When should I worry?(38 Posts)
Hi, I have NC for this.
My boyfriend and I are in our early twenties and are both at universities in nearby cities. We’ve only been together since the summer but it’s been going well and we have quite a few things planned for the future.
However, I’ve gone home for Easter break to complete a placement and I haven’t heard from him since the weekend. We usually talk every day and would see each other 2/3 times through the week and also at weekends during term time. I really don’t think he is ghosting me.
He had been struggling recently, not going to lectures, not completing work etc and has gone through periods of not replying but never for this long (usually a day or so max). In the past he’s said he did so because he was ashamed of not going to uni etc.
I honestly think he’s depressed and I’m worried about him. I’ve messaged and called a few times and left messages asking him just to let me know that he’s okay, that I’m not annoyed or angry, I just care about him. I’ve only sent a couple of messages and have been careful not to bug him.
What should I do next? I don’t know his parents and we aren’t friends on social media, would it be too far to message them? (He doesn’t live with them). Am I naive and I’ve really been ghosted? Or am I being stupid and he’s probably just busy and I should give him some time. I wouldn’t be so worried if it wasn’t so out of character for him/he wasn’t struggling. He’d usually message morning and a few times at night at bare minimum and has only ever ignored me when feeling low, never to manipulate or hurt me.
Am I being ridiculous?
Like I said, I wouldn’t shake him really and I know he can’t help it. It’s just he’s so capable and can do it yet he can’t!. I probably could’ve done with a good shake to snap out of my low moods but sometimes I need everything set out straight and bluntly to me, he’s different.
I know he’s not doing it on purpose as no one would miss deadlines intentionally but still want to do well at their degree. I’ll encourage him to speak to his GP but there’s only so much I can do from so far away.
Try and get him to go to his GP and discuss medication, while he's waiting on the waiting list.
No shaking please, OP! It will only make him feel more disconnected. Depression is a serious illness; not something you "snap out of". Having suffered with depression from childhood through to my 30s, with several attempts at suicide, I know what it feels like. It's the absolute worst. It's hell. Your bf needs professional help asap. Until he gets it, be as supportive as you can without condemnation or irritation. You're in a difficult position, with your own life to get on with. I would definitely get in touch with his parents.
I’ve had a message to say that he’s okay and that he tried to get help by booking an appointment today but was dismissed and told he needed to join the waiting list to see student services. He’s filled the form in so that’s something. But I think he’s feeling disheartened as it was a big step for him.
I’d say my anxiety is controlled now, I don’t think I suffer more than the average person. All my friends on the same course get about as stressed, if not more stressed around exams which is my main cause of stress.
Thank you for everyone’s suggestions, I’m not planning to leave him as I know he’s not doing it on purpose although sometimes it hurts when he doesn’t even want to talk to me. I know we’re not married or anything, and haven’t been together for a long time yet, but I’m going to stick by him and try and help him for as long as he’s also trying to make progress. I would say he can be dependent on me at times but when he’s feeling okay he plays sports 3 times a week and attends other hobbies too. He just seems to have no inbetween, he’s doing everything or nothing at all (not suggesting BPD or anything though).
Sometimes I feel like giving him a shake as he’s so capable of everything he wishes to achieve but I know that wouldn’t help and a massive hug would be the better way to go. I’d give him one if he wasn’t so far away!
It sounds from your most recent posts like he is dependent on your being there to stop him feeling the worst of his depression/anxiety/whatever it is.
Which isn't healthy.
I'm not entirely sure what advice is given under that circumstance but, I would still contact uni for the welfare check and explain how he is when you're not there, and the concerns about how he is coping whether you're together or apart.
Because there is all sorts available at student welfare. I accessed it a lot a few years ago when I studied at uni. I had talking therapies and support with dealing with things both uni related and outside uni.
Feeling numb is a very normal symptom of depression.
Have you heard from him since? Is it seasonal depression aswell? He sounds like he's a good guy but you can't keep feeling responsible for his welfare at times like these. It sounds a bit mean though especially since he knows you have anxiety etc
The only negative during term time is that he wants to spend a lot of time with me and I want the same but I physically can’t do it. I can commit to weekends and a few evenings a week (to watch Netflix and sleep really, not until after 9pm Ish) but only if I do extra work other nights but that’s a downside to the degree, I guess.
Honestly, during term time I get a lot from it.
He’s caring and gets me better than other people do, is amazing at handling my revision/exam stress and helped me so much for my last set of exams. I like to ‘be tested’ with flash cards etc and he spent hours going over content I needed to know which was useful academically but it was also so lovely just to have him there supporting me. He helped me find confidence in myself and my abilities.
We get on amazingly well, I’m always laughing when I’m with him and each day just feels better. I keep a mood journal and log how each day went, it’s part of my mindfulness and since we got together most of my days are ‘amazing’ or ‘good’, I rarely have a bad day.
Most importantly, I feel safe.
He respects me and my body which is very important to me after my past and he has never even come close to crossing any boundaries I have when it comes to intimacy. He’s always reading my face and can just tell how I am.
However, the same happened during the Christmas holidays, he really struggled and hardly talked to me and I worried a lot. This happens when we’re apart, not when we’re together. It also wasn’t to this extent last time. I may not have painted him in the best light for the first part of the thread but he is honestly brilliant when I can see him face to face. I just need him to take that step to help himself and I’m happy to support him as long as he keeps me in the loop.
I appreciate he has really down days but what do you get from this relationship apart from worrying??
I’m coping quite well but should be consolidating some of my university work when I’m actually trying to figure out if he’s okay! So it’s distracting me but not affecting me too much mentally other than the worry, obviously.
I haven’t heard from him again today when he promised he’d contact someone about this. So I don’t know if he has or if he’s in bed again.
I study a full time degree (think medicine) and his often isn’t so full on (but is still a science degree so difficult) so he likes to spend time with me and I feel guilty when I genuinely don’t have the time to see him 4 times in a week!
I shared the information with him more to say “I’ve been there and I’m now okay” not that I was struggling too. I can still be anxious at times but have come on leaps and bounds and don’t need any help with it. I recognise when things are getting too much, give myself some time (e.g. an evening off revision) and then go back to it with a clear head and a plan how to tackle things.
I love him but he just needs to make this step to get help because he can’t help himself and I can help him but I can’t fix him.
So sorry you’ve had such a difficult time . I think telling him about your past was done in a supportive way and you definately aren’t the cause of any of this . It sounds like you have been a great support to him. You do have to look after yourself tho and not put your own health at risk bearing the responsibility.
I’m glad you have able to discuss suicidal thoughts with him . It’s better when these things are out in the open.
Do continue to encourage him to seek help.
His parents sound caring if they contact him every day. Maybe they don’t understand depression. It can be easy to put it all down to laziness when someone is so lacking in motivation. It’s a vicious circle when he can’t manage uni and then doesn’t go - then probably beats himself up about it all . Your involvement clearly helps him at the time but isn’t breaking the cycle . He needs to talk to a Gp, someone from the uni or his parents. It can be very hard to take this step tho - keep pushing him .
And as I said before - if you are really worried then you may have to break his trust and make the decision to speak to someone else yourself about it. You would be doing that to help him, even if he didn’t see it that way at the beginning.
Have you got anyone you can discuss it with irl .Please take care of yourself too
I’ve asked him in the past about suicidal thoughts and he said he doesn’t feel like that, he just feels numb and nothing at all.
I went through a period as a teenager where I was self harming and thought about suicide but as soon as I got close to attempting it it was like a switch flicked and I realise I didn’t want to die I just wanted to be out of the situation. Mine stemmed from being anxious though and although I didn’t tell my parents or anyone I somehow managed to drag myself out of it, mostly using a buddy system online (can’t remember it’s name). Hindsight suggests that although my situation was hard and I relapsed after a sexual assault when I was 18 and started drinking a lot (which just looked normal as I was in my first year at uni) I was no where near as bad as he is. Which is scary as I know how low I was and I still managed to get to school/sixth form/uni every day and completed all assignments on time (often a week early etc) I think it’s because I was so anxious about failing, whenever it mattered I got my act together quickly.
He does have a good relationship with parents but I think they’re getting annoyed that all he does all day is play video games. They haven’t seen him for months since they’re so far away but contact him every day.
I’m sometimes scared that i caused part of it, like he’s scared to upset me as he knows about my past. I only told him as I felt it would show there’s nothing to be ashamed of. He already knew about the sexual assault as I felt it was important to tell him before our relationship progressed to that level incase I needed to stop etc. I don’t know if the problem is that he worries about me or something. At the same time I think that’s probably inflating my importance in the situation.
I know he needs help and I’ve said his for weeks but he’s really struggling with asking for it. He says he feels better when he’s with me as I get him out and we do things then decides he’s ‘better’ then as soon as the week starts and he’s back at uni he doesn’t go! I’m just hoping he makes an appointment today.
If he is depressed then he won’t want to speak to anyone and it is absolutely no reflection on you . Clinical depression is not like feeling fed up and down . Whatever you decide in the longer term he will benefit from your support just now,
It’s a big responsibility for you to have . As a parent I would absolutely want to know if my child was feeling this way and would see it as my place to step in to try to get the support. Does he have a good relationship with his parents and do you know if they would be supportive to him,.
I understand he is an adult but peo0le who are very depressed sometimes do withdraw and are unable to make good decisions for themselves. They can feel hopeless about there being any way out of the situation. You risk his annoyance if you contact his parents ( and it does depend their relationship with him) but maybe he can’t reach out to them himself because he worries about the mess he’s in and letting them down. Speaking to them might help to relieve the negative cycle he is in .
It’s also ok to ask about suicidal thoughts-it can help people to open up. If you think he is feeling as bad as that you should definately contact someone.
If he's genuinely lying in bed and feeling like shit it's not a reflection on you, he's poorly and needs help but you need to know he's doing what he can to get better and that starts with seeing a professional.
Thanks for our reply. It did make me think.
He said that he didn’t want to speak to anyone, including me. I know he’s feeling low but it just suggests that he doesn’t care about how I’m feeling. I’m not going to break up with him but is this a symptom of the ‘condition’ (I don’t know if he does have depression etc but it’s highly likely) he’s suffering or does it say more about how he really views our relationship?
Sorry. Cross post - glad you've heard from him!
Personally - I'd message him and say: "hey, I'm really starting to worry about you. Fair enough if you need your space, but just let me know so I can stop panicking. No judgement about attending class or anything, I just need to know you're ok".
If he doesn't reply to that - I'd break up with him. Honestly - because if he can't even spare five seconds to let you know he's alive, he doesn't care about you or your mental well-being.
I wouldn't message parents / uni yet. I'd send a text similar to above and see what happened.
He promised he’d book an appointment tomorrow but time will tell if he actually goes through with it. It’s so hard being so far away
That doesn't sound good, OP. You should really try and get him to the doctor or a counsellor, or at least let his parents know.
Managed to get in touch with him.
He’s been lying in bed for days feeling awful apparently. And I’ve managed to convince him to speak to a professional. Still worried but thankful he’s ‘okay’.
Thanks for the great suggestions everyone
I would reach out to his friends. I'm not sure what the University can do due to GDPR theyre not really permitted to even confirm he's a student there. You might be able to ask the accommdation manager to do a welfare check?
I'd definitely message a flatmate on Facebook and just ask them to let you know he's OK. I don't think you're overreacting S this is out of character for him.
He lives with flat mates but I don’t know them other than first names and we are not friends on social media. My friends all study the same course as me and are all on placements around the country, I’m currently over 200 miles away from him.
I suppose I could Facebook search his friends list to message flatmates and if not contact his university tomorrow.
I just didn’t know if I was overreacting as I do tend to be anxious!
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