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Partner had depression, relationship breakdown, and now I'm anxious.

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I have a past history of anxiety and my last severe episode was in 2017. Towards the end of my recover, I met my ex-partner and we really hit it off. We fell madly in love, got some animals together and even bought a house within the following two years.

My ex-partner has always been reluctant to communicate effectively, and is much more prone to withdrawing from a conflict then actively trying to resolve it together. His reactions to stressful situations come from his young adulthood where he was the carer to his Mum who passed away from cancer, and then his father passed away the year after that.

So I always acknowledged his past circumstances, and factored that in into how we dealt with conflict. Other than that, we had many fun times together and our relationship was amazing.

However, as things progressed, my ex developed a medical condition (not life long, but fairly long term) that saw his mental health deteriorate into depression. I acknowledged this, and still loved him with all my heart. I was no stranger to mental health issues.

However, 6 months down the track and his mental condition was not improving, he was stuck into his computer games, and our relationship was completely neglected. I felt so alone in our house, despite there always being two people in there. We would never go to bed around the same time and when I wanted him to stay with me in bed a little bit longer in the mornings, he would just get up, roll over, and head to the computer.

At this stage, he was no longer working and his mental condition was affecting his optimism and willingness to achieve our dreams. Our finances were suffering and I was the only one bringing an income in. We barely had food in the house some days.



6 Replies 6

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi ConfusedNanxious,

I felt so many emotions as I read your post. I felt great love and loss. You clearly cared deeply about your ex...I think he was very fortunate to have your love, support and patience.

It must have been so lonely and painful when he, more or less, withdrew into his world of computer games. I imagine it would have felt as though he was only there physically, but had emotionally checked out...

I think it can (sometimes) be challenging when a person loves someone who has a lot of unresolved issues. I know you can give love, make allowances and offer up compassion and tenderness...but I think it can also get to a point where 1 partner ends up carrying a disproportionate amount of the emotional load or doing the bulk of the emotional labour (so to speak)...and I feel that can be very draining after some time.

I know, or at least to some extent, because I’ve been there. Different circumstance to you, but my last ex had a serious drug problem, which had a lot to do with his unresolved trauma...I would let a lot of things slide and carried most of the emotional load in that relationship...but it’s not easy, and it really wasn’t healthy. I’m not saying yours was the same situation of course...

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, in my own way, I feel for you and can empathise with some of your pain...

While I don’t have any suggestions or anything wise or interesting to say, I am here reading along and would like to continue supporting you if you want to share anything else...

Thinking of you and understanding that you’re hurting and anxious...

Kindness and care,


It became inevitable that we needed to sell the house. He was not putting any effort in to sorting out his own personal finances, and it just all got too much.

On the day that we went to put the house on the market, I was overcome with anxiety and I asked him whether he would be able to look after me that day. He just said he 'no', he wanted to play his computer game.

At that moment, because of my anxiety, I packed some stuff and went to my parent's place where I could get the support I needed.

Despite that horrible time, my ex and I kept in contact, and agreed that we would sell the house and start dating again and monitor each other's personal growth that way. But it really became all too much. He agreed to make some changes - see a counsellor, start getting active, looking after himself - after the fact - after we had separated.

I was emotionally exhausted, and needed those changes to be put in place so many months ago. With the house stuff still being sorted, my anxiety spiked to levels I hadn't seen since my first anxiety episode.

At that point, I had to cut contact with him and focus on my own recovery. I feel immensely guilty for doing that. But my anxiety just got too much, and we really needed a proper break. We had agreed that we were separated, and so this was, in my view, the missing piece. We needed a full break to really know that we could grow as individuals without the 'crutch' of the other person.

We have agreed to meet up in the new year to just check in with each other. But what I am dealing with is a fractured sense of identity now. I gave so much to the relationship that I lost a part of myself. I do need this time to figure out myself without his influence.

I want to be strong enough to see him in the future and really reassess our position. He needs to still be working on himself, with some improvements clearly visible for a relationship of any sort to commence from that point.

Have I done the right thing? Is a break the best thing for both of us?

I want to be able to be a strong person and see him without any anxiety. And just be me, a whole person.

I know the break was needed, because he needed to grow on his own accord, and I need to see that in him as well. And I have seen some stuff that I need to work on for myself.

I just want to be whole again, and for him to be whole. But for me not to feel like rushing into a relationship the first time I see him as well.

Just so confused.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Hi ConfusedNanxious,

You are such a caring and loving human being that giving so much of yourself has damaged your own core. I too lived for many years with a depressed partner who is also a narcissist so my situation is slightly different but I hear you and the damage to our core is similar.

I found that cutting off from my ex-partner completely has helped me in my recovery because I was no longer putting myself in a vulnerable position and reverting to old habits of supporting him and falling into the traps of his depression/narcissism. For me it felt like a vortex and I needed to stay away from it.

All the best

He seems to be taking proactive steps to better himself. And I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to have him again (provided there is some improvement) because he truly felt like my soul mate.

But I know that 6months of depression (and other unresolved issues) can't be rectified in the short time we have agreed to cut off contact. So being careful and observant when we do meet up is a must.

I know that the changes needed in him (plus my own personal growth) cannot have a time limit imposed on them.

And it may be beneficial to have this break so that during this time there is no reliance on each other. And the individual growth is genuine.

How can I protect myself during this time?

And unlike my parents, I understand that he was affected by depression and that the depression is a separate entity to him. So I still see the value in him. But he does have work to do on himself (and to redeem himself in a lot of people's eyes).

Any similar stories, advice or comments? They would be greatly appreciated.

And on a personal note, I am now seeing a psychologist to work on myself and address my fractured sense of identity and to build up my self confidence.

I think giving yourselves a time limit as you say is a good idea. My question is then how long after this time you would consider your partner healed enough to have a healthy relationship with you? What would you need as evidence of his healing and a future together where you feel supported by him?

I'm pleased to hear that you are seeing a psychologist. It's very important.

I do just want to check in on him, because I still care for him. And that is where the first meet up (after the break takes place) is for.

I guess I would need to see him a bit lighter in his mood, where I wouldn't have to try as hard to keep him happy in social interactions. He would need to look healthier, in that he has taken measures to help his illness as best he could (like exercising and eating properly). He would (at the very least) be engaging a psychologist on a regular basis. Ideally he would would have some dreams and ambitions for himself (because of his illness, an actual job may not be feasible at the stage we meet up).

But I acknowledge that this is an ongoing process for him, so for my own well being and personal growth as well, jumping in headfirst to a relationship again just wouldn't be healthy.

Through this whole process, I have come to realise that I need to work on myself as well. I need to get to a point where I can be in a place of forgiveness to him (and to myself) as well as feel intelligent enough to assess the situation and what is needed at that time (i.e. more space and time for us as individuals - should that be the case). Which as I am feeling now, I need some time for my own growth and to regain some of my resilience and character.

It feels like such an internal tug. But I do know that I need to look after myself first. I completely lost myself in the relationship. I became his crutch, and isolated myself from my friends and family. I need to regain a sense of my own identity as well.

I just have a hard time distinguishing between what I need to do now and what will help me for the future meet up (to be able to 'objectively' assess the situation before me).