His depression is making me depressed
October 25, 2009 9:44 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is depressed, again, and I'm starting to get concerned that I don't have the patience to get through it with him this time. I want to help him, but I'm not sure how many times I can keep doing this.

My boyfriend and I have been together for several years, and as in most long term relationships, there have been good and bad times. When he's doing well, he's smart and funny and kind and outgoing. The problem is, he has a history of depression, and for the last several months has been in a down phase. He went through this once before (while quitting smoking, which he's doing again) and got through it, but that was an extremely hard time in our relationship. For the past six months or so he's had a lot of stressful things to deal with. We moved in together just as he was starting a new job, and the job ended up being a terrible fit, so much so that he was having trouble eating and sleeping and actively dreaded going to work everyday. He's subsequently left that job and is back in one where he's happy, so I thought that would help with his depression, but he's now quitting smoking again, which has made things spiral out of control. In the last month or so his depression has gone from low-level lack of desire to be involved with friends or complete tasks around the house to suicidal thoughts or extreme anger.

I love my boyfriend very much, and remembering what our relationship used to be like makes me want to do whatever it takes to work things out, but I find myself sometimes dreading coming home because I'm never sure what kind of mood he's in, and I'm starting to doubt my ability to live through this whole roller coaster with him again. I've suggested therapy but he's been resistant to that because he says finding a therapist and going through all his issues will take months, and he doesn't feel he can take that on right now. He wants to start exercising more and working on developing healthy habits, but he says the only way that's going to happen is if he quits smoking. That's understandable, but for this whole depressive phase he'll quit for two weeks, go through horrible withdrawal, start smoking again, then start the whole process over, which I think is a lot of his problem.

I've brought some of this stuff up before, but I feel like I'm getting to the point where it's making me stressed and depressed as well, which doesn't help either of us. I want to talk to him, but in the past he's brushed off suggestions of working out or therapy because he says he needs to do it in his own time. I don't want to make it sound like an ultimatum, but I do need him to understand that this is really affecting me.

Does anyone have any suggestions of things he could do other than therapy or medication (he won't consider medication either because he's had bad experiences in the past), which might help him pull himself out of this? As I said, he knows that exercise would make him feel better, but he can't make himself do it. His emotional instability is making me emotionally unstable, and I'm not sure how I can deal with it.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Your question shouldn't really be about "things he could do other than therapy or medication." It should be about whether you're okay with being in a relationship with a person who suffers depression yet will not (or cannot) take reasonable steps to cope with it properly. He won't take meds due to "bad [past] experiences", he won't exercise, he won't do therapy -- so he's set the tone of your relationship, that when he feels bad he's comfortable feeling bad, and you'll need to be comfortable with it, too.

If you're stressed and depressed yourself, you're certainly not going to be a help to him, either. If I were in your shoes, here's what I'd do: I'd take care of my own potential depression first -- talk to a therapist, get a checkup, do a sanity-check that I'm getting enough exercise, treating myself properly, and so on -- and I'd let him know that I was doing this. So you're setting a good example, and you're stating the problem ("I think your behavior these last few months is really stressing me out and making me depressed...") while also providing a solution he can model if he chooses to ("...so I'm talking to a therapist, checking with my doctor, exercising more and treating myself properly so I won't feel this way any more...")

Once you're sure all your ducks are in a row, then, you can start making this about him again, and you'll be in a better position to help or stay depending how you feel. At the end of the day, he's putting you in a position to "deal with this" and you're not sure you can; it's just as fair for him to "deal with" you taking care of you for a while, and leaving if he won't do the same for himself (with or without your help.)
posted by davejay at 9:54 AM on October 25, 2009 [19 favorites]

he says finding a therapist and going through all his issues will take months, and he doesn't feel he can take that on right now.

It would be reasonable and healthy for you to say, "If we're going to work through this together--you handling your depression, me supporting you, and our relationship surviving--I cannot accept this excuse." You've been supportive in past episodes. You know how it goes and how taxing it is--both for him and for you.

In my experience, I have watched one couple's relationship follow a pattern: one spouse's mental illness manifests in episodes every six months to a year; during the episode the mentally ill spouse acts in ways that are harmful/stressful/destructive to both people; the mentally ill spouse's episode ends; and the mentally ill spouse expects the couple to go "back to normal." The mentally ill spouse knows another episode will happen, but refuses to do anything (treatment, legal/financial protection for the other spouse) to address the impact that the episodes have on the other spouse or the marriage as a whole. This is sick and wrong and bad for both people.

You can't tell a mentally ill person to just "get over it!" but when you are in a relationship with someone, it is reasonable to expect your partner to act in ways that are both personally healthy and good for the relationship.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:08 AM on October 25, 2009 [8 favorites]

Your question seems to ask how you can help treat his depression, when he's unwilling to do anything to treat it himself. Unfortunately, there isn't any way.

If it were a physical illness and your boyfriend refused to treat it, you wouldn't be asking what options, outside of medication and/or surgery, could help you help him get cured. It's not your job to treat his illness, and if his refusal to do so himself affects your relationship, that's where you have to decide if you can live with his depressive episodes or not.
posted by xingcat at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think davejay's advice is right on. Modeling can be a powerful motivator for someone to get their stuff together, especially if they are the type that finds it difficult to get things done under their own steam. Not only does it tell them that they are not in it alone, but it may also make them feel sufficiently guilty to get their butt moving if they are simply avoiding their responsibility because they don't feel like it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:16 AM on October 25, 2009

The only part of this equation that you can really control is your behavior/response. Get the support that you need, through therapy, spending time with friends/outside the house, keeping yourself in a healthy place. You can talk to him about how you feel, but do it when you're not already irritated and angry with him... approach him honestly but gently, with an attitude of "I want to help, but I know that I can't be the only thing to help you through this--you need more support than I can give you, and I want to help you find it".
posted by so_gracefully at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2009

If he's willing to go to therapy but just can't make himself do it (which is a symptom of the depression) can you try to do some of the legwork for him?
posted by amethysts at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2009

Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. That means you need to see a therapist for yourself and keep yourself healthy. That's your first priority.
posted by kathrineg at 10:31 AM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Have him read this post. Seriously. Including the advice above. Then follow the advice above.

I have one thing to add which is that smoking is better for your health than being suicidal. So maybe he should put off quitting until he's in a better place.

If he is not willing to seek help, your relationship is doomed. He needs to understand this, and if he won't, then there's no way you can be with him.
posted by mai at 10:36 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're me, three months ago.

I was with my boyfriend for years, helped him through his depression once before, though he refused any kind of therapy or medication. A tough semester in school and some misplaced friendships brought him to the brink again, he became suicidal, and in my immense stupidity I decided that I loved him enough to take care of him, and help him through it in any way I could.

Bad idea. Until he can take care of himself, there is nothing you can do. I became his emotional crutch, I catered to his needs, made sure he ate, exercised, slept, hung out with people. I tried to heal him because I loved him, and it fucked me up in ways I cannot even describe. Being responsible for someone's emotional well-being, especially if you love that someone, is something that I do not recommend. If he is not willing to try to fix his issues, and that in includes therapy AND medication, then you can do NOTHING for him. You're just going to get mired in his depression and it will systematically affect your life. It got to the point where I was terrified that whatever movie we were watching on TV would bring up bad memories for him, and I'd have to deal with his anger and/or him threatening to harm himself. I was terrified that if the food he picked out at a restaurant wasn't amazing he'd get upset. I was afraid his friends would blow him off for whatever they'd planned on doing and then he's need me to talk him out of his spiral of self-loathing.

It's not worth it. It's not. You can support him if he's doing something about his depression. You can be there for him if he's taking care of himself. If he's not, get out, and get out soon.

I kicked him out in September, after almost a year of dealing with his depression and it showing no signs of improvement. I love him, he loves me, it isn't going to work. Since I pulled the rug out from under his feet, he has finally found the strength to at least try to better his situation, if not his mental state. We talk, I'm there for him if he needs me, but I can't live with him.

You need to decide where the line is for you, and tell a friend. Have that friend remind you of that line, and kick your ass if you slip past it. It's dangerous, it's unhealthy, it will suck all joy out of your life until the only thing you have the strength to do is minimize the potential for crises on his part.

If you're still not ready to give up, create some firm boundaries delineating when that time will be. Stick to them. It sucks, it's heartwrenching, I'm sorry, but if he isn't willing to give therapy or medication a go, nothing you will do will help in the long term.
posted by lydhre at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2009 [10 favorites]

He needs to find a better smoking cessation technique. Depression after quitting is so incredibly common and it's so easy to pick it up again when you know it'll make you feel better. But then you beat yourself up over it and then you quit and then you get depressed, etc etc. I wonder if Zyban/Wellbutrin would help him? I know it's medication and he doesn't want to go that route, but maybe if he was convinced it was solely to help him quit smoking he might try? And it would help his mood as well.

Otherwise I recommend Allen Carr's the Easy Way to Stop Smoking. It's easy to dismiss it as self-help nonsense, but it actually helped during my last quit. I managed to get through it without the crushing depression that usually attacks.

I know you're frustrated and you feel like you're at the end of your rope with him, but please don't give up just yet. If this depression is purely situational because of smoking then it CAN end for good, he just needs help.

But if he won't get help (obviously his current quit method isn't working) then I don't know. I'm sorry.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2009

He does not have to quit smoking before he starts exercising more and works on developing healthy habits. In fact he may find it much easier to quit smoking if he already has some healthy habits to lean on the next time he gives them up.

I am not sure how to help with the rest of the issues, but if there is any way to encourage him to exercise more (invite him on a walk with you, anything!) it is the best help for depression that I know. Thinking he has to quit smoking first is unreasonable, and makes it into what probably looks like an impossible goal to him.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 10:54 AM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

My wife has been in your shoes and I'm the luckiest man in the world because she has stuck by me through all of it!

If you are serious about helping him then would he be willing to go to couples therapy with you? It sounds like alot of it is situational, but that quickly turns into a brain issue. If you go to couples therapy, ask the therapist for a psychiatrist that he/she trusts- don't go to a GP.

If you are looking to nurture him and make him right, reconsider your priorities- he has to be willing to change. Depression affects everybody involved and I've come to believe that when you are in the depths of it, you are the most selfish person in your world. You don't/can't think about anyone but yourself.

You need to keep doing what makes you happy around his depression. If you go out and run/exercise, continue to. Go out with friends, let him be him until he gets to the point where he is willing to accept help- it's up to him, all you can do is to help him when he gets to that point.

He can't drink/do drugs- it's only going to make things worse, alot worse, but, once again, that's gonna have to be his decision.
posted by TheBones at 11:20 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I feel like I'm getting to the point where it's making me stressed and depressed as well

That's a red flag. Relationships are supposed to make you feel good, not bad.

I love my boyfriend very much, and remembering what our relationship used to be like makes me want to do whatever it takes to work things out

"Used to be like"? Are there any signs of it being like that again?

Your boyfriend will have to take care of himself, whether you guys are together or not. And if he doesn't want to or isn't willing to do things that help an awful lot of other people in this situation, then he's going to stay stuck where he is. Until he actually gets help, there is nothing you can do for him. Therapy, exercise and medications are pretty much the three things that people treat depression with. There's anecdotal evidence to say that diet helps, but that's not a panacea any more than anything else is.

Depression is a difficult thing to deal with, and the first step is really hard. If he's not willing to take that step, perhaps you need to decide whether his illness becoming your illness is worth it. The only time you can help someone who won't help themselves is when you're a doctor, and they've been sectioned. At all other points, there's nothing you can do.

The question is whether you are willing to keep giving of yourself to someone who isn't willing to give back? Love doesn't cure all ills. Always remember that. At all times, take care of yourself, and do what's right for you. Your boyfriend is refusing to look after himself, let alone you. Which is his right, but it's your right to say [situation] is causing you to feel worse, and goodbye to it.
posted by Solomon at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you (or him) move out while still maintiaing a relationship? It sounds like you are not getting time away from him and his problems (and they are HIS problems, not yours) and it is valuable to have de-compression time away from a depressed partner.

You are not his therapist, if he is not treating you well you can ask that he improve his behaviour which includes hard work. Him being depressed does not give him the right to treat you like crap or not be a supportive boyfriend when you are feeling stressed and depressed yourself.

Take care of yourself, detatch emotionally from his illness, and expect him to take responsibilty for his life - as his uncomplaining crutch you are prolonging and making the depression worse for both of you.
posted by saucysault at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2009

I'm assuming welbutrin didn't help (hey, two birds with one stone...they also label it as zycam..)

I'd tell him he either takes responsibility to get help or he's on his own. You cannot fix him and it's a fool's errand trying.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:11 PM on October 25, 2009

I'm assuming welbutrin didn't help (hey, two birds with one stone...they also label it as zycam..)

Actually Wellbutrin is also labeled as Zyban, (the generic name is buproprion) in case OP is wanting to look that up. Zicam is a different medication.

Quitting smoking with no help is really hard. Counseling, nicotine replacement, or rx meds like buproprion or Chantix can be a big help.

Check your memail.
posted by ishotjr at 12:28 PM on October 25, 2009

Depression is an evil disease in that it saps the ability and will to do the things you need to do to fix it, or at least alleviate the symptoms. It even breaks you down so far that you just get used to it - it's simply something you have to stick out, in your mind, and you can't see the wood for the trees. Eventually, you can drag yourself out by waiting it out and changing the underlying problem, but it takes months (and months) of feeling like nothing you do matters, and nothing you can do will fix the problem. You set yourself up in a position where there is no solution, and you can't even see that you're doing it to yourself.

He has to accept that he needs help, that he's not thinking rationally about the problem. Until that happens, there's very little you can do bar stick by him if you choose to and look out for your own problems first.

Bluntly, he needs medication and/or therapy. Changing jobs, exercise, quitting smoking (or quitting quitting) can mask the symptoms, but ultimately he needs medical help from a professional. Medication can give him the short term boost that he needs to see the problem and get the strength to work on it (and there's a whole ton of different ones with different side-effects - just because he's had a bad experience with some doesn't mean others won't work better for him)

I'd tell him the effect he's having on you. It may well be that the fear of losing you may give him sufficient impetus to take the first step of asking for help at which point you can help him with the steps to get it.

I've suggested therapy but he's been resistant to that because he says finding a therapist and going through all his issues will take months

This is the depression talking. It's like having an emotional dial stuck on minimum or maximum. Either the world is a grey colourless place that sucks all will out of you do anything because it's all utterly pointless, or the whole world is out to get you and it enrages you at that the smallest thing - no matter what you do, it'll be an utter catastrophe.

I think you either need to make him face up to what he has to do even though he doesn't want to right now and will come up with any excuse to avoid it, or I'm afraid you need to leave him before he drags you down with him.

If you do get through to him and once he gets a rational mind back he *will* thank you later though he may well hate you too at first alas.

If you can get him on an upswing, there's two sites that might help, both CBT based and officially recommended by the NHS. living life to the full and mood gym.

It's an evil disease, and it's hell on him and everybody around him. I wish you the best of luck in a tough situation.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2009 [8 favorites]

Oh, just kidding, you're anonymous. Well if you want to send the mods a throwaway email, I have some info that may be helpful that I'd prefer not to share here. :-)
posted by ishotjr at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2009

In the last month or so his depression has gone from low-level lack of desire to be involved with friends or complete tasks around the house to suicidal thoughts or extreme anger.

This goes far beyond normal quitting smoking blues, and I know what I'm talking about. The idea that quitting smoking is necessary or sufficient to induce him to adopt other healthy topics is also false and will disappoint him if he succeeds in quitting. I once had very unrealistic ideas about what I would gain from quitting smoking. The upside is that it turns out the basic rewards of quitting smoking are more than worth the effort of quitting even though it will not revolutionize one's life (people think this unrealistic way about losing weight too, like if you get skinny suddenly your life will turn around. Neither makes much sense if you think it through).

The real problem here is that he is not dealing with really serious depression. He has not accepted that the root of his problem is not circumstantial. Terrible jobs, unhealthy lifestyle, and cigarette withdrawal of course contribute to his emotions but many, many people go through these things without becoming suicidal or losing control of their rage. Most people who suffer from depression have up periods. Something sets them off again but there will always be something, eventually.

Exercise and diet are very unlikely to overcome this kind of depression. Quitting smoking will make him feel physically better and give him a sense of accomplishment but it's sure no cure for depression. Your description reminds me very much of myself a decade ago (minus suicidal thoughts) and what I needed was a lot of counseling by a professional therapist. If he won't do realistic things to treat his depression your relationship probably won't last in the long term.
posted by nanojath at 12:41 PM on October 25, 2009

The real problem here is that he is not dealing with really serious depression.

Just to stress, what I mean by this is that he is not addressing or taking care of his depression in the way it needs to be taken care of. He will not be able to do it himself and he needs to commit to a process that will take years, not months.
posted by nanojath at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2009

Some medications suck (and different ones work to differing degrees for different people of course), but there are a lot of choices out there now. If he's totally against it on principle and would rather die than take any sort of pill, then well... I don't know. But perhaps he is not aware of the variety of treatments out there.

I have been on the pill-go-round and yes it can be maddening when trying things that don't work or even make you feel worse. But sometimes persistence and even creativity (when coming up with combinations) pays off. For myself, when I got on the right combo, I got my life back. It was like night and day. I am bipolar for what it's worth, and have had decades of time lost to depression. Sometimes there is reason for hope.
posted by marble at 12:47 PM on October 25, 2009

For what it's worth, I posted this askmefi a month ago. I did come to the realisation as a result that I needed professional help and had to completely change my life and approach to work. It wasn't an easy realisation to come to, but I needed to do it. I won't say that I'm fixed, I'm a long way from that yet, but I'm going in the right direction now, I'm getting help, and it's like a night and day difference.

Your partner sounds very much like I was a month ago, and it's really just to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel - but it's incredibly, incredibly hard to se that it's there, or even ask for the help you need to find it - or even that you need to find it.

Feel free to memail me if there's any questions you want to ask, or if your partner wan'ts to ask me anything, and my wife (who's also a mefite) has also offered to give her perspective on how she's dealt with my depression so far; or ask the admins to put an anon email address.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:12 PM on October 25, 2009

I'm going through this exact issue with my boyfriend and I feel for you. In my case, we don't live together but, other than that, I could have written every word. When you care deeply for someone, it's hard not to be affected by their moods, especially when they're prolonged -- as it sounds like this is.

My partner has started going to therapy but I've seen no improvement (probably because his visits aren't very regular). He, too, refuses to take medication and, frankly, unless he's willing try and exhausted all his options, I'm not going to be able to tolerate being around him much longer. It's draining, and his constant anger and unwillingness to do anything but watch TV or complain is turning him into someone very unattractive indeed.

As others have said, when you're in a relationship, you have a responsibility to do what you can to maintain its health. He may not "want" to try medication but if it's indicated in his situation then "I don't want to" is a rather immature reason.

I wish I had some advice for you but, unfortunately, I haven't had any better luck than it sounds like you have. I wanted to let you know, though, that you're right to look out for yourself and remember you have needs too. I feel incredibly guilty when I think about walking away from my partner when he obviously could use someone in his corner but I have my own sanity to think of, and so do you.
posted by actuallyiam at 4:45 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I haven't read all the posts, but the first few are spot-on. Like the one who says . . .

In my experience, I have watched one couple's relationship follow a pattern: one spouse's mental illness manifests in episodes every six months to a year; during the episode the mentally ill spouse acts in ways that are harmful/stressful/destructive to both people; the mentally ill spouse's episode ends; and the mentally ill spouse expects the couple to go "back to normal." The mentally ill spouse knows another episode will happen, but refuses to do anything (treatment, legal/financial protection for the other spouse) to address the impact that the episodes have on the other spouse or the marriage as a whole. This is sick and wrong and bad for both people.

Let's say you get through this next round, and he recovers and becomes the person you love being with again. The question is not if he will get depressed again, but when he will get depressed again. Of course, right when you think everything will be okay and you start letting your guard down, the shoe will drop. Again.

So, the question becomes, is this a relationship pattern you want to choose for yourself. Because God knows, you can do nothing to change him or help him or save him. But you can take care of yourself. That doesn't mean you have to leave him--you may not want to, and the good may still outweigh the bad. But YOU HAVE TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Don't screw around with getting him into therapy. Get yourself into therapy. The only person you can help or change is yourself. It's really weird how it works . . . when you start addressing your issues and changing how you approach a situation, it makes the other parties have to change how they approach you.

Good luck. It's a long road.

P.S. Don't get yourself into the trap of thinking, "If he'd just get medication or if he'd just get therapy, then xxx." It never works that way. Or, I should say, it rarely works that way. Life's more complicated than that, and a person predisposed to depression will likely continue to fight severe bouts of it throughout their lifetime. Other readers . . . do you agree with this comment?
posted by reebs26 at 5:33 PM on October 25, 2009

I've been where you are. It sucks and I'm sorry you're there.

My husband's constant, unchecked depression drove me into a depression myself -- which it sounds like is where you are right now. I know that depression is a disease and that a person can't help being depressed (I've been there, too). I still feel a lot of guilt about leaving a man who was that messed up, but I could not fix the problems by myself. And if it were truly a reciprocal relationship, I would never have felt like I had to. He had many similar excuses about therapy, and finally told me he'd rather get a divorce than see a therapist. It sounds like your boyfriend would rather do anything than take responsibility for his problems (even though this isn't something he caused himself; but it's like any other disease and you have to go to the doctor so you don't spread it around).

As harsh as this sounds, he needs to take responsibility, not just for his problems but for the problems he's inflicting on your relationship. When a person starts letting their own problems seep into and damage a relationship, it's unfair to their partner who's expected to just keep clogging up the cracks.

Nthing therapy for yourself. I believe you and a therapist should also explore issues of codependence -- it's not limited to situations where there's alcohol or drug abuse. It's the cycle of rescuing people from whatever funk they keep intentionally putting themselves into. It might be tough, but you can't keep saving him without eventually drowning yourself; it sounds like that's where you are and it needs to be stopped.
posted by motsque at 5:43 PM on October 25, 2009

I think it always easier for person A to drag person B down (into their mental health hell), rather than person B to lift person A up (from any mental health issue). Maybe it's another form of gravity.

I know you asked if there were solutions other than therapy and/or medication, but is seems perusing Mefi history, the answer is that it usually includes one or the other (therapy and/or meds) with some other combo, like: Okay, I don't like medications, but I will do therapy and exercise, or I won't do therapy, but I will do exercise and medications, and reaching out to people in my community to talk. But therapy, exercise, medication, sleeping enough, eating healthy and not burdening one person significantly seem to be the staples of managing the long, dark, listless walk that is depression. And all of those solutions seem miles away when you're on that path, and you're already tired.

But what motsque says is true: I think very few people know their boundaries around a mental health issue before they have a relationship that involves it. They rarely have a 'walk away' scenario in mind, or even a 'stay in the relationship, but move out' scenario in mind. When I think of my friends and for myself, it was always 'I'd feel guilty about leaving, I feel love is about helping the ones you love, I wouldn't leave if they had a physical illness - how is this different, etc.' In short, all of the light and heat and energy in the relationship (mine and theirs), swarmed around them in an effort to help, leaving me in darkness. It's very counter-intuitive in love that the first step in the face of something like illness is to recall all of your mojo and activate all of your resources (friends, therapy, upping exercise, getting more sleep, eating better, etc.) to help yourself first - to protect yourself from, not the one you love, but from their illness, which would suck you down and swallow you up into the void without so much as a second thought...like an after-dinner mint.

I think good questions for you might be: what does it look like, sound like, feel like for people who maintain healthy boundaries with a loved one (parent, child, partner, friend) who has depression? What words do they use? What strategies do they have? How do they maintain their balance? How do they go out with friends and leave their partner listless in the bed and not feel guilty? How do they have their own bad day, realize that they might get little from their partner that day in terms of support, and not feel resentful? How do they still live life fully and not think of that person who shows little signs of wanting to 'save themselves', perhaps because of their illness, as a ball and chain weighing them down? How do they appreciate the wonderfulness of the person today, rather than lamenting what seems gone? Because if you know those things, then you might be able to face this situation better. Nobody asks to learn these lessons or skills, and I think you only really learn them on the fly, in the face of the problem - but this might be your time to do so, if you plan to stay in this relationship. But that's your path, that's about appreciating that your survival instinct is kicking in, and figuring out how to help yourself.

Perhaps it's telling that in the face of all that you've been through, your question here was about how to help him, rather than how to help yourself. Maybe not. But maybe.

Sending good wishes your way, OP.
posted by anitanita at 6:50 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

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