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PTBrennan

Partner has depression, I'm feeling lost and confused.

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First time poster and I apologize if this isn't the right forum I'm just lost and looking for help.

Like the title says my partner has depression and lately our relationship has been suffering as a result. I've been reading up on depression and trying to be as understanding and supportive as possible but I'm starting to feel alone and isolated by my partner.

Everything was fine for the first few months, actually better than fine things were almost perfect but something happened to her living arrangements and this caused her to go into a full blown depression spiral.

Now I hardly hear from her during the day, she's very cold and distant from me and everything I do seems to annoy her.

I'm extremely supportive, buy her little presents to make her feel loved, help pay her bills when she's short on money, bring over dinner so she doesn't have to cook and give her space but despite all of this she just keeps pushing me further away and our communication isn't there at all.

I know depression can cause you to push people away but she's still posting on Facebook to other people and pretty much treating other people like she normally would, it's just me she seems to not have time for or any energy to try. It really hurts that she puts energy and effort into these friends who she hardly sees on Facebook but can't bother to put any energy or time into me.

I'm just really at a loss and don't know if this is really depression symptoms or what is going on. I was wondering if anybody on here has any sort of insight or experience because she says she still loves me but told me this is how it is right now and if I don't want to stick around she'd understand.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any advice or insights you can offer I really appreciate it because I'm truly lost and don't know what to do. I love this woman very much and don't want to give up on the relationship but I'm starting to feel like I don't have any choice if she can't put forth any effort with me like she does with everyone else.

Am I wrong for feeling this way, am I being selfish, what can or should I do to be more understanding and supportive? Any comments or insights will be appreciated greatly.

Edited by PTBrennan

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I'm not an expert, but maybe she is relapsing? i mean does she take meds or see a therapist? maybe the depression is coming back? 

did something happen besides the move a change in her life ?? usually i am angry and isolate when i am really down, and give negative and angry responses to my friends/family (that is normal for many folks with depression)

maybe she needs more time to adjust to living arrangements? Also sometimes at first it's all good and stuff, but after a while you see each other on a daily basis and maybe she does not feel the same as before? (i dont want to scare you but I think those are things to consider too)

I guess the best would be to ask therapist if she sees one or doctor, and see if you can go together in a session or something? or maybe you can ask an expert on your own if she does not want that? or a family member? is she close with her family?

And no I don't think you are being selfish, you are concerned. I don't get that feeling that you are being selfish.. some people wouldn't even have bothered to post or ask so the fact that you posted and are wondering whats going on shows you care for her..

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Thank you for responding I really appreciate it.

She's going to see her doctor tomorrow actually and is trying to get help for her depression. She never told me why she stopped taking her medication before but it seems like without a "trigger" her depression doesn't bother her.

As for her not feeling the same that's something I am concerned about and what I'm trying to figure out. She says she still loves me and feels the same and that it's her depression that's causing her to push me away and be distant.

But like I said she still seems pretty active on Facebook and has energy and time to spend on other people just not me it seems like.

I guess that's what I'm really trying to figure out. I don't doubt her having a serious depression episodes but what I'm trying to understand is if her behavior is what you'd expect from a depressed person or if it's something else entirely.

Is it normal to treat those closest to you like they don't exist and push them away while acting totally normal around other people and even putting more energy and effort into those interactions than those close to you?

For example just last night we went out to dinner at a local bar. Two cops got up from their table and went running outside. I brought it to her attention and asked what do you think happened. She replied with I don't know and I mind my own business when it comes to police pretty much letting me know she doesn't care and doesn't want to talk about it. But just a few seconds later an older gentlemen right next to us commented to us that the Police Officers had just gotten there food and it's a shame that they couldn't eat but the bar will hold it for them. She turned to him and laughed about it and told him good looking out. So when I tried to talk to her about the incident I was shut down and received the cold shoulder but this random stranger talks about it and she's all ears, doesn't shut him down and acts very nice and sweet to him.

I don't get the obvious difference in reactions and treatment between me and this random older man and she doesn't seem to notice it either when I asked her about it. Plus of course I get you're not helping my depression and making it worse whenever I try to talk to her about it.

Edited by PTBrennan

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Glad you found us @PTBrennan.  I'll add a bit to what @ladysmurf had to say, with the caveats I'm not a professional and I'm only speculating based on my own experience.

Inasmuch as she's in a relationship with you, a certain amount of emotional vulnerability is comes with the territory and that can be scary.  If anything, I can assure you that it doesn't sound like it's anything you've done or not done.

In addition to the change in living situation - an adjustment for anyone - she may be experiencing some guilt that she's unable to cope.  She may feel responsible for the extra effort you're making.  She may feel she doesn't deserve it.  You may not be able to convince her otherwise.  I'm glad to hear she's seeing her doctor.  That's a positive move.

As far as social media and similar "safe" interactions you described, that may be all she's capable of at the moment since they don't potentially involve any vulnerability.

Regrettably, if things don't improve, you indeed may have to make a choice on whether the problems in this relationship are worth it.  I'd suggest being mindful of the effect this is having on YOU.  For example, what nice thing have you done for YOURSELF lately?

 

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Thank you Mark for responding with your insight as well I really appreciate it.

She's told me she feels like a loser and irresponsible person since she isn't able to meet her financial obligations so there is definitely that going on. And I honestly didn't think of the Facebook posts as "safe" interactions so thank you for sharing that possibility. This is the first time I've been with somebody who has depression and I'm just not used to all of this.

Honestly haven't done anything for me in the past few months, it's just been about her so I'm thinking I need to distance myself a little and start thinking about myself.

Edited by PTBrennan

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For showing patience, willingness to learn and to adjust for her condition you deserve credit and gratitude. I appreciate what you're doing and respect the efforts you're making. I'm also aware this means a lot less coming from some rando on the internet when you really want that recognition from her. 

Yes, depression's effect on relationships is felt the most by those who are closest to the one suffering. The helplessness and frustration you're feeling, she's feeling it too. Very often depression doesn't respond to acts of kindness and generosity which in turn adds to the tension of both sufferer and caring individual(s). It's the reason why getting some relief from symptoms needs to come first. 

Fortunately, depression does respond to medication and psychotherapy and it sounds like she's on track to getting both. You may be able to participate if couples counseling becomes a viable option. 

Caregiving is emotionally exhausting work. I agree with the others that doing something nice for yourself on a regular basis will help sustain you. Also, consider talking to a counselor yourself, it may relieve you of the tough feelings you're carrying around. 

Please update us with how you're both doing, I hope we can continue to be helpful.

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As a female I'm going to tell you what I think is going on.  Yes, she's prob going through things, depression, financial woes, etc. but often when another person, male or female, tries too hard it can be taken as weakness.  I know this from times I've wanted a relationship more than the other person and from times when I was the one who wanted it less and didn't respect the person for sort of groveling or trying too hard.  You simply must have your dignity.  I don't like the way she talked to you at the restaurant, saying to mind your own business.  There is never a good reason to say that disrespectfully and there wasn't anything wrong with you being curious in that situation.  Give her space.  I think that if she felt you would be able to go on without her if it came down to it she might actually think you more worthy of her consideration.  Ultimately, as much as you want to help and support her, she must be the one to help herself more than any other.  Who would want to be in a relationship where you have to carry the other?  Everyone must pull their own weight.  I hope you find strength and peace no matter the outcome here.

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Jayni

Yeah that's what I'm starting to feel as well. It's a shame people take that as a weakness instead of that person really caring and wanting to be there for them but what can you do. It actually takes a lot of strength to keep trying even though I'm feeling like shit.

I don't like the way she talked to me either and her behavior is becoming more and more distant so I'm just going to have to pull back and leave her alone. I'm planning on giving her until the end of Christmas for something to change but if not I'm going to have to end things because I'm reaching my breaking point honestly. Only reason I keep trying is because she keeps telling me she loves me, tells me if she didn't want to be with me she'd tell me and all around tries to assure me she's still in it but I'm just not feeling it anymore. 

Thank you for your honesty I really appreciate it and I have to agree with you because it's what I've been thinking. Just feels shitty because it feels like I'm abandoning somebody I love and care about because of a mental illness they can't control.

Edited by PTBrennan

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Hello @PTBrennan,

Sorry to be late to the thread, but I've got a few thoughts to add.

Firstly, the big thing I noticed on the earlier posts is how she is putting more energy into things like Facebook and strangers, whereas little to no energy towards you.  I FULLY understand that pain.  I had a close friend who suffered depression a long time ago, and had asked me to help them get out of their room.  I brought them to my house where I prepared dinner for them, and instead of having nice conversation they spent approximately 20 minutes on the phone for every 5 minutes off.  I was confused, and even a little upset about this.

Now, having gone through the gauntlet myself, I don't do the same thing, but I see the exact reason behind it.  Most people who are showing early signs of depression (by early, I mean the first year), tend to develop an unhealthy coping mechanism of faking a good mood.  Think of the cliché, "Fake it 'till you make it." and apply it to depression.  Many people who feel that they have depression will put a lot of energy into convincing other people that they don't.  This takes a lot of emotional energy out of someone, and usually means that they need "cooldown" periods.  Don't think of it as, "Oh, I need the evening to cool down because I had to put forward effort all morning." but more along the lines of, "Oh, I haven't seen this person in a minute, I need to make sure they don't suspect something is off." and this type of thinking has a diminishing effect if they are around a given person for too long.  Eventually, this leads to them making the decision to not put that fake front up around you anymore, and instead choosing to say, "This is how I feel.  Give me enough time to charge the batteries again and I'll be able to put my fake front up again.".  Unfortunately, those batteries will never recharge.  Now that you know they have depression, they know you'll understand what the problem is, and not feel the need to put up that front around you.  When they try to explain the situation, they don't realize themselves what they are doing, and instead justify their need to recharge the batteries with, "I need space right now.".  This kind of creates the "Take me for who I am, or leave me."  situation, which sucks.

You'll also notice that people put forward that fake front on social media more often than anywhere else.  That's because social media has a weird spot in our brain where we can connect with other people without having to get out of our own head.  We don't need to make facial expressions as soon as someone says or does something.  We don't need to respond within a certain period of time.  This gives plenty of time for over-analyzing the situation (which is what a lot of depressed people will do), and respond with what we think is the "safest" response.  Usually you'll see things like, "omg girl, you look amazing in this picture!", "Oh, that place looks absolutely amazing, you have to take me there sometime.", or "Here's a picture of me getting in the holiday spirit.".  All of those seem like something a normal person would do, right?  Let's tweak them a bit and see if the differences are noticeable.  "Girl, your sweater looks amazing, did you get it at Macy's?  We need a Christmas Sweater party next time you're off!", "Where in the world did you take this picture?  You HAVE to take me there next time you go, and post more pictures too!", and "I've got my Santa hat for Christmas now.  Anyone have any plans this weekend?"  The first three things still seem normal, but take notice of how much "safer" they seem.  They tend to offer compliments towards the other party, they leave room for a response, but if you don't answer back it's not something they'll be waiting hand and foot on, and it keeps interactions distant.  The last three things are a bit more involved.  Suddenly, those posts are more than just popping in, they expect responses, they drag you towards hanging out with people, they imply that you're looking for more energetic activities than just a quick chat sometime.

I hope this makes sense.  I'm not an expert, I'm just someone who over analyzes and leaps to conclusions.  The gist I'm trying to get at is, when she is putting you at more of a distance than she is everyone else, it's not because her love is fading, it's because you're closer than anyone else is.  Even family, everyone puts up a face around family.  Take that as a compliment.  If you need to get something across, it usually needs a lot bang to it, otherwise it will be drowned out by the overflowing thoughts of depression.  I can hear someone say 10 times a day that they are concerned for me and that if they need anything, they'll be there.  I also think, 100 times a day, that people say that because it is the socially and morally right thing to say, and not what should actually be expected of them to do.  I think, 100 times a day, that if I take someone up on that offer, I'm wasting their time, and mine, and that staying quiet will let them keep their life in order and help me keep all my problems to myself.  I think, 100 times a day, that if I take them up on that offer, they'll see and interact with this unhappy version of me, and realize the happy version isn't coming back anytime soon and they need to pack their bags and go.

I don't need to hear about your support, it'll get drowned out.  I don't need little gifts and presents to cheer me up, it'll convince me that you're trying to bring happy me back out, and I just don't have the energy to do that for you.  Honestly, I don't know what I need besides a lobotomy maybe.

What I do know, is when someone sits me down, and tells me to listen.  I listen.  When someone sits next to me and pulls me into a tight hug and starts rocking with me and patting me on the back for a long time, periodically telling me it'll be okay and they aren't going anywhere, this gets through to me and let's me know things are going to be okay.  Or, sometimes it does the opposite, sometimes those negative thoughts get mad that they can't be heard and explode, resulting in me forcefully saying, "No, I'm not okay, it's not all right, you'll probably leave in another month." but at least this outburst gives you something to work with, a chance to argue with those negative thoughts that you usually wouldn't hear, or, even better than arguing with them (It doesn't usually work, trust us, we've tried.), just be more persistent than them.

I don't know how to help you, except by saying that therapy is your best shot, because you won't be able to do that.  You're such a part of her life that anything you say, her negative thoughts will already have a 3 page argument at the ready.  I do hope the best for you though.  You're a great guy for being here this long for her.  I will tell you this won't go away overnight, and the happy version of her just spring back.  Not even after therapy.  This will probably take a few more months, and if it does seem that she's good to go again in a short amount of time, expect a relapse and the depression to slip back in.

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regularpal thanks for your input and insight I really do appreciate it.

Problem is at this point we're pretty much only seeing one another once or twice a week and barely texting during the day. Anytime I try and argue or talk to her she just says this is the way it is and I'm pushing her further away by bringing it up. So it's either I accept things the way she wants it or I should call it quits. She's even said she's lost boyfriends in the past due to her depression so she's of the mindset of take it or leave it.

What I really don't understand is why she doesn't just end things. It's the only thing that's making me even care is that she hasn't ended the relationship yet. Is she just being cowardly or does she not even want to bother putting forth the effort to end things? She's an extremely headstrong woman and has always told me don't worry I'll be honest and tell you what I'm feeling so I still want to believe she'd end it if she didn't want to be with me but even that I'm starting to doubt now.

Honestly at this point I'm giving up on the relationship. I can only handle so much and I've really tried for the past 3 months to be there for her but if she can't manage to put forth even the smallest effort at all then what's the point? Depression or no depression at some point it becomes either hostile or just lazy to treat somebody the way she's treating me.

Like I said I'm going to give her a large amount of space and see what happens by the end of the month. I love her but I have to think about myself at the end of the day and my mental health. In my head the relationship is already over from her side and she's just waiting for me to get fed up enough and break up with her so I can be the bad guy I guess :shrug: I really don't know what to think anymore.

I come back to this thread everyday and I can't tell you how much I truly appreciate everyone taking time out of their day and posting their experiences and insights for me. You didn't have to and I really appreciate it because it's really helped me to have others input. I'll keep you all updated and let you know what happens as this month progresses!

I hope everybody is having a wonderful Christmas / Holidays so far!

Edited by PTBrennan

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My heart goes out to you.  If she doesn't start going to therapy on a regular basis, or groups at the least.  Then she isn't putting forward any effort for you.  It is not your job to fix her, it is not your job to wait on her.  She knows that, and that is why she is quick to push away. 

I wish the best for both of you, and I'll be checking periodically for the updates!  Do what you can to really enjoy this Christmas, it's they only one you get in 2018!

Edited by regularpal

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I'm glad the support here is giving you insight and strength.  I heard a story a long time ago that really stuck with me...a couple were dating a while and the guy said (I think at a point where he was taking her for granted and everyone does this at some point) that he may want to see other people rather than get tied down.  Even though inside her heart was totally breaking she maintained her dignity and told him that was fine and perhaps she should do the same.  Her reaction, as opposed to crying, etc., made him second guess letting her slip away.  He stuck with it and they parted for a short time but it was not long before he was back telling her he had made a mistake.  I really do think that people just seem more attractive when they aren't too easy to get, if you know what I mean.  Either way it turns out, no matter how painful it is, I think it really does turn out for the best because you just ultimately don't want someone who doesn't wholeheartedly want you in the same way.

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