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My depressed BF is pushing me away

(30 Posts)
lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 10:26:23


My boyfriend has been depressed for the past three months following the death in January of his brother.

He's losing weight and drinking isolating himself. It is not like he is sitting there drinking and crying all day, he still goes to work and does activities but he is just different and I don't know what to do or how to handle it.

I have suggested bereavement counselling and he palms me off. I think he acts "normal" in front of everyone else but finds it harder in front of me so he has been avoiding me and has thrown up an emotional wall between us.

Some weeks he is normal sort of with me, and then weeks pass where he won't see me or speak to me or even reply to texts for days and at times even weeks.

I have tried to give support as much as I can but he pushes me away and seems to be behaving in ways to almost try and force me to end the relationship.

His behavior is sometimes really selfish, which is nothing like him, and he often seems to not care at all if he does hurtful things to me.

He constantly says how beautiful / wonderful I am and how I deserve better and how he is not good enough for me and this is nothing like the person I knew. He was so confident and optimistic.

He avoids seeing me, avoids intimacy, he doesn't talk to me about what is going on in his head, he won't let me see him cry and at the same time he tells me I am his reason for waking up in the morning - his last happy thing but he seems to have no idea why I love him.

I have taken the tact of trying to just flow with whatever his moods are. When he wants to speak to me and see me, I do that and try and make it easygoing and fun and when he wants to isolate himself I sent a text a day or so.

Each time he ignores me I feel completely heartbroken and confused. Sometimes I text him, and he will be online on whatsapp for hours and not even read my message. It's knocking me down every time he does that and I cry and feel like walking away but he doesn't seem to want me to do that.

Can anyone help?

I really love him.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Thu 28-Jul-16 10:38:55

He needs to see his GP. This may initially have been grief but it has very definitely tipped over into depression. There is nothing you can do besides what you are already doing (which is great) other than try and get him to see a doctor.

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 10:43:19

I don't think he will see his GP.

Do you really think it is proper depression and not just a phase of grief? He is working normally, doing a lot of activities but these mood swings /drinking / weight loss / negativity is the problem.

He won't let me close, he thinks I am going to leave him.

whateverrrr Thu 28-Jul-16 10:51:36

It has only been 6 months and it sounds like he is struggling to comprehend everything. It's early days still and he is dealing with it in his own way.
How long have you been together?

spookyelectric Thu 28-Jul-16 11:03:16

lookingglasses you sound like a really loving and dedicated girlfriend. Your BF is very lucky to have such a kind person looking out for him. It does sound like the grief has tipped into depression - many depressed people can be quite normal and jolly at work etc but come home and fall apart ("leaving their fiddle at the door "- as people used to say when I was a child.

The GP can assess if your B is depressed, prescribe drugs and get him on the waiting list for counselling. Would he go if you accompanied him there, made the appointment for him etc ? I got my DP there by doing this, telling him how worried I was etc. (I spoke to the GP beforehand and he advised I book a "double appointment" so there was time to talk properly). However, my DP ultimately did not take the medication. The sad thing is your B needs to want to get better for himself. I don't know your age or his family situation- but do his parents know how he is feeling? Would they help?

The best thing to do for yourself - is to be your own best friend - cosset yourself and try to "detach" mentally (easier said than done) from the situation. I found reading the Depression Fallout books by Anne Sheffield helpful and the online forum (general discussion) associated with it.

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 11:04:05

3 months isn't very long in terms of grief. It seems his sense of security has also been massively shaken and he is losing perspective etc.
I think you should read up on grief a bit. He might have out of character rages at nothing and so on.
I think you should work out something to say to him along the lines of:
"What has happened is a tragedy and there isn't a right way to deal with it. It doesn't mean that everything is under threat. You are safe with me and I am not going anywhere. You don't have to feel guilty or ashamed of anything you feel or don't feel, anything you could have done, but didn't. I am here for you and I won't judge you. I am holding your hand"
Hopefully he might feel more safe and ready to tell you how you can support him after that.
Good luck op xx

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 11:05:36

We have been together 7 months, so only a month before his brother passed away. At first it brought us closer and then he slipped into this phase of pushing me away and it is better sometimes and then worse and it almost feels like we have never had a normal relationship.

I do love him and really want to be with him but it's emotionally draining to be pushed away and rejected all the time.

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 11:11:39

I am sorry I didn't see the last messages when I posted.

I think he would rather have needles in his eyeballs than have me see him "weak" or going to the GP. He would literally hate that and would rather never see me again. He's terribly proud and his Dad was never around and Mum died last year. I think he is very ashamed as he feels he isn't coping right. thank you for the links, I will look.

It has actually been six months. The first three he was actually okay. Strangely it got worse and not better. He is a little better now. I think I am just so wrung out.

He's not been speaking to me for a week, I get the full blown silent treatment and I know he is in pain but it makes me suffer too and I feel really sad about the whole thing.

I have felt almost like walking away, I mean, if he does not want intimacy then I am not sure what else to do but at the same time I don't want to lose him and also don't want him to feel like I left him.

All he keeps saying when he has had a drink is that everyone he loves leaves him. I feel I am being forced to prove something over and over.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Jul-16 11:13:32

you need to lay it on the line that he needs to seek counselling and support.
he cant cope with this tragic life event on his own.
you cant cope with him on your own.

he has suffered a bereavement.
he is finding it difficult to be himself.
that is totally a normal reaction - but he needs professional help. just like you would likely need some professional bereavement counselling in a similar situation. I am assuming he and you are young and the brother was young so it would have been some kind of total shock.

if he had broken his leg you would insist he got xray and medical help.

do you know anything about his history, has he had mh issues before?

if it is purely this bereavement triggering the depression symptoms then with therapy and support he could very easily get "back to normal" and develop coping strategies as time goes on. of course he will still be sad but he would be supported.

if he has a history of depression/low mood etc then it is even more important he gets professional support to deal with the bereavement. or it could spiral further.

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 11:18:12

That makes it a bit tougher OP. Perhaps you could say:
"What has happened is a tragedy and there isn't a right way to deal with it. It doesn't mean that everything is under threat. You are safe with me and I love you. But I am feeling rejected and worn down because it seems that you've built a wall around youself. I wish you'd let me in - you don't have to feel guilty or ashamed of anything you feel or don't feel, anything you could have done, but didn't. I am here for you and I won't judge you. I am holding your hand"
That could open things up a bit maybe.

I don't think you need to think further ahead than having that conversation. From his response you will find out what to do next.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Jul-16 11:21:24

you could also yourself ring the bereavement helpline and talk it thru, talk through how you can help him [push him to] get the support he needs.
it is not weak to seek help.
it is recognizing your limits.

it is not fair on you to take all this on.
if you are planning a future with him, having children you need to know he is someone who will seek help when needed to deal with the challenges that life will throw at you both. it doesnt augur well if he refuses to listen or accept when he needs professional help.

tell him you want to be with him and support him but for the long term he needs to accept going to see gp/bereavement counsellor because hello he has suffered a massive bereavement and anyone in that situation would need professional support.

if he wont seek out help - then walk away. you cant help him.

it is a short relationship. you cant sign up for years and years of this.

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 11:22:25

Yes, his brother was only 38 and they were very close and saw each other constantly. It was his only family left.

He has absolutely no mental health history, he is a regular man, very successful with plenty of friends and a full life. There's no history at all of him being depressed or having problems.

I think he is also having anxiety attacks because he is saying sometimes he has shortness of breath and chest pains.

I can't emphasise enough how hard he is trying to pretend to me like he is fine. He mentions these things, like his weight loss or chest pains in a flippant joking tone in the middle of a conversation and most of the time he just tries to talk to me like nothing happened.

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 11:25:58

Sorry i keep on posting at the same time and not catching the posts above mine.

I do want to be with this man, and marry him. I got to know him very well very fast due to all that went on and he's about the best person I have ever met. Listening to how much he seems to hate himself is breaking my heart.

I have tried saying all those things, about how I feel and how he feels and how I am here but he is very stubborn. He seems to genuinely have a belief that relying on me puts him at risk of more pain, that I will surely leave him, that he will surely disappoint me.

The act of trying to convince him none of those things are true requires me to tolerate crappy treatment. Well I suppose if your boyfriend will not answer your text messages for a week then this is crappy treatment and not what I would normally ever tolerate but I feel like he needs me to.

I wish I could believe this was not about me, but the rejection is absolutely soul crushing.

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 11:28:07

Poor guy- his mum gone too. A whole load of stuff will have been stirred up there.
It is really tough to walk into that. Remember the first 3 months he was in shock/denial so it gave a false impression of where he was with things.
It is a huge responsibility to take on for you OP.
I still think you should have the conversation and see where it leads. It may bring you closer together or it might make you both realise that he is not in a good space for conducting himself well in such a new relationship.
Have the conversation though.

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 11:34:42

Do you think that if he is in a bad place to conduct himself in a new relationship, and that if I "let him go" so to speak now, that we might still have a chance at some time the future?

I am happy / on board with supporting him through his grief and being there for hard / tough times with him because I love him and that is no sacrifice for me - but I am not sure I can continue as I am.

I never see him, sometimes do not speak to him for weeks, he shuts me out completely emotionally and I feel alone, like I am failing, not good enough and all those things.

I also feel like the rejections, the silent treatment and all of it is chipping away at my spirit and might be bringing me down too.

Can I ask him?

I mean, is it selfish to ask him if he can be in a relationship with me and ask for what I need -which is to see him, have consistent communication and all of that.

I feel awful, don't want to lose him and he obsessively thinks I am going to meet someone else and leave him.

I feel like I can't win.

I also feel if I tell him how bad I feel that he will further blame / hate himself.

I think right now he's almost oblivious to how bad it makes me feel.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Jul-16 12:21:46

if he has no history of mh issues then it is a sign that this is something he really can be helped to wont be quick but it will be possible if he gets the right support.

you are not qualified to give that.

you just need to tell him that you are there for him but insist that he needs some professional help to deal with the bereavement.

"I am hurting for you too but I don't have the skills to really help you - please will you go to GP/bereavement counselling? I will come with you if you like, so we can get help together"

if he refuses to go to talk to someone and continues to treat you badly then you have no choice but to walk away if you want to keep your emotional health intact.

if he refused to get help for broken leg but then asked you to carry himself everywhere you would refuse.
he is suffering he is getting potentially very ill mental health wise and it is not your role or job to cure him. you cant - he has to get help.

spell it out" i want to support you but i dont know how, let me make an appt for you to go see gp/counsellor, i will come and wait outside for you" "if you wont get help then we have to end our relationship. "

if he then says he will kill himself, you are leaving him like everyone else, then you call 999 and get the help to him. dont hesitate to inform professionals including calling 999 if he texts you that he will kill himself.

if he says "see you are also leaving me" say "no I want to be with you but on condition that you seek some support because you have experienced a terrible loss [on top of your other losses] and you need professional counselling. get that help and i am right beside you"

my exp had history of mh issues and lost his mother it just spiralled til totally out of control. he did seek profressional help but for various reasons i could have managed it better from my side had i been better informed. and not made excuses for his behaviour...

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 12:25:07

OP I think it is best for both of you if he knows where he stands and doesn't just view himself as a victim of circumstance.
If you are really clear about the behaviours that make you feel rejected (avoiding you, not responding) it may actually come as a surprise and snap him out of it - effectively bringing attention to the fact that he does have some control over events in his life. -That by doing certain things and working at it you can be together. If on the other hand what you ask of him now is more than he can offer then you are giving him the option to take space for himself.
It should bring clarity and choices for him.

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 12:37:43

I just want to add - be calm and rational and don't indulge into emotional and irrational declarations. Eg if you say:
"I am finding it too trying to be rejected over and over like this"
And he responds with
"I knew you would leave me, just like everything I love or care about leaves me!"
Be calm. Say something like:
"I am not saying I am leaving you. But some things have to change because I can't toleate things the way they are"
Then he says
"You're just saying that - I know how this story goes, as soon as I think I can relax you'll be gone"
Remind him
"No, you have choices and influences in this. All I ask is that you a, b, c,. Do you feel able to do that so I can stay"
Keep it calm, keep it focused on finding a solution where you can both be as happy as possible.
Good luck x

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 12:39:45

I think the problem is that if he had a broen leg he would acknowledge it. He won't acknowledge really that there is a problem.

His tainted reality is his reality.

I am too good for him
I will leave him
I am out of his league
He is no good for me and will only disappoint me
People who come close to him leave or die

To him, this is just factual logic - not depression and he seems to forget he didn't feel that way beforehand at all.

I will try really hard and have the direct conversation you're suggesting. A little tricky right now when he's not speaking to me but he does usually come around.

TentPegsAndWetWipes Thu 28-Jul-16 12:49:16

Poor you OP. It is very frustrating. I think you'll be able to handle it well.
Take the time until you speak to him to define what your requirements are. What is the minimum you'll accept? What do you hope for? The more detail you have, the more clarity you'll bring, and the less confusion or likelihood for outcomes that neither of you want. Write it out in a letter to him but don't send it.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Jul-16 13:44:06

"You ve had a huge bereavement. Anyone woukd need help. Please get some professional support"

I agree the physical analogy doesn't help him as he cant see it but it should help you to see that nothing you do will fix him... it has to come from him. If you carry him along now and accept the terms as he sets then nothing will change

lookingglasses Thu 28-Jul-16 17:32:33

Thanks so much guys.

I think just a bit exhausted today.

the silent treatment is the bit that really does me in. I feel torn inside because half of me thinks "sod you", like going to get on with my life with someone who actually wants to act like my boyfriend

I get angry / frustrated / sad and worst of all just feel so rejected every time he does it.

I sent him a message this morning, and he just totally ignores me.

So horrible to have that

Lemonlady22 Thu 28-Jul-16 17:45:37

he needs help....he may refuse help as he feels he doesnt need need to tell him that YOU need help with how to cope with his feelings and ask him to go with you to some counselling... give cruse bereavement care a call and discuss your concerns..good luck

cestlavielife Thu 28-Jul-16 17:48:38

Look you have been together only 7 months not 7 years.
You have tried to reach him.
Leave him be and go and do your own thing.

wrenbot Thu 28-Jul-16 17:56:25

Sorry if this sounds harsh but could it be that your relationship is coming to its natural end and not that he is lost in grief? Just a thought. Sorry if it's not a nice thing to hear.

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