How can I constructively help my newly long-distance boyfriend with possible low-grade depression? I'd like ideas for what to send him in a care package, and I'm also wondering if I'm being overbearing / Jesus Girlfriend-y. Snowflakes inside.
My boyfriend of a year recently finished his graduate degree and moved back home (1,000 miles+ away from me) to live with his family and look for a job. While he was here, he often struggled with lack of motivation, melancholy, and social anxiety, which we mostly chalked up to the horrible task of finishing a dissertation. When he was here, if he was feeling depressed and unmotivated, I could do something nice for him like make him a nutritious meal, give him a hug, or participate in pleasurable activities which might count as exercise. He was also seeing a therapist the last 6 months he was here, mostly about his social anxiety, although it went slowly because he has difficulty opening up to people. Now, he's far away, feeling the same way (and without insurance, he can't meet with a therapist or psychiatrist like he used to), and I feel a little helpless that I can't do anything for him. His family is proud of him that he finished his degree, but they are kind of old fashioned and not the type of people to talk about depression, unless he was threatening suicide or something, which he's not. We talk on the phone every day, and it seems like he is more melancholy since he moved back.
I don't want to be a straight up "Jesus girlfriend,
" but I think he is really in a rough spot. Normally the advice would be to get therapy or see a psychiatrist, but he doesn't have health insurance and won't be able to get any until he gets a job. I'm worried that he's going to slide into a rut of worse depression. I can't visit him for a couple more months, as well. We've talked about possible depression and solutions, and he says that he kind of wants to eat healthier and exercise, but can't find the motivation. He's said he almost wishes he had a "drill instructor" type person to get him to do stuff.
So, my questions are:
1) What kind of care package can I send him to help with "the melancholy blues"? My best friend struggled with pretty intense depression, and she said that what made the most difference for her in the end was exercising vigorously and regularly, eating good food, and taking fish oil and vitamin d supplements. My boyfriend used to be an athlete in college, but fell out of the exercise habit in grad school, he's also a great cook when he puts his mind to it. I was thinking of sending him: a Trader Joes gift card and a grocery list / recipe instructions of easy healthy tasty stuff we used to make together plus some spices; a bodyweight workout book that I have, a list of exercise sets and reps to do, and some protein powder; and fish oil and vitamin D supplements. Maybe something fun as well, like comic books?
2) Is this idea even too overbearing? Should I just let him tough it out? I think that what will ultimately help him will be to meet with a professional for therapy and perhaps pharmaceutical treatment, which is what he says he wants to do... but until he gets a job with insurance, he can't afford that. And it's going to be difficult for him to get a job if he constantly feels this way. He has always been there for me when I've been stressed out and sad, and if the roles were reversed I know he would do the same for me. I don't need him to be a certain way (to be "fixed" or whatever) to love him, but I know he's unhappy and he's having trouble finding the wherewithal to change.