10 Ways to Help Yourself When Your Partner Is Depressed

When depression takes over your partner, you’re likely to go through an emotional waterboarding, a torture you have to escape. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, helpless to do anything. You take the brunt of the punishing anger or indifference that is all your partner can give you.

The relationship that means the most to you feels like it’s breaking fast. What can you do to keep yourself together?

There are thousands of men and women who have lived through this struggle or are in the midst of it right now. They have a lot of insight and share their painful stories in face-to-face support groups as well as online communities.

The members of one of the oldest of the online forums, Depression Fallout, report over and over again that the support of such groups has been a mainstay for dealing with their depressed partners. Communities like these might be a good starting point for you as well.

Here are 10 ideas drawn from the experience of people who have had to live with depressed partners as well as from my own experience as a depressed partner.

  1. Take care of yourself as well as you can. When depression strikes and you find yourself living with a distant stranger, it’s only natural to focus first on your partner. You’re likely shocked and confused and want to bring back the familiar loving person you know. But it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs and gradually undermine the health and inner balance you need to get through the crisis. The obstacles are huge since your partner is right there and depression is now part of your life. It’s important to keep your own life going, get out of the hothouse as often as you can and spend time on the things that most help you relax.

  2. Get help. There’s so much stress in living with depression that you should reach out for support. Perhaps you have caring friends you trust enough to confide in, or can find a support group, online communities, perhaps individual counseling, . That’s the critical first step. And keep on getting their help. You need regular support because the injury doesn’t stop until depression does.

  3. It’s not your fault. Depression is the cause of the problem, not you. Nothing you’ve done could have brought on the ugly transformation of your partner – whatever accusations they might throw at you. Nor is it possible for you to fix the illness. Depression is complicated, not fully understood, and has multiple causes. No one really knows how to cure it. You may be able to help your partner get the right kind of help, but they need to commit to the work of recovery and stay with it.

  4. Learn about depression and how pervasive an impact it can have. That will prepare you to recognize the many ways it can distort your partner’s behavior. You should realize, though, that what you’re learning is just a small part of an evolving field of research. It’s easy to jump to conclusions about exactly what’s wrong and what can be done about it. Consulting a mental health professional is a good way to get further insight into your partner’s illness.

  5. Offer love and support without trying to be directive. Suggest it might be helpful – but pushing it, demanding that he get help in certain ways or learn what you’ve been learning won’t work. Tell him you’re trying to figure out what all the changes in the relationship have been about – and will be there to help as much as you can.

  6. Depression can control you both. Be aware of the danger that you can easily be drawn into the same vortex that’s spinning your partner around. Anne Sheffield describes it as Depression Fallout. Michael Yapko writes that Depression Is Contagious. It’s common to develop your own illness as a result of living with a depressed person. That’s why it’s so important to get all the help you can and to watch your emotional and physical state.

  7. Break the Cycle. One way to keep from being dependent on your partner’s moods is to look closely at your reactions to each of them. What are the worst, most painful moments for you – the ones that trigger your most intense feelings? What does your partner do to set you off? What is the feeling that wells up in you – anger, fear, hopelessness? And what do you do in response – meet attack for attack, hold your feelings in, leave? How do you feel about your own reactions afterward? It can help to track these reactions on paper at first to help you recognize the triggering events. That tactic could make it easier to interrupt your usual reaction, restore a sense of emotional independence and break the cycle that’s hurting you in so many ways.

  8. Be tolerant of yourself. You probably can’t stop the emotional rollercoaster all at once or persuade your partner to get help or take perfect care of yourself. Expecting too much too soon can only lead to more frustration and reduced self-esteem. You already have enough of those to deal with.

  9. You Can’t Go Back. Try to remember that the relationship you used to know may not return. It’s likely to be changed as a result of living with depression, especially if it recurs of if a single episode continues for several months, perhaps even years. It’s only natural to long for the return of the loving partner you used to know – your partner wants the same thing – but be prepared that it may not be so simple as that. You and your partner are more likely to face a gradual process of redefining how to live together.

  10. They’re responsible for getting help. (edited 12/20/2013) Depression may be the underlying problem, but that fact doesn’t take away responsibility for destructive behavior. This is a difficult subject to talk about, and I do so from the perspective of someone who inflicted pain on his family during bouts of depression. When feeling better, I might well say something like: it was depression driving me to say and do those things. It’s not about you – don’t take it personally. But of course it’s personal. I was constantly leaving my wife and kids out of my awareness and often spoke and acted abusively. The anger, attacks, threats to leave and emotional withdrawal are as personal as it gets in a relationship. It’s especially important, then, to set boundaries. Depressed partners have to know when you can’t take anymore, or they cross a line that can’t be crossed. Remind them about what’s at stake and what you are really feeling. A depressed person is ill, yes, and probably wouldn’t choose to act hurtfully when well, so simple blaming is not appropriate. But there are supportive ways to remind them of your limits and insist that they get treatment. That is what my wife did for me, and it was a powerful wake-up call that got me back into treatment after a long period of denying the problem, despite my long history of depression.

147 Responses to “10 Ways to Help Yourself When Your Partner Is Depressed”

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  1. Ben says:

    This is sort of a postscript. I had posted in late 2013 about deciding to break up with my bipolar (primarily depressive) girlfriend of two years. Our story is a bit different because I’d known her for many years, knew she was bipolar when I initiated the relatonship in Dec. 2012, but we lived apart most of that time. During our many months together in 2013 (she finally moved to my area), I became aware of how pervasive and treatment-resistant her illness is. Other than having to live with a volatile, usually depressed woman, there was almost no sex and little other happiness. On Thanksgiving night, I finally got the courage to break up with her, saying that I thought there was no chance she was capable of what I (and my therapist, and trusted friends…) consider a “normal” love relationship. Today (March 13) I call the postscript because I was able to complete a big promise to her (I bought her a newer car, now it’s hers). I reclaimed my house keys and credit card and cried some on the hour drive home. Love dies hard. I don’t know how long it’ll take for me. If there are any lessons here, the most important one is that it is nearly impossible to “cure” a mentally ill person. By all means, if he/she/you have not tried help, try to get it. But there comes a time to get the hell out and save yourself.

  2. Jackie says:

    I’m so glad I found this website and read through the comments. I’m currently in a relationship that is beginning to spiral down into apathy due to his depression. We’ve been together for three years and have weathered many things together (death of loved ones, distancing from family members, financial issues, etc). He used to care so much about us, although he was never particularly expressive, his actions showed his love. Our love life has taken a nose dive (he says his libido is just ‘not there’, but still finds me attractive), but we hardly touch (hug, pat, anything) anymore. I told him I’d be there for him, but he quite obviously does not want to spend time with me, limiting our time together. When we are together, we have an abyss between us. I have to initiate the conversations, and I can tell it’s only getting worse. He’s not himself, and I don’t know if he ever will be again. When we’re together, it’s more hurtful than when we’re apart.
    When all this started, I told him I’d be there for him, and would stay the course. I did not realize when I promised this, how long this would last, or how much it would hurt/damage me. To top things off, his confidant (his father) is going through several issues and might not be as supportive. I’m worried about my guy, but I don’t know whether I should stay the course and deal with his apathy, or leave. Both of those options would destroy me, but I fear the latter would destroy him (his words, once). Or maybe not. He’s so cold these days. I love and miss him, but I worry I’m making things worse. Started out fighting this, then giving him space, and neither was helpful. I’m beginning to be as lost as he is…

    • Carl says:

      http://depressionfalloutmessageboard.yuku.com

      Head here you will get some great advise there is a very active support system.

      • Jackie says:

        Thank you, Carl. I’m surprised (but so grateful) there is an active community of people experiencing the same thing.

    • gg says:

      Sometimes it feels so “funny” to read the comments here, because it’s like we’re all dating the same person! Jackie, you just described the relationship I was having with my ex.

      I’d give anything to have my “real” boyfriend back, the person he was before something triggered the depression… but the man he became is just mean and heartless, so – I never thought I’d say that – I’m not suffering that much after he dumped me. I truly love him and miss him so much, but now I know the man I love & miss is not there anymore. With all my heart I hope he’ll be again that loving person so we can be together (this thought makes me smile) … but until that.. it’s just like you said, “When we’re together, it’s more hurtful than when we’re apart”.

      Be strong!

      • MM says:

        Well my dp came over yesterday. Apologized and held me. Said he never meant any of the things he said in anger/depression. He said he wanted to talk on Wednesday. To try to explain. He said he misses me and I’m very special. He said he wanted to explain why he has trouble expressing emotions and that he was crazy about me. Let me say these were not said eloquently and often with a forced anger behind them such as “I miss you. Okay? I do “. Like it was hard to admit to me and himself. I reminded him that expressing emotions was a positive. ;)

        I joked that he didn’t act crazy about me. When he was well he did but the past year he has fought me loving him and supporting him. I told him I was scared for us and him. I also mentioned again that I’d been dating. He said he wanted to talk about all of it in a few days.

        He looked bad. Shaken. Thin. Like he aged ten years in one. I wanted to shake him senseless and hug him tight all at once. So confusing.

        But his arms felt so good around me. His touch. Kiss. It’s all still there. Our connection survived. I can’t deny that. Damn I miss us.

        I wonder what he will do with it. With us. With himself.

        I learned a few months into this now 11 month journey that no worry, pleading or talking would change his path. I’ve fought for him for months but eventually turned the fight into a three week reminder I would send him (a call or message) that I was still here and he could get better.

        I’m trying not to be too hopeful. Remember he returned in December for several weeks. Although he has never before said the things he said about talking about us until yesterday, I know to proceed with caution. But damn I sure do miss him.

        Today was out first date three years ago. When one third of our history has been this state, it gets harder and harder to hold on. I think yesterday helped me though to confirm that it wasn’t ever us or me–the depression truly is the only reason we are apart.

        I love him. Send prayers.

        I did a few months ago buy him johns e book. I suggest others do the same and send it to your DP via email. I read it but can only imagine the peace it may bring a DP to discover through john’s experience that they aren’t so alone and the treatments they can find to begin to heal again.

        Wasn’t I giving up on this three months ago? …..

        MM

        • gg says:

          MM,
          I’m happy to hear he could say all those good things to you! I wish you can get back together and be happy again.

          Have you been to the this forum?: http://depressionfalloutmessageboard.yuku.com
          It’s helping me A LOT.

          • Mm says:

            GG

            I have visited the site. Thanks for sharing. I typically don’t post there though. But find comfort in others stories that mirror mine and yours and many of us.

            I am nervous about the talk coming but maybe it will be a story of hope I rarely read stories where it all works out and the DP returns but my hopes are in check. I definitely can’t go back to the shock I felt in April when he left. We would need a plan as a couple and I’m not sure that’s what he wants to do. He may tell me he can’t come back.

            Time will tell. Thanks for the thoughts.

            I’m amazed at how nervous I feel. He used to bring me such peace before the depression.

            Sigh. How are you ?

            MM

        • gg says:

          MM, hope it works out with you man.

          Well, mine dumped me on last Valentine’s Day. I think the miscarriage triggered an anxiety episode…. but just yesterday I saw he reactivate his profile on the dating site we met (I’m there because I talk to some friends). It was a shock, I was devastated. On his profile: “I don’t mind if you want to use me just for my body”. Oh boy, it hurted like hell. I had to go on sedatives, I coudn’t believe my eyes. My heart was crushed.

          Some people on the forum said I shouldn’t worry much, because sometimes they do that (going on dating websites) only to try and scape their own pain; this thought helped a bit, but when I think about it, I fall to pieces. So I’m just trying to stay positive and hopeful thinking he’ll see the absurd and come back to me. A few weeks ago he couldn’t kiss or hug or hold hands because it was “too intense” and would make him feel unwell; he said it was because of the disease, nothing to do with me… and now he put that on the dating site………. Oh boy…. So I’m just trying not to think about what I saw last night, because I cannot cope.

          • MM says:

            GG,
            I am sure that hurt. Our stories have some very very very common threads. I would be furious if I saw that on a web page after he told me that. I often feel so foolish for supporting him . . . being loyal to something that doesnt exist.

            He didn’t show. When I called him he said he didn’t have anything to tell me and that he never said he did.

            Then he denied that and said he did say those things and he did want to talk to me.

            What?

            Then I asked why he didnt call to reschedule and he said he worked 15 hours and started screaming.

            I’m done. See you on the other side of this bullshit. This man is not the same man. He has lost all respect for me and himself. He acts like a pure jackass. The depression doesnt warrant me being treated like shit, taken for granted, and pushed and pulled around–a big f**k this shit is my feeling today…and I will hang on to feel that way tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. : )

            I did my part. He wasnt doing me a favor talking to me. He asked to talk to me. It’s like someone saying after you are searching for a job for 10 months, hey I found this great job and want to talk to you about it soon and then when you ask them about it again they deny they ever said it. . . then admit it…then get angry about it. Who has time for this madness?
            Margie

          • Carl says:

            Im so sorry MM…i know what its like to get a flash of hope..even tho you shouldn’t you do hope for the best. Only to find yourself under the bus where they left you. Im truly sorry xx

          • gg says:

            MM,
            (Don’t know why there’s not a ‘reply’ option below your last comment)

            I’m really sorry to hear what happened, but I’m glad you could give a “f%$k this” to it all. I hope it works out well for you. How are you feeling? Hope you’re ok.

            I’m on sedatives almost all day long. Being a bit numb is what I need now, there’s no other option but despair and I don’t want that, so I’ll keep my magic tablets for a while. It hurts so very very much. I love him deeply, I miss him deeply. I don’t understand the cruelty.

            I want to be positive, I want to be hopeful and serene, but sometimes it’s just impossible, so I’m happy when I’m closing my eyes to go to sleep.

          • BIB says:

            Thank you for all your contributions, you were of major help on my journey with a depressed man over the last two years. I gave my notice today after a long struggle of ups and downs with very destructive phases which caused me too much stress to be sustainable. I hesitated for a long time, but pulled out now. Relieved on one side, sad on the other. The fact that he rejects any kind of help plays a key role in this. I would have been open to support any kind of therapy or counselling, also jointly to help our relationship to survive, but he did not want any of this. So there I am, free again with a few scars and two years older. Letting it hurt a (this will take a while) but looking ahead. Take care of yourself, all of you, that this depression doesn’t eat you up. Difficult to leave somebody who one loved and somehow still loves, but me staying in the relationship might not make any difference for him at this stage and slowly ruins me.
            Thanks again and good luck to each and everyone of you.

  3. Heather says:

    I would love some insight/advice. I recently moved myself and 21 month old daughter 7 hours away to my Moms house and left behind my husband of 5 years.

    First a little backstory, my husband was never super emotional, had a rough childhood with abuse and being moved from home to home. His mother was never really emotional as well and always put her needs before his. We were married at 19 and 20 and everyone told us how perfect we were.

    Fast forward, a year ago he came home from work, sat down to do some college work and began to have an anxiety attack. This turned scary when his eyes glazed over and he looked as if he could kill me. He then told me he was angry at me and didn’t know why. He then started shaking uncontrollably and then started speaking to himself. He was seeing things in his head. Doctors ended up telling us he needed to be on antidepressants. They said everyone handles stress and depression differently. He then told me about this man he made up when he was 9. This imaginary friend would fight off the bad people in his life from his childhood and help protect him. I had never heard of this before. This imaginary friend reappeared and he couldn’t control the images in his head.

    Fast forward again up until a couple weeks ago. He finally admitted he was not better like he said and had been lying to everyone. He told me what a wonderful mother/wife I was, how I always did whatever I could to make him happy. How I gave him his dream and always took care of everything. He loved me but was no longer in love with me. As well, he has some feelings for a friend/co-worker of his, a connection he has never had with someone before. He sees her in his head and this imaginary friend attacks her. Since he lied for a year and me being with him didn’t solve anything, I decided to move shortly after when I realized I was just enabling him and I could not help. I begged the past year for him to talk to me, let me know if we needed new professionals and etc. He just lied about everything, said he was fine, he loved me and was so glad he was better.

    I could no longer afford where we were living because he refused to get another job or change jobs (He makes less than $10 an hour). We agreed on me leaving. Days later he asked me not to but he still wasn’t willing to communicate or speak to his feelings or what I could do. I ended up leaving and he said he needed his space after all.

    He isn’t sure about anything but now says since I left, it means I didn’t’ want to help him and he wants to divorce. I told him I would always be there for him (said this on numerous occasions) but I cannot continue to support someone who won’t support them self. I have a child to take care of since he does little to nothing to provide for her I needed to do what was best for her. I literally did not have rent money after being laid off from a new company buying the business I worked for.

    I do not wish to be with the person he has become. I want my husband back, however, it still hurts so much and I worry about him. I didn’t want to divorce, I want him to get better and realize what he had/has and not have me by his side, enabling him to be this depression person who is so detached. He blamed me at first so I eliminated that by giving him space. He tells me to leave, then to stay, then to leave. His unstable mind is causing me to question my sanity.

    I know I made a good decision by moving but can’t help but think I’m hurting his progress. BUT being told something different everyday and his unwillingness to talk to me or seek more treatment makes me think otherwise. I’m just so confused.

    • gg says:

      Hello Heather.
      I think you made the right decision by moving since it’s impossible to live with someone behaving like that and refusing treatment. It’s really sad things have to be that way, but as MM said here, depression or not, it’s an abusive behavior they have towards us. Ideally, I think we shouldn’t accept that for long if they don’t make an effort to try some kind of treatment.

      I can imagine how hard it must be having a small baby to look after; I’d say try to focus on you child and what’s best for you both. I was questioning my sanity too, as my depressed ex would blame me for putting him on an “emotional turmoil” when he was the one acting completely unstable..

      Try and read the comments here, it helps a lot knowing we’re not alone. I’m sure you’ll find a good advice here.

      My best wishes. Take care.

    • gg says:

      Heather,

      I think you should also join this forum: http://depressionfalloutmessageboard.yuku.com
      Just like being here, it’s been helping so much!

  4. Peter says:

    Hi, I guess I’m just after some advice and reassurance. I’ve been in a relationship with my girlfriend for around 8 months, which has up until recently been about as perfect as you can get. We’d known each other for years before and both jumped at the chance because of that knew we were a very good match and we had both been telling people that the other was for keeps.
    She works in a high pressure job, although I known she’s always loved but for the last three months or so due to trimming of the staff and increased hours/workload had been getting worse. I saw her moods and enjoyment of the job slowly deteriorating all this time until she texted me and told me that she didn’t know what was wrong with her and just felt like crying. Now, I stayed over at her flat almost probably 4-6 times a week and she very gradually started to be a little less affectionate and noticably unhappy and I tried to do all I could to help her, which she knew and appreciated.
    Things started to take another dive when three days before christmas, her sister along with her two young children and a 5 week old baby were kicked out of their home by her control freak and unpleasant fella. My girlfriend took them in which lead to the young kids being given her room while the baby, her sister and her started sleeping in the living room. That of course has led to being woken up regularly at night and probably getting only a couple of hours of sleep a night, on top of the hard work load this has made her terribly unhappy. I have offered that she comes to my house, but she won’t because what she feels is duty of care for her sister. Managing to find a new home is proving to be a long and slow process as the sister has no money to speak of and social services aren’t exactly being quick to assist. Now obviously I’m not blind to the fact she has problems much greater than mine and I’m offering to help where I can but my girlfriend has it seems become so distant from me it’s becoming extremely hard for me to cope. I’m hardly seeing her, which I have been ok with as I understand the difficulty of the situation but I’m now virtually not hearing from her either.
    As I say it’s being particularly hard to deal with as we’ve gone from the most wonderful and loving relationship to me having this huge void, not knowing where we are going right now.
    I’ve done a lot of reading up on stress and depression recently and are I feel in a position to understand where she is.
    She does feel bad that it’s like this, recognising it’s not fair on me and she did say last week she couldn’t ask any more of me in the way I’ve handled it so far but it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle the situation and feeling so alone right not.

    I wouldn’t swap the last year for anything and if it hadn’t been such a brilliantly ‘perfect’ relationship up to this point, it wouldn’t, I feel be so difficult to cope with

    Thank you any one for listening, I’d be very grateful for any reassurance or any piece of advice for me please?

    • Lili says:

      Peter, you are a kind and caring man. Sounds like you and your partner is going through a rough patch. Does she have a history of depression or admit that she have it? I dont really have any good valid advices, as i have failed to save my depressed partner (will be ex soon), except you must try not to be dragged down by all this. One thing i learnt about depressed partners is that they can become extremely apathetic towards everything, and if you are the closest target, they would treat you with the greatest coldness. It seem like you have been left abit shell shocked by the change in her, which i absolutely can relate to. My partner turned from the most caring and loving man, who was passionate about me to someone who would happily not contact me for weeks, and not reply to my messages. It has gotten to a point that i had to ask/request a hug, even then its like a pat on the shoulder more than anything while his eyes are still fixed on his computer screen or tv. The lost of itimacy and closeness in a depressive partner is extremely hard to deal with, if you dont manage yourself well. It could rob you of your self worth and confidence as the partner grow more distant and cold. Try not to relate their behaviour to yourself. I wish you and your partner all the best, and succeed in beating depression where my soon to be ex partner and i have failed.

      • gg says:

        Hey Peter,
        Lili said it all. Unfortunately it’s a really difficult and heartbreaking situation, but try not to be dragged by her depression. I feel I’ve been defeated by my boyfriend’s illness since he refuses treatment and is getting worse… so I just gave up after so much suffering. He was just amazing, but now is just a cold and distant person..
        How does your girlfriend feel about treatment? I think it’s always worth trying.

        All the best.

        • Peter says:

          GG,
          Thank you for speaking to me, I’m really am sorry to hear things went wrong for you. I find it so sad that so many people still struggle to acknowledge depression as a genuine illness seeing how it affects so many people and often creates a chain along others.
          I’m pleased I found this site as there are many kind words from people like yourself, and it will be just another thing to keep me strong. There are many people much worse off than myself and some things, or rather people are worth fighting through for.
          Thanks again the comments have given me a lift when I’ve been down today

        • Carl says:

          Peter, its very important if your recognizing the symptoms of depression, that she get it diagnosed by a doctor that way she cant ignore it. Denial its so hard to get pasted.
          Essentially, depression lies to you—about everything. And when you are used to trusting your thoughts and being self assured and confident, it takes a long time to realize that the torrent of negativity in your brain may not be an accurate representation of reality.
          Much like Gg and Lili I lost the battle once depression had set in..i couldn’t reach her she was someone else cold heartless. It don’t matter how perfect we think we are as a couple depression dampens the connection between two people, they question this as they are not that into us anymore then look for happiness else where. And i wouldn’t wish this one anyone.

          • gg says:

            “Essentially, depression lies to you—about everything. And when you are used to trusting your thoughts and being self assured and confident, it takes a long time to realize that the torrent of negativity in your brain may not be an accurate representation of reality.” Perfect explanation, Carl. How did you get out of this? Are you seeing another person?

            Best.

          • Carl says:

            Hey Gg i cant take credit for the quote i found it in my endless reach of trying to understand how my ex could treat me like crap and throw away 6years like it was nothing. I only ever knew about the passive symptoms of depression :(. My ex felt off she didn’t love herself,she felt she needed to be on her own she wasn’t happy..so i had to go it was us that was the problem i had no choice no say it was out the blue tho now i can see all the symptoms. Best friends to strangers i didnt my best to get her to see she was depressed again but she wont have it, and plus she moved on weeks later like you do (not us healthy people.) 8months on im still grieving slowly getting there, And no new person in my life yet. When we have been hurt like this we need time to heal.

      • Peter says:

        Thank you for the kind words, and I’m truely sorry things have not worked out for you.
        Yes she does know this is depression and It’s actually the third episode she’s experienced. She did actually give me warning it could be coming when we both knew her usual self was gradually spirralling down. The fact that she has got through before is a source of hope for me, and also something I’m regularly keen to remind her of, but something that does concern me is that she is currently refusing ant treatment because she won’t go down the medication route this time due to adverse effects which she explained to me last week.
        She’s just explained that she wants me to give her a couple of weeks head space to know what she wants, which I understand I guess but obviously concerns me too to an extent. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not her but the depression in control right now and she was pretty frank with me when she warned me of how she goes.
        Thank you Lili, as you most likely know it sometimes just helps to talk to someone afar from your own situation.

        • Lili says:

          Hi Peter,

          The refusing treatment sounds abit concerning, especially with herself knowing about her own depression. As it’s something i have experienced with my now ex-partner. Like GG and Carl said, it was all picture perfect till depression sunk its teeth in. Yes, they may return to their usual self for periods of time, but relapsing is unpredictable and would hit when you are most unprepared. I know you are full of hope at the moment, just as i was a year ago. But no matter what you do, you must put yourself first. Because when a partner is in depression, they will not consider you at all. You must be prepared for episodes of depression, and each time they may push you further away. I, as do GG and Carl, can all relate to how you feel right now. When you love someone so much and they want to be away from you. It is very painful, and unfortunately Peter, it is something you would have to be prepared for in the long run.
          And just as GG, Carl and i have done, we held out hope and stuck through with our partners till the end, came out battered and bruised.
          I wish there’s something i can do to help except just telling you that you must try to detach yourself from her illness. Be there for her through her illness, but don’t believe the words and actions of the illness. You are right, it’s not her, its the depression talking. But remember, you are a person too, as must as you care for her, you must put yourself first for now.

          I broke up with him last night. Cried the moment i saw him. Him? Not a single sign of sadness. His depression left me lonely and heartbroken, but free at last.

          • gg says:

            Yes, Peter, as Lili perfectly said: “detach yourself from her illness. Be there for her through her illness, but don’t believe the words and actions of the illness.”

            Lili and all of you, I wish you all the best. I’d like to thank you all for being such a tremendous help.
            Maybe we could all meet one day and, somehow, laugh about it all.

            Sweet dreams to all.

      • MM says:

        I can relate to this. My ex who I have watched slowly die to depression for a year now doesn’t call me for weeks. When I reach out to him, he is angry most often. Other times he is glad to hear from me and says the things that still give me that tiny bit of hope. Eventually though it became not enough. He doesn’t reply to text messages and basically ignores them. Often I have gone weeks without seeing him or hearing from him and will send a nice note or a helpful link or a are you okay? I am here if you need me. . . and get nothing back. He used to be warm and hated when I let a cuss word slip. Now he curses worse than anyone I know–even at me! He used to be soft, gentle, kind and cared about life. Now he says he doesn’t care. I’ve seen him scream that he is going mad. . . I’ve tried everything. Trust me–everything. Eventually you have to walk. You can’t convince them or force them to do it differently–often you can’t even talk to them. . . you are the closest target. For me I think my partner is damn angry I expect him to still fight this and find a way back to the wonderful man he was. . .my not giving up seems to make him very angry at me. . .a far cry from my loving boyfriend of two years who I never once even saw rattled, shaken, angry or upset. So so sad how depression destroys relationships. I feel helpless. I have to give up. I have before for months at a time and returned but it’s time to walk away. Wash my hands of it. Let what will be , be.

        • MM says:

          I am sad– I can’t believe I can’t stop feeling so sad, confused, angry, bitter, upset, worried, lonely, rejected, guilty…oh, what depression does to the partners too. Why is it so hard to not still have hope? I’ve been doing this for 14 months. . . 9 months of it broken up–and he just gets worse. Maybe that’s the hard part, the guilt associated with this. I have said I am done–just look at old posts through the summer last year–but this time, it feels different. I feel less guilty. I am exhausted but it still hurts. I think what bothers me the most is I went from his best friend, partner and solace to his enemy and I didn’t change a damn thing. It hurts that he avoids me over all things and people. I never never wanted to be that to him–especially when he needed me.
          But I know his thoughts are not rational. I realize I am the one who pushes him and reminds him of who he was–the one who expects him to fight this–and perhaps the one who he feels pressure from to go back to who he was since I am so neglected, and we have lost our relationship in his disease. The pressure that must feel like to him I get, but it doesnt make it any easier.
          I miss him. I miss intimacy in my life. I miss my best friend. I miss his laugh. I miss kisses. I miss being hugged after a bad day. I miss being appreciated. I miss sharing my bed with someone. I worry. Each day I force myself to not think about it when I do. To let go. I’ve been using meditation at night–something new to me but it helps.
          I did the best I could. I have no other choice. I keep telling myself this. Maybe one day, I will stop posting here. Maybe one day, I will give up all hope. It sure is difficult to say the least. We were so happy. It was like watching a storm come in slowly creeping over everything bright and distorting it–and witnessing him and us slowly die in it–day by day, month by month and now it’s going into year by year : (. It’s been miserable. I love him so much. Ever have days like this?

  5. isabel says:

    I’m 33 and have been with my boyfriend for almost 7 years – we’ve been living together for about the same time. We have no kids and some ideas for the future, but we both come from unstable backgrounds and constantly wrestle with our own demons and insecurities. Lately, his seem to be getting the best of him and I find myself getting so angree and frustrated that I say things I wish I could take back. I’ve been fighting my own battles but feel helpless when it comes to his. He means the world to me but he doesn’t seem to be able to fight his battle and doesn’t seem to want to get help and I can no longer be the stable one for both of us. What words can I use to get through to him? Is it possible for both people to come out okay in this situation? Who can I turn to when his friends and family don’t see what I see or turn a blind eye? How can I make up for the mean things I have said? I feel like a terrible person but I don’t think I am, just stuck fighting an endless battle.

    Sorry, just needed to vocalize.

  6. Tom says:

    I currently am dating a girl who is suffering severe depression. I showed her this list and she STRONGLY disagreed with #10 about telling the sufferer your limits and what they can lose if they don’t get help. Was just curious for someone else’s opinion

    • maria says:

      mm i was just reading ur comment, i believe that she and i feel that number ten is a bit hard hearted. because it kinda implies that they are hurting u on purpose and that u might not really want to be with them if they do not get “fixed” or respect your limits. When severely depressed my own reaction would probably be like ” who are u to tell me anything, fuck u, if ur not happy with me then leave. while thinking, he doesnt love me. Nobody in their right mind would. i wish i could just die.
      The getting help though…i think is very important. but when u are very depressed and even might have done treatment but in the end it didnt “cure” u, its very hard to convince to start another treatment…every time u gotta start over it sucks. It all gets better when u accept it as a life long desease and get a lot of information on symptoms and treatments and coping strategies. plus the talk therapy, and the medical therapy, and overall body nurturing…like massages, and chirpractics…to help with the aches and pains involved.

      • Carl says:

        Sometimes from the person who’s been getting hurt point of view its hard to understand, My D ex was awfully cold flippant with my feeling cut me off like it was the easiest thing to do after six years, And weeks later started with someone else.

        Depression may be the underlying problem, but its also the driving force behind their actions and behavior, depression lies but its there truth there reality. I Get why shes done what she did, yet its still so hard to be cast aside like you where nothing.

        • Lili says:

          You have described my relationship to the T. Being tossed out like i worth nothing after all that him and i have been together certainly left a dint in how i see myself. It make me feel unwanted, and unworthy. And the way the Ds do their ditching makes it appear like depression is an excuse for the real reason of them gone bored of you. (or maybe it is in my case, i dont know what to believe anymore.

          • Carl says:

            Lili dont discount yourself, it says alot about the type of caring person you are looking for answers and trying to help your SO. I know how you feel ,feel like ive wasted my best years to robbed by depression it dont seem fair?, But they dont ask to be that way there detached from the people they love and the world. There losing to they just dont know it yet. Dont doubt yourself x

  7. gg says:

    How was Christmas to you guys? This time of year can me more difficult…
    Wishing you all a better new year. I still have hopes, after all. May we all find some happiness, stay positive.

    • Lili says:

      Xmas has been terrible. I have all but completely given up on the man i have given everything to. Looks like im going to have to say my goodbyes soon.

      • K says:

        I know how hard it is, I too had a horrible Christmas. And somehow we are always made to be the ones in the wrong. Are you seeing a councillor or anything to help you through?

        • Lili says:

          Hi K, :)

          I am currently not seeing a councillor, although i am boarderlining depression myself due to this mess. All efforts of communication were down to me, if i do not contact him (the depressive), he would never try to contact me first. So for 3 weeks that i have stopped trying to chase after him now. I caught a flu virus and the sickness lasted for 2 weeks. It was the one time i did not bother letting him know i can not visit, which i normally do, despite his negative condition. And guess what? He did not bother ask either. No contact for 4 weeks today, I could very well be dead, and not even a single call/message, but he could’nt care less what im up to i guess… So this is what my 5 year relationship turned into.

          Please tell me that you had a better holiday than i did, i could use some happier stories right now.

          • gg says:

            Hey Lili,
            Is he on meds?

            I’ll never understand this indifference and carelessness… Same thing with my boyfriend. Last time he vanished for a week and wouldn’t answer my calls or emails, then came back as if nothing happened. To be honest, I decided my happiness won’t depend on his behavior towards me anymore. It took a long time and much suffering, but I’m feeling free.

          • K says:

            My bf is the same, he wouldn’t bother to contact me either.. I had to drive to his parents house and convince him to come home. He won’t go and talk to anyone. And I think now he is sorry he told me! I keep asking him to leave because he is driving me mad I feel unattractive and boring, he makes me feel like this because of his lack of interest in me, but yet when he is at work he is so happy! He told me it’s all a front for work and that he is miserable everywhere… All I think then is well you could act happy at home for your kids atleast! I truly believe that he now thinks I’m the problem because I’m picking at him constantly. I just want attention from him. I just want him to come back to me :(

    • Lili says:

      To give a brief run down (sorry i need to voice this out somewhere). Hi gg, no he’s not on meds. When he ‘claimed’ to be suffering in depression he told me he would seek help. I do my best to support him on the idea, at the same time not push him so hard he push me away. Which he did regardless. Despite caring for him through his minor surgery, working and attending university, not to mention he is 12 years senior (here i am expecting to be the one being taken care of). He has not put in any effort to be a better person. I have been with him since i was 18, now im 24 and cant help but to feel i have wasted some of the best years of my youth on a man who’s readily to throw me away like trash. It is as K says, i just want alittle attention, to know that i was still fighting the good fight. But i guess not. I need to set myself free.

      • gg says:

        Let us know when you get to set yourself free. I could use some happy news now…. It’s SO difficult.. =(

        • Lili says:

          Hi gg,

          How are you feeling these days? I have to say, i feel so much lighter, yes i closed the door on a 5 year old relationship. But the anxiety and fear is gone. I am at peace at last. And may i add, for once in my life i start to notice all the other men that are after me. I have been feeling unappreciated and unworthy for so long, i lost all self esteem. Turns out that’s not the case, and there’s plenty of fishes in the sea!

          Please take care of yourself, and keep us updated gg, i hope one day we can all be free from this devil of an illness, and find happiness that we truely deserve.

          much love to you gg, and everyone.

          • mm says:

            Lili
            I echo you on this. I just started dating again and it’s amazing how much I forgot what being wanted felt like. I forgot how much fun it was to talk and not feel like I had to censor what I said because I feared any thing would set him off. I forgot what it felt like to feel desired sexually by someone. How it felt to feel beautiful again. How nice it felt to laugh with someone. To feel valued but most of all to feel appreciated and heard. My needs haven’t become secondary during his depression ; they were non existent.. I certainly don’t miss giving myself to someone who acts as if my loyalty is a burden and my place in his life is optional and only when he feels “clarity” from it all will he talk to me especially when standing by him and loving him through this for a year plus hadn’t been a joy ride. I don’t miss the nights of blank stares. The absence of love. Oh but the guilt for moving on. For giving up even when he pushed me out.

          • gg says:

            Dear Lili and MM,

            I feel really happy for both of you. Hope things keep going well, hope you find the happiness and love you deserve.

            My situation, unfortunately, is still the same. Sometime ago I wrote here I was moving on, but I just couldn’t keep my decision. And the disappointment I had with this relationship is so big it broke me down; I just feel exhausted, old (I’m only 30)… feel really tired to even think about starting a new relationship.

            A few weeks ago I had an important health problem, and my boyfriend coudn’t say one nice word to me, just couldn’t be sympathetic at all… just careless – but he’s always there for the others, always willing to help – to me, nothing. That’s how I’m repaid for being there to him all the time, for being patient, caring… I feel drained and sad. How come he says it’s depression but I’m the only one affected? I’m the only one left without love, affection, kind words – all the others – his family and friends have the best of him – smiles, kindness – but nothing, nothing is left for me.. why??

            I’m sorry for being a moaner..

  8. blueeyes says:

    Finding this thread has been the greatest breath of fresh air in months. Thank you all for sharing your stories–it has helped me more than you could ever know, and I feel a little less alone.

    I have been with my boyfriend for 14 months, and I am certain he is suffering from depression and anxiety, although it has not been diagnosed. For the first year we knew each other we built a strong long-distance friendship (talking on chat/Skype up to 8 hours a day) which eventually became a romantic relationship once we both lived in the same country. The first couple months that we were officially together were wonderful and we were together every second. It was an intense and undeniable connection, but this soon turned sour.

    Fast-forward to now and I am living my life walking on eggshells at all times, and he is constantly mad/upset/disappointed with something I’ve said or done. If I so much as look at him in a way he doesn’t approve of (delusions of me being annoyed or angry) he doesn’t speak to me for days. When I finally get him to open up he goes on and on about how I don’t treat him with any respect etc. Today I broke down because it had been two days of him completely ignoring me (we live together) and I asked what have I done, why are you sleeping in the living room, closing doors in my face and ignoring me. It was the same story from him as always, I don’t respect him, etc.

    He is writing his Master thesis and claims this is the reason for all of his stress. I can only imagine how difficult it is (I am also doing a Master’s and will start my thesis in February), which is why I have endlessly supported him through the process–editing and correcting (English is not his first language), offering to help design charts and tables for him (I’m a graphic designer), spending upwards of 40 hours transcribing 30+ pages of recorded oral interviews for him, doing at LEAST 80% of all cooking and housework to take some burden away from him, but he has been writing since before we even got together (about 16 months ago) and there is absolutely no end in sight. When I told him last week that I was feeling nervous about starting mine in a couple months because it would be a big challenge, I’d need his support, I hope I can finish it in time because I only have max 6 months to do it, his response was, “but yours will be way easier, it’s a creative project, writing mine has been like a nightmare,” completely minimizing my work and my feelings.

    We never go out or do anything at all anymore. If I want to do anything with him other than watch tv in a dark room, I have to make the plans, and even then it’s a huge hassle and the most annoying thing he could ever imagine having to deal with.

    I could go on and on with examples… I’m sure you all know the drill.

    Any advice or comments would be very welcomed and appreciated :)

    • adavis says:

      Leave him before you have kids. This type of behaviour is never, ever, ever going to change. Even if he gets treatment (med, therapy) bouts of depression will continue to go on. This is not your fault. It is also not your responsibility. Why are you putting yourself out, exhausting yourself emotionally and physically, to help him. He has a mental illness, but you are not responsible for that. If he will not recognize that he has a problem, try to help himself, and abuse you in the process, which is what is sounds like he is doing, then leave. You can do better than that. I do not mean to be harsh. I have a husband who suffers from depression, and I love him very much. But I am married. You are single, probably still young, have no children to take care of, and you better leave before things get too entangled and complicated. Imagine dealing with his depressive episodes while trying to nurse a baby on demand, run after an active busy toddler, clean, cook, and work, with no help, no encouragement, no appreciation, all while your significant other is right there, but just can’t participate because of their depression. It is very aggravating. When you finally accept reality and stop expecting any interaction with them, then they are hurt that you no longer seek them out. It is maddening. If you are able to achieve a good education, put you love into yourself, graduate, have your career, and find a healthy, sane individual who is capable of loving you the way you love them. I would say this to my own children. Please remember what I have told you.

    • maria says:

      I am thinking that u are a wonderful person. But his depression aside, he needs a lot of work. Work on learning how to communicate without resorting to hurting u. He needs to accept what is going on with him and deal with it. I understand stress…but u really are on time to find someone who will help u grow not hold u down. and he seems to not really nurture u. If u love yourself half as much as u love him…u would leave and take care of your school its more important than ur current unhealthy relationship. It needs work…and frankly not a lot of people who are depressed have the strength of making themselves better…they tend to give under the pressure…because it is very very hard to learn how to cope…and to keep doing so every minute of the day.

      But if u will not separate and want to suffer but somehow help him insist on medicine and therapy
      but why would he think he needs it if u are really protecting him from failure by doing work for him??
      i dunno just my opinion

  9. lil says:

    I’d like to ask for an advice. My boyfriend suffers from depression and he doens’t like talking about it, says “it hurts too much”. I don’t want to bother him with the subject, but when he gets all apathetic and cold towards me and I feel he’s just about to break up, it’s horrible. I mean, not knowing what’s on his mind and not being “allowed” to ask… when it happens I do want to say things like “you’re just depressed again sweetheart, it’s not me, it’s not us”, or ask things like “you feel you don’t love me anymore? do you want to split up? How do you feel?”

    Should I ask him or just wait for depression to go away? Even though I want to question him I’m really afraid of the answer; at the same time, feeling you’re not wanted without knowing if it’s really happening is hard…

    Thank you very much.

    ps:
    I’m sorry for my English!

  10. lil says:

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you all for sharing your experiences.. it makes me feel a lot better knowing I’m not alone in this.
    Best.

  11. K says:

    I’m currently living with a depressed partner, we have been together for 9 years we have 2 children 6 and 2. I’m im the situation where I don’t know if I can take much more, but I want to be strong and happy for my children it’s so hard! He is snapping at me I feel no love. But when I see him at work with other people he looks so happy and even acts normal toward me then when he gets home he turns into a different person. Last week he told me he never wants to get married doesn’t want to buy a house and doesn’t want anymore children. This was a shock I was never interested in marriage but buying a house and another child mean the world to me. He told me he might change his mind that his head is in a bad place, but I’m so scared that if I wait around for another year and he hadn’t changed his mind what do I do then? I don’t want any of those things with anyone else I love him so much. I’m so hurt scared and alone I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone. I feel like he doesn’t love me anymore

    • Tom says:

      K; I understand, my wife of 43 years has battled depression for most of our married years. Sometimes I feel like if I could only do what she wants, and not what she doesn’t want, everything would be fine. But from years of experience, it doesn’t work.
      The bottom line is; if you truly feel you did not make a mistake choosing your partner and everything was good until the onset of depression, you and he have to get professional help, that is the only answer.
      You may have quite a time finding the right shrink also. Do NOT see a counselor, they are a waste of money. Your relationship is worth every penny of good advice.
      My wife had her depression under control for several years & I was spoiled by having my girl back, but now she is struggling again, and life is tough, but she would not give up on me & neither will I her.
      Good luck.
      T

      • maria says:

        wow Tom (Sir),
        I wish to say that reading ur post was so wonderful to my ears. To know that there is a man out in the world who loves his depressed wife enough to stick through the hard times for so long. I just wanted to send u my best wishes for your wifes depression and that she has the strength to come back from the dark side to u. Keep being strong, even if she doesnt tell u. You being by her side is probably one of the biggest motivators for her to keep fighting. hugs :)

    • Coral says:

      K, i can write this after separating from my husband who has been suffering from depression for years quite simply because i became so concerned about the potential damage the situation could be doing to my 4 year old. We spent some time apart after he began lying about where he was and wsn’t coming home and instantly my daughter calmed down without daddy in the house, she didn’t need to misbehave to either get daddy’s attention or to stop us arguing. The hard thing is that everything you are feeling in terms of rejection will be things your husband will feel, he will push you further and further away until you say enough and then he will say you have rejected him. You have to put yourself first, and the well-being of yourchildren, you can support him from afar, amazingly my husband has been more of a father to our daughter in the past couple of weeks than he has in the past year, they’ve enjoyed spending time together and he makes the most of the time they have together. I wish you well, you are not alone, don’ t be embarrassed and look after yourself and your babies!

  12. KG says:

    I am currently trying to come to terms with a relationship with a depressive. She and I started dating a little over two years ago. We knew each other as teens, and had shared a chaste kiss, but that was it. I reached out to her years later, finding her on the Web, and things just blossomed. It was a great relationship for the first year–best of my life, and best of her life if I am to believe all the words and signals. I should note that this was a long distance relationship, although we planned on living in one place once my daughter (previous marriage) is out of high school (a couple of years). But we saw each other about 20 times that year, and talked for hours on the phone nearly every day. It was very intense, very loving.

    But then she suddenly went into (what I came to understand as) depression. Full on. The switch was flicked and right was wrong, I was bad, the good things I had done became bad things I’d done. Classic stuff.

    Not being prepared for it, I was shocked…It took about 2 or 2.5 months to start to pull her back–and I did a lot of the heavy lifting (reaching out, being non-judgemental, etc.). Things finally got back to some semblance of normal about 3.5 months later. But, as has been written on this site, you can rebuild Humpty Dumpty, but he’s not exactly the same. I still loved her deeply, and she still loved me deeply. When things were good, they were great. But I knew that another episode might come at any time, and so I wouldn’t allow myself to get as close–at least not very quickly. As time went on, I’d get closer, start to let down my guard, and then she’d have a hiccup episode which might last for a day or two. And then I’d find myself putting up the protective shields again.

    Anyway, despite the small episodes and being more careful to not put myself in a naked position where I could be as hurt, things progressed for another 9 months. At their best, things were great. She’d talk to me about riding into the sunset together, about how she wanted to get married (eventually), how I was the best thing ever for her.

    Then, three months ago, I was at her place and she told me “I need you to leave.” I could tell she was going down the black hole again. This was two days after we’d sat at the kitchen table with my mom and she was telling her (unprovoked) that I was the best person in the world for her, how I got her, how I was so safe, so loving, so perfect, so whatever.

    As she drove me home, I looked at her face, and it looked very strange, very flat, as if all emotions had been entirely drained from it. I had never seen this before (with anyone).

    Anyway, a few days after that, I called her, asked her to meet me in a public place near where she lives. She hemmed and hawed, but agreed. We sat there, I consoled her and calmed her and gently dissuaded her of assertions she was making about “us” that were ridiculous and untrue–and this seemed to work. She invited me back to her place, and we made love. While we were doing that she told me that “I really do love you, and I am just so messed up.” When I left, she told me again she loved me, that she’d see me “soon” and to be careful.

    That was the last time I heard from her. Since then, I have tried to contact her by mail, by phone, by text. She answers none of them. I contacted a mutual friend to make sure she’s OK, finding out she’s OK (as in, she is going to work and dealing with life). She just won’t acknowledge me. At all.

    I know I should just accept “it’s the depression.” But what do you do with this? Do I wait for her? Why should I wait for her if she won’t even bother to communicate with me? Or is this just her way of making life easy for herself? Has she recovered and just moved on? Maybe she figures not talking to me is simply the easiest thing to do.

    I wish she’d call me and break up. At least then I’d know something. This is horrible.

    • j says:

      I am not a psychologist. I am an ordinary person in my late thirties. I had depression in my teens. It ruined every relationship I had. I dated nice compassionate people. My behavior hurt them. When I realized that, I stopped dating and remained single for 15 years. Then I met the person I was able to have a relationship with. I opened up and I am happy. It was like I was a totally changed person. Anyways, I think it will all boil down to how much of this you can endure and for how long. I don’t think your love can save her from her black hole of depression. This appears to be an unhealthy situation for you. I am all for loving and caring and sacrificing. But I am also for balance in all we do. Balance is the key. At least that is what I have observed. You’ve given her your best. I can see that. There is just this much you can do. You make the decisions for yourself.

      • KG says:

        Thanks. Yes, I agree: Balance is the key. Although I loved her enough that it would probably have taken nothing more than an apology to bring me back in, even with the imbalance.

        However, it’s now almost four months later, and she still has never answered a single attempt to call her (I try every couple of weeks), never emailed me, never sent or replied to a text…nothing. I assume she has created some sort of narrative about me that makes it possible for her to justify this behavior. What that narrative might be, I have no idea. And it’s simultaneously extremely sad and extremely maddening to believe that she could do something like that.

        Sigh…

        • lil says:

          Oh, boy. Such a difficult situation… So hard to see the person you love turning into a strange. =(

          • Carl says:

            Yes its hard to see that one person you loved so much convince themselfs your the problem. 6months my ex has ignored all attempts to reach her letters emails texts. The cold heart behavior its horrible because we know they are better than this. We have no idea whats going on in there heads if only they could talk to us, i know they cant. I feel your pain ive lost my gf and best friend and cant do a dam thing about it.

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