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Three choices(17 Posts)
Ok. I started seeing this lovely guy three months ago. Fantastic start, great promises for something wonderful, good banter, good sex, shared values etc. but we've hit a speed bump. He is having a (somewhat mild) depressive episode and it has thrown me. It has nothing to do with me, more years of stress at work finally taking their toll. He has been signed off work for the last 4 weeks but his mood is still low. I want to be there for him, help him feel good and be there to support him getting better but this is going to go one of three ways:
He gets better and we live 'happily ever after'
I support him, be there for him and he turns around and says 'the timings no good, sorry stripedthing'
It takes him ages to get better, I get upset and then he gets resentful. I leave/he chucks me.
The problem is that I do like him, but he hasn't really 'given' me anything emotionally. I feel slightly desolate. We haven't been going out long enough for either party to 'owe' the other one but do I stick around in the hope that it's option a - or do I just get with the programme now?
You cannot mend him. You cannot make him better. It is not your fault.
If you are going to continue this relationship, please go into this with your eyes wide open. Depression is a rotten miserable illness and he will retreat into himself and may not have any strength left for you.
I am eternally grateful for my kind, strong, calm husband, who understands my depression and knows it is not his problem (in the nicest way). A loving partner can have a positive effect, and on a practical level, make sure I eat and wash etc. But we have been married for 25 years and have worked out a way of dealing with it.
Thank you. My finger is hovering to send the break up message. I know it doesn't have anything to do with me (thanks for reiterating) but I feel on edge that it is about me. I worry about it too much
Dating is meant to be fun. Boyfriends are meant to bring something positive to your life, not drag you down or make you feel responsible for their happiness. If you've been getting nothing emotionally from him already I would suggest you keep in touch if you like him, but otherwise get on with your own life, keep up with your friends and let him get better in his own time.
Do you think you had given him something emotionally prior to the depressive episode starting? In other words, was the imbalance in the relationship already there?
Is this a regular thing for him, i.e. has he had episodes before and come back out of them? There's a big difference between someone who is managing their depression and someone who is either in denial or who uses this MO to lure in kind-hearted people like you.
Please look very carefully at what Norks is saying. You seem to have a rescuer thing going on. You cannot make him feel better, depression is a clinical condition. Supporting someone else through a long term condition is not something to be undertaken lightly, on the basis of a few months of good times.
Why are you struggling with the idea it might be about you? The rescuer thing can be about low self-esteem - the rescuer needs to make the other person well in order to feel better about him/herself.
If this is his first (acknowledged) depressive episode, and/or he isn't working with his mental health team I would be extremely cautious if I were you.
It's one thing to stand by a life-partner in an illness; one you've made vows to and committed to.
It's another thing altogether when it's someone you've only known a short while.
To be honest, it doesn't sound like he is in the right place to even be getting into a relationship, so he hasn't been completely fair to you. However, I know these things are never black and white. It's now your decision to make.
Thank you for your replies, everything is completely valid. Yes, I do feel like I have to rescue him - and I'm not sure why really. I do have some soul searching to do. I have no problem putting in the effort and sticking by him, I just couldn't bear if I did that and he turned his back on me later. I think that's what I am the most afraid of. Thanks for posting
The trouble is, it can't be like that. It's not a reward game - you stick by him, he gives you a happy relationship in return. And it's not a game of obligation - you stick by him and he can't leave you later.
You can't fix this guy. It's not fair to him to tie your happiness to his recovery.
I didn't say I was doing that - interesting interpretation, though. No one is responsible for my happiness but myself.
Perhaps I should have said your happiness within the relationship.
I was in a similar situation and after loads of faffing around, I went with option 3. That is to say, they never really got better and are not better a year and a bit on since the start of the episode, and despite protestations that they would be okay quickly I could see it wasn't going to happen (complex reasons on their part) and that I had to bail. It was a very hard thing to do but I haven't regretted it, and am now with someone who enhances my life rather than sapping the energy and joy from it.
I think I would bail, on the basis that he hasn't given you anything emotionally. It's far from clear he's either going to recover quickly or indeed want to be with you when he does, and at present he's not emotionally available so how are you going to build those bonds/ties that take you on to the next level. I would let him get better first, before attempting to start a relationship in the middle of his depressive episode (it might be different if you were a year in and could see that the promise might actually become a reality)
I think it depends on what is causing the "depressive episode" I suffer from depression and it can be devestating to relationships. My DP and I have been together for 20 years now and i do think that had i been like this at the begining or we didn't have a child together he would have walked away. It is utterly draining illness.
Of course, if you leave him, you'll be kicking him while he is down - so i understand your dillema, but you know what, it may be better for him in the long run. Have you spoken to him about this at all? I think you should? Maybe suggest that you being in his life may complicate his recovery?
Be honest with him, its all you can do really
Has he suffered from depression before? If so, he's likely a cyclical depressive. The regularity of the recurrences vary, but some people have several a year. This can be VERY hard on a partner, as well as the depressive.
Is he 'in treatment' i.e does he take medication and/or does he engage in CBT or another talking treatment? This can make a difference, but neither are likely to be 'cures' unless this is genuinely a one-off episode and he's actively dealing with the cause and putting measures in place to ensure he's unlikely to have a recurrence.
Either way, you can't fix him, and unless you're able to make peace with this illness and find your own accommodation with it I can't see the happy ending you're hoping for. You can't make this go away - you have to accept that. Your being caring and loving or whatever is not going to effect what's going on. He has a chemical imbalance in his brain.
Yes, of course you are right. I think I knew what I had to do, just don't want to 'kick him when he's down' as you say. It's a shame, because he is lovely. Thanks for this
If this is as you say mild depression causes by work stress, it sounds like situational depression ie caused by a particular situation. And he must have seen his GP to be signed off for a month - have ADs or counselling been suggested? And if they have, is he following the doctor's recommendations? It's really important that he's helping himself here.
From what you have posted, I really don't think this situation is all doom and gloom in the long run provided the source of the stress is removed ie he finds a new job or some changes are made at work.
Providing everything else is good, I'd be very tempted to give it a little longer, encourage him to seek possibilities to change the work situation, and see how you go. It seems an awful shame to throw away a promising relationship on the basis if one mild episode of depression. I think the advice would be very different if he were laid up for six weeks with a broken leg. There's a lot of misunderstanding about MH issues and mild depression is enormously common.
OhWesternWind - that is an excellent post - OP, please talk to your DP to find out if this is an ongoing thing. You could be missing out ona chance of long term happiness.
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