Make me Teflon
September 23, 2005 1:16 PM   Subscribe

I have an impending devastating breakup ahead. What can I proactively do before the bomb drops so I don't end up locked in my house for a year living on Bombay and cigarettes? This is going to be traumatic and painful and I want to shield myself from it as much as possible.

He's had a history of major depression and is going through an episode of it right now. I've always been the stable, responsible one in the situation and I can be patient and weather this. For him, it's too much and he can't. I know what I can and can't do to help the depression situation; however I feel like a jackass for resenting that I've become a casualty of this. I can't blame or get angry him for being depressed any more than he can if I had a cold. I know that rationally.

It's imperative that I not feel this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can't. You already feel it. You just don't feel it as strongly as you will when you break up with him. Feelings aren't rational things. You cannot make them be rational. All you can do is understand why you have them, and intellectually know whether you're right or wrong about the way you feel.

The only way to keep from spending a year inside, with gin and smokes is to actively decide you are not going to stay inside for a year with gin and smokes. Join a gym, take up a hobby, start running, whatever. Resign yourself to being miserable for a while; refuse to let yourself wallow in it. That's all you can do.

The rest is messy, irrational, and if you cram it down so you don't feel it, it'll just burst out at some inopportune time and make you deal with it then. Better to hurt now, when you're supposed to, than break down later, when you're supposed to be fine.
posted by headspace at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2005

Find a therapist now, and start seeing them regularly. There's lots of stuff to work with just in the little bit you told us.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:45 PM on September 23, 2005

Find a therapist now, and start seeing them regularly. There's lots of stuff to work with just in the little bit you told us.

Wait a minute, am I the echo in here?
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:08 PM on September 23, 2005

Whether or not it's rational for you to be angry, it sounds like you are. So get angry already. Anger is a great source of energy, and an incentive to go out and do things. (Living well is the best revenge, remember?)

I'm not saying you should be unnecessarily cruel to your ex. Feelings and actions are two different things. But as long as you act reasonably, you should go ahead and feel how you feel. Depression, in my experience, can be triggered by denying your own feelings — so don't deny them.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:10 PM on September 23, 2005

Is your partner getting treatment of any sort? Have you ever separated before, or as a means of forcing him to get help? If I understand, you're saying he's depressed, but you are the one who may go on a bender of smokes and gin. If so, are there codependency issues?

Therapy may be of value. If you are ready and willing. And anger is reasonable. Some depressed people get secondary gain from their illness. It's a great facilitator of inertia, like a perpetual rainfall that keeps one from ever mowing the grass.
posted by docpops at 2:32 PM on September 23, 2005

Yes, therapy would be a good idea -- for both of you, if he's that depressed.

Beyond that, I agree with Headspace: get out and do things. Become active, particularly in ways that force you to interact with other people in a healthy manner.
posted by me3dia at 2:37 PM on September 23, 2005

I can't blame or get angry him for being depressed any more than he can if I had a cold.

No, wrong.
You can get angry.
It doesn't matter if it's rational.
You can scream and throw things and hit pillows and...
have feelings. The world will not end.
The people who really care about you will make allowances for you just as you make allowances for them, right?

He is not the only one allowed to have feelings.

Own yours.
posted by Methylviolet at 2:43 PM on September 23, 2005

Agreeing with Methylviolet. Even if you don't want to get mad at *him* for being depressed, you can sure as hell be mad at the effect his depression is having on the two of you. Anger doesn't have to be rational, or productive, or logical.

Other than that, I would say just *know* that you'll get through this. That simple belief can carry you through a lot of shit, even when you're not sure where, or when, you'll end up on the other side. Just know you'll get there.
posted by occhiblu at 3:15 PM on September 23, 2005

It's likely you're going to be blamed, vilified and be called names. After all, you're his girlfriend and you're abandoning him in this time of need!

He doesn't own're not're just seeing each other, and youv'e decided that there is too much negative to outweight the positive. In no way does this make you a bad person. It's called self protection, and it's the same reason you posted a question here - you're looking to protect yourself...and do so in the least damaging way.

The smartest thing you can do for yourself is get some decent support system (therapy, friends, family)...because it'll do so much better than an Anonymous Metafilter question.

Oh, and be honest with him and a've been wanting out of the relationship for awhile.
posted by filmgeek at 4:11 PM on September 23, 2005

you will probably be surprised at how much better you feel once you aren't around him anymore ... being with someone with major problems has effects on you that you won't realize until you're out of the relationship ... i wouldn't suggest bombay and cigs of course, but you could discover that some quiet weeks in your house will be a lot more theraputic than you think ... you may find it a relief to have your own company for awhile instead of his

at least, that's been my experience ... that isn't to say it'll be all easy or that a support system won't be needed ... but it may not be as bad as you think
posted by pyramid termite at 5:55 PM on September 23, 2005

Ever heard of Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris?
posted by davy at 11:17 PM on September 23, 2005

If you do see a therapist, go in with the right expectations. If you're already in a totally messed up state, they have no magic bullets for you. They can provide a forum to help look over you and give you a regular time to work through stuff, but they can't immediately help you not feel something. True benefits take a long time, months. But if you're really on the edge, it should help a little to do *something* to make yourself feel like you've got a safety net and someone you can trust to help you. Just don't walk in expecting too much. It can take half a dozen sessions just to explain your situation and teach the therapist about yourself. If you're going once a week and have no insurance, that's 6 weeks and hundreds of dollars before they even open their mouths.

Sorry about the breakup. It sucks. Try to realize that you cannot actually make it better by staying. Your leaving may suck for him, but your staying isn't going to help him either. I think your no-fault approach is very wise and fair and if you stick to it you'll be better off.
posted by scarabic at 12:23 AM on September 24, 2005

Also - consider that the dread of feeling what you're feeling may be worse than the feelings themselves. You can't really stop feelings from happening by stacking dread on top of them. Letting yourself feel it fully is the fastest and healthiest way of getting past it. "Fully" really means what it says, though. Don't just cry really hard once and try to convince yourself you're done.
posted by scarabic at 12:25 AM on September 24, 2005

Assuming you still care about him as a person, it might also be good if you don't tell him you need to be alone and then right away take up with somebody else. If you do plan to replace him don't swear you don't; depressives don't like being lied to any more than "normal" people.

I also realize from personal experience that depressives can be hell to break up with, especially when they're younger -- before it's happened so many times that one's skin grows as thick as a hippo's. And if he gets energetically obnoxious you'll have to think of yourself first: someone wanting to forestall drawn-out ickiness with my 21 year old self did better by making a clean break. (And I obviously survived it okay.)

I realize this answer is more concerned with his feelings than yours. It's just that from your post it doesn't sound like you want to "evilly grind his soul into the sidewalk", but to get out of a situation that hurts you and take care of yourself.
posted by davy at 9:05 AM on September 24, 2005

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