how to deal with a depressed partner

Dee Community Member October 21, 2007
  • My boyfriend of about one year has been diagnosed with major depression. Looking back on our relationship, I'd say the signs have been there (on and off) for most of the time we dated, but he didn't have a major episode until this summer, right before we were planning to move in together (and on the heels of a major family drama). I understand that big decisions and life pressures can trigger depression and I am sure now that is what happened. At the time, I didn't understand what had happened or what was wrong. He told me then that he didn't know if he loved me and that something in our relationship had never felt quite right. In other words, he had serious doubts about his feelings. Meanwhile his symptoms were classic (crying, lethargy, despair, physical illness) and to his credit, he did seek therapy and has kept that up all summer but it hasn't seemed to help much. After a few weeks apart, we reconnected and then began a 3-month cycle of back and forth that has become pretty unhealthy (I think). This is where my question comes in...although he has told me in the past that he isn't sure how he feels about me and can't seem to make a commitment to me, he also struggles terribly with letting me go and seems extremely attached to me emotionally. He now tells me regularly that he loves me deeply and wants a life together someday. We have talked about the fact that he may be too dependent on me, which makes us both feel bad. He can't make a commitment but he can't let me go. He finally decided to begin taking medication last week but we won't see any effects for several weeks I'd say. I guess my question is, how much of this wishy/washy cycle is related to his illness in your opinion? AND what is the healthy way to address it? I guess my own fears and insecurities come in strong here too...does he really love me? Is this just his illness talking? I don't want to be a doormat or a crutch. Once he's better and less needy, is he going to abandon ME? How can I cope with my own fears and his illness in a healthy way? I know he has depression but he also has a history of being wishy washy with me. He has swung pretty wide, from talk of deep love, marriage and family to serious doubts. He can be very critical of me when he is feeling bad...he will focus on any negative attribute about me or our relationship that he can find.  I don't want to compromise myself but I do love him and so I also want to be supportive. If I could somehow miraculously know that he did really love me for the right reasons and want a life with me (which is what he says now) and that with treatment he could get better and we could have that kind of future, I'd stick it out with no qualms. I'm just scared of being used (my baggage). I guess I can't find the balance between taking care of myself and giving him the support and love he needs.  It's worthwhile to mention that before he became depressed, we had a wonderful relationship with almost no conflict or drama. We are very compatible and were really quite happy at one point (at least I was). Anything you can tell me will help.
5 Comments
  • Ask the Expert Patient
    Health Guide
    Nov. 05, 2007

    Dee,

     

    Wanted to let you know that this question was responded to in our Ask the Expert Patient column. Please see this post.


    Thanks,

    Teri

  • Anonymous
    Ashley
    Jul. 21, 2009

    I think you need to stand your ground and tell him that your heart cannot take the back  and forth.  He needs to make a decision.  Someone that is unsure if he loves you doesn't love you.  I know that might sound harsh but it's true.  It sounds like he hasn't experienced what love is and when he does he will know.  Also, it might...

    RHMLucky777

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    I think you need to stand your ground and tell him that your heart cannot take the back  and forth.  He needs to make a decision.  Someone that is unsure if he loves you doesn't love you.  I know that might sound harsh but it's true.  It sounds like he hasn't experienced what love is and when he does he will know.  Also, it might be a case of once your gone he'll realize what he's lost and try to reconcile.  Have you asked him if you can go into a session with him?  It might be helpful to hear advice from the therapist with both of you in the room.  Hope this helps.  It's tough.  I went through the same thing and ultimately realized I deserved better and broke up with him.  It was the hardest thing I could've done.  When I did he said I love you and I was going to propose soon.  I told him I was glad that I broke up with him now then.  Now I am happily married and wouldn't change a thing.  Life happens for a reason. 

  • Anonymous
    M
    Jan. 11, 2009

    Hi I think you should think of your own needs, i was in this situation 8 years ago, totally ignored it, now we have kids and although still very much in love, life is not easy, i love to travel and when we finally make the time it is like travelling with an extra two year old constantly having to tread carefuly to avoid the conflicts - not a relaxing fun time...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi I think you should think of your own needs, i was in this situation 8 years ago, totally ignored it, now we have kids and although still very much in love, life is not easy, i love to travel and when we finally make the time it is like travelling with an extra two year old constantly having to tread carefuly to avoid the conflicts - not a relaxing fun time that I would expect. Good luck

  • GARRY AUSTIN
    Nov. 03, 2007
    oct 21, and no response, i just had to say, just signed in to this program, just being here says u are on the right tract,learn all u can and be a good listener... i too have same as your friend its tough and for me life long...at first thought run... find if u can space,let him move on if he wants to,you don,t want to own this for a life time... and maybe...
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    oct 21, and no response, i just had to say, just signed in to this program, just being here says u are on the right tract,learn all u can and be a good listener... i too have same as your friend its tough and for me life long...at first thought run... find if u can space,let him move on if he wants to,you don,t want to own this for a life time... and maybe hes obcessed not to hurt u,lead him to a share group and get buzy...drop out...if he is the love of your life he,ll come back  
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Nov. 05, 2007
      Thanks for the advice. I have tried to put space between us but he can't handle that well and all and has a breakdown when I try to leave or even just take a "break" while he deals with his problems. Now he won't make a commitment (says he can't) but won't let me go either. It is miserable for me but I'm afraid he will do something...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Thanks for the advice. I have tried to put space between us but he can't handle that well and all and has a breakdown when I try to leave or even just take a "break" while he deals with his problems. Now he won't make a commitment (says he can't) but won't let me go either. It is miserable for me but I'm afraid he will do something awful if I force the issue. Right now I am probably as depressed as he is just from dealing with it and I don't know what to do.
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