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Thursday, July 29, 2010 Slipping Away, Community Member, asks

Q: Please help me! I am so confused. Depressed boyfriend wants to end relationship.

The past 2 years have been the worst years of our lives. We have had heartache after heartache. He lost his mother who he was incredibly close to about a year and a half ago. He then lost his Aunt and Grandmother within 6 months of his mom's death. His uncle was diagnosed with bone cancer and it is not looking good. We have lost several pets due to various but untreatable reasons. Our pets are like children to us. We both lost our jobs due to a massive reduction in job force at our employers. He had to go back to a job that he quit because he hated it. I could go on and on about all the horrible things that have happened to us lately but I think that is enough to give you a good picture.


We have been together for 11+ years, living together for most of them. There is no doubt that we love(d) each other. I have asked him if he feels he was ever truely happy with our relationship and he has always said yes. I believe that to be true. I think the majority of our relationship we have been happy. Of course our relationship isn't perfect but when I ask him what he sees wrong with it the only real problem he says is communication.


He asked me to finally marry him about a year ago. This was a few months after his mom died. I should point out that it took him many months to really start dealing with his mom's death. He felt he had to be strong and support his dad (they were married for 40+ years) so he just bottled up those feelings.


Not very long after he proposed everything started going down hill. He has withdrawn from me completely showing very little attention or affection to me for quite some time now. He has spent very little time with me and spends most of his time alone. He is having an identity crisis. He has stated that he does not feel good about who he is and that he needs to find himself. He doesn't really like anything about himself. He feels worthless. These are all things that he has explicitly said.


I tried to give him the space he needs to deal with all this. He moved into the guest room and has been living in there for   maybe 5 months now. It hasn't improved anything. He has become even more withdrawn and distant. I have left him alone most of the time but have encouraged him to spend time with me at least once a week. Sometimes it is only an hour or 2 a week.


He has told me directly that he thinks I deserve better than him. That I always have but even more so now that he can't give me the attention/affection that I deserve. I have told him that if he doesn't love me anymore to just tell me and let me go. He says that he still loves me but just can't give me what I need. That he can't continue hurting me and that he just needs to be alone.


When things really started going down hill I told him that I thought he was depressed and really needed to get help. I asked him to go to counseling. He went to one session and will not go back. He says he doesn't like it. He has always had problems communicating.... with me... with everyone.


He is making no effort to work on our relationship or get himself the help he needs. I don't know what to do. Right now it is over. We have discussed this before but have always decided to keep on trying to work it out. This time it is different. I just don't feel right about ending it. I don't feel like our relationship is over because it is bad. I feel like it is over because we are both depressed. We both have a strong history of depression in our families. I ask him if he thinks he is depressed and he only says maybe. He refuses counseling, Rx, and any other sort of help. There is no life to him.


He doesn't have fun in anything that he does. He goes out with friends every once in awhile but doesn't appear to enjoy himself. It's like he is just putting on a facade to make the world think that he isn't a mess inside. Everything that he is and we had is slipping through my fingers.


I don't know if I should just start my life over with someone new or keep fighting for our love. I want my boyfriend back. I love him deeply but I can't make him stay or get the help he needs. Please give me some advice I am devastated and don't have any idea what to do.

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Answers (2)
John Folk-Williams, Health Guide
8/ 1/10 12:21am

Hi -


It's hard to imagine having all those losses and setbacks - I'm really sorry this has all hit you and taken away so much at once. The way you describe your boyfriend fits exactly with severe depression, as you know. Isolation and refusing to talk are two things that make it so impossible to get anywhere. I do think - as I found in trying to get out of depression myself - that it's up to him to make a decision to do something about the problem. That's painful to realize, but I don't see that there's much you can do bring him back, and you have so many problems of your own to deal with.


Finding some kind of stability, something to hold onto at least for a while, seems like a really important thing for you to do. I know that picking up and moving might seem like a good thing when you're going through such a painful time, but I believe it would not help, at least not now. You have so many big life changes as it is that adding another might make things even worse.


I agree with Donna that counseling can be exactly what you want it to be. If you're not ready to go into the problems with your boyfriend or your own depression, there are several other things a therapist might help you with. For example, making a big decision about moving or work is hard to do in the state you're in, and a therapist could help you find a workable approach to making major choices. This focuses on the future, not on the past. If you assume for the moment, as painful as it is, that this break with your boyfriend really is final - what do you want for yourself, what can you do to take care of yourself? Those are all big questions that counseling can help with.


Everything seems so overwhelming - but I've found that a terrible situation can be a little more manageable if it's possible to separate out a few things that you work on by yourself. Even a step here or there, just a little progress, can help calm you down enough to deal with the bigger problems.


All my best to you - and I hope you'll keep us posted here.





Slipping Away, Community Member
8/13/10 10:57pm

I meant to reply to this sooner but as you say everything is so overwhelming. It is exceptionally hard to make any decisions for myself. Up until this point all my plans included him and now my life is totally different. I feel like I have to pick out a whole new life in a short period of time.


I had moved to this area to be with his family. It wasn't where I really wanted to be so I don't intend to stay here. The problem is that I am not sure where I want to move to now. I have always wanted to live elsewhere, this isn't new. It will be overwhelming to move but less so then moving locally only to pick up and move out of state shortly there after.


I think I will go to therapy at some point. I definitely understand everyone's urging me to do so. It would be good for me just not at this exact moment in time. I don't have an aversion to it or anything like that. I just don't feel like I am at a point yet where I can talk about anything that will do me any good. Everything is still too raw for me to think about it for more then a couple minutes at a time.


I have made a little progress with my ex (ugh it's hard typing that) he seems to be getting slightly more open to some type of help. He at least acknowledges now that he does need help. I have no idea when or what it will be but at least he is considering it more. I have been sending him various articles about depression and he says that he identifies with them but isn't SURE that he is depressed. His dad has had some fairly serious problems with depression and has been on medication for years now. I have been encouraging both him and his dad to talk to each other about it but nothing has happened with that yet.


My confusion hasn't lifted in the slightest. I don't even see a tiny vision of clarity off in the distance. It is making it really hard to make any decisions. I am hanging in there though.

Judy, Community Member
7/29/10 11:25pm

Hi, there.  I'm sorry about all of the challenges you've had to face recently.  Are you getting help at all for YOUR depression?  The only thing you can change is yourself and it sounds like you could use a little support in deciding what to do.  If you're both depressed, it could do you some good and would also be showing him a good example.  Here is a link to a sharepost written by Deborah Gray on what to do when your partner is depressed.  I hope you can find some help there.  I wish you all the best and hope everything works out well for both of you.  Please feel free to write in again any time - we're here to listen.

Slipping Away, Community Member
7/30/10 5:45pm

I had been coping with my depression reasonably well. I was  improving as time passed and life had become more stable. I don't know if that is the case now that my life has been torn to pieces. I am going to have to think about counseling now. I am not prepared for it yet. This is all too new. I don't think I could handle talking about it in any kind of depth. My whole world has been turned upside down. My priorities have to lie in packing up what is left of my life and figuring out where to move.



I am absolutely crushed. I don't know how I can accept that depression has robbed us of each other. I love him so deeply and I know he does love me.

Donna-1, Community Member
7/31/10 9:23pm

I don't think any therapist or counselor would expect you to talk about things in depth to start out with.  There is always a period of getting to know each other and gentle probing.  A therapist will not take you where you don't want to go.  The "wanting to" is up to you.  You will be the one who takes the lead in exploring your own situation (past and present.)  I have heard others say that you go to a therapist to get "unstuck" when you are feeling mired in a situation and don't think you can get out by yourself.  It can be comforting, too, to just have someone to talk to about things on a regular basis.  Someone who is there to listen and support and to help you straighten out your own thoughts.

Donna-1, Community Member
7/31/10 9:28pm

P.S. If you have had a really good relationship in the past, I think there is hope of regaining that kind of relationship with him.  But both of you will have to be willing to do the necessary work -- you can't do it all on your own.

BBB2111, Community Member
9/15/12 3:44pm

Hi, I know this is an old post but as I am going through exactly the same thing with my boyfriend, I have been researching for some answers.  I feel exactly the same has you have described.  I have ended up on anti-depressants myself.  I feel robbed of my/our future because of this.  How have things turned out for you if you don't mind me asking?

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By Slipping Away, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/19/14, First Published: 07/29/10