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Is this what it's like to date while depressed?
May 7, 2011 6:30 AM   Subscribe

I feel depressed and completely unmotivated by school. I think its correlated with the fact I'm in a new relationship.

I started going to a university this spring, transferring from a community college. I only attend the classes for my major and ignore the rest, potentially failing three of my classes.

When I started dating my first boyfriend, I wasn't interested in any of my classes except for my major, which is political science. I didn't study for my exams, wrote papers in the absolute last minute, and did not care at all for school.

I'm now in a different relationship, and its the same thing. We've only been dating for about two months. In casual relationships, I was still depressed and unmotivated, but can force myself to do the work and study. Currently, I would feel anxious that I'm not getting stuff done and I try to tell myself to do the things I'm supposed to do. I would try to start the assignments but I just eventually give up and not care that I might fail or be in academic probation. I'm aware of the consequences, and I feel helpless.

I would also feel sad out of nowhere and I can't really pinpoint as to why. I wouldn't want to hang out anymore. I just feel like being by myself and not around anyone. This has happened to my ex and to my now current boyfriend.

I started going to counseling at my school, but I stopped after four sessions thinking I'm better. Is this a case of correlation does not imply causation? Are my relationship anxieties taking a strain on my school work? Or am I just lazy and need to get myself together? (I used to do well in school. 4.0 during my freshman year, 3.8 during the first half of my sophomore year and dropped to 3.1 the second half).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you feel that the boyfriends 'cause' this depression, then dump them and get your life in order, instead of hanging on to watch the train crash. It sounds to me like you need to focus on yourself first before you involve someone else. You don't say much about the boyfriend but I wonder if your choice in partner might be where part of the problem lies.

Doesn't matter what the reason is, get thee back to counseling. It doesn't sound like you are better yet.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:39 AM on May 7, 2011


a) Who knows?

b) It *could* be something psychologically you are doing when you are in a relationship, that is exacerbating the academic problems. I think I've experienced that. Basically, I think the problem is that I spend so much mental effort when I am with someone, mentally coordinating my life/plans with their plans, and trying to anticipate their needs etc, that at some semi-subconscious level I'm just expending too much energy thinking/worrying about them, and this left me with not enough energy to think/worry about myself. It sucks, but being single helped, until I fell into the attraction cycle again.
Other things that helped, were a general emphasis on trying to identify and lower sources of stress, and doing things that increased my capacity to cope with stress etc (sleep, exercise, low-key socialising).

Thing is, a new relationship, even a good relationship, is a source of stress - any major life change is, good or bad. Those point scales for stress in a year include 'good' things, like new jobs, new relationships etc, as well as bad, and if you're feeling a bit marginal, sometimes that can be too much stress. If you're already fine, and not stressed or depressed, it's not as much of a problem.

I don't know what's going on with you, there's not enough information to tell, but if you're asking if anyone else has ever had this correlation between being in a relationship & being more 'unmotivated', the answer is yes.

But like I mentioned at top, possibly if you can reduce other sources of stress, and manage a healthy environment, you might be ok with that.
posted by Elysum at 7:06 AM on May 7, 2011


You're depressed; it's going to manifest itself in a variety of ways (including distancing yourself from boyfriends and/or allowing yourself to be distracted from things you know you need to do), but you really need to get into regular counselling until you notice the outcome of your actions (not just doing a paper early, but getting your GPA back) has changed significantly.
posted by dflemingecon at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't have to "have a boyfriend" if it is making you unhappier than you would be without one. I've seen a number of women in their late teens and early twenties who seem to view "having a boyfriend" as some sort achievement or prize.

If you feel worse when you are seeing someone, that would be a good reason to break things off. Wait to get into a relationship until you meet someone who can add to your life instead of only adding to your problems.

I would also feel sad out of nowhere and I can't really pinpoint as to why. I wouldn't want to hang out anymore.

It sounds like you don't like them very much. Forcing yourself to date someone you don't want to be around sounds awful. Date people that you feel happy around and are interested in spending time with. Otherwise, what's the point? Proving to others that you can have a boyfriend? There might be someone else you'd enjoy as a boyfriend you could be meeting instead.
posted by yohko at 8:03 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, I'm going to tell you what I hated my dad for telling me for years: STOP thinking about boys and go do your homework!

College is in part about building social relationships, but it's primarily supposed to be about learning. Take yourself right back to the counseling center and don't stop going until you get to the bottom of your declining GPA -- and the bottom of why you correlate it to boyfriends.

I can think back to a couple of times my GPA slipped and it did correlate to relationships -- it was usually when I was dating someone who was not as smart as me, or who was just afraid I was smarter and heckled and belittled me into thinking I was stupid. So instead of dumping them, I dumbed myself down so they wouldn't be intimidated anymore. These relationships always took place when I was feeling insecure and had little self-esteem.

Also, break up with your boyfriend if you don't want to hang out with him. It's just going to cause more stress if he wants to hang out and you don't. Do the both of you a favor by ending the relationship, then go sort out your head and your grades. THEN, next semester (or the semester after that) find a boyfriend who you can study with and who you like to hang out with!
posted by motsque at 9:29 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Boyfriends should improve your life. It doesn't sound like yours are. Not sure if this is because you aren't into them or they're kind of losers or what - no info in your post to be able to tell - but if they don't make you feel happier and more excited about your life, then they're useless, especially since you're in college and there's a high opportunity cost to not having your mental stuff in order.

Focus on yourself. It's not unusual for college students to be depressed; your campus should have some resources to help. If you don't like the coursework outside your major then don't take it! Try not to let your grades slip if you can help it - drop classes that don't inspire you to reach your potential.

(I had a terribly depressed boyfriend in college and in retrospect it is absolutely baffling to me as to why I ever let him into my life, much less kept him there.)

(also: my rather brilliant brother started dating a dumb townie in his first year of college, got completely distracted and unmotivated, failed out of school and spent the next few years in a haze of pot smoke and depression before managing to turn things around. Moral: the company you keep actually does matter.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:49 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I started dating my first boyfriend, I wasn't interested in any of my classes

I'm now in a different relationship, and its the same thing

Are my relationship anxieties taking a strain on my school work?

Or am I just lazy and need to get myself together?

You're reporting that your depressive symptoms pre-dated the boyfriends... so this probably isn't about them. (In your present state, you'd probably feel the same way, with them or without them-- you'd just attach different causes to the same phenomenon.)

>I started going to counseling at my school, but I stopped after four sessions thinking I'm better.

Resume going to counseling.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:19 PM on May 7, 2011


nthing motsque here and adding this: be wary of people attracted to you when you are depressed or going through a particularly rough patch in life. (i.e. they never knew you before) It has been my unfortunate experience that sometimes these folks aren't interested in you getting better. YMMV.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 5:38 PM on May 8, 2011


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