Help - Is it his depression talking?
I’ll try to keep this as structured as possible without too much jumping around. Also apologies if I’m providing too much detail and it sounds life I’m waffling on. I’m just hoping all the information can help make it easier to understand how our relationship is and perhaps aid in the advice provided.
Long story short my boyfriend is currently severely depressed whilst also experiencing really bad anxiety with this. He has been having constant anxiety panic attacks and often they will come in a wave.
To provide some background, he had been on antidepressants for probably around 15 years up until about a 1 year ago. He had taken these since he lost his sister to cancer when he was a teenager. They were very close and only 18 months apart in age and he took it upon himself to care for her at every stage – which I can’t imagine how traumatic that must have been. Throughout his life he has struggled with acceptance and ever since this he would avoid pain and conflict and try to always make others happy.
He had told me about some of the pain he had experienced in his past but had always hidden his antidepressants since the beginning of our relationship. One day I found them and at first he said they were his dads (they were no longer in the original prescription box), which I believed. Then when I found another packet and asked again, at first he denied them but then a few days later opened up to me and said he felt ashamed and that’s why he had hidden them. I told him I didn’t judge him and he shouldn’t feel ashamed, he had gone through difficult times in his life and whatever he needed to get through this I was willing to support him all the way. He said he no longer wanted to rely on them but he feared by coming off them he would be a different person and people including myself would no longer like him. Eventually he came off them, which at first was a struggle but eventually he managed. However I believe because he didn’t ever deal with the underlying mental issues of why he was using them, his past has come back to haunt him now.
The reason I am seeking advice or people’s thought is because of our relationship. Without providing all the details and missing too mainly, I’ll try to give as much info as possible.
Hello and welcome to the forum. It's lovely that you want to help your BF to get well. Having depression does make people feel ashamed of themselves. It's not their fault but society so often does not want to know so the natural help of family and friends is not available. Did your BF ever have any therapy after his sister died? What a shock and bad time that was.
Coping with depression is a hard road to travel as I have discovered. I take my hat off to your BF for the way he looked after his sister. There are not many people who would take this on. When he stopped taking the antidepressants did he do so with the help of his doctor or on his own? I ask because after 15 years of taking them it can be quite difficult to stop. Medical supervision is the best way to keep tabs on the process.
Do you or your BF know much about depression? Look under The Facts at the top of the page and navigate from there. It's useful information which you can download. If you want the booklets then ask BB for them. There is no charge. The more informed you are about any medical situation the better you can make decisions on how to manage it. There is also the depression checklist, K10, which will give your BF an idea of how well he is travelling. It's not a diagnostic tool but can give an indication of how well someone is travelling. Perhaps you can both complete this easy form but do it separately.
Many people struggle with being acceptable, a common factor in depression. Do you think he is more confident in this area now than a year ago? It can take a while.
You want some advice or comments on the relationship between you and your BF. What is it you want to know? I can see you are going a great job supporting him and perhaps if he had access to the material I have mentioned he may come to see he is as acceptable as anyone else. Are you considering separating/ Are you looking at a permanent relationship like getting married? Are you afraid in some way he may leave you? Do you believe he needs some therapy? A whole list of questions but it shows I do not know what you want or need. Does that make sense?
If you do not want to disclose any other personal information, that's OK. If you want me or anyone else to give you some information you will need to ask the question. I am pleased you have given us some background information so we know a little about both of you and you do not need to give more. Just be a little more explicit on your needs.
Thanks for responding. I initially replied to my own post to provide all the details, however it wouldn't allow me to. I am more than happy to provide these details. I'll add the additional details then also answer any of your questions.
The reason I am seeking advice or people’s thought is because of our relationship.
We met on holiday (I was 6 months single travelling solo and him on a business trip). We met on a dating app and we hit it off immediately. We spent a single day together before he had to leave to his next destination but he requested an extension to his trip so he could fly back to meet me and spent the last 4 days of my trip together. It was strange as never did I think something like this would happen to me and it was so sad having to say our goodbyes. We both parted (him back to Australia and me back to the UK). However, we continued speaking daily and a couple of months later organised a holiday to meet in NYC, followed by me coming to Australia 2 weeks after to spend my Xmas here. It was wonderful. Prior to this I was always wanting to move overseas for work, but I was never really much of a risk taker and doing this alone made me feel rather uncomfortable. At the same time coming back from Australia (now speaking for 3 months), I knew I couldn’t be without him in my life. To me he was worth the risk, what’s the worst that could happen, I thought? If it didn’t work out I could always go back to the UK. So 3 months later I moved to Australia, the mistake we made was moving in with one another immediately. We were in the honeymoon phase and whilst I never pressured him and in fact he was the one that asked, I didn’t have the courage to say no.
Since, we have been together for 2.5 years (known each other for 3), and lived with one another since. Yes we have had our ups and downs but he never dealt with his depression. Our issue is that we are not a couple that argues, more the ones that do not communicate issues. And silence is a deadly killer!
Throughout our relationship he has been nothing but caring and loving towards me, unlike any other relationship I have had before. Part of his struggles are we spend a lot of time together and he feels because I had no support network here and no family, ultimately, he is responsible for me. Even though I am very capable.
Anyway just the other weekend, I came home from work and my partner was having an anxiety attack and upset (apparently he had been having these from some months at night and I had never noticed). When I asked what was wrong he said he didn’t think he could be in a relationship any more because he didn’t have any feelings for me. Of course I was hurt and so I left the house. He told me he needed time, which whilst I respected that I couldn’t just wait forever. The following evening I phoned him and said whilst I understood he needed time, I also was owed at least a minimal explanation in the meantime. We talked and he came home the next day and we talked some more. He said he missed us having quality time and we talked about our future plans and it was a huge relief we were on the same page. He told me he loved me so much and didn’t want to lose me, we invested so much and he wasn’t just willing to throw it away and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. His issue was that he was not ready to live how we were living as he was not yet ready to settle down, so we discussed living separately so we could help the situation as hard as it would be. Just to give one another some space and develop the relationship in a natural and healthy way.
A few days went by and it was all going well, he was still experiencing anxiety but I was going to be there all the way to support him. He was even fully invested in trying to sort my partner visa and I felt so much relief. But then the pain of the anxiety felt so bad again he broke down and said what he had said about not having feelings was true. We cried, but then I started to become angry because I felt hurt, eventually I told him that if he was just willing to give up on us without trying he would never be successful. I told him he avoided all his problems and by doing so he would never learn to overcome or manage his fears. Eventually we decided to take each day and work as it comes.