When Someone You Love Has Depression

When Someone You Love Has Depression.

Depression builds walls around people and between people. When someone you love has been dragged inside those walls, there can be a distance between you both that feels relentless. You miss them, but they’re right there beside you, except that they’re kind of not. Not in the way you both want to be anyway.

The symptoms of depression exist on a spectrum. All of them are normal human experiences, but in depression they’re intensified. Not everyone who has depression will have a formal diagnosis, so knowing what to watch out for can help to make sense of the changes you might notice.

Depression looks like a withdrawal. It feels that way too. It’s a withdrawal from everything that is enriching and life-giving. Depression sucks the life out of life. That’s how it feels. When depression bites, everything becomes hard. Life starts to hurt. Those who are bitten stop looking forward to things. They stop engaging and they stop enjoying things, even the things they used to love. They can feel hard to reach, and sometimes they can be angry or appear as though they don’t care. That isn’t because they want to withdraw from you or push you away, they don’t, although it can feel that way. 

Here are some ways to fight for them, beside them and for the times the fight has to be theirs, behind them:

  1. Depression is never a choice.

    If people with depression could be happy, they would be. Depression leaves people feeling as though they’ve been scooped out with a spoon. It’s a hijacking of everything that feels good. The hopelessness, emptiness and loneliness is relentless. If they knew how to be any other way, they would be. 

  2. It’s okay to feel frustrated or angry.

    The helplessness of loving someone with depression can be frustrating, exhausting and lonely. It’s okay to feel angry at times, or as though you want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. You’re human and when you love someone with depression, there will be times that you’ll be in the arena too, fighting the battle. Remember that you’re fighting a common enemy and it’s depression, not the person beside you. Try to see through the symptoms to the person you know, because they’re in there.

  3. Depression is a withdrawal, but not from you.

    When you love someone with depression it can feel as though you’ve lost them for a while. The person you’ve always known and loved is still there, but they’ve withdrawn into themselves, away from the pain and hopelessness of it all, not away from you. It just feels like the safest place to be, but it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have you right there with them if they knew how to do that.

  4. You’re grieving too.

    Depression steals people. If the depression has been around for long enough, you might feel a sense of grief. If you need to get angry, sad, or fall to your knees some days, that’s okay. You’re fighting a battle too. It’s okay to pull back to recharge now and then. Be kind to yourself and do something that replenishes you. Reach out to someone, but don’t lean on the person with depression. People with depression already see themselves as a burden, and anything that inflames that might cause them to withdraw even more.

  5. When nothing is as powerful as something.

    People with depression won’t always have the words and will feel the burden of being with you when they don’t know what to say or do. Let them know that you love that version of them too – the one that has nothing to say, or plenty to say but no will to say it. Let them know that you’re there for them even if they don’t want to talk. Silence with someone can be lovely when you’re depleted. ‘You don’t have to be anyone different to who you are. You don’t need to change or pretend or put on a happy face. I love you and I’m here for you.’

  6. People with depression are strong.

    People with depression are some of the strongest people I’ve met. They have to be. The pain and hopelessness of depression is immense and to keep existing day after day under the weight of that takes an almighty fight, fuelled by almighty strength and courage. 

  7. What they’re doing makes sense.

    We all have needs we can’t give up. They’re the big ones and they’re an inescapable part of being human – love, validation, respect, visibility, safety, influence, connection, appreciation, purpose. You know the ones. When one of these needs isn’t met, the temptation can be to push it down – to ‘depress’ it – to where it’s out of awareness and can’t cause trouble. But of course, any symptom whether physical or emotional will always cause trouble when it’s ignored. It takes the strength of a warrior to keep pushing things down, and getting on with life. Eventually, when people have been strong for too long the armour will crack. Depression hurts, but it makes sense. It’s a creative, adaptive withdrawal from a world that feels painful to be in.

  8. Being positive probably won’t work.

    Reframing things positively is generally done with loving intent, but most likely it just won’t work. The messages that are sent with love will likely be received as ‘nobody understands’. For someone who is being caned by depression, there is no positive. Research has found that people who are already unhappy don’t want to be talked into the glossy view of life, they just want understanding. The view of reality is shaped by a lifetime of experience and sometimes, the way people see the world is exactly the way the world is for them. Trying to push against this can work against what you’re trying to do and intensify the loneliness and desperation of it all. Reframing things in a positive way is important, but it can’t be forced.

  9. So if positive is out, what then?

    You don’t have to fix anything or change anything. If there was a way to do that, they would have done it themselves by now. Instead, acknowledge their pain, ‘I know this is really hard for you,’ and validate what they’re going through ‘I know you’re hurting. That’s understandable given what you’re going through’, or ‘I know you’re fighting a tough battle right now.’ Be the one who can be with them without having to change them. This will probably explode your own feelings of helplessness, but reworking things towards a positive angle will ease your helplessness, not theirs. That helplessness you’re feeling is the bit you’re doing together. So is the pain and the confusion of that. That’s what makes your love unconditional and your support something extraordinary.

  10. Try not to let the negative talk go on and on and on and on and …

    It’s really important to hear people from where they are, but if the discussion of a negative thought goes on and on and on and starts to feel circular, it’s not good for anyone. It’s called rumination and it can make it harder to move through depression. Talk about it with them for sure, but try to persuade the conversation in a different direction after a while if you can.

  11. If you’re struggling for words, let those be the words.

    There’s no need to gloss it up. The truth is that it’s hard to know what to say because there’s nothing that can take away the pain. Don’t worry about saying the ‘right’ thing, there is no right thing. Instead say the ‘real’ thing with love and an open heart. Share what you’re feeling, because chances are that they’re feeling it too. Common ground will shrink the distance between you. You might not be depressed, but chances are you’ll be feeling a lot of the things they’re feeling – sadness, confusion, frustration, helplessness, and the greatest wish that you knew how to make it better. ‘I wish that you weren’t in so much pain and I wish I knew how to soften things for you, but I don’t know how to do that. What I will do is be here for you for as long as it takes.’

  12. Ask them what you do that doesn’t help. And listen.

    Depression can be different for everyone. You can’t be expected to know how to respond. Ask what they need from you and whether there’s something they need you to do differently. Be open to the response and don’t take it personally.

  13. Don’t ask them what they’re depressed about.

    When people are sad they generally have an idea of why. Depression doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes people will be aware of what has triggered their depression, but sometimes it won’t be obvious. On paper, people with depression can look as though they have everything to be happy about – they can even believe that themselves – but depression doesn’t play by any rules.

  1. Try to initiate the things they used to love, that depression has stolen.

    At a time when people need connection the most, depression forces distance. Do everything you can not to let it. Connection and positive feelings strengthen the brain against depression, and exercise can cause the same changes in the brain as antidepressants. The problem is that the very nature of depression will hold people back from doing any of these. Don’t wait for them to feel like doing things. They won’t. Their depression won’t let them. Depression is there to nurture withdrawal, remember. It does this by stealing motivation, and creating exhaustion. Be tender, gentle and loving and reintroduce them to life, connection, and positive feelings. You’re likely to get resistance, and a lot of it. Know that this isn’t personal and do what you can do anyway.

  2. Another reason to initiate.

    Thoughts, feelings and behaviours are intimately connected. They tend to follow each other, so someone with depression will think depressed thoughts (‘Nothing makes a difference’; ‘I’m useless’), feel depressed feelings (pain, hopelessness, exhaustion) and this will drive depressed behaviour (withdrawal and a depressed mood). A change in one will eventually lead to the other but the change is unlikely come from the person with depression. Out of the three, thoughts and feelings are the toughest to change. They’re tenacious. This is why things like, ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘just try to be a bit positive, hey?’ won’t work. The best way is through their behavior, but you’ll have to be stronger than their depression. Initiate walks, dinners, holidays – anything that has the potential to create positive feelings. Take their hand and lead them there gently.

  3. They are not broken.

    There is nothing abnormal about the symptoms of depression. They’re a very normal part of human experience, but with an intensity that’s relentless. We’ve all felt sad, disconnected, the need to withdraw, hopeless, helpless, exhausted, and as though the fun has faded for a while These are all common experiences, even if only fleetingly at times and from the kinder end of the spectrum. What makes these very human experiences lead to a diagnosis of depression is a question of degree. People with depression experience the same we all experience, but at a different intensity, duration, or cluster of symptoms. 

Depression rarely takes hold of just one person. When depression settles into someone, helplessness, fear and sadness bleed through the walls it builds around that person and into the lives of those who love them. It’s exhausting for everyone. There is always a way through depression but it takes an almighty fight. You won’t always have it in you to fight alongside them and you won’t always know what to do but that’s okay – you don’t have to do any of that to fight for them. Few things are as powerful as human connection and anything you can do to nurture that will help to put back what depression strips away.

347 Comments

lilith

This article is so helpful, thank you! I broke up with my sick partner after months of burnout, exhaustion, confusion, fear. Witnessing full blasts of psychosis, on top of depression and manic episodes, with no break at all, I ran. Like a coward. I had no idea what was going on with him and I left him like that. I love him but I ran for my life, or so I thought. I did not know what to expect and now I feel so guilty and stupid! He’s back in his country. He cannot return into mine. We got back in touch and I help him from distance. He has no family left, and I f*cked him over.

I blame myself for this and for not being educated about mental illnesses. He’s having resistant clinical depression (for which he also had a DBS years ago) and bipolar type 1. Looking back, I have answers to many questions but the blame is there. Reading this article helps me help him.

Reply
MonkeyPnut

That’s so sad, but it really really is not your fault. The guilt you feel is making you feel so responsible, yet few of us are ‘taught’ to understand depression, and most likely your parents didn’t allow you any sadness, so it became your way of dealing with it.

You clearly care about this person. I hope that you can hold enough space and understanding (for you and him) and that you will feel a sort of comfort if your presence helps him. (I say all this as I’ve spent 10 years ‘looking after’ my adult son with depression and often reacted just like you – felt I wanted to run screaming in the opposite direction, and felt angry, but when I focus on the truth, (that NONE of this is intentional…it really really helps). Good luck, I wish you both a calmer and more healing relationship.

Reply
Fer

This is beautifully written and heartfelt, just what we need to read and exactly how we need to be with our loved ones.

Will do this asap.

Thank you kindly 💜

Reply
Asriel

Except I’m the partner with depression and feel helpless, and hopeless, because right now I’m going through a depression spike and lost every emotion I had previously, including feeling love.. and it’s so scary because one moment I knew I loved my boyfriend, and the next, I was questioning if I loved him and what would happen if I had to leave.

I really don’t want to leave and start over with someone new, I want this man, and he has depression too so he’s just as scared as I am about losing me. I don’t want my feelings turning platonic and if they did I want to gain those romantic ones back. My feeling of love went from 100 to 0 in literally a day. I don’t know what to do other than seeing a psychiatrist, but I’m worried they’ll tell me to leave him.

Reply
Jessica

They won’t tell you to leave him, they’ll tell you you’re depressed and that’s what it does to us, steals the love and joy. But I hope things are even a little better for you now

Reply
Steve

Thank you Karen for posting this…one of the best I’ve seen on this subject.
My wife has been dealing with chronic depression for many years…wish there was more I could do for her…your incites have helped.

Reply
ems

Micaw we have similar scenario at this moment my bf is also having episodes of withdrawing but this person has a big love for me…just last night he gets jealous on a petty matter and started to trigger his depression thats the very first time i knew he is suffering from it i feel very sorry for him…i kept sending assurance msg that im here for him and that i love him a lot even he doesnt reply back for 10hrs or more i will still send him msg to let him know im just around when he is ready to talk again…i have a fear that if i stop sending message even morning greetings it can trigger the depression again that i dont love him at all coz we are in a long distance affair…im not so sure what im doing is ok or not but this is what im doing.

Reply
Sherry

Hi

Thank you for your post,I’m currently going through the exact same situation. What’s worse for me is that my previous boyfriend committed suicide due to depression so I get triggered everytime I see hopelessness in my current boyfriend. He’s the love of my life and I don’t want to leave him but I feel so helpless when he’s in this state,sometimes I feel like I contribute towards it because I get frustrated when he won’t talk to me.
I’ve decided to go see a psychologist to help me deal with my own traumas so that I’m in a better state of mind for our well being.
It helps knowing there is someone out there that can relate to what I’m going through and I wish nothing but healing everyone,may your relationship grow from this.We can’t let depression beat us.

Reply
Paula

I feel for you, I am going through the same. My fiancée is in a heavy state of depression; He loves me a lot but today He told me that it is too much for him and seeing how he acts towards me with this state of mind, makes him feel worse and useless and He think it is best that we end our relationship. He has suicidal thoughts and is worried for his health and thinks that being totally by his own can make him feel better. He seems very confused and I don’t want him to do anything stupid. I want to support him, but seems he is distancing himself from everything and everybody. How to help somebody who is in this state without making them feel pressured?

Reply
Danielle

Hi Paula – I have been going through the exact same thing. My boyfriend and I were so secure in our relationship and he had some huge traumatic events in his life which spun him into a breakdown and now depression. So much so that he’s pushed me away and ended our relationship. I don’t know what to do. It’s so hard to understand that the person who loved and would do anything for you can just end it so quickly.

Reply
Mary B

My bf is depressed and says he’s not loving right now. I want to help but I don’t know how. I miss us.

Reply
Lynn

Dear Danielle,

Your comment was quite a while ago but I can still relate. My boyfriend has broken up with me in December due to depression and it all just being too much for him. It happened in sort of a break down moment, he just randomly called me to break up, it felt so odd. I was understanding but I knew I couldnt just sit on this. So I told him we wouldnt be having any contact for a week, and then meet up to talk again. Turns out, he never meant or planned to break up. It happened, because he felt he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. I told him I want to be his support system. I dont want our relationship to feel like a chore and I want to be there for him. Tell him you are aware you cannot and will not be able to fix him, BUT that you understand what he’s going through, that youre willing to listen to him and always stand by his side. This article pretty much sums it up perfectly what I had to figure out on my own. Were back together and it is super hard, depression is hard, but i’ve told him that he couldnt push me away in a moment of crisis like this again. that i want nothing but support him and that i will be there for him for better or for worse. you have to make him understand that isolating himself is the last thing he should be doing right now and that it is not the answer. Dont worry, better times are coming (dont tell him that, that will upset him). but for you : everything is temporary and even the worst of pain can go away. with professional help and maybe medication and a lot of patience and listening to this article, depression can go away and your partner will be able to feel love again. I’m sure of it.
Best,
Lynn

Reply
Anonymous

I’m crying reading this. Thank you so much.

A friend of mine visited and stayed with me over the weekend. I’ve struggled with depression throughout my life due to trauma – I struggle to talk about it, and few people know much about these life events. My friend knows that I’ve struggled though hasn’t seen me in the midst of it all. Unfortunately her visit has landed right in the middle of an episode.

Her response has been to say the way I’ve been over the weekend has “made her feel like shit” and that if I had been feeling this way for weeks (which I mentioned in an attempt to explain what’s been going on) then I should have cancelled our plans. Me not being able to participate in conversation has come across as ignoring her and she stated I’ve been taking out my feelings on her. I haven’t – I just can’t hold a conversation right now. It’s like there’s a stone slab wedged into the middle of my skull and my emotions can’t rise above that line. Thoughts are lost in a dull and heavy fog and I don’t have the motivation to come up with words. There’s just nothing there.

I think this has been the most heartbreaking reaction – I adore our friendship, and have always been there to help her through times in life where she’s struggled. Including this weekend, where I’ve sat and listened and talked about her relationship problems. I cannot express how difficult that was, with how flat I feel right now and how little I feel like I have to give. By the next day, I was completely drained. It was after this day of being particularly low where she cried and said I’d made her feel shit – she kept saying I made her feel like my lowness is her fault and that I’m not the same as usual. And that I shouldn’t have agreed to spend time with her.

At a time where I’ve needed her, I haven’t felt like this support has been returned. I don’t think relationships are transactional but I can’t help but feel let down and helpless. She is aware that I haven’t been doing well, though I really don’t think I have once said or acted in a way that points towards me feeling like she is at fault for the way I currently am. I try not to think this way but I can’t help but feel so embarrassed to be like this around people I care about, and I really wish there was a way I could flick a switch and go back to how I was a few months ago.

I feel so awful. I’ve been really trying not to withdraw this time around, but fuck it’s hard. For me, it’s the most difficult part of all of this. I want to be around people, I just can’t do it in the way people are used to and when people sense that change, I find that they turn away. It’s really lonely and really really hard. This post has helped me feel a little bit more understood, and thank you because I really needed that today.

Reply
Ludmila

I’m at a very low point with my relationship of 2 years and the comments on this article is what I didn’t know I needed. It kinda helps knowing I’m not alone cause honestly when you love someone with depression, loneliness sets in. My boyfriend told me eventful that he doesn’t think I should wait for him to get better because I don’t deserve how I’m feeling.

I’ve made it such a point that I’ll fight for us so it’s really heartbreaking that he would say this even after I make sure to remind him often that I’m here for him. I love this man so deeply and I thought we will be together for a long time. He was even included me in all his future and present plans so believe me when I say I don’t understand what’s happening.

How can he be crying on my shoulder one moment and now saying he doesn’t think I should wait?? I don’t know what to do, but hat I’d still fighting is putting myself at risk? I have been feeling lonely and missing the man that loves me but when do I get the memo to leave? I mean he said it with his mouth and I know depression makes you have low thoughts towards yourself and worth but he said it and doesn’t that mean he means it?? It sounds like he might also be saying he doesn’t want this but just the thought of that makes me so heartbroken and devastated. I thought this man was my man and he gave me the impression that I was the woman for him.

I don’t know how to feel or what to think or what to do. I’m actually lost…so lost. Why is he pushing me away? I don’t understand.

Reply
Sherry

Hi

Thank you for your post,I’m currently going through the exact same situation. What’s worse for me is that my previous boyfriend committed suicide due to depression so I get triggered everytime I see hopelessness in my current boyfriend. He’s the love of my life and I don’t want to leave him but I feel so helpless when he’s in this state,sometimes I feel like I contribute towards it because I get frustrated when he won’t talk to me.
I’ve decided to go see a psychologist to help me deal with my own traumas so that I’m in a better state of mind for our well being.
It helps knowing there is someone out there that can relate to what I’m going through and I wish nothing but healing for you and your partner,may your relationship grow from this.

Reply
Jon

Give her something to look forward to. What are her interests.?.. Cinema, Wild Life, Hotel Break, History trip (maybe Rome). Take a camera, GET THE PICTURES DEVELOPED) make sure she enjoys it.
Summary…. Something to look forward to
Something to look back on
A stronger bond

Reply
LF

Hi, my name is L. I am an 18 year old female, dating an 18 year old male. We have been dating for almost 5 months, and we’ve been friends for 5 years. Around 3 or 4 weeks ago, I noticed something going on with my boyfriend. It started with him ranting about how he feels guilty for the way he treats his sibling, and how he can’t control it. He then started to tell me overtime how his life at home has become very toxic(he told me kind of what’s happening, but not going into full detail) but he hates being home. Over the past few weeks, he has significantly gotten worse. He hasn’t made plans with me when I would sleep over at least once a week, he stopped saying I love you, stopped sending hearts, stopped calling me babe/baby and started using my name. When we see each other he talks to me and smiles, but it just isn’t the same as before. He looks so tired & I can just see & tell in his eyes he isn’t the same. We both just started college, we go to the same school. He tells me how he’s been so stressed and school makes it so much worse. He also is about to start a second job, which makes me worry because he already works a physically demanding job that requires him to be outside, and he always says how tired he is from that job, I can’t imagine two and it makes me worry. He says he doesn’t want to go into great detail about what’s happening at home because he doesn’t want it to affect me to. I think this is because I am very close to his family, and have been for years. I have such a great relationship especially with his mom and little sister. He’s apologized for acting distant and tells me it’s not my fault. The other day, I kind of lashed out on him. He had not been texting me back and I saw he was at his friends house. It made me feel so frustrated because he only acts stressed, and unhappy with me. It’s like our whole relationship became about him and it made me take it very personal, I started to feel like it’s my fault, that he just doesn’t have feelings for me anymore. I sent him a text along the times of “im just gonna text you tomorrow, night” & he replied an hour later, they were working on his friends car and I had told him earlier that day to have time for himself and friends. I felt so guilty, I realized I acted out of emotion, and I told him “hey, when we both have the time we should schedule a time to talk in person.” I guess he read this as I’m going to break up with him, and started apologizing like crazy. He said he was sorry for not showing me the love I deserve recently, that he understands if I hate him and if I don’t want to be with him. He said he’s just been having such a rough time, and he feels hopeless. I reassured him that I just wanted to talk and it was nothing bad but we never ended up scheduling that time. I’ve been trying to support him the best way I could, giving him both space and reassurance, telling him I’m there for him if he needs me. But it’s been taking a toll on me too. About 2 days ago, we were texting and I told him it’s been hurting seeing him like this and it’s hurting our relationship. I asked him why it was so hard for him to say I love you. He said he fakes a smile constantly, and when he gets home at the end of the day he just has no energy. He tells me he knows he hasn’t been treating me the same, and he apologizes but still says he still “really really” loves me but he’s just trying to get back to how he was before and love himself first. I told him I understand, and I’ve been trying my best to give him space because he told me advice doesn’t really work. He finally said the words “I love you” for the first time in 2 weeks. Even over the past 3 weeks this has been going on, he never failed to text me to make sure I ate and had rested after work and school. I do believe he loves me still, he’s been really stressed and said he’s feeling really depressed. It’s been hard, even if it’s only been a short amount of time. Depression is so evil and vile, it preys on anybody no matter the age, gender, race, how happy they are, etc. I really hope he is able to get better, I love him a lot as a girlfriend but also as a close friend who doesn’t want to watch him suffer and dig himself deeper into a hole. He’s been through so much, I want to see him be happy even if it’s not with me. As much as it would hurt, he is genuinely such a good person, I’ve always admired that about him. He deserves good things, and good feelings. I hope we are able to move past this. Thank you for the article, it helps a lot. Hopefully I’ll update in some time with good news.

Reply
ck

my gf stays away and she goes thru anxiety and guilty feelings often for no reason she knows.she says she doesnt know why she is the way she is. she ignores my presence. but i want to be there for her and cant leave her like this. not sure how to help her and make her feel better. i cant sit and watch her go thru this. any advise?

Reply
Micaw

Hey everyone,

what a great article, thank you for posting this.

I just started seeing someone about a month ago who recently told me they have depressive episodes. We’ve been on two dates, share the same humour, talked for hours, kissed… all that. And I feel like we really click with each other. Been calling each other a lot but after that they kind of fell silent a couple of days. I felt bad, thought I’d done something wrong or they had lost interest even though they’d said/done the opposite.

When they told me I felt relief to know what’s really goin on (and that they trust me enough to actually tell me..) but at the same time I’m worried I’ll do something wrong. I try to be patient and not to push too much or text them too often even though I’m really really smitten with them.. but if anybody has some advice what else I could do to make them feel.. not better, better isn’t a good word I think. But to feel comfortable.. with me. That’d help a lot.

I really want this to work and I don’t see them as another person ever since they told me but I’m aware of this now and I wish to be there for them. Any help really is appreciated

Reply
Brenda

Hello, I’m going through the same thing with my boyfriend we have been together for almost 3 months, everything was going great, talking every day and night and seeing each other every other weekend, and on August 1st he went into emotional depression and completely shut down and went into a black hole and it was a hit and miss if he would respond to the text and I finally got to talk to him last Saturday for a short time and it felt like I was talking to a stranger, i miss him/ us, I really want to tell how im feeling but i dont know how to say it without making him feel worse and i definitely don’t want to lose him. I hate depression and how it temporary takes our love ones away not knowing what to do or say. This sucks for all of us.

Reply
Jacque

Thank you so so much. This was so helpful. It has made me feel more confident in my relationship with my boyfriend who is struggling with depression. It’s us against the depression.

Reply
Chantelle

youre not alone. I have been going through the samething with my fiance of 8 years. You have done the hard part which is to walk away and give him space now its just time. Please wait until he gets back rational thinking until this time he wont be able to cope with what a relationship encompasses in general whether its with u or someone else (nothing personal to u) and u will suffer too as u will want to help him but unfortunately this is something that he can only help himself get out of. Maybe ask him what he needs u to do to help but be prepared if one of those things is space from u, dont take it personal it will just allow him time to get back to normal self again and to process hurt or guilt or any negative emotion that he is feeling. Stay strong and continue to show understanding. Remember what will be will be

Reply
Kim

Can I ask did your fiancé come back to you? My fiancé is keeping me away, communication has stopped and I just feel helpless

Reply
Isyss

How are you and you fiancé now? I am going through a similar situation with my girlfriend.

Reply
Lisa

This is an amazing article. This was exactly what I needed to read. It helps me understand him and also myself. Thank you!!!!

Reply
Rebecca G

Thanks for explaining that depression isn’t a choice since people would choose to be happy if they could. One of my close friends recently told me she’s looking for a psychotherapy service since she’s been struggling with depression for about six months now. I’m glad I read your article so I can better understand what she’s going through and support her however I can during this hard time.

Reply
Sabrina N

I have a friend who was abused by his mother and kicked out of his house when he was 17. He struggles with depression and anxiety, and I don’t know what to do. He pushes me and others away so as not to hurt us because he believes that’s all he can do.

Can someone please tell me what to do or what not to do?

Right now….anything would help.

Reply
Ankur S

Help him in every way you can. Have a heart to heart talk. Trust me, if he pushes you away doesn’t mean he doesn’t need help. People who suffer from depression are unable to login express anything properly and that includes the need for love and help. They are too scared to trust others and can often push away people because of the pain that they carry inside themselves. I too suffer from depression and being in a relationship too has not been able to get me out of it. It’s taken a hold of me and even though it might take a while, I don’t plan on giving up. The same is with your friend. Don’t give up on him and push him to fight as hard as he can. Talking helps. If he is unwilling to talk don’t give up from ur side. Ofcourse you have a life as well and your own plans for your day to day life but even a minute of talking or a help or even a bit of care might help him break the shell he is in and help him reach out to the people that matter to him. Best wishes. And I pray and hope your friend gets better.

Reply
John

Loving someone with any metal illness is like taking the most emotional rollercoaster possible. In my case i’m lucky, i knew my girlfriend had severe issues before we got involved but it doesn’t stop me feeling that i’ve been put through the wringer more often than not. When her mindset is in it’s calm spot i couldn’t be happier, but when the paranoia and self doubt creeps in i take the brunt of it all. one moment we’re talking kids, house and walks on the beach with puppies, next moment were split up…it can be hell !
All i can say to anyone in a serious relationship of any kind with someone suffering mental issues is don’t take it personally, it’s not something they want to do. It’s not something they have a choice about, don’t stop caring and don’t stop believing in yourself. They may get better through treatment or medications, but they also may not. I’ts not something you can wave a magic wand at make go away, And finally….don’t ignore the support you need, get help for yourself before you fall don exhausted. My thoughts and love go to everyone, you’re not alone.

8

Reply
Ciara

Thank you for this. This is what I needed to hear today. My boyfriend broke up with me because he’s depressed and anxious. I know he loves me but all this stuff is eating him up alive

Reply
Natasha

I have the same problem .My BF is depressed from already 3 months .He did split up with me a few times then I bring him back but we don’t meet each other anymore ,he never answer the phone we only texing .He told me he loves me ,same time he spend time somewhere on drugs all the time .He is really in a bad way and I don’t know what to do

Reply
Shirley

I’ve just been diagnosed with nodules on my lungs my boyfriend was depressed before and now he seems worse doesn’t want any intimacy with me making me feel very unloved

Reply
Michelle

Me and my girlfriend just took a break after 1 year+ dating. She said she is scared of me, she told me she felt happy and loved when we both spend time together but she can’t see past the fears for me (showing me her depressed side.). She also doesn’t know if she still loves me. She said sometimes she felt like she miss me and love me so much but the other time it’s zero and I told her that you don’t always have to love me, it’s normal to have normal days sometimes (I’ve asked around and my friends say it’s normal.) this is why she wanted the break.

She still texts me but I try not to to not influence her judgement on whether she loves me or not. The day it happened she suddenly changed to a different person and so cold to me. I cried at her doorstep, it hurts me so much. I wasn’t eating properly for few days. Now after reading this article, I understand her better and know that I can’t take it personally. Thank you so much.

I also took a break to be more patient and understand her situation. She asks me to wait for her and I treat is as if we already broke up so I won’t get so hurt when she gave me a bad news (maybe she doesn’t love me anymore). I even asked her to just break up with me bcs I realised I was hurting her with her being scared of me and it drives me insane. I never wanted to hurt her.

Is it normal for her to feel this way?

What should I do to help her?

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our newsletter

We would love you to follow us on Social Media to stay up to date with the latest Hey Sigmund news and upcoming events.

Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

When you can’t cut out (their worries), add in (what they need for felt safety). 

Rather than focusing on what we need them to do, shift the focus to what we can do. Make the environment as safe as we can (add in another safe adult), and have so much certainty that they can do this, they can borrow what they need and wrap it around themselves again and again and again.

You already do this when they have to do things that don’t want to do, but which you know are important - brushing their teeth, going to the dentist, not eating ice cream for dinner (too often). The key for living bravely is to also recognise that so many of the things that drive anxiety are equally important. 

We also need to ask, as their important adults - ‘Is this scary safe or scary dangerous?’ ‘Do I move them forward into this or protect them from it?’♥️
The need to feel connected to, and seen by our people is instinctive. 

THE FIX: Add in micro-connections to let them feel you seeing them, loving them, connecting with them, enjoying them:

‘I love being your mum.’
‘I love being your dad.’
‘I missed you today.’
‘I can’t wait to hang out with you at bedtime 
and read a story together.’

Or smiling at them, playing with them, 
sharing something funny, noticing something about them, ‘remembering when...’ with them.

And our adult loves need the same, as we need the same from them.♥️
Our kids need the same thing we do: to feel safe and loved through all feelings not just the convenient ones.

Gosh it’s hard though. I’ve never lost my (thinking) mind as much at anyone as I have with the people I love most in this world.

We’re human, not bricks, and even though we’re parents we still feel it big sometimes. Sometimes these feelings make it hard for us to be the people we want to be for our loves.

That’s the truth of it, and that’s the duality of being a parent. We love and we fury. We want to connect and we want to pull away. We hold it all together and sometimes we can’t.

None of this is about perfection. It’s about being human, and the best humans feel, argue, fight, reconnect, own our ‘stuff’. We keep working on growing and being more of our everythingness, just in kinder ways.

If we get it wrong, which we will, that’s okay. What’s important is the repair - as soon as we can and not selling it as their fault. Our reaction is our responsibility, not theirs. This might sound like, ‘I’m really sorry I yelled. You didn’t deserve that. I really want to hear what you have to say. Can we try again?’

Of course, none of this means ‘no boundaries’. What it means is adding warmth to the boundary. One without the other will feel unsafe - for them, us, and others.

This means making sure that we’ve claimed responsibility- the ability to respond to what’s happening. It doesn’t mean blame. It means recognising that when a young person is feeling big, they don’t have the resources to lead out of the turmoil, so we have to lead them out - not push them out.

Rather than focusing on what we want them to do, shift the focus to what we can do to bring felt safety and calm back into the space.

THEN when they’re calm talk about what’s happened, the repair, and what to do next time.

Discipline means ‘to teach’, not to punish. They will learn best when they are connected to you. Maybe there is a need for consequences, but these must be about repair and restoration. Punishment is pointless, harmful, and outdated.

Hold the boundary, add warmth. Don’t ask them to do WHEN they can’t do. Wait until they can hear you and work on what’s needed. There’s no hurry.♥️
Recently I chatted with @rebeccasparrow72 , host of ABC Listen’s brilliant podcast, ‘Parental as Anything: Teens’. I loved this chat. Bec asked all the questions that let us crack the topic right open. Our conversation was in response to a listener’s question, that I expect will be familiar to many parents in many homes. Have a listen here:
https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/parental-as-anything-with-maggie-dent/how-can-i-help-my-anxious-teen/104035562
School refusal is escalating. Something that’s troubling me is the use of the word ‘school can’t’ when talking about kids.

Stay with me.

First, let’s be clear: school refusal isn’t about won’t. It’s about can’t. Not truly can’t but felt can’t. It’s about anxiety making school feel so unsafe for a child, avoidance feels like the only option.

Here’s the problem. Language is powerful, and when we put ‘can’t’ onto a child, it tells a deficiency story about the child.

But school refusal isn’t about the child.
It’s about the environment not feeling safe enough right now, or separation from a parent not feeling safe enough right now. The ‘can’t’ isn’t about the child. It’s about an environment that can’t support the need for felt safety - yet.

This can happen in even the most loving, supportive schools. All schools are full of anxiety triggers. They need to be because anything new, hard, brave, growthful will always come with potential threats - maybe failure, judgement, shame. Even if these are so unlikely, the brain won’t care. All it will read is ‘danger’.

Of course sometimes school actually isn’t safe. Maybe peer relationships are tricky. Maybe teachers are shouty and still using outdated ways to manage behaviour. Maybe sensory needs aren’t met.

Most of the time though it’s not actual threat but ’felt threat’.

The deficiency isn’t with the child. It’s with the environment. The question isn’t how do we get rid of their anxiety. It’s how do we make the environment feel safe enough so they can feel supported enough to handle the discomfort of their anxiety.

We can throw all the resources we want at the child, but:

- if the parent doesn’t believe the child is safe enough, cared for enough, capable enough; or

- if school can’t provide enough felt safety for the child (sensory accommodations, safe peer relationships, at least one predictable adult the child feels safe with and cared for by),

that child will not feel safe enough.

To help kids feel safe and happy at school, we have to recognise that it’s the environment that needs changing, not the child. This doesn’t mean the environment is wrong. It’s about making it feel more right for this child.♥️

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This