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Old 05-01-2014, 07:57 PM
willowstar willowstar is offline
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Default Depression with an LDR

Hello friends. I am hoping to get some good info to help my partner/boyfriend. He has been spiraling into depression for the last two months or so, maybe longer. He has a history of it, has been on meds before. He told me a few weeks ago that he feels he needs to get on them again. He is disconnected and not feeling much attachment to anyone right now. Our contact has become less and less. This is partly due to his being employed again (he was unemployed for over a year and just got back into working). His available time is very limited. The job came up quickly and our relationship took a very abrupt turn, going from seeing each other twice a week and daily contact to seeing him twice a month and limited texting, hardly any phone.

He is taking the necessary steps for himself. Got himself to the primary doc. Got a referral for therapy, and got an appointment with counselor (psychiatrist who can prescribe meds) and had his first appt already. I am so glad he is taking the steps to get well again. His lack of contact and interest in anything is alarming to me. It is devastating to text him and not hear anything at all. He has gone days without reaching out or even acknowledging my contact. My husband was able to get a couple of good morning and good nights out of him, so I knew he was okay, but I am still feeling hurt and rejected and trying to make sense of it all. I finally was able to get him to write to me after he had his appt and he did give me a clipped but informational answer about how it went. He will still play games (words with friends, drawing) with me. I am thinking this is his way of staying connected without having to communicate too much.

I cant imagine what he is feeling. I know that whatever I am feeling, for him it must be so much worse. When I tried to ask him what was happening for him, he just says he doesnt know, he is feeling very disconnected from everyone and everything. He cant even tell me if he wants to be in this relationship right now. He stopped saying he loved me weeks ago. But he is also not breaking up with me or telling me to leave him alone. I am hoping it is all just the depression, and that he will be treated and get well.

My husband has been a wonderful rock of support for me. Offering me lots of verbal and emotional support. Holding me while I cry about it, he is hopeful that all will be well and I will get my lover back. He and I have taken to tell each other when we hear from him, just so we are communicating about it. My panic about whether he is okay or not was alleviated just by knowing he was talking to hubby. My hurt that it wasnt me he was talking to gets pushed to the back and I can just breathe through it.

So my main issue to ask for is what can I do to support my boyfriend from afar? And to support myself as he goes through this? He is 60 miles away. I cant see him in person, and I am not sure he wants that or not. He cant seem to determine whether that would be helpful or not. If he did want it, I would drive there every day. But I am just uncertain what to do in this case. Last I heard, he had NOT told his wife about any of this. This is a whole other issue. He does not feel like he can have conversations with her like this, and he is probably just living life in survival mode hoping no one in his life there will notice. This is not something I know for sure, but I cant just ask her without outting him, so until I know he has opened up to her I only have his word to go on.

When I did see him in person last Thursday afternoon, he assured me he was not suicidal, and just holding on until he got to the doc to get back on meds. Doc had not prescribed anything yet since it was just the first visit. Hopefully in the next week or two.

I just want him to be okay. I know this is not him. I need to find some tools to help me with my grief over this, my anxiety and panic when he does not contact me, and just understanding what is appropriate for me at this time. Wanting to be helpful supportive emotionally secure girlfriend and not needy scared sobbing girlfriend, you know?

Thanks for any advice.

Willow
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Willow ~ 44yo bi woman, married to Bear (formerly known as TB) for 18 years
Bear-Maybe poly/maybe mono straight man, still feeling it out
Armadillo (formerly known as BF) - currently out of the picture. Depression is evil...
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2014, 12:21 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I am sorry you all are going through this. It is miserable for everyone. My dad suffered from depression. So I do have some understanding of what you are going through.

It helped me to realize and to consciously understand that depression is a medical disease, just like diabetes or a heart condition. Often when people have a severe medical problem, they don't act like themselves either. However, because their discomfort is often physical, we can witness their pain, and immediately come to terms with the fact that their behavior is due to not feeling physically good. The same is true of depression. Problem is, unlike a physical problem, the pain is invisible to the outside world. So I would ask myself, what would I be feeling if my dad was in physical pain. I found it was different than what I was actually feeling - which was unappreciated, unimportant, etc. so I made a conscious effort to see my dad's depression in terms of behavior produced by physical pain.

Another thing about people who are depressed is they have no energy. Your bf has a new job, in which he is no doubt putting up a fašade, and is also doing so with his wife. I can't imagine how draining it would be to hide such a thing - especially in his own home.

Unfortunately, you are disadvantaged by a lack of physical proximity, which keeps you from gauging how severe his symptoms are. Is he just low energy or suicidal? That said, you probably ought to take him at his word that he's not. He's been through it before, knows what to do, and is taking those steps. Doesn't sound like the actions of a guy who is planning his demise.

After my dad had his depression under control, he told me that when he felt suicidal, he told himself that he could always do it tomorrow. He understood the need to wait it out, and that is how he coped. It sounds like your bf understands the need to wait it out while he goes through treatment.

The thing that is tough, is to come to terms with the fact that you have no control over this situation any more than you would if he had heart attack. It's not a matter of loving him enough, it's not a matter of saying the right thing, it's none of those things your emotions are telling you it is.

I hope some of this will help.
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2014, 12:15 PM
copperhead copperhead is offline
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Comfort in - dump out. (I don't remember the article I learned this from.) Show your boyfriend comfort. Show him your love with small things, but in a way that it's clear you don't expect anything from him, that it is enough he exists. Give him comfort, when he wants it. And then dump out your fears and sorrows, to you husband, to us etc. And make sure your husband does the same, comforts you and has someone he can dump his negative feelings to if he gets tired of it sometimes. You don't need to support him too.

When I went through depression the hardest thing was how everyone wanted to be so supportive and nice. I felt I wasn't allowed to be the way I was, that I had an obligation to suddenly be well, because others were trying so hard. And that made everything worse and that made me want to avoid people even more. I needed someone like me, to whom I could tell dark and grimm jokes about my situation and who would totally get those. It usually needs to be someone who is going through similar stuff. I don't think I could offer that to anyone anymore, now that I'm well again. I was in a place, where even good things made me sad. If a stranger was nice to me, it was almost unbearable. But later, when I was ready, those memories of how nice and kind people can be helped me in the healing process.

My list of advice:
- take care of yourself! Make sure you don't get sucked in.
- show your love, support and empathy, send texts that say you love him, or send him a hug every now and then. My secret weapon against depression is to say: "I love you, you are important and you are wonderful."
- comfort in - dump out.
- be open to hear how hard it is for him without judging or freaking out, let him be honest with you about what he is goign through when he is ready. You don't need to say anything, just listen.
- keep playing those games
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2014, 02:13 PM
willowstar willowstar is offline
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Thank you bookbug and copperhead. That is all helpful information.

Comfort in-dump out is exactly what I am trying to do right now. Giving him lots of nice, neutral messages. I have been able to get a little more contact from him by asking pointed direct questions ("How was your appointment" rather than open ended subjective ones (How are you? What's going on?") Those he wont respond to at all. And I do understand that maybe he just cant right now. But it sure does hurt a lot when I get nothing at all.

For me, lack of information just gets my wheels turning and my anxiety kicks in big-time. I start to worry that he is just using this as an opportunity to break away from our relationship. That he doesnt care about me, that I was just a convenient distraction while he was unemployed, and now that he has a job he doesnt need me.

BUt then I remember all of the endless hours of talking we have done. All of the deep emotional connections we have made for each other. How important we have been to each other, and I just want to trust that. I want to believe that he will come back to me. But I know he might not.

My husband has been a wonderful rock for me. Its why we are still together even after all the angst we have shared, and caused each other. In the end. he is always the one who is here for me, and I for him. We are a good team when we get past our own "stuff" and are really present for each other.

This is one of those issues that comes up for people in "secondary" relationships. That when someone you love deeply is in trouble, or in need or medical care, in a crisis situation, we often dont get to be there for them. We just wait quietly by the sidelines, hoping it will be all alright, and that the people who are there every day are taking care of them. It is causing me to rethink my relationship with him overall, and what is acceptable to me and fair to him as well. I am really hating this a lot right now.

Thanks for the support here...

Willow
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Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming... ~ Dori


Willow ~ 44yo bi woman, married to Bear (formerly known as TB) for 18 years
Bear-Maybe poly/maybe mono straight man, still feeling it out
Armadillo (formerly known as BF) - currently out of the picture. Depression is evil...
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  #5  
Old 05-02-2014, 07:49 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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I'm sorry your boyfriend is going through this and I commend you for coming here looking for advice on how to support him through this.

Both my husband, MrS, and our girlfriend, Lotus, suffer from depression (both are currently medicated). I, on the other hand, suffer from anxiety (again currently medicated) which I have to guard against when one of them is not feeling well (i.e. it is NOT my fault that they are depressed).

My husband found this comic to be helpful in explaining to people who DON'T suffer from depression what it can feel like to the depressed person. Perhaps you could share it with your boyfriend and see if it describes any of his feelings.

adventures-in-depression (Part 1)

depression-part-two

Another thing to keep in mind is that meds don't work overnight - it will generally take 3-4 weeks to notice any effect at all, and then often meds need to be adjusted or changed. It's sometimes hard for the depressed person to notice any changes and they often give up on the meds before there has really been time to see if they will help. I would encourage your boyfriend to follow through with therapy and meds even if he doesn't see any improvement at first. The road to recovery can be a long haul...
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Last edited by JaneQSmythe; 05-02-2014 at 07:57 PM.
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  #6  
Old 05-02-2014, 07:57 PM
Cleo Cleo is offline
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My bf of 7 months suffers from depression and I suffer from anxiety... boy there's a nice pattern going on here on this thread

He's on meds, and I've noticed his decrease in being connected with me - we've gone from a lot of emailing and texting to practically nothing. My anxiety makes it very hard to deal with his detachment because I take it personally and feel that he does not want to be with me anymore. I guess I don't have a lot of advice but just wanted to say I really understand what you are going through.

I think for me it is important that I take care of myself first which might mean distancing myself from him. That I am not able to 'make things right' for him - that he has to take care of himself, and that it is possible that in this process, our relationship will not survive. Once I really understood this, it became easier (though not less painful) for me to not think about him and worry about him all the time.
Sorry you are going through this.
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  #7  
Old 05-03-2014, 06:28 AM
copperhead copperhead is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneQSmythe View Post
I
My husband found this comic to be helpful in explaining to people who DON'T suffer from depression what it can feel like to the depressed person. Perhaps you could share it with your boyfriend and see if it describes any of his feelings.

adventures-in-depression (Part 1)

depression-part-two

Oh, these are amazing! I'd forgotten about them.
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2014, 02:45 AM
willowstar willowstar is offline
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Thanks JQS! Yes I had seen those comics before and they do a wonderful job of describing what it feels like. I had postpartum depression and I do know what it can feel like to be in that place. I did take meds for that for about a year and weaned myself off once things were more stable in my life. It was a horrendously stressful year for me and I dont think I would have gotten through it without chemical support.

My own anxiety does get in the way. Not really medicated for that right now, but will take something occasionally if it ramps up a lot. I have just really accepted that this is part of my personality and most days just get through it.

Cleo, sorry you are going through a similar situation. It sucks big time, and it absolutely does feel personal. Especially when the depressed partner cannot give you the reassurances that everything with the relationship is okay. I wish he could just do that, just tell me to hold on and wait for him to get better. But he just cant. So, I make small talk and wait anyway.
__________________
Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming... ~ Dori


Willow ~ 44yo bi woman, married to Bear (formerly known as TB) for 18 years
Bear-Maybe poly/maybe mono straight man, still feeling it out
Armadillo (formerly known as BF) - currently out of the picture. Depression is evil...
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  #9  
Old 05-04-2014, 12:36 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willowstar View Post
Cleo, sorry you are going through a similar situation. It sucks big time, and it absolutely does feel personal. Especially when the depressed partner cannot give you the reassurances that everything with the relationship is okay. I wish he could just do that, just tell me to hold on and wait for him to get better. But he just cant. So, I make small talk and wait anyway.
Ironically, if he were able to tell you this, he wouldn't be depressed. :/
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The Philosopher: 44, male - my best friend, intellectual twin, and lover when time permits.

Both poly-experienced, but not looking.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2014, 08:16 PM
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Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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Could you find a local partner? Not break up with your long distance boyfriend but accept that even on meds this may just be the way your relationship will be from now on. Can you be satisfied being with someone who can't be affectionate with you? Who isn't able and or willing to make simple needs like responding to a hello or saying they love you.

I too go through bouts of depression but when im not feeling particularly chatty then I shoot sam a text to let him know that. It's a very simple courtesy
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