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 The person you’ve always known and loved is still there, but they’ve withdrawn into themselves, away from the pain and hopelessness of it all, not away from you.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.

328 Comments

Q

My boyfriend broke up with me because of his depression. We’ve been dating in this cycle of on again off again since January 2019, and I think he is conditioned to think that I will just always be here when he needs me, just as I am conditioned he will always come back. We dated for a while then broke up about a year ago then started dating again 7 months ago. In the beginning of us getting back together, he had so much hope and motivation and dedication and wanted to fix everything between us because for the first time in his life he could see a future with someone. I was scared to trust him because we’ve broken up before and I didn’t want to get hurt. I also suffer from depression, but I cope differently and just want him around when I’m not feeling good. For him, he wants nothing to do with anyone and says things like he needs to be alone, he can’t be around people, he deserve someone who treats him badly, he doesn’t deserve me, etc. So it’s this cycle of us not getting what we need from the other person since he wants one thing and I want the other and since we can’t give it, it causes us to fight. I think he broke up with me this time because he is having this crisis about the future since we are seniors in college and it’s making him less motivated to keep trying in our relationship. In his head, it doesn’t seem worth it anymore to be putting all this time and energy into something that is seemingly not changing when he barely has energy at all. I noticed he was getting more depressed when he would make comments like nothing is worth living for, he would choose to lay in bed all day and miss class and miss hanging out with friends, and the things that once brought him joy don’t anymore. I can’t help but feel guilty that I made him feel worse by fighting with him, or that I should’ve helped him get help sooner. I realize now after reading this article that it’s not about me and I wish I realized that sooner so I could help him from an objective standpoint rather than pushing him to be okay and to stay with me. I feel lost because I know he ended things, but part of me feels like he’ll come back. I’m scared to think that because I don’t want to be let down if he doesn’t, and I know I need to take this time to myself and really work on what went wrong. And also figure out what I really want/need and assess whether I should even want to be with him or not. I guess either way I’m not sure what will happen so I need to act as if we will never get back together so I don’t have false hope. If anyone has any advice or has gone through something similar, please let me know.

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Dina

my partner is depressed and he left me. He said that he could not overcome the problem we had in the past before his depression and it was about him. He also said that he could not feel a romantic about me. He said he loved me when we together, but he couldn’t feel when he got home. we were friends before. That’s why he said he hoped to be friends with me again. He said that I should not help him in this situation and he wanted to overcome his own problem. how can I help him?

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Mansi Bairi

There is someone that i love who is suffering through all this everyday. He fights with all his might but becomes very exhausted after a while. While reading the contents of this page , i cried my heart out because I could feel that i was reading someone’s words that understood how i feel, it pains to see someone you love suffering so much but it also hurts to be going through this myself. I know he is there in there somewhere and i can see him through little things, but then this dark cloud takes over and then he is lost again. I him so much even when he’s still beside me. I pray to god he gains the strength to pull himself out of it. 🙁

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AZ

I started a super romantic long distance relationship with my boyfriend of 20 years ago in early June. It was not planned at all in a simple instagram message triggered it. He is an infectious disease specialist in a COVID center and he has been going through a really really tough time due to the daily mortality rate that he is dealing with. But during this time we were extremely excited that we have reconnected after 20 years. So much in love and we have been planning a future together in a country that we can both live and he can continue his medical practice. But he has become more and more depressed due to the unpleasant work, family responsibilities (old parents) and financial crises. We have been trying to meet up after all these years for just a week but due to COVID we couldn’t as he lives in a red zone country but even though up yo last week he was exchanging loving words and heart ❤️ and 😘 with me, all of sudden he became different and threw a few doubts about our relationship such as ;” I’m not sure if I know as much as before, you are scary and too serious and stubbornness but I’m fun and layback so maybe when we live together for a little while we realize we have grown apart”. I was hurt as my seriousness and stubbornness were among the things he had always mentioned he loved the most. He also over the past couple weeks changed from “ I’m so much in love with you” to “ I love you but don’t know if you can do something that I fall in love again”.
I was do stupid and so ignorance not being able to see the signs and not educating myself earlier about how to deal with depressed people. I s always showed empathy during this time and tried to show him my love and support but all of sudden 2 nights ago when I sent him the possibilities of a reunion in Turkey, he said he can’t be in this relationship anymore ( over text message) as he is under too much stress and my existence is a burden . When I answered that I support anything he wants to do and will love him forever and I’m always there for him. He regretted his breakup, called me subbing and telling me he lives me and he doesn’t want to break up and I should forget that message. We said goodbye on the phone and he said “go to bed , we talk tomorrow” then an hour later, he blocked me from everything. He is gone and I’m devastated. I feel like I lost him due to my lack of knowledge of how to deal with depressed people. He probably thinks as he said that what he is fine is good for me and now I can get on with my life but I’m dying inside as I have never loved anyone like this in my 42 years of life. Being in long distance never help as I needed to use words rather than silent comfort or a simple hug. All I’m thinking is will he ever come back? His social media shows no signs of sadness and he is continuing with his usual fun posts as of nothing has changed for him ( he doesn’t know that I can see his post still). I’m sad, upset, feeling lonely and feeling betrayed emotionally!

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E

Been going through something similar, I’ve been shut out by someone who I was very confident in our growing love.He warned me he was falling into a depressive episode a little over a week ago and haven’t really heard much since.It’s very hard not to take personally as we have only been seeing each other a few months (but it feels so right) and the world of ghosting is brutal. Any thoughts on how long these withdrawal phases typically last? I am anxious about holding out for someone who will never comeback.

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Raina C

Hi. My boyfriend of almost nine months is struggling with abandonment issues right now. In the beginning I’ve known about his depression but I didn’t know to what extent. We were happy in the beginning and even stronger since Covid lock downs. I started living with him because I had family problems at home. Now that I had my family problem settled, I moved back home so I can help my family heal. But for him, me leaving was a huge no-no. Triggered how his then live-in ex left him for her side man. It’s been about two weeks since I left his house and I’ve always stayed over Fridays to Sunday nights.

During those times I visit, he seems happy. We both have consuming jobs during the weekdays that it’s hard for us to call or text. Even, video calling at night triggers him from his ex. I love consistency, it makes me feel loved. Even the the small convos makes me feel taken cared of. But for him, those repetitive notions and talks are too tiring and robotic. I try to initiate activities for us to do when I come over but his job is so rigorous that he ends up not wanting to do anything with me. Especially when we are still on lock down here on Guam, we cannot leave the house to do anything.

Now I feel like he doesn’t want to try to plan with me (I know he doesn’t mean to, that it’s the depressive side, but it’s getting hard). This kind of distance gives me PTSD from my first and only ex who said he was depressed and his depression caused him to cheat (I was stupid for believing him…) Both relationships I gave and still gladly giving support, but I don’t want it to end up like my first relationship cause I know this guy is different.

How should I approach this?

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lavienne

My boyfriend is suffering from depression for almost 10 years now, I think. We’ve been together for more than a year. He is now unemployed because he doesn’t have the motivation to work and he cut off his communication with his long-time friends. And now, he feels like a complete mess and sometimes want to break up with me because he thinks that I deserve someone better (although I never reprimanded him or what for his situation and I always assure him that I will be here for him no matter what). He also said that if ever we’ll have a child, he doesn’t want to get married with me because he knows that he can not be a good husband to me and a good father to our child. I feel sad to see him like this and I don’t know what to do. This article really helps a lot and I am hoping that I could somehow manage to motivate him to retreat back to his normal self.

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W70

My GF is in depression and says that because of that she does not feeling in love with me anymore. She wants to have space and feels I am burden to her because I am waiting for her to recover and continue our relationship as normal. Could a depressed person feel change of heart. If yes, is this reversible if she heals up.

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Alicia

The Internet often sucks. There are so many unuseful articles on dating someone with depression. These articles focus overwhelminglyon telling the significant other of a depressed person just to be ‘supportive’ and accept a distant and yes at times seriously selfish partner but at the same time to also think of your needs in a simple ‘hey go to an exercise class’ way. People in a relationship have needs greater than just needing to step out the house to go to a gum class or see a movie with friends. People in a relationship gave their intimacy needs that are part of being in a romantic relationship. Just telling people to be passive and not put anything on a another is exactly why the Internet is filled with so many on real life experiences where the relationship with a depressed person ends. So long story short, I think it is a discussion on the importance of expressing your feelings and emotions as a significant other of a depress It’s true that we need to be patient to work through these honest and difficult discussions. Also it helps to feel OK to set boundaries and not have feel like you have to be a perfect person. I am not a therapist but just someone trying their hardest with a depressed partner

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Jasmin

Hi, my name is Jasmin. I’ve been struggle with depression my whole life, I grew up alone with no friends and was always being bullied and was sexual harassed. I’m currently dating a Marine man and we been dating for 6 years. I’ve been fighting my depression alone since I was a little child. Tried Therapy, but that didn’t help, Im slowly distance myself again from my boyfriend. I recently told him I was feeling depressed and need help. But he told me I have to do this myself, that he doesn’t understand, that I can’t always depend on him and that he can’t help me. I feel hurt. I am tired of fighting alone, I barely depended on him, in the Past 2 years, he stop check up on me, he doesn’t ask me if I’m doing alright. It would be nice to have his support. I wish he understood what I was going Thur. It seems like he doesn’t even try to put himself on my shoes. I’m scared to reach out to him now whenever I’m feeling down (we do still text) because last time I reached out to him, crying for help… He told me I disappoint him. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was tired all of this. I sometimes feel stupid supporting him, going to his graduation. He barely support me. I feel so alone. I don’t know if what I’m feeling is wrong. But I know my feeling are valid. My feeling are real. I’m sad because he doesn’t see us as a team. There was no “we” in our conversation that night. He just told me to do it myself. I’m tired of fighting alone.

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M

I’m glad I ran into this website because all I see was on the side of the depressed person and not the other one. It hurts to see them depressed and withdraw from communicating with you when all you have is communication since he is in Saudi Arabia. We have been apart since January and he always call but something happened and he said he is depressed and he just cuts me off. We haven’t talked since then but I try to reach out at him but he said I should leave him alone for now and he need time to manage himself. I was frustrated when he said that because I was thinking that he was breaking up with me when it is only normal to be like this. I was affected also by his withdrawal and becoming negative with that. I hope he gets back to the way he was and acknowledge the help I am trying to give him.

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Bun

Have a relationship with someone with depression is like having a relationship with someone with dementia.

He’s here, but not here.
He’s withdrawn and not present.

Even just some silly talk could easily trigger to become a huge fight.
There’s no more you in the relationship, everything is about him.
Have to play along with his rules, or else you are playing games.

I love him, but also exhausted to be alone in the relationship.
I’m afraid I’ll end up to be depressed and he doesn’t care at all.

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Chai S

I can relate. My boyfriend and I have been together for years. He suffers from depression for as long as I can remember… I try to be there but sometimes I feel as if every wrong thing he does he blames it on depression and I get it or at least I try to but i cant avoid feeling like shit sometimes. Its reallyy hard and exhausting trying to go on with life and having someone constantly being negative… its brings me down so much cause I wish I could help but he needs more help than I can give him. I try to talk to him about it but he always misunderstands… he’s like, “Either you take it or leave it”… so I feel like my feelings aren’t important… I have no one to talk to about this and its just sooo frustrating because I do want to be there but what about me???

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anon

since lockdown, me and my boyfriend who has depression have been unfairly split apart. I felt like a constant burden to him and repeatedly asked him if he was sure he still liked this or that about me. He said he wanted to break it off yet gave me another chance. Suddenly, in a matter of a day his whole attitude and demeanour towards changed drastically. He has become super withdrawn and doesnt even want to talk to me on his days off. I read that it might be due to social withdrawal which is easy to understand as firstly we can’t see each other and secondly we can’t see anyone else or do anything that we would be doing if times were normal. I have reassured him that I am here for him no matter what and that I will love him no matter what as well as that I am willing to give him space. however, I don’t like feeling like im being ignored and shut out of his life, he doesnt want to talk to me anymore. and it cannot be because he has fallen out of love as I saw him on the same day he wanted to break up with me, yet when we were in person everything was normal.. I need help, how do I help him, how do I make him understand that withdrawing is not the right choice?

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Reb

Going through a very similar situation myself.. did you ever get another chance to make it work?

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Kate

My boyfriend of 7 months has recently been stepping back from the world. He lives in the UK and I live in the US. We met on a mutual interest server and we clicked almost immediately. But in the last week, he hasn’t been very communicative; text responses are one word answers or nothing at all. I know he struggles with depression and I’m supportive of him as best I can be from so far away. But he cut me off and didn’t tell me what was going on. When I finally managed to get a phone call to him, I was so relieved and upset at the same time, I broke down into tears. I told him that he meant a lot to me and that I was willing to give him the time he needed, but I didn’t like that he just cut off everything from me. He promised he wouldn’t do it again, and I hope he’ll be able to at least keep me aware from now on, just so I know what’s going on. In hindsight, I didn’t like that I was a weeping mess, I’m sure that didn’t help his mood at all, but I’m glad that he still likes me and isn’t going to leave me at all. I’ll just be patient and wait until he comes back. I’m glad I was able to use some of the tips I’ve read here. Thank you.

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Pamela

I’m in a long distance relationship and what you say parallels my story. I think Covid kicked in the depression this time, last year it was 3 months without a word, but I hung in there because of the love we share. This time it’s even harder because he told me he wouldn’t just disappear, but he has. I Expect it’ll hang around until Covid releases it’s grip. Not fun on my end either. I have discovered a treatment called RTM PROTOCAL, I’m going for training as soon as Covid restriction lifts. Most depression is somehow related to a trauma in an individual’s life, even if they can’t recall it, studies have shown that it’s neurological and have developed a protocol to put the traumatic event in a place in the brain to safely deal with it, it’s believed it gets”stuck’ with some people and the brain needs help to put the trauma in the correct place in the brain. No matter how many years one has suffered. It’s easy, quick and 90%+ success rate, no reliving the trauma. A friend recently went through it and is astonished. My guy has yet to accept that he can fix this in any form. I won’t give up. Everyone deserves to live their life as intended. Keep up the good fight.

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mayte

hello kate, we are in the same boat, my boyfriends is from Canada and he lives there, and i am from Peru, we have long distance relationship, we are dating for more than a year, he shout me out now, and i dont know anything about him. i would like to talk with you, now that we are facing the same thing, maybe we could suppport each other, and we want to help our partners..

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Pedro

Hello Kate and Mayte i think i also share the same experience. My girlfriend is in the UK and im in switzerland. She pushed me away and said she would talk to me again once she gets better. Mind if i join both of you?

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Isabella

I am in a long distance relationship as well for 1.5 years now. We met twice and the last time I saw him was in Feb 2020 – luckily our country hasn’t been through lockdown during that time yet. LDR is really difficult but I have faith in us as well. But just yesterday he called me and said that he wanted to break up because LDR is so hard for him and he needs more time to recover from his mental illness. We both love each other a lot and I’m not blaming him for not sharing it with me earlier. I have pulled him out of that negative field for 1.5 years but seems like it is not effective anymore. I’m really drained and stressed. It brutally crushes my hearts into chunks and I can’t seem to find a way to help him and help myself too 🙁 I was wondering if I can talk to you guys and share about our perspectives as well!

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Chris M.

I think what struck me the most with this article is that its not just all about the one who is depressed, It also includes the other side of that relationship. All the other articles i have read are always about them (the depressed ones) and how we need to be around them and what we should do etc. So thankyou for that, its what I personally needed to hear in my current time of crisis with my depressed and anxious girlfriend so thankyou.

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Anon.

yes, that is so true. nobody talks about how frustrating it might get to be on the other side of the spectrum. deep down, one knows that nothing is going to work out, because the other person has been depressed for several years, and there’s no permanent solution to it. he just feels temporarily happy, but every one or two months, he talks about ending his life. I am tired of giving solutions, being cheerful around him (including suggesting therapy, and hearing that it hasn’t worked): now the word therapy makes me feel angry. The relationship as a whole doesn’t spark joy in me anymore. I blocked him a few days back since I have a few important deadlines coming up (my degree depends on it), and I absolutely can’t deal with it.

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Lane

A person in my girlfriends university class committed suicide at the 4 month mark in our relationship. She said she did not know him and I believe her. It’s taking a very hard toll on her because she has had previous bouts with severe depression before including attempted suicides. Following that she was out in a home with others until she was mentally healthy again (years before we started dating). She became very distant and her personality changed the moment she told me it happened. Slowly she started pushing me further away. Her text replies went from all the cute things girlfriends say to basically “haha” and basic texts of being clearly annoyed or unhappy. I was still getting I love yous from her every night until she eventually saw a psychiatrist who told her we should take a break and I should give her space. She was putting in effort in our long distance relationship very hard while this was happening but she finally collapsed. I’ve given her 7 days of space then contacted her to let her know I love her and I’m still here for her. Gave her another 3 days and we chatted a bit, told Me she MISSES me and my family, but she said she is still really not doing okay. Now when I say goodnight to her and I love you she replies with “ I really appreciate you” or “thank you I appreciate you you’re so amazing.” We’ve known each other for 10 years and have secretly been in love with each other all of those 10 years without knowing how the other person felt. When we started dating it was incredible. Hitting it off with friends on both sides, family loves her, friends are happy that we are together, she would always come over when she wasn’t busy studying or with her kid. Now that we are in a break it’s been taking an immense toll on me because I also have severe depression with suicide attempts so I know what she’s going through. The long distance part of our relationship doesn’t bother her like most girls. She’s very strong and will not attempt suicide again because of her child. I’m having suicidal thoughts again but won’t act on them because I love her and want to be there for her. We both also want the relationship to continue once she’s mentally healthy again but she doesn’t know how long it will take. I assure her that I’m here no matter what for her and always will be. I’m worried because I’m going overseas for work for 3.5 months over Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day and winter be able to see her at all. I need your guys help. She has been going out to bars a little bit With her best friend just to get out of the house but she said she doesn’t think it’s helping and she’s still really not okay.
1) should I give her more space? She said she’s okay with me contacting her every few days to check in on her
2) any ideas on how I could see her before I leave without out putting her through a set back with the progress we’re slowly making
3) is it normal that she’s going out lots but still very depressed once she gets home? ( her home life in not good either)
4) any ideas on how to keep myself sane while helping her through this?
5) I believe her depression is mainly doing all of the talking for her because she is not the same girl at all anymore. I believe she still loves me but I’m worried because she always responds to my I love yous, with a follow up I love you. I have only gotten the “I really appreciate yous” as previously stated.
6) do you think it is also her depression talking/making her act like this?
Anything helps I really appreciate whoever answers and takes the time to provide info. I’m not really thinking clearly and would like a second opinion from you guys. Thanks

Reply
Tee

My gf is struggling from high functioning depression and she has been dealing with it before I came along. I noticed the repetitive behavior every 2 weeks she would get mad at me and start a fight. So after me breaking down and crying she realized that she was hurting me and decided to get help. But over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed a change in her energy and vibe. I decided to speak in it and the whole conversation went left. I even told her that if she keeps hurting me by shutting down I will have to leave her, no I don’t want to leave her I just wanted her to understand where I was coming from. It really hurts me to see her this way because in the beginning things were so good and all of a sudden her depression has completely took control. After her seeing the therapist she seem to be ok but now I don’t know what to do or how to feel. Please help

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mayte

Hello Tee, i know what you are feeling, i do not know what to say. it hurts so much and you compare how things were in the beginning…
could you update you status?

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Maria

My, name is Maria, I’m having a hard time with my boyfriend friend, he safer of depression, I been trying to helping him for 3 years, I feel hopless nothing that I say or do is good enough for him, I been reading a lot about of depression and it is helping me to understand a bit more. I feel that I’m not good enough for him and I blame my self a lot. I love to hear some advice. Sorry about my English I’m from Portugal

Reply
SR

My boyfriend of 1 year has been having bouts of depression over the last 6 months. It happens almost every 2 months and lasts for usually 3 weeks. Another bout started yesterday and this time it seems to be particularly bad. Idk how to deal with it because his trigger this time seems so trivial that it’s becoming very hard for me to be empathetic especially because yesterday he was the meanest to me he’s ever been. The trigger was that his friend got a new phone and he’s been wanting one for the last couple of month or so but saving up money has been hard. He’s completely pushed me away to the point that for the first time in a year we didn’t interact in our class (we’re uni students). We’re in a place where access to mental health care isn’t really ideal so i don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. I myself battle with anxiety and his episodes and behaviour flare up my over worrying tendencies too. Please help.

Reply
Alicia

Your needs matter too. You are a person too. Try to discuss openly and honestly in a way with vulnerability with your partner how you feel and be comfortable not being perfect but also having needs.

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Jane

My boyfriend has been diagnosed with depression and has taken a step away from me to “sort himself out ”
He has left a relationship which he was very unhappy in to be with me, he has set up his own home and has shared access to his son.
I have my own home and my daughter to look after so we don’t spend a lot of time together as it is, but he has stopped overnight stays at my house and I have taken his depression very personally because the only thing he has taken a step away from is me nothing or nobody else and it hurts, all I get from him is he can’t explain it and it’s all in his head and that he doesn’t stay because he doesn’t want to wake me up when he’s being restless, I’ve assured him a lot! That I don’t care about that but then he says to me ” stop pushing ”
I’ve decided now to stop making plans to see him because I’m just getting so disheartened with trying and just hearing no all the time, I want to see if he’ll ask to see me, he txts to say he loves me though, I miss what we had so much and I feel so lonely without him, if we didn’t work together I wouldn’t see him at all and I can’t help think if we didn’t work together, would we still be together tbh.
I love him so much but I feel so rejected by him and angry

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Sara

Jane, I dont know if this reply is too late, but as someone who has been the depressed one in a relationship and who was with someone who is depressed, I truly believe he only pushes you away BECAUSE he cares about you. When you’re depressed you see yourself as a burdon to the ones you live more than anyone else. And as much as you want those people to support you, in the depressed person’s mind you also are convinced that the ones you love the most would be better off if they did not have to deal with you.

I know its extremely hard to see it this way but if he didn’t live you he wouldn’t be pushing you away. It’s hardest to see the ones you love the most be let down by your behavior.

That being said you also need to take care of yourself or you’re not going to be able to be there for him. Take a step back when it hurts the most. But know that the reason he pushes you so hard is because in his own way he’s probably trying to protect you from his depression.

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Alicia

As a partner of a depressed person, when that person stops texting or holds out communication, they’re withdrawing from the relationship and taking a step back yourself only takes you even more out of the relationship. It puts stress on your family and friendships but also you need to have that intimate support and yes reliability from a romantic partner that everyone needs too.

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lb

To All, not sure if this has already been mentioned – but another great resource I have found is the Depression Fallout book by Anne Sheffield and accompanying message board. Really awesome community of people who are going through the same thing with a depressed loved one.

-lb

Reply
Angelika

I broke up with my boyfriend while depressed because of constant fighting and negative comments. He was working a lot and had made comments that he didn’t need me. Breaking up with him cause my mild- moderate depression to turn into deep depression. Horrible crying fits, total feelings of hopelessness and dark thoughts. After 19 days apart, I blocked him from everything and had rare communications with him over these days, he now will not forgive me for breaking it off with him. We are talking and spending time with one another but it’s hard. He will not commit and isn’t close to how he was before all the fighting. He doesn’t want to hear anything about how I’m feeling and says he has his own stuff to worry about- he can’t help me . I don’t know what to do. I feel so lost and broken. I want to feel like I had unconditional love but it’s not there….

Reply
k

Angelika
You are not broken, just hurting. You both are. It sounds like you two do care for one another but maybe take this time to talk to someone so you can start helping yourself feel better. You have to care about yourself first and the stronger you get the clearer everything else will become. He will stick around or he won’t but i can tell you from experience it will get better. It always does. It will take time and one day at a time but it will get better. Please believe this. Therapy has helped me so much and its worth getting yourself better to become happier again.

Reply
lsa

thank you for a very helpful article
my partner of 12 yrs is having a hard time at the moment
he has a phobia of blood and saw an accident and had to help but got covered in blood now he is pushing me away so much so that he has told me to move out
he feels trapped not happy and that everybody looks at him and thinks everything is ok and family borrowing money didn’t help
he has been working away on a job for the last six months and I have been here looking after the business and his child (had a lot of trouble with ex as well)
doesn’t want to go on holiday we have booked as can’t be bothered
told me to take someone else
I don’t know what to do part of me wants to run I have a house but no job as I work for our business
the other part wants to stay here and support him, up until 6 weeks ago every week he would ask me not to leave him as he would be lot without him telling me he loves me everyday
and this week he said that we have nothing in common and he feels like I’m a debt he has to pay (we have renovated his house) and asking me to look after his son is asking too much
im at a loss at what to do !!!
he won’t go and seek help as he doesn’t think he is depressed just exhausted when I suggest he gets angry
told him to go to doctors and get blood tests as he admitted its part of the problem but he said he can’t face it
any word of wisdom ?

Reply
k

Isa
Sounds like he thinks he’s a burden (which is classic in depression). The only thing you can do is tell him you love him and support him. If he went through a traumatic experience talking to someone could def help but he has to be willing to. Depression pushes people away. It’s easy to get sucked into the whirlpool once you have a toe in. It sucks. You could also try talking to someone as well. Could also check out the book ‘Mindful way through depression’ i believe is called. Wish you the best of luck. It will be a tough road just do what you can for as long as you can and reread the above article as much as you need to. It helped me when i was getting frustrated at times. Just remember its ultimately up to him to choose his path no matter how much you guide him. From what I’ve seen it always get worse before better and even then it could take awhile. They need support the most in these times but it’s hard for them to accept it. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too please.

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k

So this will probably be the last update for awhile. It’s been 6 months and 4 since he moved. I went up to visit my brother and bf lives an hour from him. I knew it would be a combined trip. I thought maybe seeing him in person would give me more insight. He didn’t want to see me. Didn’t even want to talk about it. Angry texts and a threat to really not talk to me. Which he barely does as it is. I told him i would see him before i left and maybe he was surprised i followed through. He didn’t yell or be mean in person, just sat in the car and talked for an hour. It was hard for him to look at me. He asked when i was leaving and i said i could stay another day if he wanted to see me again. Lunch after work the next day, he’ll me know. Neither of us communicated until i was back in the area close to when he got off work. He said he was busy and wouldn’t have time sorry. Didn’t matter if i would wait and states he didn’t realize i had stayed. Couple more angry texts and no meet. I guess it was just too hard for him. At this point i know there’s nothing else i can do right now. I can only hope he comes out of this remembering how he felt. He knows he’s progressing financially with his life but he doesn’t seem to be any more happy. Seems to still be looking for his purpose. One day he’ll realize there’s more to life than money and his true purpose includes love. But until he believes he can have both there’s nothing to do.

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‘Brave’ doesn’t always feel like certain, or strong, or ready. In fact, it rarely does. That what makes it brave.♥️
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #parentingtips
We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
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#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting

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