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A depressed boyfriend

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  • This topic has 9 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks ago by TeaK.
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  • #378146
    Anna
    Participant

    Hi there,

    I think this is my first time posting on an online forum but I think I reached a point where I need to reach out for help elsewhere than in my surrounding.

    So, this is kinda a classic story. We’ve been together for 1 year and half now, we have had a lot of up and downs. When we started to date, we didn’t know that he was chronically depressed, he went to see many neuropsychiatrists and only recently (one month and half ago) one told him that what he had was depression. I had some hunches for a long time now since I went through some serious depressive phases (hence I can pretty much recognize the major signs of depression when they occur), I knew when he tried to withdraw himself (i.e when he wanted to break up because “he didn’t feel like it”) from me or from his studies, deep inside him it was the illness speaking. Although, this kind of situation doesn’t often happen, I think it occurred twice. We talked a lot of time about that, I didn’t want to speculate with him about what he could have since I am far to be a specialist.

    He is a bit younger than me (I am 26 he is 23), I am his first serious relationship. We both deeply love(d ?) each other since the beginning. We used to have a very good communication, we weren’t scared to say when we didn’t feel ok and that we needed time by ourselves in order to feel better. We both went to therapy for many months now.

    One month and half ago, he got diagnosed with depression, it has been three weeks now that he is taking medicine. I understand that there are many side-effects with this kind of pill, I understand that he is going through a phase where he withdraws himself from everything and everyone including me. But I am getting exhausted now. I have to take a lot on myself in order to stay understanding. For the past few months (5/6 months now), he is going through a more important depressive phase than what he usually has so when he doesn’t respond to my messages for days and sometimes for weeks, I use to reach out his family to see if he is doing ok (he still lives at his parent’s home). Honestly the situation feels so unfair for me, I know it’s not his fault but I need him as well. I want to be with him, not back in the good days because we don’t  redo the past, but I wish to move forwards with him, to make projects and such.

    We follow each others on social medias. And what makes me feel sad, is the fact that on twitter I’ve seen him liking some tweets related to « yea, what I feel towards my gf is strongly related to the pandemic », I know it’s only on the Internet and he doesn’t like that much that kind of tweets but still. I am at this point where I can’t make the difference anymore between what he really feels for me and when the depression talks for him.

    I don’t know what to do anymore, I feel extremely tired by the situation, I know it’s hard for him as well, I try to be as understanding as I can but, when he all of sudden stops replying to my messages or when I see that he thinks that his current feelings for me are due to the pandemic (i.e since we can’t go out too much, he thinks we date because we are just bored I guess ? But the point is, we met and started to date way much before the pandemic started), I start to feel very desperate. I tried to communicate with him about that but it’s like he doesn’t hear or see me, he’s stuck into his depression and I don’t know how to deal with him anymore..

    #378157
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Anna:

    You shared that you (26) have been in a 1.5-years relationship with your boyfriend (23), a relationship with “a lot of up and downs”, including times when he tired to withdraw from you and from his studies because “he didn’t feel like it”. Recently he was diagnosed with depression and has been on medication for the last 3 weeks. H is still withdrawn from “everything and everyone”, including you. It feels to you like he doesn’t see or hear you, that he is stuck in his depression, and you are feeling exhausted and unhappy.

    You wrote regarding the depression vs him: “when he tried to withdraw.. from me.. it was the illness speaking… I can’t make the difference anymore between what he really feels for me and when the depression talks for him”-

    – his depression is not an entity that is separate from him. It is not like an outside spirit enters him and takes over, canceling who he was before. His depression is only part of who he currently is. Think of it, if you will, this way: there are men who are not depressed and yet, they withdraw from their girlfriends as well,  for a variety of other reasons. Your boyfriend, although depressed, may have more than one reason (depression) for withdrawing from you.

    You wrote that he lives with his parents. If you share some of what you know about his relationships with his parents, past and present, it may help me get a clue about one or more other reasons for his withdrawal.

    anita

    #378208
    Anna
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for your response. He has a kind of complicated relation with his parents. He is the older among the three children at home. His mother is quite strict, in the sens that she kind of pushes him to keep studying while he would have wanted to take a break from school because he knows he does not feel ok and he needs time to rest both mentally and physically. He has a good relation with his father, although it is not him who leads the family. Overall, I would say that his parents are pretty much understanding of his mental health and yet, his mother keeps pressuring him about school.

    The first time he withdrew from me was because three members of his family died in a row last year. We talked about what he wanted to do and how I could help him to deal with the situation. And the second time he withdrew from me was 7/8 months ago because he started to feel very down regarding his studies which were not going very well, we also talked about what we should do. Sometimes I feel like it’s more his personality rather than his mental health which makes him withdraw from everything. In the sens that every time things get a bit too intense, that he has to make efforts, it simply becomes too hard for him to deal with and therefore it is easier to stop and start something completely new, you know.

    I asked him two or three month ago if he wanted to continue the relationship or if he wanted to either break it up and take a break. He said he wanted to continue so did I. But now I simply don’t understand anymore I think. It makes me feel so unfair that he stops talking for days and sometimes for weeks without any reasons. He just comes back like if nothing happened. At first I tried to be understanding, yeah he is going through a lot, we already talked about the fact that sometimes we need time separately and such.  But the difference is that, we talked about it BEFORE it actually happens. I wanted to talk about that with him but again, I feel like he does not hear or listen to me. I am exhausted of the situation, I do have feelings for him and I don’t know how to reach him, I don’t know if talking about how I feel would change something right now and I simply don’t know if I can take it anymore.

    I don’t want to take decision about continuing the relationship with him or not now, we are both going through a lot of things, I just want to figure out, to understand and how to reach him out..

    #378234
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Anna:

    “I don’t want to take a decision about continuing the relationship with him or not now.. I  just want to figure out, to understand and how to reach him out”-

    – let’s try to understand better:

    “His mother is quite strict.. she kind of pushes him to keep studying while he would have wanted to take a  break from school.. and he needs time to rest.. yet, his mother keeps pressuring him about school”-

    – when she pushes him and pressuring him while he is tired and needs a rest, he gets angry at her, naturally.

    “I feel like it’s more his personality rather than his mental health which makes him withdraw from everything. In the sense that every time things get a bit too intense, that he has to make efforts, it simply becomes too hard for him to deal with and therefore it is easier to stop… he stops talking for days and sometimes for weeks without any reason”-

    – seems to me that (1) he withdraws from his studies because he gets tired, and like you said, he “does not feel ok and he needs time to rest both mentally and physically”, (2) part of his depression and his exhaustion is the anger he feels toward his pushing/ pressuring/ bossy mother, (3) projecting his mother into you, he withdraws from you when he gets angry at you. He “stops talking for days and sometimes for weeks” because that’s how long his anger at you lasts: sometimes it lasts a few days, at other times it lasts a few weeks.

    anita

    #378266
    Anna
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I see and indeed that actually makes sens. What I don’t understand then is that in this configuration he would actually see me as an equivalent of partner/maternal figure instead of a partner/friend? I know his mother, we don’t have much in common I think, would it be possible that in me he kind of seeks what lack in her?

    I went through depressive phases which led me to go to hospital due to suicide attempts, however I was not diagnosed MDD since it never lasted longer than 1 or 2 month and hasn’t occurred for the last 5 years. I know the big lines of depression, I know how it feels when it comes up. But I have no idea how on a longterm basis, people react, how they love.  I don’t want to justify all his behaviors such as ghosting me for days and weeks with the depression. I am at this point where it becomes hard for me to see the line, I try to understand better how a depressed person works.

    I know he’s battling hard to get better, he does his best and yet, I feel like I carry all the relationship by myself while I would need his love and support as well. I don’t know if somedays he gets better how long it will last. I want to build a future with him and I know he also does. I am extremely confused and sad, kinda angry as well and guilty for feeling angry.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Anna.
    #378278
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Anna:

    I didn’t understand your questions in your first paragraph- can you restate them more clearly?

    In regard to you not being satisfied, understandably, in a relationship where your boyfriend ghosts you from time to time, for hours and longer, regardless of his reasons and the nature of his depression, you may have to let the relationship go, for your own well-being. If you break up with him, how do you think you will feel and handle the breakup?

    *I will be return to your thread in a few hours, or as long as in 20 hours from now.

    anita

     

    #378280
    Anna
    Participant

    Sorry for not being clear, it is currently pretty late where I live, I am getting a bit tired. What I wanted to ask were: 1) Why would he project his anger towards his mother on me? Would that mean that he sees me as a kind of partner/maternal figure rather than a partner/friend?

    I considered for a longtime giving up the relationship for my own sake. I am aware that it is not completely healthy for me to stay with someone who is unable to provide love and affection in a way I want to on a regular basis. But I also know how he is during his ups. He is amazing in so many ways, we have the same values, he is very kind and generous. Honestly, I couldn’t wish for a better partner when he is at his ups. The way I want to be loved and seen, he is like this. This is why I struggle so much. I know he loves me, I love him, he is worth the efforts. We once decided to take a break around December and it lasted one month, I felt like a complete wreck. I can’t imagine my life without him. And at the same time it is very hard, I don’t know how to cope with the situation anymore. Which is why I try to get a better understanding. I don’t understand what he wants now. He also told me that if the situation became too hard for me, he would understand that I would decide to leave. I am just so torn.

    #378288
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Anna:

    “Why would he project his anger towards his mother on me? Would that mean that he sees me as a kind of partner/ maternal figure rather than a partner/ friend?”- no. People with a deep conflict in regard to a parent, will project that parent into multiple people throughout their lives, male and female, friends,  romantic partners, co-workers, strangers on the street, as long as something about that other person reminds one of his/ her parent in looks or in behavior. It could something minor, like the way a person smiles.

    In regard to your second paragraph, I understand better now.

    He started anti-depressant medications three weeks ago, that’s recently, but long enough to see if the medication he started made any difference. It often takes a few months before a doctor figures out, with the the patient’s feedback, which medication works and at what dosage. Are you aware of what is happening in regard to his medication, if he experienced any improvement, if he is attending appointments with his doctor and if he follows the doctor’s instructions?

    In regard to him ghosting you, not every depressed man ghosts his girlfriend, so that’s not an inherent part of depression. I suggested that he may be ghosting you when he feels angry at you. Did you notice him expressing anger at you in the past, before ghosting you, or at any other time?

    * I will be back to the computer in about 14 hours from now.

    anita

     

     

    #378301
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Anna,

    Sometimes I feel like it’s more his personality rather than his mental health which makes him withdraw from everything.

    This is quite probable, specially since he has a strict mother, who’s pressuring him to continue his studies, which he doesn’t want to do. I imagine she’s been like that his entire life, having expectations from him, not taking into consideration his feelings and desires, criticizing him etc. He feels trapped but because he also feels unable to help himself, his only way is to withdraw into depression, to sort of “switch off”.

    So I believe he feels weak and helpless inside, and his defense mechanism is depression, because he doesn’t believe he can escape the situation in a different, healthier way (e.g. by getting a job and moving from his parents’ place). Some people in a similar situation develop various addictions to soothe the pain, but his coping mechanism is to go numb.

    You might remind him of his mother a little, because you too have expectations on him, at least to talk to you and keep in touch, while he doesn’t feel like doing that either. He just wants to be left alone. And I guess when he’s in a bad phase, he feels hopeless about the situation, that’s why he probably feels like there’s no point in talking to you.

    Then, when he feels a little better, he resumes contact, as if nothing happened. He doesn’t apologize or explain anything, which is interesting. Perhaps he believes you’ll be there always, just like his mother is, waiting for him to get better and to fulfill her expectations. I don’t know, just a thought…

    Anyway, I believe he should work on his relationship with his mother in therapy. Has he done that in the past?

    About your relationship, you say:

    We both deeply love(d ?) each other since the beginning. We used to have a very good communication, we weren’t scared to say when we didn’t feel ok and that we needed time by ourselves in order to feel better.

    Since the start of your relationship, he’s experienced a low-grade depression, but he hadn’t been diagnosed at that point. But he used to ask for time alone already then, right? If so, it means he started to withdraw, or seek pauses, pretty early in the relationship. But at that time, he at least communicated with you. Did he explain why he needs to take a break?

    #378302
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Anna,

    I see now that you’ve explained why he wanted to take a break from the relationship: once was due to 3 deaths that occurred in his family, and another time was because he felt bad about his studies, and I guess pressured by his mother to continue. Perhaps, when he feels bad about his studies, he starts feeling bad about himself too (perhaps feeling like he’s a failure, inadequate – so a strong negative inner critic takes over him), and that’s why he also withdraws from you – because he feels not good enough for the relationship either?

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