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Boyfriend suffers from anxiety and depression

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Boyfriend suffers from anxiety and depression

Postby Mirjam » Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:44 am

Hello. I hope that no one will take offense that I post here not about myself but about my boyfriend. I apologize in advance if this post is long. I feel very helpless and confused, and unsure of what is the best course of action.

A bit of context about myself:

I am in my early forties, separated since a year with two children (5 and 7). I had an 18 year long relationship with my ex husband. Divorce was amicable and we are on good terms (we did 12 months of couple therapy before deciding to part). I have a successful career, am independent, and have lots of close friends and a good loving relationship with my family. I had a rough childhood, suffered from depression as a teenager for 3 years, and was anorexic in my late teens, but managed to get my mental health back on track, and besides a short bout of post partum depression, have had a very balanced mental health for the last 20 years.

Nine months ago I met someone. We had many things in common, and although a bit of an introvert (I'm more of an ambivert), he had a very soft and kind personality (which was particularly refreshing since my ex had quite the temper). He said himself that he was immediately "smitten" with me, and was the most loving partner I ever had. Within 2 months, he asked to meet my kids, and made an effort to connect with them, and after 5 months of dating, he suggested we move in together, and since things were going well, I was ready to consider this option for sometime in the Summer or early next Fall, and we started planning a future life together.

I should ad that a few months into the relationship, at some point he suddenly became distant, and when I pointed this out, he admitted right away that he had been struggling with depression and anxiety his entire life, that he feels it's caused by something that happened to him as a child. We discussed it at great length, and he was very open and honest, and said that he would start taking his meds again. He is a very open and honest person with me. I know he feels comfortable with me and trusts me because he said that not only had he never discussed his symptoms with anyone, but had not even told anyone about his condition, not even his ex wife with whom he was with for 20 years. A few days after he started taking the meds, he seemed back to normal. And we discussed how long he would be taking them, when he would try to get off them again, how that would be for him and me, etc. For me, it seemed that although he had anxiety and depression, he had had it long enough to know how to keep it under control.

Fast forward to end of February. I went on a family vacation to Morocco. And while we were there, the whole Covid-19 lockdown started happening, and although I managed to get out on a regular flight, I had to spend a week upon my return to get the rest of my family back to Canada on a rescue flight. It was an extremely stressful situation, while we were there (we were all waiting to see which flights would be cancelled and trying to get on earlier flights out), and even more so while I got back worrying about my family trapped in an African country for months during lockdown and with growing civil unrest. I was falling apart, loosing sleep trying day and night to find flights for them. I needed my boyfriend for support, but I only saw him one day the week after I got back, and he was barely responding to my texts, and finally told me he wanted to only see me one day a week (we had been spending 6-7 days per week together before my trip). I got pretty upset and asked him to see me to talk. We had always been very open with each other about how we feel, and managed to communicate well when a disagreement arose. So, I told him how I felt: that I felt hurt about how he hadn't been there for me when I was dealing with so much worry and stress. And even more hurt how he decided - for the both of us without even discussing it or any kind of explanation - that we would only see each other once a week. I was pretty angry, but I expressed myself softly, although firmly. He didn't say much, started crying, stared into space a long time, then finally said "I can't give you what you want, I can't be who you want me to be. You're better off with someone else", and he walked out. I sent him many texts over the next days telling him that I loved him, and that I felt he didn't mean what he said, that I wanted him to stay and for us to find a way to talk through this and find solutions. After a few days, he texted shortly that he wasn't ready to talk but agreed to meet me the following week. When we finally met, he hadn't changed his mind but was in a much calmer state of mind. We talked a long time, and he admitted that his depression got a lot worse while I was away - he was lonely and felt very anxious about my situation - and that he really felt that he was dragging me down, that he felt I deserved to be happy and that he wasn't giving me that, and that he felt he had to let me loose because he was a burden to me, and I had enough responsibilities and enough people to care about as it was.I told him about how I had battled with depression myself in the past (I had told him before, but I hadn't given him all the details: at age 14, I was suicidal). I finally talked him out leaving, and giving us another chance.

That was 6 weeks ago. He has seen his doctor, doubled his medications, went on a two-month insurance paid medical leave (he's a software engineer, not sure if that makes a difference to this story, but he has a very good, well-paid, secure job), and promised me he would consider seeing a therapist (he's never seen a therapist before - his work actually has free therapists for their employees). So, he seemed proactive. On my end, I was trying to be very supportive and loving. I agreed to only seeing each once a week if space was what he needed, and I kept checking how he was doing, encouraging him to share his thought and feelings, telling him how much I loved him, and trying to keep a good flow of positive texting through the course of the day (he doesn't like phone calls). For the following weeks, despite the fact that he was clearly not doing well (he seemed a bit numb emotionally, and he would complain about insomnia most mornings), I felt that we managed to keep closeness. I could tell that he felt safe with me, and that my presence, even from a distance through a text, had a positive effect. Some days he would suddenly feel a lot better (usually when he got good sleep), and would ask to come over, and we would have a nice time and good sex. Then, often he would suddenly be doing a little less well again. But overall he seemed to be improving, and we started seeing each other about 3 days per week again. It gave me hope that he was getting better, and we would get through this.

Then about a week ago, things got worse again. He started pushing me away again, finding excuses not to see me, and when we finally saw each other, he was snappy with me, which he had never done before: until now he had always been very gentle, and kept telling me that no of this was my fault, and despite everything he loved me. I brought up how his attitude was hurtful and he apologized and agreed that he had been insensitive. But after that, instead of spending three days with me, he left the same day. And somehow I lost it a bit after that.

I had been, during those 6 weeks, under a lot of stress. I run a theatre company that had to completely shut down because of the pandemic, and I have been struggling to keep the company financially afloat, had to fire employees, borrow money. And also dealing with two small children out of school not quite understanding what is going on, and worrying about elderly parents in not the best health. I want to be understanding and supportive of my boyfriend's condition (I know it's not his fault and he obviously doesn't want to feel that way), but I feel his state of mind has been severely affecting mine. Furthermore, 6 weeks later, he has stil not contacted a therapist, and he hasn't done any of the things that we discussed he would do during his medical leave that would help him feel better: exercising daily, even if just going for a short walk, a few projects around the house that he wanted to do since ever and always said he was too busy to do, some personal art projects that he had also been going on since ever. I've worked from home from his place, and he basically just sits around all day watching stupid stuff on Youtube. So, I feel like he's not really putting in a lot of effort to improve his condition (and I understand it's hard to find the motivation, and if I bring it up, the not doing it just causes him anxiety).

I try to get as much support from friends and family (and they've been fantastic; I feel truly blessed to have so many great people in my life!), but the fact that he's now pushing me away more and more is seriously affecting my own mental health. Even more so since it's impossible for me to discuss this with him. If I bring up (in a tender, loving way) that this is hard on me too, he completely shuts down and I don't hear from him for a day.

I feel very sad and confused, and unsure of what to do. I really really love him. I am not in my 20s working on my first long term relationship. I have had many relationships in my life, and I've learned a thing or two about both relationships and love. When I met my boyfriend, for the first time in my life, I had this impression of "he's the One". When he's not afflicted with depression and anxiety, the connection I have with him is like no other I have ever had with anyone in my life. At the same time, I am starting to seriously worry about my own mental health, even more so given how many people are dependant on me. And I feel at a loss of what to do.

So, I guess this message is a shot in the dark! Hoping for some insight, shared stories, advice.

I thank you for having taken the time to read my (very) long post, and thank you in advance to anyone taking the time to post a reply.
Mirjam
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Re: Boyfriend suffers from anxiety and depression

Postby Maxx111 » Sat May 16, 2020 2:49 pm

Hi, treat your boyfriend the way he treats you. Don't force your boyfriend to be loving to you, he is not stupid and he knows exactly what he is doing.

He is taking advantage of your love for him. Let him go and let him work hard to get you back, but do not tell him you are letting him go just don't respond when he treats you badly.

If he calls less and sees you less don't complain or say anything negative or try to convince him that it is his depression, or try to change his mind, just agree with what ever he wants. If he wants to leave let him leave. Let him come up with his own conclusion don't do.it for him.

Because he sees you as desperate and a woman with low self-esteem who cannot do better than him and he is milking it.

STOP FIGHTING FOR HIM, LET HIM FIGHT FOR YOU, or he will continue to treat you badly.
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Re: Boyfriend suffers from anxiety and depression

Postby thegentlepath » Mon May 18, 2020 2:03 pm

Hi Mirjam,
Welcome to psychforums. First, let me preface this by saying: I am not a relationship expert...but nine months is not a long time to know another person. Wanting to move in together after five months also seems fast to me. The pandemic isn’t helping your situation.

Could it be your boyfriend bit off more than he could chew in wanting to be with you? If he is struggling with his own mi issues & unable to perform adequate self care, it seems logical to me that he would not be able to support you emotionally.

I could be wrong though. Good luck in your journey.
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