Want to help my boyfriend

Norwegianpoly

New member
I really want to help my boyfriend. For a couple of months, he has struggled with what seems to me like a mental breakdown or a depressive reaction. I can see a change, he himself says that "of course I don't want to be this way. I feel like I have lost myself", his brother visited and left today and made complaints about my boyfriend's mood/state of mind. He struggles with sadness, agressive outbursts, numbness and emotional distance.:(:confused:

Clearly his job has something to do with this. He has worked there for a long time, but the job is becoming physically harder to do and he transitioned to a middle-manager position where he ended up getting all the responsability/ scolding and none of the freedom/praise. Also he works every day in season which gets very draining -everyone at his job is tired now, but I think there is more to it. He plans to not take much holiay which I don't think is wise - at the same time he does have bills to pay and I am not sure that I can afford to do that for him.

The challenges are that I live far away and it is hard to help him. He is often tired, and when he is not, he is not always willing to talk. When I visit, I am starting to get affected by him - I simply feel rejected a lot of the time because he comes off as distant. I would really want him to get a physical and mental check up by his doctor (or rather the hospital - I don't think he has a regular doctor), but of course I can't make him do it. I will however visit him soon.

Our plans after his season is for him to have a tiny vacation with me, then work and study, then move to my country for a while to work and learn my language. I worry that if we don't adress his issue now, it may be larger in the future when all these changes will happen.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
 

KC43

New member
The only advice I can offer is keep being supportive of him, but take care of yourself first. If you're feeling rejected or hurt by the way he acts, step away for a bit. And while you can't *make* him go to a doctor, you can strongly encourage it. To me it sounds like he definitely needs a check up, at least. Maybe his brother can join forces with you to persuade your boyfriend to see a doctor?
 

Leetah

Member
I really feel for you. I was in the same position. It was not until my long distance love got so depressed that he scared himself that he sought treatment. Before that he felt he could not take the time out of his workday to see anyone and was used to just pushing through depression. I spent months trying to cope and spiraling down myself. Only when he found he was so far down that he could not face going to work or doing much of anything that he called the health service. I think my and my husband's nudges all along had at least gotten him to find out what he had to do to get help before he felt it was needed.

If your boyfriend is burned out by work and unhappy that your time together is so limited then his depression may lift when he changes his circumstances. If he is prone to depression generally then it may be something you all will have to deal with off and on in the future.

In my research on loving a depressed person one of the things I found helpful was the suggestion that one should make sure the person is reminded regularly that there is someone who needs them and would be seriously impacted if they gave up on themselves. When my love's behavior made me worry that he did not care for me any more he would tell me that I was his light in the darkness around him.

I also found this description of depression helpful.
http://www.drjoecarver.com/clients/49355/File/DEPRESSION - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.html

Leetah
 

vinsanity0

Active member
I am in the same position right now with Cat. It really makes me feel helpless sometimes. I did end up doing something similar to what Leetah mentioned. One of her complaints is she doesn't feel like part of my life anymore. I gave her some business related tasks to help me with. That may sound callous (it looks that way to me in writing) but I could tell she lit up when I did that. It made her feel needed and appreciated. It also made her feel like we were working toward a common goal.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
5HTP works wonders.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
Thank you, all of you. I really appreciate you thinking of me!

We had a good discussion about things today. We both hope that what has been the matter with him it is mostly reactive to his work conditions. His job will probably be over in 6 weeks and is already less intense, which gives us time to be more properly in contact. He promised to think about getting a physical check up. I felt he was more his old self today and also that he responds positive to me worrying about him.
 
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Leetah

Member
Vinsanity,
That may sound callous (it looks that way to me in writing) but I could tell she lit up when I did that. It made her feel needed and appreciated.

That is just the kind of thing they seem to mean. Many depressed people only resist total collapse or even suicide because they have a pet that needs them. So having a serious support task to do for someone she loves, as long as it is not too much for her level of depression, would help Cat on a number of levels.

Leetah
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Norwegianpoly,

Just glad to hear things have gotten a little better. You could wait a bit longer and see if they continue to improve; if they get worse again, I would try to encourage him to see a therapist, for counseling or meds or both.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
Thank you.

By the way, we have a cat that is with him. Our first cat died, but our new cat is actually our old cat's daughter. Also, recently a friend moved in with him in the flat. So he is not alone.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
UPDATE;

I have made up my mind - I do think he is depressed or having a depressive reaction of some kind.

We were planning our anivesery and, I thought, only looking at the logistics, when he started talking things that did not make any sense. I figured that, he doesn't really want to do this. The idea I had in mind does not exite him. Which I was fine with, my idea was not the point, I only wanted us to have a good time somehow. But the problem is, when I ask him what he really wants, he just shows a blank face. And he is complaining that he is tired, which he is from work, I know, but I also think he is using it as an excuse to end any conversation that he doesn't want to have.

I have decided to cancel all celebration plans with him and just stay indoors and order takeaway. I know that if we go somewhere, even if just to a restaurant, if he doesn't enjoy it, it will break my heart. He doesn't seem to enjoy much about anything these days.

I feel so lost and alone. It is even hard for my husband to confort me. A part of me feel like I never want to see my boyfriend again...To be around him is draining, even on Skype. I feel like he is just sweettalking me to get me out of the way, and it is hard to trust the things he says (I don't think he is lying per se, but I do think he doesn't care what the truth is).

I have decided to make him see a doctor for a very thorough physical check up and blood tests. I know what to look for and I will make a list of translations for it. I know there are some physical conditions that can cause depressive reactions. If nothing comes up, I plan to use that as leverage if, when he has stopped working there, he still feels and respons this way,that he should go see someone about what then would be a deeper depression.

I am feeling very angry about the whole situation. I will visit him in a few days, and my husband is coming too.
 
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Leetah

Member
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Norwegianpoly

New member
Sure. I don't doubt that he is really hurting. I know depression; I had it in the past and also my husband has had it. It is sometimes hard. Even horrible.

The problem is not reccognizing it, but what to do about it. I realize that doing something about depression can be every bit as hard as in the cartoon - but the difference between my boyfriend and the cartoon is that my boyfriend is not single, he risks dragging me down with him. I used to be exited to see him, I mean literally exited to see his face. But now, even being in contact with him on text is painful, because he is just trying to laugh off everything even when I am complaing very drastically (I did not sleep at all last night, crying, asking him if he even wants me to visit etc.). If I can't reach him emotionally, how can I help him (and myself)? What am I going to do, sit on him and force feed him antidepressants?
 
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Leetah

Member
Yeah. I would love to go with the force feed anti-depressants thing with my LDR. I think I have mentioned that my husband and I were gently nudging him for months that he needed to get therapy and it was not until he hit bottom that he did.

You are no doubt right that this is a boundaries issue. We have to define for ourselves how much untreated depression we can handle for the long haul. This is something I am currently working on. I got dragged down before and am not interested in going there again. I have been coping with depressed people most of my life and have to get it through my head that it might be OK to say "I cannot be happy dealing with this and if it goes on I will have to leave".

It is tough knowing the personality you adore is somewhere in there, stuck in a muddy mire, and refusing to either work on getting out by himself, or taking your offered help to get out, so as to rejoin you.

Leetah
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
The thing I am still not sure of is how things might change when he finishes his job - which is one month from now. There is the option of leaving the job early, but they owe him 2 months pay that he only gets when the season ends.

We had a different type of talk on text this morning and Skype in the evening - I blew off steam all morning. He was very upset with what I said and seemed to take my words as a threat to end the relationship unless he changes, which is pretty accurate on how I feel. He told me that he misses his old self very much, and reacted strongly to my desperation, which makes me think his depression is not that deep yet. Things are still very raw, but I have a huge sense of relief since at least we are talking about it for real.
 

sparklepop

New member
Hi NP,

You're both in a difficult situation, for sure. I can absolutely understand how you are feeling, having had one 5-year relationship with someone who suffered from what I believe was untreated depression, anxiety and even some OCD, and having a current partner of 5 years who has both depression and fibromyalgia. It is not easy.

I'm glad that you're having a real conversation about the depression.

Since you've been depressed before, you know how difficult it is to be able to pull out of it. At the same time, you have pulled through it, so this must also fuel your upset and anger when you are watching your boyfriend take a more passive stance to his problem. What everyone else has said is spot on really. He can only help himself and you must find ways to help yourself. It is *very* difficult to be around someone who is consistently negative and/or depressed. It does kill the joy and excitement of spending time with them.

This would be a good time, I think, for you to turn to yourself and look at ways to protect your own energy and mood. It's difficult to achieve, especially if you are a highly empathetic person who is sensitive to the needs and emotions of those around you. If this is the case for you, it can feel like you are a sponge soaking up the energy of those you spend time with.

So, it's important to do what you can on your end to focus on your *own* wellbeing rather than falling into the trap of becoming hyperfocused on his or enabling him. There are many ways you can learn to put up barriers around your own energy, ranging from the more spiritual to the more practical, depending on your tastes and beliefs. In my case, I find yoga and meditation to be immensely helpful. Reiki work is interesting. On more practical levels, making sure that you are filling your days with things that lift your mood - friends, favourite music/shows, your husband, your hobbies, etc - are essential.

In the meantime, you can also continue to read more about depression and try to find as much understanding and compassion as you can so that you don't put yourself through upset by feeling rejected if you don't need to. Continuing to talk to him is also good, and hopefully now that you've vented you'll be able to find a way to calmly and kindly, but clearly, explain to him again that all of this effects you too.

As much as he may not like the idea, it is better for him to know that if he doesn't seek some kind of treatment (even if it's in the form of doing reading and self-healing), there may be consequences no matter how much you love him. I've been on the receiving end of such conversations and whilst they felt somewhat brutal, they did make me think twice about how my issues impact those around me.

Do let us know how things go.
 
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Norwegianpoly

New member
Hi, thanks for all your concern.

I do many things to take care of myself; I see my friends, me and husband have plans to become closer, I am looking into getting a new job...and I will have time now to take up my yoga and meditation. I am very aware that I risk getting depressed myself and I put upont myself to do useful things and things that make me happy.

I guess what bothers me the most, is the lack of compliments and interest in discussing the future of our relationship. I get very scared that he has lost interest in us or even want to break up. He told me that the things I say break his heart, but I figure at least this way we share the pain. We have started to talk about his depression as something to combat together - or to "find that man" (his old self). It is not so much that he is negative - he has a high threshold for complaining - it is more that he acts so diffuse that I feel that he is not there. And he feels that he is not there, and misses himself.

I will be quite firm on that while I can't expect his moods to magically lift, I do expect him to do certain things to help forward change.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
I will be quite firm on that while I can't expect his moods to magically lift, I do expect him to do certain things to help forward change.

Good for you.

  • You have expressed your concern to the BF very strongly and he seems to have heard you.
  • You sound like you are going to wait til the job ends and see if that helps with the work stress.
  • You expect him to do some active self care -- like go see a doctor about this depression thing.
  • You are doing your OWN self care things, and you will not allow yourself (a former depression patient) to be dragged back into that world because of BF's actions/lack of actions.

Like you are articulating your deal breakers to him very clearly. What you will and will not tolerate.

Again... good for you. Because it is true. You cannot sit on him and force feed him meds. You cannot do this FOR him.

Galagirl
 
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Norwegianpoly

New member
Update:

I am here with him now, husband is also here, we will get the two last days by ourselves. The days are ambivalent. The first days it was like we never had a problem, better than before, even. Then slowly things started to get worse. I guess I am starting to loose patience. Small things easily become big ones. He doesn't tell me he loves me, although he does look proud to be with me and others tell me he speaks highly of me. But I want him to say it took my face.

He says that his old self is gone and might not come back. He wonders if I even like his "new self ". I cant say that his "selves" are that different, just he used to be happier. But I must admit the situation is taking its toll. I am pushing for him to get a physical exam, for starters.


He also expresses concerns about poly, openness and the future. His cousin (as close as if she were his sister) just got married and his brother got engaged. So it seems he wonders were we can end up. Which of course I can understand. But I so wish he would say as he used to, that we will be together no matter what.

We have decided to go forward with our plans for him to come to our city to work for a while.
 
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