Is it the depression talking, or am I making excuses for my boyfriend?
November 4, 2012 1:13 PM Subscribe
Help me understand what’s going on in my relationship and to set appropriate boundaries. My boyfriend’s possibly depressed behavior is triggering my feelings of abandonment/insecurity and I want to know how to support him through this without getting taken advantage of.
posted by anonymous to human relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend and I: early thirties, dating about 2 years, both experiencing a lot of stress around work and less than fruitful job searches. He has added financial and living-arrangements issues.
Additionally, although we’re both smart, awesome people, we’ve both experienced major depressive episodes and anxiety in the past, which have been treated with medication and therapy. This was also a major factor in the end of each of our previous relationships.
About 2 months ago, I started taking an SSRI for work –related anxiety. I’ve also taken a short holiday from work, made plans to see a therapist & made lifestyle changes around sleep, exercise and diet. This has all helped a lot, but it means a lot of my focus has been on myself. In retrospect, I can see that around the same time, Mr Anonymous’ has been becoming increasingly negative and hopeless about his life, saying there was nothing he could do to help himself and suffering insomnia during the week, oversleeping on workdays and sleeping all weekend.
Recently, we were out with a group of friends and I noticed Mr Anonymous paying a lot of attention to a girl he’d had a previous flirtation with. When a few other people mentioned it to me, I pulled him aside and said that I wasn’t accusing him of anything, but it was upsetting me a bit and triggering some old hurts and asked for some reassurance that everything was OK between us, specifically “Could you give me a hug and tell me I’m being silly.” He was very dismissive and said he was going through a lot and didn’t want to talk about it and immediately left the party.
Since then, we’ve hung out, but things have been OK but a bit tense. When I’ve tried to raise the issue with him to try and clarify that it wasn’t a huge deal but it was important to me that what I raised was acknowledged, he’s clammed up and just zoned out and said that he’s not coping and then cried and been so totally worn out he’s gone to bed in the middle of the day.
He’s recently confessed that he went to his GP about depression recently, and I was a bit shocked he hadn’t mentioned anything. Mr Anonymous is an intensely private person, whereas I’m much more open. Although we’ve always been physically very affectionate and have lots of silly little in-jokes, we’re not the sort of couple who has long conversations about our feelings, but we’re pretty adept at saying things like “I’m really tired and stressed now, could you give me some time to process this/give me a hug.”
He's been pretty awesomely supportive and patient with me in the past and I want to return that. I've been through recurrent depression and I know how hopeless and isolating it feels. I also know I tend to feel really abandoned and seek company and reassurance from those I love, and to try and “talk through” what I’m feeling, and I’m having trouble processing his disengagement and inability to articulate what’s going on. I’m trying to look after my own hurt feelings appropriately by turning to my support networks, but I need a hand figuring out what’s reasonable to expect from my guy in these circumstances.