they used to be. I have a day or two at the most- never months, which is how it was. During one particularly horrible time, many years ago, I told my young son that I wish he hadn't been born- I remember spitting the words and then feeling utterly remorseful and breaking down. My son's reaction was "I know you don't mean it- I'm the best thing that's ever happened to you and it's ok, sometimes I wish you'd never been born, but I never mean it!"
Words can hurt- but they can also be said with no meaning behind them and sometimes, we have to remind ourselves of that. I'm very fortunate that my son is mature enough to understand that, at such a young age. Living with a mother with mental health problems is really not something any child should have to go through, but because of the things my son has had to see & hear from me; he's very emotionally intelligent and has the patience and strength of a saint.
To conclude, there isn't much you can do, except be a strong support. However, you also need to speak to someone. Even qualified, working therapists see a therapist after having a set amount of client sessions. No one can support another without having someone to turn to. If you want to be there for your boyfriend, make sure there's someone there for you too.
If the relationship is or turns violent, I would advise you be a support from a distance. Don't risk yourself, no matter how ill your boyfriend is- you can't help him from a hospital bed or a morgue. However, the one piece of advise that I won't give you, is to finish things. That could possibly make him worse, plus as you've said- that's not going to happen.
I'd also advise you do some reading on such talking techniques as NLP and socratic questioning. Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and socratic questioning can come in handy when living with someone with depression. The techniques are basically ways of talking that 're-programme' thought schemas, so for example, when your speaking your boyfriend you repeat or lay emphasis on positive words and give encouragment at small, usually insignificant things. Socratic questioning can help when in a deep conversation where you want to get to the bottom of a behaviour or feeling and your boyfriend is not being co-operative or can't say what he feels he wants to say. In socratic questioning, you repeat words back and turn some statements around, so that your boyfriend answers his own 'problems'. (it can be quite complicated to explain, but is very easy to do!).
I use both NLP & socratic questioning on a daily basis! They're very effective methods of communication.
Talk a lot to each other. Talking therapy doesn't always have to be with a therapist.
Try and encourage him to stay organised. I understand that he has OCD, but organisation and routines are very good for people who suffer with depressive mood disorders. Having such things as finance plans and time plans can prevent a replase due to disorganisation.
Have a look at your boyfriend's diet. Depression is not all down to the mind- there can be physical factors that cause depression too. Including oily fish and lots of green vegetables in his diet can give him a mood boost. Plus there are natural rememdies out there, if medication is not an option.
Additionnally, have a read through about holistic therapies. Meditation, yoga and certain exercises can help to balance mood, but whatever your boyfriend chooses to try, it will take time. Depression takes a whole childhood (and often, part of an adulthood) to form, thus, it won't be defeated within a few months or a year- it can take years or a lifetime.
Good luck to you both & I hope your boyfriend finds relief soon.
hi i'm new to this and doing replies that feel close to what i'm going through or been through and it does seem clear that your partner does need to talk to some one as there is only so much you can do to help him out have you told him how its making you feel and how worried you are about him.
i suffer from high depression and anxiety and have done for a while and it took my family ages to get me to go for help but i am very glad i did as ive started to get the answers that i need.
but i got it in my head if i asked for help then i was a failure and it took ages for me to actually go for help it got to the stage that i did'nt want to live as i was'nt getting better i was getting worse and it affected others around me as well as i was turning to a different person which every one round me hated and i even hated that person. it got to the point my family had to make a decision.
i was a single parent for a year and my kids are my world and they seen how hard it was for me to make the choice i made but glad my family gave me the choice and the choice i had at that time was go get help of my gp or get sectioned as i got to the point i was having mainly bad days and it was affecting every one around me which then all i wanted to do is die as to me i failed every thing and every one.
so with how your partner is he might have it in his head that if he goes for help then people might think he's weak and failed every one. but he managed to get sorted once before and he might think he can do it again but its taking harder this time.
but if you are finding it hard and you both have the same gp i would say make your self an appointment and tell him your concerns about your partner and they might be able to help you out and aprouch the situation so he dont feel betrayed and like he's failed every one hope this as helped you out and if theres any thing else that i can do please ask and i will try
I'm in a very similar situation to you. My girlfriend can be as sweet as candy on most days but on others she becomes depressed on not to mention a little hostile towards me. But this has been the case even before we started dating, only that intensity of her bad days seems to be increasing marginally. I love my girlfriend and hopefully soon (as in, within the next month) she will begin receiving medication and hopefully therapy if it can be afforded.
But K is refusing treatment, you say, which is problematic. I had hoped for a long time with my girlfriend that I would be enough to cheer her up when she got down but I was giving myself too much credit. So what I'm saying is: you can't give up on pushing K towards getting treatment. He may resist for a long, long time but with enough suggestion he's bound to give way eventually.
Until then though, I encourage you to remain strong. I know exactly how it can be but this is a storm you can ride out. So long as he doesn't start becoming physically aggressive with you or mentally abusive, you ought to just be there for him when he needs you. When things got tough between me and my girlfriend, I'd just tell myself that bad times like this don't last forever. They're no more permanent than the seasons. But neither are the good times. That was just something I told myself I had to accept. I told myself I'd be there for her through the thick and thin and my determination, I think, is about to be rewarded.
hey theredfox829 im sorry to hear whats going on and i hope that you two are doing okay, i think its very brave and amazing of you to stick to him when he is at his most down. i wont use my name on here but you can call me B. but i too have depression and know how much of a struggle it is. all the things that you stated about being happy and then not seems like some of the stuff i went through although i am almost 19 years old i feel i can comment on your post because i too have been there. its probably one of the hardest things to go through, a war with your mind. and trying to find your sanity can make someone insane. well i used to be like you but when i got depression my "GF" at the time left me in a heartbeat. im really glad you are staying and want to help him because i know when that happened i was already suicidal and that just about send me to the point of no return. luckily for some reason i had about 70 pills ready for me and all i saw was my family and my best friend telling me to not do it. so i couldnt, i dont know why but i just couldnt. after that i told my mom i tried killing myself and i think thats a good/ bad thing because she did help me to try and find help for me but at the same time she was divorced and taking care of 3 kids including me and although i was the only one with a job next to her it was hard for us to maintain. but she took me anyways. i guess many people can cope and release the stress differently than others but one of my things was hitting walls and the floor, and that just messed up my knuckles and wrist. and also i would cut myself to just try and feel the pain because i would calm down when i would induce pain to myself when i feel like doing it to others. i guess you can say if im mad and get depressed i dont think about what i do and although i am not that very big i dont give up because it seems that recently my body has been giving up the emotion of pain if that is understandable? i guess i get 2 depressed that i can only feel the depression and not the pain because a few nights ago my dad that is divorced from my mother came to my house on monday and hit my moms boyfriend in the back and when he fell kicked him until his nose, jaw were broken along with the 2 front teeth missing. if it wasnt bad enough that he knew i had depression he would try convincing he loved me and my brothers n stuff and then days later hurt us. as you can tell i was very hurt and ended up cutting my arms pretty bad that i almost passed out from being light headed but i felt no pain. i guess feeling pain was the only thing that would make me feel human? i guess he has some down points that are bad when you are around. i would recomend being with him and conforting him, although this seems obvious unless you've gone through depression this is the one thing that a lot of people wont do when they see it. i know how you feel and im glad you came out and told us you were suicidal, even though we dont know you i feel like i do because i too am suicidal and i dont trust myself with sharp objects anymore. i guess you get to a point where you know you need someone when you dont trust yourself for someone but luckily for him he has got you. im sorry that you both have had depression but it seems like you are doing fine. just be with him you dont know how much thatll help until you see that person you love walk away.... trust me.... but some of the ways i would distract my mind from it is i would go on long bike rides, skateboard, and just try being with people in general. my therapist told me that if you smile even if it is a fake smile that you would get used to it and it becomes easier to do at least to hide your depression for a bit. whats worse than everyone knowing you have depression is that no one wants to help these days so it seems most of us seem to walk alone. love what you have and try helping him out, ask him about what hes thinking and if for some reason he starts acting strange just make sure he doesnt do anything he will regret. when people get low common sense is out also everything is basically out. but is he taking any pills? if not you should really think about getting him some because they will help him maybe not immediately but after a while you will see your old BF back with help though because alone it gets immensely impossible it seems. i would tell you how it is to end the fight but sadly i am still in it. but best of luck to both of you stay safe.- B