I have a new friend, she has a giant Despair Squid.
November 1, 2012 6:44 AM Subscribe
"Emotional affairs" and being a good partner to someone with severe depression: I need a friend, but this new friendship is moving fast and I'm about 99% sure that my partner will be massively upset if she finds out. What do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a lesbian in my early 30s, my partner is about the same age. We don't currently live together because she is having such a phenomenally hard time with... well, life, really. When we got together about five years ago, she was on antidepressants. They stopped working very well about two years ago, and it has been a rollercoaster ever since. Every now and then she finds something that seems to help... a little... for awhile. Diet, exercise, I think about a half dozen different medications now at different dosages.
But now she's just tanking so badly that we're having serious discussions about whether she needs to apply for disability. There are whole days where she basically can't stop crying, and she can't seem to construe anything anybody says in anything but the most negative manner. Someone asking her to hang out is making fun of her. If I don't text her back for an hour, I'm ignoring her; if I try to talk to her, I'm either criticizing if I say anything that implies her life could be better (even though she's openly miserable) or I'm showing off if I say anything about how my life is good. She's not suicidal that I can tell; she's had some self-harm issues on and off, but nothing that poses a long-term threat to her health. It's mostly a huge weight of sadness and hopelessness; she struggles with just getting out of bed many days.
It's a really rough time, but DTMFA is not on the table; this is an illness and I'm sticking around no matter what. But it could be, well, who knows how long until I'm able to just have a nice time with her again.
The thing is--I have a couple male friends who she considers non-threatening for the most part, but I'm not comfortable talking to them about a lot of things. I haven't had many close female friends for awhile. I've started talking to a girl now online who's on the other side of the planet and neither of us is talking about anything even close to sexual, but we have a ton in common and we chat, well, a lot. It's been great for me because I so desperately needed someone positive to talk to. I think she did, too. I feel like I finally have something to look forward to. But it is happening pretty fast, compared to any friendship I've had before.
I feel markedly better now about my ability to weather this, but there's a problem: If my girlfriend finds out, I'm pretty sure there are going to be hysterics about how she feels like I'm going to leave her for this new friend. And I can't figure out the ethical/"right" thing to do, here. Is it okay to conceal this if she's not likely to find out anytime soon, or at least minimize it and act like this is something that's sort of growing over months rather than a couple weeks from meeting to hours-long late night conversations? Or is this a sign that I really need to just step away from this new person because I'm getting overly invested?
Any other good resources for coping with this sort of problem long-term would be much appreciated, too, or for that matter thoughts on how to deal with treatment-resistant depression.