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How to support newish bf with depression(10 Posts)
Title says it all really - I've been seeing a lovely man for around three months now. He was upfront with me about having depression, which was brought on by having three bereavements and his marriage failing in the space of a few months. He'd been having counselling and this has now finished, he's been discharged and all was looking good. However, he has got really low over the last week or so, the run up to Christmas isn't helping and he doesn't want to see me (or anyone) which I am struggling with as I do feel pushed away and rejected. We talk on the phone and text a lot though. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can help to support him through this?
You are doing well so far.
When I have been depressed, if I have managed to drag myself out and see friends it does help - but oh what an effort to go! 'Who would want to see me like this?' were my thoughts.
Just reassure him that he can have a moan/cry on your shoulder anytime, but don't push it. Is he on any medication? It really can help.
Hi Silver and thanks for replying. He's not on any meds and doesn't want to go back to see his therapist as he's been discharged, think he sees it as a backward step.
I think he would be better for seeing a few people but I'm not going to push him on this, hard though it is. It can be so easy just to get into the mindset of not going out, not seeing people and it probably doesn't help things although it's the easier option at the time.
Hi OWW - it sounds to me like your bf definitely needs to see his GP asap.I am a sufferer of intermittent depression and it would be worse if I was not on meds. They were for me a life saver - no joke.
The thing is with depression is it is a deceitful horrid illness because it makes us think things about ourself that aren't true, and all we want to do is hide away (under the duvet) for me on very bad days. It makes us withdraw because we are ashamed to be feeling this way, and we think there should be something we should do to make us better, whereas we don't think this with a physical illness.
Loss is usually the root of depression and it sounds like you bf started therapy too soon. Mostly people need meds first to deal with the symptoms before they can benefit from therapy. The other thing is depression "ebbs and flows" and sometimes we feel ok and then plummet down again. When it is severe it is a real torment and I can quite understand why you bf doesn't want to see you or anyone else. It's no reflection of his feelings about you - it's to do with a need to withdraw. It's different with emails and texts etc because you don't actually have to see anyone. I have been able to type on here when I have been rock bottom and it's helped me through many a dark hour.
I think the best way to support him is to get as much info as you can (for you) from organisations like MIND and RETHINK, so that you will have a better understanding. Don't put any pressure on him expect that he should be seeing a GP. Ask him to write a list of his symptoms - they are usually things like: feeling sad most of the time/feeling there is no way of getting better/not worthy of anyone bothering about you/ashamed/hopeless/need to withdraw/no concentration/no interest in anthing/no motivation/bouts of crying/suicidal thoughts.
Depression (and anxiety which usually go hand in hand - (I call them evil twins!) affects people in different ways dependent upon the degree of the ilness or even your personality. There are many MNs on here who can "put on a smile" until they are safely home, and have to look after young children. I find it more or less impossible to do that on my bad days a I cry most of the time, but some people don't cry at all.
SO - stay by him - the last thing he needs now is another loss - ask him if he can tell you the symptoms in an e mail maybe - and above all do encourage him to go to GP and get meds. I know that for some reason lots of people dodn't want to go "down that route" but they can really help. The only thing is they react differently on different people and sometimes you have to try more than one to find the one that suits and they don't act straight away - take 2/3 weeks to kick in.
Thanks for replying Nina. I really don't think he will see his GP as he has worries about things going on his medical record. I've mentioned this to him but I am worried about pushing him/seeming to nag him about stuff so I am trying to tread lightly with things. He thinks things will improve after Christmas, which I can understand as it's a difficult time when you're on your own and also it will be the first Christmas for him without his family members.
Thank you for being so honest about how depression makes you feel. In a way it is good to know you feel the same, not that I would wish that on anyone, but that what he's feeling is typical for someone with depression. I am going to have to really sit on my instincts which make me want to see him and make sure he's okay, whereas that probably isn't what he needs at the moment. But I will stick with him, I've told him this several times but I am not sure if he thinks I will disappear, and listen to him and encourage him to talk about things as he wants to.
I'll look at the sites you recommend too - they sound very useful.
Yes I know what you mean - there is a sense of relief to know that others are having these wierd symptoms when depressed, and it's not that we want anyone else to suffer, but whatever we are going through in life, it's a relief to know that others are also affected.
Christmas is going to be very difficult for your bf because I think the whole thing about Christmas is that emotions (good or bad) are heightened with al this stuff about happy families. I reckon it's only like that on the TV ads!! Well not quite, but you know what I mean. January is a very busy time for organisations like Relate, with couples wanting to split up!
Yes you must continue to re-assure him you will not leave him but to be honest when we are so despairing, we can't ever believe that anything will get better (that's another damn trick A & D plays on us) If we break a leg, we know that it will take a few weeks but it will eventually mend. Brain disorder is not like that unfortunately.
Many people worry about "things going on their medical records" and this in a sense is understandable but such a great pity, because it means that the stigma of mental illness is alive and well! Is he off work at the moment? I'd be very surprised by what you say that he can manage a job.
Do you know his daily "routine" which is quite important even when we are rock bottom. When I am like this I don't want to get out of bed (and don't have to because I am retired) somehow the pain is less in bed but you do need to shower and clean teeth etc. I am fortunate that I have a brilliant close friend who I can ring on those days and she "stays with me" on the phone while i get up and "make" the journey to the bathroom! I promise myself I can go back if I need to (it's usually about mid day when I get up) once up I sort of take the day in chunks, I cry a lot and then lap top a bit and freak out if the door knocks or the phone rings, but DP always handles things.
I get a fair bit better in the evening and can enjoy a few hours of peace and the relief is wonderful.
I realise it is tricky for you because you haven't known him long, and don't want to seem too "pushy" but maybe you could gently ask about his day and is there any time in the day worse than another etc. Mornings are hell for me on bad days. Is there a way you could gently ask about this - I think if he knows you have some understanding of what he is going through it may be easier for him to open up a little. How long ago were these bereavements by the way? Does he have anyone in RL, close friend/relative who he trusts, and who could visit him. Doesn't sound like it. It is very fortunate that you are the sort of woman who is compassionate and wants to help him.
Don't feel you have to answer the questions I pose - it all just comes out of my finger tips!!
Hi Nina and thanks again for taking the time to reply. It's really helpful.
Christmas is really difficult - I'm finding it so myself being on my own with the children, and he's got that to contend with and all the "happy families" stuff as well as going through his first Christmas without some of his family as well as his ex. He is dreading waking up in the house by himself on Christmas morning.
He's not working at the moment as he is in the process of setting up his own business which is supposed to open in the new year. But I am not sure if he's able to keep on top of all that needs to be done at the moment, and again I don't like to ask in case things have slipped and it brings it all up and makes it seem worse. So he is at home all day generally by himself which isn't good. I think things are actually worse because he's not worked for a while and he misses the routine and sense of purpose. I don't think he is sleeping well either.
I will ask him about bad times - I think he is a bit like me and the empty evenings can be the worst but I'm not sure.
I've not been in contact with him since Monday when we had a long phone call. I've been waiting for him to get in touch with me because I didn't want to pester him but he hasn't done. So now I am really unsure whether to get in touch or wait for him to.
I'm finding this pretty difficult, all the normal relationship stuff and trying to second guess how the depression is affecting him as well . . . I just want to see him and make sure it's all okay but really don't want to push him on this one.
Sorry, that was a bit of a disjointed ramble. Thank you again and I hope you are feeling okay yourself at the moment ((()))
Hello OWW have the winter D & V thing - not nice but the worst is over just feel washed out now.
I wouldn't expect your bf to phone you. The last thing you feel like doing with depression is reaching out to someone. You feel so worthless you can't imagine anyone wnating to bother with you. I understand that you don't want to seen "pushy" but i think you are going to have to be a bit more directive with him, as sometimes you need this when depressed.
Can you let him know that you have empathy for the way he is feeling and know something about depression now. Can you strike a deal that you visit him for an hour or so over the christmas period (how old are your chdrn and have your got relatives or their dad toleave them with) as it's difficult to cope with kids when you are depressed. It's such a shame he won't see a GP as meds really can help.
Can you "talk" to each other on FB - again it's not so hard as having to face someone face to face. Give him a ring tonight and maybe avoid asking how he is, but let him know you are concerned about him and see ifyou can get him into conversation, as you did the other night. He probably feels better after a chat. Ask again if he would be willing to see his GP - you could offer to go with him, but be preapred to back off. Do you know if he has any other friends or relatives who can support him.
Maybe you could agree to "forget" Christmas this year and look forward to a better one next year - it really is a big con trick with people going into debt for presents ect and all this crap about "happy families" - I think many people dread it....
Hello Nana - hope you're feeling a bit better now. There's all sorts going round at the moment.
Well, things seem to have gone very positively over the weekend, he's been out exercising and has got some jobs tackled round his home AND he's arranged to see me tomorrow . . . I was very careful not to mention about seeing him, but he asked me so I am hoping he's up to it. I think we will need to have a chat about what's been going on over the last few weeks but I will try and keep it light.
This is the first time I have seen him so down since I first got to know him August/September time. Do you think it's possible to just "snap" out of a depression like he seems to have done or is it more likely that he's just putting a brave face on it and it's still there lurking underneath?
Oh I don't know OWW - in general it isn't really possible to "snap out" of depression, but it can fluctuate so that sometimes you feel better than others. This certainly happens with me, but I am on meds, so I suppose t's possible that this fluctuation can occur if you are not on meds. Some people can "put on a brave face" and it's lurking underneath and others can't, so there are no certainties really. As he's been doing things that don't involve others, exercising and getting jobs done round the house it doesn't sound like he has been putting a "brave face" on it, as he hasn't needed to.
I don't want to alarm you in any way, but sometimes people who get very energetic and positive and then dip down low again are suffering from bi-polar disorder, rather than uni polar disorder which is just depression. So yes do have a chat with him about how he's been feeling but watch out for any signs that he is too positive, taking on too many things, overly optimistic and if this is the case he really needs to see a GP as bi polar disorder is very treatable and is quite a common mental illness.
Hopefully he has simply turned a corner, but just thought I should sound a note of caution.