Dealing with my own feelings with a depressed partner.
I have been dating my partner for 3 years. He has had a history of depression. And two years ago, he had another depressive episode, which he is currently still battling. About 3 months into his depression, he went to the GP to seek assistance in the form of antidepressants.
he has a very stressful job as a builder, and one job in particular has caused him extreme stress on top of his depression. I have been patient with him, read (what feels like) every resource online I can get my hands on to educate myself on how best to support him. I’ve tried to pick up more slack around the house and make sure we are eating healthier, as I know good food can help.
In the last 9 months, he has started drinking and smoking. Habits he had given up after being diagnosed with heart failure a few years before me met. This is obviously a concern. With heart problems and depression, these things are going to make problems worse. He has also (2weeks ago) decided to stop taking his meds. I have remained understanding and patient. I don’t say anything about how I am feeling about any of this because when I do, I am made to feel like the bad guy.
I have been seeing a psych. I’ve been spending time at the gym every day. I’ve been making sure not to take my work home. I’ve been looking after myself. But I am so worried that this is not a healthy way to manage his depression. So much so that I am crying most nights. My anxiety is through the roof, especially those nights when he has been drinking and drives home.
After a night of drinking and him driving home, he had told me he would be home around 8pm and to wait to have dinner with him. I waited until 10.30pm and decided to just eat and head to bed. I called him, he didn’t answer. He came home I was so upset but didn’t engage with him. He passed out on the couch, snoring so loud I couldn’t sleep. I was angry. Frustrated. Extremely sad.
The morning after he asked me if I was mad at him. I said ‘I’m not happy. I waited for you and you didn’t pick up your phone. I was worried.’. He said he was sorry and didn’t think, it wouldn’t happen again.
With guidance from my psych, she said you need to tell him how you feel. Use I statements. I did. I feel exhausted. I feel sad. I said I feel that his drinking is affecting our relationship. His response was ‘You know what I am going through and now you can’t handle your own stuff. You can’t look after someone if you don’t look after yourself. I don’t feel supported I feel alone.’.
With what I’ve said above. How to approach telling my partner how I feel when he is depressed. I obviously do not want to make him feel worse. But I also can’t continue to live without communicating how I feel.
he has been extremely withdrawn since the discussion. And even during he was and and sarcastic before I was even able to finish my first sentence.
I need some guidance. Does it get better, or is this my life? I love him more than anything in this world, and I do not want to lose him. I just want him to get better and to make better choices.
This is a hard situation to be in. The drinking is compounding the depression and going off medication isn't advised either. His sarcasm is just a defence mechanism, probably because he feels embarrassed or ashamed but doesn't know how to get better himself. The tried and disproven method of drinking doesn't work either. Trust me I've tried. I know he probably doesn't want to hear it, but it sounds like he needs to talk to someone about his feelings of stress before it destroys you both.
You could support him in that but that's not easy either. Most guys find it very hard to open up about how they are feeling. AA is another option, but it depends how bad his drinking is. There are many reasons why he might feel depressed. The hard part is finding out what they are. But until you do, the drinking, blame games, sarcasm are all a symptom of a deeper problem. Has he any mates to confide in?
Thank you for the reply!
It is so hard to find the root cause of the depression because it has been so long, and to be fair, I think he was feeling the depression, long before he admitted to me he was.
He has a couple of mates and he does spend a lot of time with them. One of them drinks like a fish, so I’ve been trying to suggest he spends less time around him, while it is challenging right now. He said when he goes to drink with the boys, he ‘feels normal again’ and I am all for that! But the quantity and frequency is increasing, not to the stage of AA just yet, but if we are going to be committing to buying a house together and this trend continues, I don’t think he would go anyway. He will also go to the pub by himself for a ‘chance to think’, which is the more alarming part to me.
We had another chat where he tried to break up with me. He said if I behave the way I did the other night, it’s clear we shouldn’t be together. He was unable to articulate what he meant by that exactly. I think it’s coming from his low self esteem. He thinks I can do better, and is pushing me away before I can ‘reject’ him. Which is certainly not the case.