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Monday, June 06, 2011 DocAimster, Community Member, asks

Q: My boyfriend, of 8 1/2yrs, is suffering from severe depression due to the death of his brother over a year ago...not sure what to do?

My boyfriend's brother, who was also his roommate, died after a battle with cancer in February 2010. He was under the care of a local hospice and passed away at his home, also my boyfriend's home, with all of his family by his side. Immediately after he passed away, my boyfriend seemed to be coping as well as one could expect. Fast forward to January 2011 and out of nowhere, seemingly overnight, my boyfriend's entire personality and outlook on life changed for the worse. He goes to work, but anything beyond that is rare. When I am actually able to get him to answer the phone he seems aloof, uncaring, and disinterested in anything other than his own depression. We've been dating for 8 1/2 yrs and I have never seen him act like this before. Many times his "coldness" and "gloom" has caused him to really hurt my feelings, but when I try to let him know that he has hurt my feelings he has a way of turning things around and making me feel selfish for even thinking about my own feelings. He says that he doesn't have any hope for the future, nor does he ever seeing anything getting better in his life. He does acknowledge that he is depressed but isn't willing to seek any professional help...even though his other brother is a doctor. Around the rest of his family, coworkers, and friends he puts on this facade that everything is fine and acts like his old self. I have mentioned to him before how it hurts me to see him acting as if he is okay around everyone else, and then cold and aloof toward me. His response is always, "Do I need to put you on the list of everyone that I pretend to be happy around?" All of this is taking a huge emotional toll on me, but whenever I try to express to him my concerns about his well being he either gets mad or just ignores me. I completely understand that losing his brother who was so close to, even close in age my boyfriend is now 33 his brother was 34 when he died, is a very hard thing to deal with, but I am starting to feel as if he is suffering from pathological grieving along with depression. I don't know what to do anymore, I love him dearly but something needs to change. Any suggestions or ideas for me with this situation would be greatly appreciated. This situation is really wearing me down.
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Answers (1)
Judy, Community Member
6/ 6/11 11:30pm

I'm sorry this is happening to you and that your boyfriend is suffering, too.  He may be experiencing delayed grief.  Are you able to talk to anyone in his family to let them know what you've observed?  How about his other brother, the doctor?  There's not a lot you can do if he won't get help for himself, but maybe you should seek out some professional advice yourself so that you can sort this out and maybe get some support while you're dealing with this.  I'm sure, after this many years in a relationship, that you aren't quite willing to call it quits, but you may have to decide what a dealbreaker would be - such as not getting help.  Unfortunately, depressed people can often be crabby and irritable but you don't have to put up with it.  It's not your fault.


Merely Me wrote a sharepost a while back about depression and relationships that you might find helpful and I know there have been many questions like yours that we have answered in the past, which you can find by searching within this site on this topic.  It's a difficult thing to deal with and I wish you all the best.  I hope things work out for both of you.

DocAimster, Community Member
6/ 7/11 1:16pm

Judy, thank you for your response to my post.  Last night, I asked my boyfriend, once again, if he would consider seeking professional help for his depression and he refused.  I have talked briefly with his brother, who is a doctor, about the severity of this situation and he had no idea that anything was even wrong.  My boyfriend has 3 surviving brother and 2 sisters, and none of them have any clue that is anything is wrong because he is good at hiding it around them.  The only person in his family that has noticed something wrong is one of his sisters-in-law and that is mainly because she is my best friend and I have confided in her.  Trying to get his brothers and sisters to help in any way seems to be a lost cause, and they all seem to think that I am being too dramatic about everything.  I realize that unless he willingly seeks professional help and/or medication to treat his depression that things will only continue to get worse.  The thing that is really upsetting to me is the way he puts on 2 completely different personas, and I am the only one that is exposed to the cold, aloof, and insensitive side.  It is really exhausting to continue to deal with this day after day after day...always feeling as if I am walking on eggshells around him.  Part of me feels that he is just using his brother's death as an excuse to act this way, and the other part of me feels bad for even thinking that way.  I will let you know if there is any improvement, but at the moment it seems unlikely that things will improve anytime soon.  Thank you again!

Linda, Community Member
6/25/12 9:13pm

Hi DocA- I have read your story and read the response from Judy, she is very much correct..

   I can make a suggestion... At this point you,, his family,, and your love for your boyfriend have nothing to lose. Since his sister is familar with what is going on, and you discussed this with the rest of the family,, especially with brother that is a Doctor. I suggest an intervention. I am sure the brother knows a therapist or psychologist who can sit in this intervention. He will be angry,, he will feel betrayed AT FIRSTTTTT... Once he realizes he needs help, and everyone that loves him is surrounding him because they love him,, maybe he will open up. Perhaps you can run this by the brother who is the doctor. Also read up on interventions. In the mean time, I highly suggest you contact a therapist.. you love him.. your hurt,, you deserve to know how to handle this situation... good luck,, please let me know how everything is going... Linda

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By DocAimster, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/25/12, First Published: 06/06/11