Restoring Trust After a Depressed Partner Returns

I’ve written a lot on this blog (here and here, among many others) about the mindset of depressed partners who are pulling away from their closest relationships. It’s important to look at the other side too – the desire to return. Hopefully, they’ll come back from the illness, whether they’ve remained at home while they’ve suffered through it or left to try to work it out on their own. A severe episode ends, and they want to have the relationship back.

That’s an exhilarating, joyful time when you can finally stop worrying and talking about what’s wrong and rediscover each other. That’s what my wife and I felt when I came back. (I had not left home but had been absent in every other way – hostile and careless about the relationship.) It was like starting over. My wife felt that too, but she had learned to be cautious after so much hurt and anger, and after many false-start recoveries.

The trust that a lasting relationship depends on had been broken, and it took a long time to get it back. Because my depression kept returning, trust was tested almost every day, but our relationship held through all my ups and downs.

A big reason we could stay together is that we both learned to watch for signs that I was slipping away again. I doubt we could have made it without cultivating a keen awareness. Even after the great renewal of our relationship, I had many recurring bouts with depression. You have to be prepared for that possibility, even though you may feel sure that it can’t happen again.

Here are some of those danger signals that most affected me.

I’m Done with Therapy

In the excitement of recovery and renewed love, it was easy to believe I would never go through such a terrible time again. It wasn’t long before I pulled out of therapy. I felt great – who needed help? In walking away from it, however, I lost the objectivity of someone outside the relationship – and outside my head – who could help maintain awareness of how I was doing. A few years later, returning problems got bad enough that I finally started treatment again.

Treatment Will Cure Me

I went from one extreme to another. Instead of denying that treatment could help, I began to rely on it as the sole source of hope for getting over depression for good. Since my wife was so sensitive to even small changes of mood, I also relied on her to wake me up to the onset of another episode. On first hearing warnings, however, I would fall into the old habit of denying that I could possibly be getting ill again. Sooner or later, I had to admit what was happening. It took years before I fully took on the responsibility for self-care and learned skills to counteract the warning signs before depression took hold.

Why All this Talking?

There are few things as important in a relationship as talking to each other, about anything and everything, but especially about warning signs. Silence and holding back feelings were my first steps toward pulling away emotionally and isolating myself in full blown depression.

I Can’t Stand It!

Getting angry for no particular reason is a classic sign. Before a depressive episode set in, the surest way I could deal with it was to stop and ask: What’s really going on? I used to hear it first from my wife, but then I became alert on my own whenever a pervasive irritability came up. Awareness may not have gotten rid of it immediately, but I knew I wasn’t reacting to anything my wife was doing. Blaming was exactly the wrong thing to do. I could feel my own tension and try to work it off.

This Blank Wall Is Endlessly Interesting

Depression slows me down and helps me drift into inaction. An early sign is the highly pleasurable state of staring at nothing. I could do it forever, feeling full and content, happy to sit motionless. Why talk about anything – there’s nothing to do. I get sleepy and go blank. Psychiatrists refer to these states as vegetative symptoms. They had nothing to do with the stillness of meditation. I was stepping into an emptiness where nothing had meaning, and there was no point to moving a muscle. When I started floating like this, I had to break the spell by forcing myself to get up and do something.

I could go on and on with this list – getting jumpy and distracted, losing concentration, feeling a weight on my chest – but many are early signs of the other familiar symptoms of any major depressive episode.

Feeling the euphoria of recovery is one thing. Sustaining wellness and a close relationship is another. Working together to catch the warning signs of relapse is a way of strengthening the bond between partners.

What I’ve come to believe is that you aren’t so much recreating the relationship you shared before depression drove you apart. You’re creating something different – partly the renewal of an intimacy you’ve known but adding a realistic sense of what depression can do and what you must do to prevent it from taking over.

We learned the hard way that feeling better – even completely restored from depression – isn’t the full measure of recovery as far as relationships are concerned. Rebuilding trust doesn’t come from medication or therapy or endlessly worrying about depression. Instead it comes from doing things together, talking to each other – letting life happen – while remaining sensitive to signs of relapse.

This awareness, though, doesn’t mean you’re expecting or assuming that depression will return. That would be undermining, a self-fulfilling prophecy. What I’ve found in this process – and we still work at it today – is that we’re assuming wellness is the norm and taking steps to stay healthy, just as you’d get a flu shot.

Have you been trying to rebuild trust with a partner after emotional separation and shock? How have you been able to do this? What skills did you have to learn to prevent the same thing from happening again?

Image by Uggboy at Flickr

60 Responses to “Restoring Trust After a Depressed Partner Returns”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m going through hell right now. My husband has just gone away for the weekend to sort out his head. This has left me in a state.but I have to carry on as normal for our children. Last year I found out he was having an affair that had been going on for as long as I’m aware 18 months. He didn’t admit it I found out by various ways and confronted him he finally admitted it and I kicked him out. After 2 weeks I wanted him back we have 3 children have been together for 26 years married for 15. And our relationship has been almost perfect a few blips but nothing awful I have felt his love deeply inside me yes it was hard but I thought you asked him back its worth it. Then in December his mum died he hadn’t spoke to her properly since she found out that he had an affair and left. So he never got to sort the problems with his mum. Last week he said he had been wearing a mask and hadn’t really loved me since January as if a switch had gone off. He said he has tried to switch it back on but it won’t and he can’t fight it anymore. I think he is suffering from depression but with his lying abilities in not sure if this is true or just a cover up. He said he would speak to a counsellor and get help as I suggested the guilt and grieving for his mum has just hit him.
    I love him so very much and up until last week he was acting besotted with me we were talking about the holidays this year. We were talking about buying a caravan by the sea. Then this. Any one out there got an impartial take on this please any help is better than none thankyou

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d guess he’s still having an affair. Sorry. I’m so tired of depression being a pass to act like an ass or be abusive. It’s not. I’d do some searching Nancy Drew style and I think you’ll discover you’re the other woman.

  2. margaret says:

    I have just been in a relationship at the beginning of January, I was totally in love with this man, the problems came after 6weeks of him wanting to have sexual intercourse, with me. The drugs he was taking have caused erectile dysfunction and he has backed off. For a few weeks we had text communication and he told he was back on his medication, however now he wont answer my texts, I don’t if too leave him be or still let him know I am there for him which I told him weeks ago, he told me we would talk but never have. HELP what do I do, I miss him so much.

  3. Confused UK 36 says:

    Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for sharing your stories. Whether you know it or not, it has brought me much comfort.
    I have been with my partner for over two years. It started off very casual but quickly turned into something more. Having been hurt in the past I held off from being too full on initially and after two months my partner told me he thought he was in love with me. Things blossomed quite quickly over the next few months. He shared that his previous relationship of 15 years ended abruptly due to cheating. Their relationship had been sexless for the last couple of years and during this time and after, when he was single, he’d come to regard himself as inadequate. He had also tried to take his own life. Me, not ever experiencing ‘the black dog’ before, didn’t really take this very seriously. Why would I? My new man was the life and soul of the party. The comedian that everybody loved. Obviously he was over it and happy with me. This was a big mistake.
    At the 6 month mark, I received a text message saying he didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. I was stunned. I felt used and betrayed. I went into selfish mode and needed to know why? My stock answer to everything was just ‘why?’. He responded by saying he loved me but couldn’t see a future, not just with me but with anyone. He didn’t want to drag me down with him. I tried very hard to pull him back down to earth but nothing made it’s way through the fog he was in. I continued to try and offer support and became angry when it was refused.
    Soon after I went on a week long trip and went to see him before I left. As I boarded my flight I found a note which said he did love me still. On arriving back, we decided to give it another go and I was extremely happy.
    Two weeks later and he dumped me again. This time I was angry and demanded an explanation which he couldn’t give. He became angry also and just kept on repeating that he wanted to be alone. In this two week period he had had a breakdown at work, been diagnosed with clinical depression, begun taking medication and had been referred for therapy so I couldn’t understand why this was happening.
    When my anger had subsided (and believe me it did return on occasion), I was left with a sense of loss and helplessness. I couldn’t stand that I couldn’t give this man I loved what he needed. Contact was little but mainly positive. At one point early on he sent me an email which said that although he loved me, he had never been IN love with me which hurt and gave me the strength for a while to leave him to it.
    After two months, we bumped into each other on a night out and he seemed so happy to see me. I was confused and requested that we speak to get a bit of closure which I still craved. He agreed and a week later I arrived at his house. I have never seen someone change so much in my life. He was happy. He told me he loved me and wanted to be with me. He told me that everything he’d said was a lie, he’d just needed to be alone to sort himself out. Despite expecting to walk away that night and start afresh on my own, I was actually overjoyed to get the man I loved back. That was 18 months ago. He stopped taking his meds’ fairly soon after that which worries me but he insisted that he knew the signs and would seek help if his mood began to slide again.
    Three days ago we had a minor disagreement. He began to question why I would want to be with him. He was focusing on his libido being massively reduced and that he can’t satisfy me (which has never been an issue). Basically, it was 18 months ago all over again. The exact conversation occurred. I almost had to stifle laughter which is cruel but I couldn’t believe we were back to where we started. He wasn’t in love with me again and basically never had been.
    I still don’t know the ins and outs of depression but I know that time is needed to sort it out. I’m trying very hard not to be the person that comes to his aid (despite wanting to be there for him). It didn’t serve either of us well the last time round. I want to be with him but he is in control. My help will always be there for him should he ever need it. Am I doing the right thing in leaving him to it? I don’t know… it’s what he wants.
    I’ve been through this already and I know that unless someone wants to be helped you are wasting your time. I know I’ll cave eventually and make contact.
    Has anybody any experience of this? Is this how it’ll be for the rest of my life? I know I should’ve been more supportive and tried to persuade him to stay on his meds but he’s very head strong. I raised it with him the other day but he said he doesn’t want to take them. I can’t even be sure he’ll seek help and it terrifies me he may try to take his life again.
    Does anybody have any advice on matters like this? I’m so confused.

    • Faith says:

      This is all too familiar… you can’t do much until he decides to deal with this seriously. It is his responsibility, not yours. You can be there for him only if he decides to battle this, and has an upfront and honest conversation with you.
      Check out the depression fallout forum. There are people there who have gone through similar experiences and will provide help and support.

  4. Freddie says:

    The best thing to do is to take care of yourself. Don’t put any hopes that he or she will come back. What helped me a lot is going to God and put my worries to him. If you are meant for each others god will find a way and if not then you need to move on and wait (If you are good Christian person, God will provide you a better partner). My story is that I met a girl and she was so in love with me but then the depression happened to her and she left me and went to another guy… Do I blame her? ofcourse everything happen for a reason and I shall stop thinking that its her fault or no its the depression fault. What comfort me is that… God allowed the depression to happen so that means God in control and He did that for my won good whether she came back or not.. But I think even if she came back I’m don’t with her. Anyway.. just a words of wisdom.. stop having hope that they will come back because you can wait for months then to figure out they cheated (depression is never an excuse for cheating) trust god and that he has a better plan for your life and stop torturing yourself.. Even if they cheated its not your problem and not your sin because God gave free will to each of us and I belive if a partner is true Christian he will never cheat even if he had severe depression so keep praying not for him or her to come back but for god to show you his plan because remember all things happen for a reason and god allow all this.. God bless u all

  5. Anonamous says:

    Wonder if any of you can help me. Been with my b’f for 6 months totally In love and adored one another. He then had a bad accident and broke his pelvis almost died and couldn’t walk for 6-8 weeks in immense amounts of pain and on a lot of pain killers. Understandably during this time he was distant, I did everything to support him paid bills whilst he was out of work moved us out of a house to a flat incase he had ongoing problems, a few weeks after he was Distant he caught a bug and couldn’t take any of his pain killers he was the person I fell in love with again, telling me he loved me how he was so glad I never gave up on him, what an amazing future we where going to have. The illness cleared and he went back on his pain killers, I could slowly see him disappearing again. Whenever I asked when he was coming home ( he was at his dad’s) he like just push me away.he said he was in a dark place and confused. He started on fluxotine as he though he was depressed. He’s only been on it a week or so. He never did come home, he broke up with me blocked every from of contact, demanded his stuff and wouldn’t even talk to me when I dropped it off sent hi dad out instead. Is this just the depression, shall I hang on hoping he comes through it or just accept he’s changed and it’s over. I love him so much it hurts so bad to think it was all lies.

  6. KC says:

    In 2009 I met the girl of my dreams and things were perfect. We moved across the state together, and soon after, I began to become numb. No emotions. Content just “being”. I longed to be closer to my mom, whom I was close with and missed a lot. So I left her. I just up and left my girlfriend drived back across the state with my things. When I got to my mom’s, who was ecstatic to have me, I realized I missed my girlfriend. I was starting to come out of the fog. 10 days later I came back. But the trust was gone. Now it is 2015 and we are still working on things. It is difficult I’d say 90% of the time. I am bipolar so its rough trying to catch my symptoms before they get worse. and that is what we seem to focus on. I want to live a normal life with her, but she still doesn’t trust that I’ll up and move away.

  7. KatieS says:

    On my third decade of marriage with someone who is depressed. All I can say is that it even with help you have to help yourself so you don’t slip into depression yourself. It is extremely sad to say there is not enough counseling for the families of depression.I think it would be great for both parties to understand what they are dealing with so that maybe they could notice and possibility avoid major problems. My spouse was able to work because I think it would have been frowned upon by so many but it was not easy for him or us. He retired to withdraw even more. He sleeps all but one or two days and I doubt his doctor is aware. Again family sessions would make a difference.
    Many times the depressed person lies about the illness to the doctor and that will do nothing for him or the the family. They are in their own world and you are totally left out. It is a very, very selfish disease. Not saying this out of pinned up anger, it is just the way it is. I got on a depressed group with Facebook and ask questions and basically was told they like nothingness and to maybe be in the room but no talking. One person who was depressed married someone who is depressed, 2nd marriage, so things are better he claims. I wondered how they were able to get things done.
    I don’t understand it and I’m not sure what to do as my husband talks only of his needs and does not acknowledge mine. When he talks he sees only his self and totally unaware of anyone separate. I try to be considerate but I have given up in many ways. I have thought of selling our home and moving to an assisted facility as I am unable to keep up things but that would be the end of my life. Not sure what would be best.

  8. Gina says:

    Hi. My partner of 3 years has fear of intimacy and is now severely depressed, following the loss of his job and his life breaking away as a result of various recent job losses, family breakdown, financial breakdown, etc. In other words, he has a lot on his plate. He does not reflect on his errors well, we does not share anything with anyone (i.e. not telling you he bought a flat, for example) and discovered in therapy that he was left by his first girl friend and shut his heart down after that to protect himself. Never told anyone since he loved them; not even his wife of 25 years marriage. So now he broke up with me because he does not love me but wants to stay friends. When I told him that I cannot do that because I do have feelings for him, he went bitterly sad; he did not see that coming and does not want to lose me but also does not want a committed relationship. We do not live in the same country and are both fairly independent people. Under normal circumstances I would cut contact for a while. But I feel can’t do this because I feel I let somebody down who is not acting out of true conviction and I could well be the only person he did open up to. But likewise, I do not want to be taken for a ride but I do love this man very much. Is this depression talking, or is this a real breakup that needs to be honoured? I am not initiating contact now and wait for him to do so; which he does every 4-5 days or so. We don’t live together but saw each other every week before his depression started. We have not really seen each-other for 2 months, despite of frequent contact. To add complexity to the matter, we are working on an important project that would bring him back on track job wise and allow us to work together. So cutting contact would stop all that; and I would feel really bad. I am mentally quite strong, but I have no idea what to do. I don’t want to be in a position where I get his needs fulfilled, end up working with him (this project would not work without me) and have to see how another woman takes the prize. Has anyone experienced this sort of thing before? Really grateful for your help….

    • Richards51 says:

      I’m not sure I have any advice or solace to give, but your post (and I’ve read hundreds of posts on various websites in a desperate search for hope and solace) struck a chord with me as I am in a similar position. Bit of background- over the past three years I developed a beautiful love and bond with a wonderful woman- J- undoubtedly developed through working with her, we work together on music projects with young people, it’s very rewarding and intense. Finally about a year and a half ago we declared our love for each other. However, big complication (of course!)- we were each in long term but unfulfilling relationships. Those both ended just over a year ago. My relationship with J blossomed and we have spent utterly wonderful times together in every way, from the most intimate to the most run-of-the-mill. I have never loved anyone so much, and she has declared the same for me. But she’s not well- suffers from a terrible phobia called emetophobia which affects her daily, and has symptoms similar to depression- and so from time to time over the year she would feel sad, like we shouldn’t be together as she was a bad person for leaving her husband, should have tried harder (she did), didn’t deserve anything etc. These feelings would sometimes last a few days, sometimes literally minutes, and she would always come back to me. But about a month and a half ago, J suddenly switched- from one day saying how often she thinks she’d like to love with me and wants me around always to literally the next saying she has lost all love feelings for me and does not want a relationship with me, and doesn’t want to do anything with me that would give anyone the impression we are a couple. This continues. She knows she is depressed, finally agreeing to seek therapy (only just started). She is also now saying that she might want to try to rekindle her marriage- though I suspect her husband (who got together with someone else about 2 months after J moved out) would have grave doubts about this. Anyway, the situation is complicated, as in your case, by the fact that we have built up so much great work together- the thought of working with her if her feelings don’t come back is very painful. I have discussed with her that my belief is that it is the depression talking, and that I will not turn away from her, and she knows that she feels ‘ stuck in the past’. But the harsh words are so hard to hear. But even in these dark times, little things she says indicate that she needs me- which gives me the tiniest but precious hope. The comment you made towards the end of your post- “I don’t want to be in a position…..takes the prize” struck a chord with me- that’s how I feel, though I cannot abandon her. Just wondered how you’ve got on. Happy to strike up a conversation if it helps.

  9. Lesley says:


    Where can I find information with regaining trust as the spouse dealing with a depressed spouse?. There is a ton of info on how to deal with them during it. But once everything is at bay and they are back and feel wonderful once again, and you are torn apart by the insults, deceit and the finger pointing…what now? This is my first rodeo and I hear from my spouse ” we have work to do in our relationship” and I can’t stop thinking…WHAT!!!??? If someone could direct me to a website or an article, it would be much appreciated.

  10. KSH says:

    I hope someone can provide some sort of encouraging support.

    I have been dating a girl for a short time 3 months. Things began so wonderful and i couldn’t deny that I had fallen inlove with her. The first 2 months were perfect, I could just feel the relationship blooming and the happiness in her eyes and smile was undoubtable.

    She began a new job about a month ago and from the very first day she was distant, not her self. All affection was gone. The smile was gone. The feeling of love was gone. Although, she still kisses me hello, goodbye. And tells me she loves me everyday. Sometimes I feel her hugging me tighter then other days. Then other times when I kiss her I feel her almost pulling me closer.

    I played it off for the first week that it was just new job adjustment. But then she started yelling over little things, questions, pushing me away. One night, she began to tell me that she’s suffered from depression in the past. She keeps saying “I want to be the old me”, “I have to fix this”. I’ve tried to help, but I get told “it’s not you, I promise” or “you didn’t break me, so you can’t fix me… I have to do this on my own”.

    She’s began to see a “life-coach”, a very sweet older woman from a local church. I hope it helps! Which she has been more talkative the last week.

    This is the first person I have been around who has ever had a depression problem (to my knowledge). How can I understand it better? How can I be there for her when she doesn’t want to get out of the bed and just sleep? How can I show her, I want to be there for her in this dark period? She is truly a great person and I don’t want to throw it away because of a health problem she is having.

    Thank you.

  11. Amanda says:

    Wow everyone’s stories seem so well worded and thorough. I can relate to most of them. I feel like I need someone to talk to or some insight about my situation: living with my boyfriend of nearly 3 years who suffers from depression. I wish I could give a detailed story but I am at a loss for words. I feel estranged and unappreciated and most of all unloved. It seems that no matter how much I try to help or understand or offer support I only make things worse. I feel sick to my stomach most days now and close to tears all of the time. I don’t want to leave this person I love but it feels like he hates me. I try to talk to him but he denies feeling depressed until things are at a breaking point. Should I give him space? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. I feel trapped and sick and scared. Please help.

    • losingsight says:

      Hi Amanda,

      I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through…there is nothing harder than dealing with a situation like this. There is a discussion forum that many of us are on for support called depression fallout message board. I’d encourage you to join, it has been a life saver for so many of us going through exactly what you’re talking about and feeling. It’s such a lonely place, but know you’re not alone!

      • john doe says:

        hey losinsight:
        where is that discussion board at. I would like to figure out exactaally what is going on with my long term relationship. we were together 31/2 years and she went home to deal with sick parents and a 8 year old girk she left behind. when I met het she was sitting by a camp fire at an AA meeting and looked so sad. She said she had a year clean but I found all kinda signs of drug use in her house which she always claimed she had no idea how that got there. After she went to stay with her parents she made all kind of accusations when I would go back to AA. And then she jut withdrew completely from me. We live in different towns and everyone has told me she has had affairs with different men sense she has gotten with me and loves to have several partners at the same time while doing different type of drugs. Almost everyone I know has told me story after story of these aweful things. what woud cause a person to be so cruel and do that to another. this has caused me to think something is wrong with me and has made me withdraw from society and become a shut in. its very imbarressing and I just cnt stand to look at people anymore. Also I have brought some ladies home on my few ventures out but have absolutely no feelings left for anything or anyone and my motivation has left. its been a year sense this has happened and I do get out some but my mind is racing with everything I hve been told and everyone has told me how great she loves having men take advantage of her. Is something wrong with me and I had that coming from past relationship mistakes? I am really confused and am ready to leave this world and try the next one. Every couple of weeks she sends a text saying how much she loves me and ill get all excited and respond but will never hear anything in reply. I was told she does that and everyone sits there and laughs as they read my text. really confused about the why of this

    • Haley says:

      I relate so much to your story. He’s always been my support. It’s so hard to know what to do to help when it seems like he doesn’t even want me around anymore. I try to remember the kind, reassuring things he says when he’s not feeling down, but those seem to be fewer and less frequent now than before… Good luck, Amanda. Try to keep your own spirits up, even if you can’t bring up his.

  12. amanda says:

    Hello…. I need help.. I have been depressed for 9 months now. But I have been having anti depression medication. I feel better but I randomly fall back into it…. now I feel like I am not sexually attracted to him or that I know that I am not in love with him… the thoughts have stopped.. so I believe it is me but I don’t understand why… I want to be with my baby like I was before… :'( That’s all I want back….. I called for a therapist and shoild he getting one soon.

  13. Lauren says:

    Hi all

    I was hoping for some advice or comfort please.

    6 months ago i started seeing a guy, he seemed perfect, wanted a future and to settle down etc. It was going so well and then we had a small fight which he completely overreacted to. he wouldn;t talk to me, speak to me or see me. He ignored me for 5 days straight and then came back apologetic and explained he has depression and that a tiny matter can send him on a downward spiral where he’ll do nothing but lay in bed and sleep for days or weeks. He told me that he’ll direct this at the person he loves the most (me) and he just tries to push me away and block me out and says spiteful things to hurt me before then ignoring me.

    it’s happened a few times and my natural instinct is to fight for him and make him realise how much i love him but he says the constant messages and calls make it a million times worse when he’s in that place and he won’t talk to me until i leave him alone.

    Last week we had a fight and he basically said he hated his life and i make him miserable. He didn’t say he was breaking up with me but I haven’t heard from him for over a week now. I’ve called and text (which i know has probably made it worse) but he’s blocked me from contacting him, deleted me off of all social media sites. I don’t know whether I have to just assume that it’s over? Or is this normal behaviour for someone with depression and should i expect contact if i leave him for a while. We are supposed to be going on holiday together and i don’t know what to do.

    I guess i’d just like to know, is this normal behaviour. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? He’d been having coucnelling before he met me but stopped once we’d got together as he said he felt overwhelming happiness and thought he was better….clearly he wasn’t. If he went back to coucelling, could this help him?

    Also if i don’t hear from him again does anyone think that at some point he’d at least click and realise what he’s done and how hurtful he’s been? or depressed people not think like that?

    Help 🙁

    • jc says:

      This all just happened to me two weeks ago…so I feel your pain.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Lauren
      I am going through the exact same thing right now.
      I was wishing that someone would reply your comment, cause I could use the advice too myself.
      So sad 🙁

      • blue says:

        Im going through this now. They just want us to go away. He went from wanting to spend time with me on a vacation, to shutting down, getting snippy and iritated at me for..i dont know what…then saying he needs space. Then 2 days after that says he is done with this and does not want a relationship. Then he started fonding imperfections in me and told me i am bothering him when i text or email. Now i am being ignored until i give up.

        • Melissa says:

          I feel you. 🙁
          He didn’t even say he didn’t want a relationship anymore. He just left, without saying goodbye. Kept me hanging on for months. I have given up but I still cry every night without fail. God is watching us from above. If he was meant for us then he will definitely gravitate back towards us sooner or later. However I still believe that no man can love a woman as she loves him. We just love so deep and too much.

        • Stephen says:

          Depressed patiens/bi polar cant feel a “middle emotions” because their emotional tolerance is very high… THEIR BRAIN IS LOOKING FOR EXTREME emotions to FEEL normal or anything…A BREAK UP or a new RELATIONSHIP or a LOST LOVE..OR DEATH IN THE an EXTREME high. THATS WHY theres so much breaking up and MAKING UP…THEY NEED THAT HIGH FEEL regular…u have to high jack that process and make up and break up every month or so..It feeds their high they are craving for…its crazy but they are happy when sad…sad when they happy…BECAUSE SADNESS IS AN EMOTION..TO THEM ITS better than feeling NOTHING! ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING …A new boyfriend or lover or being Missing a lover anything besides feeling EMPTY day after day hour after hour minute after minute….a terrible disease indeed .

    • Andreas says:

      Hang in there.. I am depressed and my wife is going through hell because of me at the moment – I wish I could get her to talk to someone but she doesn’t want to – I feel so miserable when I see her hurt yet I make her suffer for no reason, this is madness
      Keeping myself busy and working out but the warning signals are important to detect (and to react to them!)
      Been through therapy two years ago and I think I am having a relapse at the moment, the darkness creeping in. Just last time I didn’t have this hate and this anger boiling in me and then directing it at her. For no reason. I love her so much and losing her would kill me
      By the way: thanks for your website – has been inspirational

  14. Heidi says:

    Hu everyone
    I have been depressed for a while now and kept saying I should maybe go to therapy. Well, 4 weeks ago I was talking to my (now ex) boyfriend and confessed some lies that I had told (I uses to make up health issues because I was bad at sports and I always kept it up)
    He was mad of course and went out with his friends a few days later and told them all about it. He then said we could work this out. However, he kept on saying and hinting at how terrible that was, which I knew very well.
    2 weeks ago I was having a bad day. We went out and I kept on putting him down and when he said something about it I snapped and yelled. The day after he was really mad and hurt and then told me he had been thinking about breaking up with me but wanted to give me another chance.
    Another day later we were fighting yet again because I had iverreacted and I broke up with him
    I went to seek help the day after the break up, the aggressiveness had just grown to be the last part of my depression and I knew I needed help.
    I am on antidepressants now and going to therapy and I asked my bf to forgive me and if we could try and work things out but he said no.
    My family isn’t very close and I don’t share things with my friends, he was the inly person I really ever trusted. My depression made it difficult to let him in but I did as much as I could.
    I would appreciate any advice, I still love him and he says he still loves me. I know this has taken a toll on him and that he will have to keep being strong but I feel that with me getting professional help it will be less difficult. I am also starting to open up more to others. Is there anything I can do to convince him?

  15. Hadi Farrah says:

    Hello all,

    I was in a three year relationship up until last Tuesday. My partner and I have had our ups and downs but we love each other dearly. We just celebrated our three year anniversary last month and my depressed partner stated how much she loved me and loved being with me. She showed that she was so happy. After coming back from our anniversary trip, I noticed a change in her about two weeks later. She would come home from work and go straight to bed by 7pm. She had little conversation to offer. She said she felt depressed and unhappy with herself. This continued for a few days. I kept trying to lift her spirits but that seemed to frustrate her. I mentioned that she should seek help for her depression. She stated based on her upbringing, she felt having to see someone about depression was weak. The weeks went on and things got worse with her unhappiness and negativity. Finally this past Tuesday she came home and told me she was moving out in 4 days. She was so cold in her delivery. No emotion no nothing. Well the day came and she has moved. I am devastated. She is my life my world my everything. I don’t know what to do. She said she doesn’t want a relationship with me because she just wants to be selfish and work on her things herself. How could things change so instantly so drastically.


    • Julia says:

      Hi hadi

      I have just read about you and your partner and exactly the same thing has just happened to me today. What happened to you two?

    • Natalie says:

      The same exact thing has just happened to me. I can home from work, and my boyfriend of two years had packed all his things and left that moment. I am unable to eat, sleep, or think straight. I go from feeling angry that he has just abandoned me like this, to overwhelming concern for his wellbeing, to utter devastation and heartbreak. I can’t help but hope that he will get treatmenr, get better, and come back. Does that ever happen successfully?

  16. Anna says:

    Hi All,

    I’m getting very concerned for my relationship as well. I am the depressed partner and my boyfriend just told me last night he’s on his last straw. Those of you on his end of things, what can I do immediately to make him happier? All he tells me is that he wants me to get better, that’s what would make him happy again. I’m working at it really hard and I really am starting to see the light. How can I start the reconnection process? I’ve been trying to tell him that every relationship goes through this when someone is depressed, but I think sometimes he doesn’t believe me. I just want to get back to being happy, as we both know we love each other. Any advice would be helpful, or even a book that could help. anything. I refuse to let depression take him away from me.

  17. yoyo says:

    hi. my boyfriend is going through another tough time, as am i. i tend to respond emotionally to his moments, so that stresses him out even more. even when i am able to keep my fears more controlled, he tends to see the negatives, of course. we have been dealing with these ups and downs since our first month of dating, and i am understanding of what brings each instance on..

    i am writing, because i need support. i do not have family/local friends to speak with, and am still looking for a group. we are in couple’s and individual counseling. i just need some positive voice.. i have lost mine, by now. and i feel weaker of course. after having been broken up with and emotionally abused/neglected at least once per month since our start, i have managed to lose my strength.

    i do not exactly know how to put myself first, or take care of those details. i need some sort of stability, as i am currently unemployed. so any emotions i have that come out with him around, end up being labeled the trigger for a possible end to the relationship. so now i have THAT over my head as well as all of this other shit.

    i don’t think the couple’s therapist understands any of this.

    • Jana says:

      I know how you feel!! I am going through the same. Cant find support group, can’t find any other help.
      But remember, You are your own best friend. If you don’t help and love yourself no one will be able to.
      Smile when you can’t.. Fake it till you make it. Make a rule that you will smile when you are in the shower.

      • Kelly says:

        I am with you both, and I would love to get in contact with both of you to form our own support group if we could. My husband has been suffering from depression for almost two months now and we are yet to find a medication that works for more than 2 weeks. I am at my wits end, I am sick of the negativity, and him telling me that our marriage is destroyed and not going to work b/c of all the things I have done wrong, when in reality, his depression is what is breaking us apart. It is a constant battle everyday for me, and although I have a great family and friends circle of support, I feel like no one really understands what I am going through. I feel hopeless and helpless all of the time. I am afraid my marriage is going down the tubes and I can’t control it. I am afraid my husband will never love me again.

        • Melissa says:

          Hi Kelly,

          I feel the same way. Im afraid my husband is going to lose his job, and perhaps mine will suffer as well because I have to keep taking off to take care of him. I went to a support group that I found through dbsa tonight and no one showed. My husband showed up home fom is intensive outpatient intoxicated. I feel like I’m at my bottom. I don’t think anyone in my support group of friends can truly understand and I feel very alone all of the time.

        • Michael says:

          Hello Kelly, Your situation or your feelings are very similar to my own. My wife has questionably been suffering from depression since before we even first met. Things have always been up and down and this worsened after we married with her behaviour very eratic and moods difficult to explain. It was only after a steady decline of our marriage resulting in separation, sighting that she doesnt love me and & not the man for her on numerous occaisions. After we agreed we couldnt continue as we were she hit rock bottom & sought help from me and for her now diagnosed depression. She is also on anti- depressants, and suffered numerous relapses after a few weeks. She tends to deny anything is wrong until she hits rock bottom and even then denies any lead up to it. Negative feelings tend to be transposed and directed at me. Blaming me and not appreciating all the slack that I have to pick up. I had returned after two months away but a year on she is still unsure on her exact feelings for me and our relationship, she is currently mostly distant and uncaring for my feelings and well-being. Any notion that I am struggling with lifes trials and demands are quashed Im left feeling selfish and inadequate and told Im not being supportive. The only thing that keeps me is fighting for us is the knowledge that she has depression and maybe just maybe The wife I think I knew and who loved me will return which in turn will keep me bringing up my daughter who I love dearly, however this is undermined by the broken trust in her feelings for me and whether how she feels now is a result of our incompatibility or her depression…… She wont as yet consider therapy of any kind to date although I think this will have to change for a future to prevail. I feel this is key. This experience has been damaging to my own mental health and self esteem , and reading it back is not the clearest of posts for which I apologise…. Im sorry its all just kinda spilled out of me….

          • Smoose says:

            I too am in a real rollercoaster of a ride so far. Out of the blue my wife says she can’t find her feelings of love for me. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but it was loving. We have had our ups and downs but nothing that we couldn’t address through counseling. She has no desire to go right now. She says she needs her space to find her happiness with herself. She has become very distant and selfish. I moved out to give her space but nothing seems to be making a difference. She spends a lot of time at home. She used to love working out, but only does that on occasion. She has made some choices that she never would have made 6 months ago. It wasn’t too long ago she was telling people how lucky she was in her marriage and that she was happy. In the blink of an eye it all changed and she is not sure what’s she wants. We were going to have a divorce talk before we went to a lawyer, but she said she didn’t want to give up yet, but doesn’t want to do counseling until she is ready. She still enjoys hanging out with friends or at least it seems but doesn’t want to spend any quality alone time with me. It’s very confusing and I am at wits end. I have been to counseling and so has she for individual. She stopped going but I continue. She says she feels very selfish but doesn’t know what is going on in her head. Our kids are doing okay but you can tell they are not their normal selves. She is also on medication for depression, takes bc pills, and iron pills. She has been on medication for two years. I am not for sure what to do. I want to be supportive and I am as much as she’ll let me, but she says she can’t explain to anyone what is going on. Is she severely depressed and when she overcomes her depression is it possible she will get her feelings of love back for me and the people who are closest to her? Please any advice will help.

          • Tia says:

            Michael, you are dealing with someone who is cold, distant, apathetic, uncaring, resentful and hateful. That is a very hard thing to be dealing with from a position of love. Consider the pain that continuing to pour unconditional love into an abyss is causing you. So much focus, attention, effort sent literally into open space never to return. Or just bouncing off a brick wall and falling to the floor wasted. Depression is not a place where love reigns. Depression filters and twists love to suit its own perspective. Put your focus on you. You have been there through the worst of times and not been impactful. You know that you are sufficiently loving to be there when they are on the way back.Only a qualified therapist with the right heart can provide the objective love and care that will bring your loved one back from the cold lands far far away. They need help to want to get help.. They need to want to come back. You need to free yourself from the pain of practically loving someone who is not able currently to respond, and adopt a care taking stance instead. Hope that makes sense, just kinda spilled out of me too. Very best wishes.

  18. pat says:


    I have been involved with my fiance’ for 7 years. She has been on anti depressants most of her life from a violent childhood which culminated in her cutting herself in her teens. She is a very shy passive person and a loving mom to our child although she has fears and resorts to every source of information from astrology to you name it for advice without ever trusting my own. Although her mom was the primary problem she has a negativity towards men. My own mistakes which I did not realize most of the time which included frequency of sex, lack of adequate communication, forgeting what I believed were little things heightened her lack of trust for my feelings towards her. She has packed and left without verbal warning on 3 occassions over this time for several months each time and then returned. Each time the percieved injustice on my part was different. I don’t know what to do since she wil not attend council with me and only alone which gives me no insight or voice. I recently found out that she has moved 20 times in as many years, she runs away. She has probably held as many jobs and although she is now planning to work on her own again with our child in her home I know this will not last. I am trying to be nice to her avoiding any argument and stopped presuring her to return. Simply put, I don’t know what to do and I love them both.

  19. Rheea says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for this website. I am, for the second time, in the middle of dealing with a loved-one’s episode. I was diagnosed with depression myself as a child and although it took a long time, have become accustomed to the warning signs and behavior of the disease. My (currently ex) boyfriend was diagnosed a couple of years ago and slips very deep into the denial if his depression isn’t caught early.

    The first major episode he had in our relationship happened two winters ago. I encouraged him to seek therapy (which he did, on a monthly basis, and said was very helpful), and his therapist suggested getting an anti-depressant prescription from his general practitioner. Then, all of a sudden, we had a fight and he ended our relationship. His coping methods were to never speak to me (we had classes together), find other women, rely on drugs and alcohol, and eventually drop out of school.

    The following summer he and I had dinner and he explained that he had been in a dark place, and ending our relationship was the beginning of a downward spiral. Your entire blog has been incredibly helpful, but this article in particular resonates.

    At the beginning of the new relationship we were both so happy to be together that we talked about everything. Communication was open and easy. And then the winter came and I noticed him slip away again. By the time I decided to address it, however, it was too late. He took any suggestion of depression or therapy or communicating as a personal attack. He (the same man who found so much comfort in therapy a year previously) said that he did not believe in it. He became sensitive and defensive (“because I was being hurtful”), exhausted (“because he couldn’t sleep and was working so hard”), socially withdrawn (“because he was exhausted”), stopped cleaning his apartment (“because between work, school, and sleeping to make up for the two, he had no time to take the trash out”), unmotivated academically (“because his sister was going through a hard time and he is an empathetic person”) and angry (“because I was obsessed with depression”).

    It was like everyday someone rewrote the rule-book of our relationship. The list of what I could say became shorter and shorter. Jokes, sarcasm, or playful flirting were no longer allowed in our relationship, because he found them “damaging.” And most of all, his depression was “none of my business” and he repeatedly maintained that “I do not have depression right now. You are the only person I am ever unhappy with. If I did have depression, I deal with it by myself. I do not need you or a therapist or anyone to help me.” Nothing ever made him so angry as when I would try to talk about depression (either mine or his).

    Because he was so “happy,” he then decided to stop taking his medications altogether.
    And that was it.

    The next few months were the longest of my life, waiting for the man I loved to come back while powerless to help or say anything lest I drive him further away. Some days, it seemed like he was there, but many days he was distant. He needed more and more time to himself. He so often found malice and resentment in every word I said to him. The day before I left town for a week, he was happy and anxious only about missing me. The day I came back, I was met with a different person. He told me he was not happy, that I was the reason why and then (on the advice of his ex-girlfriend), he ended it.

    He then destroyed all pictures of us because they were “too painful to look at.” Two weeks after we broke up, I called him to work out when he could get his things. We ended up laughing on the phone for 40 minutes (something I hadn’t heard him do for a long time). When the time came for him to get his belongings from my house however, he cancelled. He has since ignored all contact from me, telling friends that it’s what he has to do to stop missing/being in love with me. The only two times I got his attention to come collect his things (including a macbook), he has cancelled. He has cut me completely out of his life, for the second time.

    I have had my suspicions for a long time of the “beast within.” But my depression keeps the thought constantly in the back of my mind that he was never depressed at all, but I must have been in some mysterious and unknown way, horrible to him. Having this website here to remind me that this monster is real, and difficult (though not impossible) to tame is the most reassuring thing I have found to cope with my grief. Of course, nobody can predict the future, but it is invaluable to know from the articles and the comments that many people have been tossed out by those they love on account of this horrible illness, only to rediscover the love later on and subdue the demon together.

    I will remain hopeful.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Rheea –

      Thanks for telling this story here – painful as it must be for you. I’m glad this site can be a useful reminder that it’s his depression and nothing you’ve done that has led to his treating you this way. It’s great to know that you’ve learned over a long time to deal with your own depression. You’ve come out with a very balanced view of the illness and yourself, and, it seems, a strong resilience to deal with shocks like the ones you describe in this relationship. All my best to you.


    • Kate says:

      Rheea, WOW does this sound so familiar. So glad I read your post. I am currently going throughout the same thing in my 4 yr relationship. He is on the 3rd time leaving me. He has always come back. When he leaves he drinks very heavily, does not sleep, and ends up spiraling down.
      This time he has been gone 3.5 months. Same deal… He was so happy, we were talking of marriage and he was getting ready to propose on our vacation in Germany this August then he flipped! I wasn’t the one, had zero feelings etc… So hurtful. Once again I was devastated.
      After the second time I started to realize that he had a “pattern” which usually came right after the holidays.This year it came later. I think the trigger was getting overwhelmed with the trip , his daughters wedding, finances, the proposal.

      We do have a therapist that we saw twice for small issues regarding his compulsive spending and second guessing everything. He now refuses to go to therapy saying he can do this on his own. I continue to go for my own sanity and to take care of ME. It’s so easy to stay focused on them. I think in some way it keeps us close to them.
      I miss him so very much every day. He refuses to get help but I have had the opportunity to talk to him about Depression several times. He does think something is wrong but he does nothing about it.
      He is in a very high profile position where he cannot take meds.I believe he thinks his livelihood would be put in jeopardy.
      I like how you describe it the “beast within. We call it the “dark hole”. I like you, am constantly questioning if he is depressed at all and that it’s probably that he just really just wants out. I know we had a great relationship and I did not do anything wrong. Even now after he left will text me and rage about his finances and all the money he spent on me( crazy as I was always trying to curtail his compulsive spending) then the next text he will be saying things like” this is hard breaking up, “thought we had a chance at a life together” now we will never know??. These messages get my hope up and then I realize how over all the place his mind is. I guess in my mind I believe he really wants to come back again. He says he is too embarrassed about his behavior to come back. But in my heart I believe he wants too.

      Our therapist suspects a mood disorder,possibly bipolar due to the heavy drinking and no sleep. Of course he can’t tell me anything because of confidentiality but he has given me many indications that he suspected a mood disorder early on with him .He repeatably tells me that my BF’s leaving has nothing to do with me and his love for me. I find this very reassuring to hear. This site also helps me so much with the grieving that I am experiencing. I have recently joined Alanon to help me to learn to stay focused on ME. I can’t change him– lord knows I have tried to get him in for help, shared information, talked to him etc…

      I pray every day for him and ME to heal our lives. I also now know first hand what everyone is saying by take care of YOU first. It was the last thing on my mind as I just wanted to think of him and wanted him back. It doesn’t mean giving up hope but I must keep living and getting stronger in my own self and self esteem. I want him back but only if he is willing to put in the effort to get some help.I am worth it and WE are worth it.
      I offer the gift of my love and caring and support to him. I hope he will recognize the gift but the truth is he may not.
      On the subject of support groups. I am open if others are to get this going. Please contact me.

  20. C says:

    Thank you for putting this into perspective. My husband is going through an emotional breakdown and it is very difficult to understand what is going on. You put things into order when there is so much chaos and I thank you for it. I have a partner who does not understand what is happening and he resents being labelled. He has gone from being loving, caring and communicative to being in a zombie state with no emotional response. He says things like he wants to disappear. We have had a loving relationship for 9 years and for the past 5 months we have been in a long distance relationship. I don’t know what he is going to chose for himself and for our relationship. I try to listen without judging, I try to communicate with him even though he has shut down, and I have given him space and time to heal without pressuring him to make plans for our future but It is very difficult. Even though he doesn’t believe that he is depressed, a lot of the things you have written about is familiar. He is a very intelligent person who does not like labels. He prides himself on never being ill. I just don’t see him ever looking at the possibility that he may be depressed even though our therapist has said just that. I am so unsure about what to do. I am taking care of myself and doing things that I love to do but it is terribly tragic what is happening in his life and our relationship.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hello, C –

      I’m sorry to hear about this and agree that it really is tragic when someone is so obviously in pain but refuses to get help. We wind up with such strange attitudes about things – who cares about labels if it’s a matter of saving your life. And I believe severe depression should be regarded as a life threatening illness. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and can only wish that he would do the same. My best to you both —


    • Loretta says:

      So glad you are taking care of yourself and doing things that you love to do. Very important!! I know it’s tough to try to enjoy yourself when your husband is suffering – I’m in that spot right now. It’s good to have a good cry. We have even cried together a few times. I hold tight to my daily devotions that are always right on – especially about having problems in life, I liked this one: ” Take a lighthearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and I together can handle. Remember that I am on your side and I have overcome the world”. Another saying that REALLY helps me is “Jesus, I surrender to you – take care of everything”…sometimes I have to say this under my breath while my husband is moaning and groaning about how bad he feels.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I have started getting some counseling myself which has been of a a great help. Her advice is similar to yours in that for the time being I need to focus on myself and my own well being but if I feel committed to the relationship then to keep hope and see how things unfold now he is seeking help.

    Right now I am trying to keep some faith as he is a kind and sensitive man who I very much love. Whilst he has become emotionally dead in the last few weeks he had never been nasty or abusive to me and I can’t help but hold on to the hope, at the moment, that a psychologist will help him disassociate his fears of inadequacy and fears of being re-abused in a relationship from me….

    I will certainly keep you posted.



    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Anonymous –

      That sounds great. I think the counseling will help you a lot, and what you’ve added about your partner is encouraging.

      Thanks for the update. I wish you both the very best —


  22. Sarah says:

    Hi John,

    I am in a situation where my depressed boyfriend has broken up with me….he had depression before I met him and I suspect through out our relationship (18 months). When we met I think the depression subsided but reared it’s head again shortly after he asked me to move in with him (along with depression he has some issues from a previous relationship that have left him scared of commitment). We then had 7 months of him being tearful and low and isolating from friends. Anti-Ds began to work then he stopped them for no reason….went into a big crash in terms of mood and went from the tearful depressive to completely unfeeling, emotionally dead. Final break up he said that he doesn’t love me and I was the pressure he was feeling….. My question is this, can a man come back to a relationship after something like this? His friends have said he is seeking help from a psychologist and recognises he needs anti-Ds (but not yet got back on them), he is exercising again as well. I know it’s the depressed that is clouding his judgement and that ultimately he doesn’t love /feel anything so I fall into this category. I guess the difficulty for me is that when the depression had subsided he wanted the serious relationship and he was able to rationalise his issues (damage from previous relationship and some identify issues following end of a sporting career).

    I understand that the only thing I can control at the moment is myself but I can’t help but keep a little hope that should he seek the help he needs that his ‘feelings’ may return?

    Thanks Sarah

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Sarah –

      Sorry for the long delay in responding — Yes, it’s possible that his feelings may return, at least the ability to feel in general, after a period of his being emotionally dead. Hopefully, he will get regular treatment in the form of therapy as well as with meds. But there’s no easy answer about whether he’ll get better or how long his recovery might last. A lot depends on his willingness to go beyond meds – if he does start taking them again – work with a therapist and also do a lot of self-help on his own.

      Whether the subsiding of depression would mean he’d want to resume the relationship is something you can’t really predict. The discouraging part is his trying to pin the depression on you and “the pressure he felt.” It sounds like he has a long way to go in acknowledging the nature of his depression and the need for help to deal with it.

      There’s not much you can do except take care of your own pain over this experience and work on the question of whether this is the right relationship for you.

      My best –


      • Anne says:

        Wow I must say this is my storey coming out of someone else’s mouth,I wonder what the outcome came to be?..My ex fiancée has admitted he has a drinking issue and has stopped it,and has been seeing a therapist but he wont do the medication thing,he feels if he gives it over to the Lord it will work its way out…Can people with manic depression really make it a healthy life without meds??

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Hi, Anne –

          I can’t say if handling manic depression depends on meds – generally the more severe the condition, the more effective and important the medication becomes. Bipolar is supposed to result from a “disease process,” as they like to say, that does respond to specific drug treatment, while that’s not at all clear for unipolar depression. On the other hand, I hear from many people with a bipolar diagnosis who are working things out without drug treatment. I have my doubts that giving bipolar over the Lord, as the principal strategy, would get the job done. Therese Borchard, who writes the blog Beyond Blue at BeliefNet, depends a lot on her Catholic faith to keep going through bipolar, addiction, and suicidal tendencies, but she also depends on medication, numerous other techniques and has been hospitalized for her worst episodes. I think it’s important to be open to everything that might help.


  23. Wiggle says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for this site. This and have been my two support sites over the past year.
    I’ve read both of your posts on ‘recover life from depression’. I’m in a slightly different situation; havng co-habited with him in his house, I was the one asked to leave, and that was confused. First he’d wanted me out for ages, then was wasn’t sure, then he asked me to pack up stuff, then he wasn’t sure…I think we’ve had the longest break-up in history (at least my sense of irony is intact!).

    I ended up having to ask him for no contact as what there was from his side was infrequent, self-centred and hurtful. I still have feelings for this man (why, damn it?!) but I felt I had to preserve what was left of my self-esteem after years of his hyper-criticism, and he was doing a good job of sabotaging that! He seemed to want a human punching-bag to verbally vent his frustration on, and yet simultaneoulsy wanted help from me and blamed me for not being able to make him feel better. Hell, if I could have…I hate this disease.

    Having thought long and hard about this, logically a new woman is going to be the easy option for him. We weren’t married, no children. He’s in total denial despite all the classic symptoms of dysthmia (your paragraph above re. staring at nothing hit a real chord with me, he has frequently said he can ‘stare at nothing for England’). A new woman will not have seen the ‘dark side’, therefore it will be easier for him to pretend / deny he has one, and preserve the hope that an outside influence such as a new relationship, can ‘fix’ him. So I don’t hold out much hope of ever being in a postition to try to re-build things.

    I am so impressed with your self-awareness, acceptance of and determination to – well, reading your posts perhaps ‘beat depression’ isn’t the right phrase, maybe ‘stay well’? I believe that’s 90% of the battle. Unfortunately it’s not a battle he’s prepared to face, and I can’t fight it for him.

    As an aside; I asked (ok, wailed!) at my (male) GP; why are there so many women seeking help with depressed men, when statistically there are more depressed women? And he replied without hesitation; ‘Because when it comes to mental health, men stick their heads in the sand’.

    Thank you again,


    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi –

      I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this, but it sounds like you’ve survived with a lot more than just your sense of irony (though that’s pretty important). You have a lot of resilience to hold onto any self-esteem after serving as his punching bag for so long. I hope you keep going in your new life and get him as far behind as possible.

      Your comment is very timely for me. Your words capture exactly what I’ve been trying to write for the next post – how do people in this position begin to heal, how do they change attitudes about themselves to overcome the damage of living with a manipulative and depressed partner?

      I’m so glad this blog has been of some help. I’ve been spending time at Depression Fallout too – there’s so much to learn at that site.

      Thanks for commenting – please stay in touch.


  24. Liz says:

    It takes time. Like John’s wife, caution is the name of the game. The insecurity within myself and the ups and downs of the relationship left me vulnerable and weak. You just don’t know if, as John states, it’s a “false-start”. You always think when is the shoe going to drop again. My partner is my love and my best friend so I have patience and, we have both learned to live in the moment. Do we discuss the future? Yes. Do we dwell in it? No. That’s what works for us. I just hope with each depressive episode we move thru (and it is remarkably similar to you John), that we become stronger. I know we have a long way to go but similar to you, we are much more sensitive to possible triggers. We don’t disregard them but are honest with each other–especially me to him. Sometimes he can’t see or realize that a depressive episode is upon him…sometimes he doesn’t want to see it. I have tremendous faith and hope for us as a relationship and for him with someone with a chronic illness. He has so much to give and I will always love him.

  25. I think that monitoring and maintaining your physical and mental health would be a good place to start.

    Breaking bad habits like not getting enough sleep, vitamins, or exercise would also be beneficial.

  26. Sinisa Janicijevic says:

    Great article but it takes two for tango. What if your partner doesn`t want to talk about the problem but she or he is avoiding any conversation? You feel that you have a problem in relationship but she or he doesn`t want to talk about that.

    • John says:

      Hi, Sinisa –

      You’re right, of course – it takes two. There isn’t much you can do if your partner blocks you out completely. I wrote about this problem in two posts recently at my new site, Recover Life from Depression. They’re here and here. No magic answers there, but I look closely at problems in communicating.


  27. Anonymous says:

    I think one thing to always be aware of is that mental health issues can always come back. Thus, it’s best to be mindful of taking care of your mental health as one would do with their physical health.

    Good read!


    • John says:

      Hi, David –

      It is good to be mindful of health, but under stress with a partner many put themselves last.

      I like your blog and look forward to reading it regularly.


      • Sharon says:

        Thank you all for your comments. They are really helping me feel like I’m not losing my mind and out here alone. My husband and I have been together for over 20 years. He’s battled depression on and off throughout our relationship. In the last 3 years I thought he had really turned a corner and had made significant progress in managing his disease. He had just completed a degree and gotten a great job, he was feeling proud about his work and seemed engaged in what he was doing. Granted, that engagement had not yet shown up in our relationship, but I thought it was just a matter of time.
        He has never been one to identify his feelings, let alone share them with me. But we were spending more time together & weren’t fighting about trivial things. I continually expressed my pride in his accomplishments and even planned a surprise trip abroad to celebrate all he achieved.
        Which he promptly cancelled. And one afternoon everything blew up. I had a “feeling” something was wrong. I received a call at my office from a man asking if I knew my husband was having an affair. Apparently it was the other woman’s husband. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but my husband admitted to the whole thing. He says that he was so depressed that he was just looking for “something/ anything” to make him “feel”. The logical part of me understands what he’s saying, the emotional side struggles everyday. I have been there for over 20 years supporting him- NO- often times carrying him and our entire family when he couldn’t even function. I had made every attempt to be emotionally and physically connected to him- with no response. But he says it’s his depression that caused him to find these things outside our marriage? When I had been wanting, willing and more than able to provide everything (and probably more) than this other person? He’s adamant that the whole thing wasn’t about sex. In fact he claims that he had ‘performance issues’ while with her, they managed but he says it wasn’t what it was about. It was about the feelings that the whole thing gave him in the moment. Yet now he says he’s left with feelings of guilt, shame and disgust for himself.
        I wonder would he if he hadn’t been caught? He says he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to hurt me and that he had ended it the weekend before I found out. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist and we are in marriage counseling. So, he’s doing some heavy lifting to get healthy.
        But…. I’m filled with doubt.
        I doubt that I’m strong enough to forgive him fully, to stand by him while he slogs through this horrible disease and gets healthy, I doubt that he will see it through, I USED to believe that no matter what WE could conquer anything because we had each other. Now, I’m not so sure. Do we? Have each other? It’s one thing to battle depression and the horrible damage it brings. It’s one thing to support someone that is going through depression and the horrible damage it brings. But now.. I’m trying to keep myself from fraying apart. I don’t think I can support him the way he needs me to.
        Has anyone gone through this with a depressed spouse/ partner? I’ve read that depressed people are much more likely to commit adultery, but I’ve not heard from anyone on the topic. Any words of advice from someone that has traveled this road would be deeply appreciated. It’s a pretty dark and lonely road. I’d appreciate some lights to help me find my way.

        • Amy says:

          I cant advise you on anything to do with this but all i want to say is i am sorry this has happened to you and i hope you find peace.

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