At a tipping point with my partner
I have been in a relationship with my partner for over 8 years now, however the relationship has weathered the unfortunately familiar storm of depression. My partner has had depression and low self esteem since childhood. I have seen her through the highs and lows of the depression, the most toughest period is when she suffered burn out from a demanding job and being disowned by her own parents after they found out she was bisexual and same sex partnered. I know this would be a tough emotional circumstance for anyone, let alone someone who also has to battle depression.
Over the years, in order to counter her depression, she has sought intermittent counsel from a therapist, but only does so "when things get really bad" i.e. managing her depression by crisis. She was also on medication for a short period of time, one which worked really well (this needed to be discontinued for physical health reasons) and the other which didn't. She has told me she doesn't want to go back on medication and this isn't an option she can offer engaging with again since the latter medication she tried made her symptoms worse.
I am unfortunately at a point (and I've been in this same position before over the 8 years), where I have had to continually step up in the relationship and ensure that there is momentum, organisation and a direction we are heading in. I am frankly getting to a point where I just cannot continue to see a future like this with my partner should something not drastically change as it feels one sided. I have spoken to her about it, and it seems to have only made matters worse, with her depression spiralling. Noting her support system is very small, which makes me feel (even though I know this is not right) a huge amount of pressure to "make the relationship work" seeing as she makes no conscious effort to build anything else outside of it. I know the latter is a symptom of depression, but it feels like a constant weight that is getting harder to carry. I own that I am hyper empathic and tend to want to help make tough situations easier for people, however this cannot be the baseline of an intimate, romantic relationship. It is not sustainable nor healthy.
I am at a point where I am unfortunately thinking of walking away for my own mental health, as this pattern has repeated over the last 8 years and am feeling hopeless about it changing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
We can hear you’re feeling overwhelmed, and it sounds like you have been a super supportive partner over your relationship. It can be quite a isolating and complex time, so know that coming here is a great step. We’re sorry you’re feeling this way, but want you to know that by posting here, and sharing your story with our community you're taking an amazing and caring step.
If you did want to reach out to Relationships Australia, you can call them on 1300 364 277. It sounds like you could really do with talking things through, some of our friendly community members on the Forums will provide you with some helpful advice. Or in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to give the lovely Beyond Blue counsellors a call on 1300 22 4636 or speak to them online by hitting "Immediate Support".
Thanks again for sharing here. We hope the words of our lovely community members brings you some comfort through this difficult time.
This is definitely an overwhelming situation to have to be in and I’m sorry to hear that you are both struggling right now! It’s super hard to have to see someone you love go through such a difficult time, especially when you are trying to build a future with one another and are their major support system. At times, it might feel hopeless and at times, you see the potential of a great future together.
I think you could perhaps have a chat with your partner and discuss potentially seeing a therapist/psychologist on an on-going basis. It’s often better to be proactive in learning to cope with your depression/recognising your thought patterns when you are not completely caught up in them so that when there are harder moments/spiraling moments, you can stop or minimise the effects of them before it gets to that point. I understand it is easier said than done so I would suggest contacting her GP to discuss options further.
As for yourself, it’s super important that you are taking care of your own mental health. Whether that means seeing a mental health professional yourself, taking time out to engage in activities/hobbies that you find enjoyable, spending time with people that you like to spend time with etc. It could also be useful to build/strengthen your support system so that you have people to talk to and lean on.
I think as much as you care for your partner, it is not selfish to want to take care of yourself too. It’s 100% necessary and perhaps you could help keep each other accountable for this journey by engaging in your own forms of self-care. As painful as out might be, I think it’s important to recognise your needs and what you are willing to accept. I know your past conversation around this was not as successful as you had hoped so perhaps bringing this up at a point where you feel that it would be better perceived might be better?
For now, really focus on ensuring you are protecting your mental wellbeing and I wish you all the best. 🙂