Polyamory and depression, advice please
I am (right now rather reluctantly) in an open relationship with my primary partner/girlfriend for a little over 7 months. I'm insanely in love with her and have never met anyone who I've wanted to be with more than her. When we both met, we agreed on the fact that we'd both like to be open. Everything was great with us, and we were both seeing other people a couple of times a month or more.
Now, things aren't so great. Since the beginning of the fall, I've been suffering from serious depression. I've got anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of interest and sleep and all the other fun stuff that comes with it. I've since stopped seeing anyone else.
Before my depression came, my girlfriend had 2 other partners who she was seeing irregularly, maybe once or twice a month. My mood has admittedly caused a lot of issues in our relationship, and neither of us feel the strong connection we had before, although we both still love each other very much.
She has also started seeing 2 new people in the last few weeks. She says that these other relationships are not as meaningful as ours is, and that I shouldn't feel threatened or jealous. But, obviously I do...
Principally, I know that the feelings of hurt and jealousy and fear stem from my own weakness, and I am trying to work through them and seeing a therapist. And, I have a lot of ups and downs. Some days, I'm perfectly fine with the idea of her seeing others, while other days (especially the ones where she is with another partner) it just hurts so overwhelmingly that I can't block it out, or even sleep sometimes.
I've read that depression and polyamory don't mix, and I'm experiencing it now firsthand, I suppose. I don't want to break up with my girlfriend, but also I don't know how much more I can bear my mind being tortured like this.
I've had the idea to suggest to her that maybe she could stop seeing her other partners for a little while until I feel more whole myself, and we could restrengthen our own bond. I don't know if this is fair or not, but I so overwhelmingly feel that this is what I would need. I know I need to work on myself and feeling better, but it's so damn hard when I can't stop free flow of neurotic thoughts about her sleeping with other people.
What does anyone think about this? Would I be unreasonable to ask that she take a break for a couple of months for just for me?
In other words, there's a huge difference between requesting and demanding. It's fair to request. It's not fair to demand. Upon requesting, it's fair for her to agree, and it's fair for her to not agree.
One concern, though, is that depression usually isn't a "ok, that's fixed, let's never go there again" kind of thing. You'll have good times, you'll have bad times. But combining a bad time with getting your footing on polyamory can make both extra challenging. All I'm saying is that be aware that while you may ask for it for now, and she may acquiesce, don't expect her to stop dating every time your depression flares up.
Depression is often a repeat problem and it's not realistic to ask someone to repeatedly take a break from their life because yours is in the shitter.
I suffer from depression and I'm poly.
One thing I like to point out-is that there is a HUGE difference between asking a partner to stop dating other people with whom they ALREADY HAVE A RELATIONSHIP for a time while you deal with a temporary problem
asking them to stop considering NEW potentials for a time while you deal with a temporary problem
asking them for some extra tlc while you are dealing with a temporary problem.
I tend to be against the first for many reasons. Primarily-it's disrespectful to the other partners. Period.
But-the bottom two I support in a lot of scenarios.
Now-for the depression part;
You NEED NEED NEED to manage your self care.
That means enforcing healthy eating AND DAILY CARDIO EXERCISE no matter what.
The cardio exercise helps depression better than any other known thing scientists have yet tested-with almost no side effects.
Your depression will drive you not to.
But-depression AND anxiety are both reduced IN THE MOMENT with cardio exercise of 20 minutes. In both cases, daily exercise actually changes the chemicals in your body to help reduce depression going forward.
It's a NECESSITY. We make a million excuses why we can't fit exercise into our routines. But especially if we suffer from depression and/or anxiety-those excuses are deadly.
So if you really want to find some solutions regarding your relationship; it sounds like the key factor negatively impacting it is the depression. Which means your focus needs to be on the depression. Not on how to change the dating situation.
Also, sunlight. Unobscured by window or sunscreen for 20-40 minutes daily can help.
Vitamin D3-10000 iu to 20000 iu a day can make a huge difference (do not get to 40000iu a day, that can cause health issues from overdose of D).
Schedule a walk every single day-outdoors if at all possible.
grab a notebook and every night before bed-write 3 things that went right or were good that day.
While suffering depression, we tend to forget the positive things. We need reminders, writing them down before bed helps and then when we are feeling worse-we can go back and read them.
Consider what kind of music you listen to, what you are reading, watching on tv. Needs to be happy, not depressing, problematic or stressful.
thanks to both of you for taking time to respond.
I understand that depression is not a one-off thing, and that even if it gets better, it will most likely come back at some point. But, I have also had several years where it didn't rear its head.
I am jogging almost everyday now, and yes it does help. As far as sunlight goes, I live in Berlin and winter is coming, so that can go out the window. I work from 10am-6pm. The sun is completely down by 4:30pm.
Some days I can find a bit, but mostly I can't derive any enjoyment from things I normally would. I am a musician, and I don't even enjoy listening to music. Really, I can't find space in my head to get away from my neurotic thoughts for hardly a second. Although its just a hunch at this point, I have the feeling that knowing that my girlfriend wouldn't be sleeping with other people for a bit, as this causes me tremendous mental anguish, would give me the little bit of extra breathing room and focus I desperately need to focus even more on improving my situation.
I understand that by asking her to take a break from seeing them, it would be disrespectful to the other partners. However, as I said I she's said that her relationships with them aren't as meaningful as ours is. She hasn't met either of them more than 5 times. And, hopefully I would be able to be comfortable with her seeing them again sooner rather than later.
The bottom line for me is that I just don't think I have the strength to deal with being open for the time being. I have gone back and forth on the matter in my head so many times, and it keeps leading me back here.
A+ for jogging.
Totally understand the sunlight issue. I live in Alaska. It is 5:15pm as I type and already dark. :( gets earlier every day.
In light of that-DEFINITELY try the D3. It is a life saver. I can tell the difference in 24 hrs.
My husband, MrS, has depression, or more likely Biplolar Tyype II and is currently being treated (still adjusting meds)and I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (currently controlled with meds). I've often thought that my boyfriend, Dude, is somewhere on the autism spectrum (undiagnosed...and I understand that is no longer the accepted nomenclature). Yet, somehow, it has managed to work so far...
When MrS gave his blessing to me pursuing "something" with Dude we both understood (and discussed) that there was "no going back" from that decision...that it would be unfair to invite someone into a relationship and then "take it back".
So...my take...it is reasonable to ask someone to take a break from meeting new potentials or cool it with people that are just in the "potential" arena. But, if there is already a "relationship-in-progress" then I think it IS unfair to ask that to scale back to something different...I don't think that you can "un-do" that....i.e. to me, it seems reasonable to ask for a "freeze" but not an "erasure"....
Recently we come upon a situation where it feels right to "close" a portion of our poly network....me, Dude, and Lotus have agreed that it would be better to NOT add any new partner's to the mix...MrS and Lotus's husband TT are NOT a part of this agreement - they are free to pursue whatever relationships they normally would.(*)
(*) I keep meaning to blog about this...but I am still sorting some things out...:p
PS. for those of you who live in areas (like I do) that have limited sunlight for portions of the year... I recommend looking into obtain they type of "full-spectrum" bright lights that are used for SAD ("Seasonal Affective Disorder")...we are all night-owls so this is not as much of an issue but I know a number of people who have used them successfully... like cardio, the potential down-sides are minimal.
I have one of those lights. They do help. A little aggravating, because you have be within 12 inches of it, for 30 minutes at a time and they advise 2 times a day. But I have one and use it.
Can't imagine surviving winter without all the help I can get!
I also suffer from depression, it's always worse this time of year and every so many years it's so bad that I end up hospitalized. What I do as far as relationships is the same thing I try and do year round. I give them warnings. I tell them both how I'm doing, I explain that I'm overly emotional for no real reason so when they catch me crying they know it's not anything as horrible as it seems. I let them know I need more. More cuddling, more time, more light, more musicals, more help. It's up to them how much of that they want to give me but I haven't really had an issue where I felt they didn't care.
So if someone wants to date, I try not to feel the need to infringe and typically they are honest about how much they can do for me and when they also need a break. Since I've also been the caretaker for those with severe depression and other issues I understand that they also need breaks. I may not always emotionally get it, but sometimes that means I just have to say it to myself until I get through it emotionally!
+1 for "Does the sun even still exist?" My windowless office is in the basement. I might catch a glimpse through the outer doors on my way to my windowless classroom. My saving grace is being a night owl, so I don't leave home until around noon, so I at least get to see it on my walk to school. Maybe you could go for a walk at lunch time?
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