Dealing with Depressed and Apathetic Boyfriend
I'm 19 years old and have been with my boyfriend for nearly three years. When I met him at school he was teased about having no feelings as he never really responded to anything, regardless or whether it was happy, sad, angry, etc. Anyways, we became close friends and ended up getting together. A few months after this he revealed that he had been depressed, except instead of feeling characteristic sadness, he simply didn't feel anything. He reassured me that our relationship had fixed it and that "I made him feel happy when he thought he never would be again." Our relationship was pure bliss for about the next year and a half, maybe a bit longer. Following this, I felt something change in him, like something was off although his behaviour didn't seem drastically different. Just little things like not wanting to see me as much. He also dropped out of university which I found odd but not extremely so because he had never been the most enthusiastic student. However, several months later I found out that he'd been lying to me about many things, even things that were insignificant. He also began stealing money from his job and hanging around questionable new people. Upon finding all this out, his family and I were obviously extremely upset but he seemed not to have any empathy whatsoever. I continued to try to make the relationship work but several months later he broke up with me saying that he didn't love me anymore and that he saw no future between us. During the breakup he treated me very poorly, namely by stringing me along. At the same time, he made more strange friends and began to use drugs recreationally. He ended up being thrown out of home and 2 days later turned up on my doorstep begging for forgiveness and help for mental health issues. I took him back, as did his family, but he then refused to get help. We let it go because for the next month and a half he went back to normal, treating everyone with love and respect. However, one night he revealed to me that he had been depressed (no emotions) again for the last year which is when his odd behaviour began. He has since been to a GP/psychologist but tells me that it probably won't help us and that he can't give me his 100% and that I deserve better. I am very confused because I don't know how much of what he is saying/doing is his illness and how much is him. I love him very much and don't want to lose him. I am currently giving him space to think about our relationship. Help?
Welcome to the forums and thankyou for posting too!
I am sorry that your boyfriend (and you) is doing it tough as depression is awful illness that effect our moods and behavior greatly.From what I can see your boyfriend doesnt seem really that eager to get regular treatment for his issues. He mentioned that 'a GP/psychologist 'probably wont help'.
It actually will help him a great deal. I have had depression for years and do understand your situation. Is he ashamed of getting help? Its really no different than a broken limb or a serious infection, we have to get treated.
I dont wish to be blunt but if you dont see him making a concerted effort with regular counseling, your situation will not really improve. It fine that he communicates sometimes with you but it is crucial for him to start building his foundations where recovery is concerned. The money business, his peer group choices are not caused by depression. The drug use can also enhance his depression as well....
I do feel the love you have for him which is wonderful , you have also been smart enough to give him space so he can have a good think too. This is only my humble opinion but if he isnt enthusiastic about seeing a doc every 2-4weeks, there wont be a great deal you can do for him. His depression wont heal itself.
I admire the courage and strength you have for posting on the forums. There are many kind people like you here that are in a similar situation and can be here for you.
It would be great if you could write back and let us know how you go...you are more than welcome to post back as many times as you wish
My kind thoughts
Thank you for kind response, Paul. I'm sorry if my original post seemed a bit blunt but I had to stay within the character limit haha.
I think you misunderstood me in my original post - he is now seeking regular treatment for his depression but feels as though too much has happened in our relationship for it to be fixed, which, to be honest, is something I cannot entirely disagree with. He has hurt me very deeply with his behaviour but I also don't believe that he was in his right mind. The person I knew before this "change" would never have done any of those things which is why they caused me and everyone else in his life so much shock. The first thing anyone always said was "I never would have seen that coming, he's such a nice person."
He also told me that he was scared to get treatment before because he was actually scared to get better because if he doesn't feel, he doesn't have to deal with any negative emotions. 😕
If we do stay together, I'm also very concerned about his illness continuing to have a negative impact on our relationship even with treatment. I know depression often relapses and can even be lifelong. Sometimes I feel like I wouldn't be able to deal with the rejection and withdrawal that seems to accompany it. I guess what I'm asking is whether or not there are any strategies one can use to minimise the effect that depression has on relationships and what can I do to be supportive? And are there any people here who have a partner with depression who seeks treatment who can tell me what their relationship is like?
Thank you again.
Hi SH, sorry about that, I thought your boyfriend went once to a doc...Knowing that he is getting regular help is a mega step forward. I understand where you are coming from now as per coping in a relationship
I have had depression since 1997 and take meds for it. You mentioned that he hurt you with his behavior and that is understandable that you felt hurt. I have seen this many times since I started posting here in January. Having depression is no excuse for treating another person badly. (unless there is something else that hasnt been diagnosed but as a sufferer it sounds like depression)
Just something you mentioned that put up a red flag " he was actually scared to get better because if he doesn't feel, he doesn't have to deal with any negative emotions" If I can help with his thinking on that one...especially if he says it again..If he didnt start therapy his condition could involve a lot more than dealing with negative emotions.
You have done your homework SH and well done. Depression can have relapses and also last for for life even in a much lesser degree. If you scroll down to 'Supporting Someone' there is some great info that relates to what you are going through.
There are always posts coming in from partners like yourself that have (or are) been treated badly by a partner with depression. If you click on the forums 'Depression' header you will find threads that do relate to your situation. Just scroll down each page...there are several posts new and in the older pages too..
I am not sure if your boyfriend is taking anti-depressants but depending on the level of his depression the meds do work well. They arent a total fix they will take away the bad lows that he gets which will help him build a platform on which he can use his therapy to heal.
Thanks for posting back too SH. You are intelligent and articulate yourself very well 🙂
you are not alone here, it would be great if you could keep posting
My Kind thoughts for you
Thank you again for your reply, Paul, it has been very helpful, and I will definitely check out those sections of the forums. 🙂
Could you please clarify what you meant with this part: If he didnt start therapy his condition could involve a lot more than dealing with negative emotions.
As an update, he has visited his psychologist for the first time this morning but was only asked more of the same questions as during his GP consult. He has another appointment next week where the psychologist has said he will try to formulate a plan of action, such as medication or otherwise. I know that it is going to feel like a very long wait for me. 😞
My boyfriend has also been saying that he isn't sure how he feels about me anymore. It seems to me that it would be hard to know how you feel about someone if you barely feel anything at all, and he agreed. However, should you still know if you love someone when you are this depressed? Like can the depression really mask feelings of love? And, if it does, is there anyway to navigate out of it? He is very distressed at the moment because he feels as though he has to figure out how he feels as soon as possible, and honestly it would help me a lot as well.
Kind thoughts to you as well, Paul xx
Now worries...in a thread above you said "he was actually scared to get better because if he doesn't feel, he doesn't have to deal with any negative emotions"
All I meant was that if he didnt go ahead with seeing a counselor he would have to deal with more problems as depression symptoms can become worse left untreated.
I dont think that depression can mask feelings of love...It may make a sufferer quiet and sometimes withdrawn but the love is still there. Sometimes having depression is like having a heavy blanket over us and it can be difficult to find our way..
Yes..the only effective way to navigate out of depression to a clearer mindset is either just therapy or therapy and (depending on the level of depression) medication combined. When I was at your boyfriends stage I had a counselor every 2 weeks for a few months and my crackerjack GP every 3 months for a tune up. (1997)
Depending on the individual some clear thought or light at the end of the tunnel can happen quicker especially if they wish to get better. I think it took me about 2-3 months to feel a bit better and a lot better after 6 months.
Just a little point to think about, worrying about the condition itself as in overthinking it can sometimes make the symptoms worse. Scroll down and under 'The Facts' you will see the Anxiety & Depression check list..always handy to see.
I dont blame him for being distressed at the moment SH, but it will take some time. Another way is finding a GP that has a real interest in depression/anxiety....My GP actually started me on my meds in '97...they gave me my life back...Having a legend of a GP can help with a quicker diagnosis...but even then the condition has to be managed on an ongoing basis so his self confidence is restored and he can function without these dark feelings
I hope even a little of that was a help SH 🙂
I'm not going to beat around the bush. Ultimately you need to do what's best for you. You have many good things on your side. From what I can tell you are kind and caring. You are also young. As you probably know life is incredibly hard and I think enjoying your youth is paramount. I don't think everything he is saying is all depression. If that's what he wants fine. Go and do your thing. You have a wonderful life waiting for you out there, it's probably not with him.
Put it this way, do you really want to be with someone who steals money from their employer, hangs out with losers, strings you along and makes you feel like rubbish??
its hard I know, but think long and hard about what you want to put yourself through if you "try and make it work" with someone who takes you for granted and looks after his own selfish needs.....
short term pain, long term gain. If you do decide to leave him - he will likely try and coerce you to come back. If you make the decision you have to be strong and stick to it. Good luck
And thank you, Apollo Black, for your honesty. I am well aware of all the horrible things he has done and how selfish they were. However, him admitting that he has a serious problem and actually seeking help for it is huge for him. In the past he has either vehemently denied his depression or flat out refused to get help for it. He also told me last night that he actually wants to get better now, that he doesn't want to be like this anymore. Again, another huge step forward. We still may not stay together but I think when you truly love someone you want the best for them regardless of whether or not they remain in your life.
Thanks Paul but unfortunately the relationship ended last night. He felt as though I was the cause of his depression because he didn't feel the way he did when we were broken up and that he needs to be alone and find himself. He didn't tell me whether he would continue treatment.
I am absolutely devastated right now. I truly loved him and he kept saying that he loves me too but that he needs to put himself first right now, but I'm sure that was just him letting me down easy. I don't know how long it will take for me to feel better.