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Partner's depression

Community Member

Hi... My partner is 39 years old and severely depressed. He's also an addict which really doesn't help with his depression obviously. We've been together 5 years and there's a 10 year age gap between us, him being the oldest. He absolutely refuses to get help, dismisses me when I suggest counselling, dismisses me when I attempt to bring up his mental health in general. He can be very hostile, says really nasty things and if I get upset he gets angrier saying I'm too sensitive and he is 'sick of having to worry about how I feel', which just ends up in me walking on eggshells pretending I'm not upset while he continues to take his depression out on me. I don't believe I'm too sensitive, I think being upset at being spoken to that way is justified. I don't know what to do, the thought of trying to have a conversation with him about it is exhausting, I just know I will be dismissed or spoken to like I'm stupid but I love him and don't want to end the relationship. The whole situation builds up this resentment in me because I can't believe that he would continue to feel like this and because of it, treat those around him like crap and still refuse to do something about it...is it wrong of me to think that as so selfish? Perhaps it is...I'm trying to be patient. Any advice would be appreciated.

7 Replies 7

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello smaireewall, you are only trying to help your partner, but perhaps being ten years older than you, he believes he knows best, unfortunately on many occasions this can be wrong, especially if you have experienced this yourself.

Any addiction can have the strength for someone to believe that whatever they are addicted to will be able to carry them through, however this is also wrong, because what this means is that use this drug and/or alcohol to numb how they are feeling, rather than actually addressing the problems.

These won't go away by themselves and even if they appear to, doesn't mean they won't reappear.

There are a few possibilities, on, does he have a close friend you know that has noticed a difference with him who can offer to take him to see his doctor, perhaps for a check up, then the doctor may notice how his mood is, or secondly the Mens Shed is another place he can go for assistance, which can be achieved indirectly.

Please get back to us.


Life Member.

Yes I think he definitely thinks that as he can be rather dismissive in general. I don't know how to change that though. He is very isolated, doesn't have friends that I think he would take advice from well really. Sometimes he sleeps for days on end and when he does get up, he's nasty and then goes back to bed. I have anxiety/PTSD issues and find I am constantly triggered by his behaviour even though I know a lot of the time it's the depression talking and not him. I've read that establishing boundaries is important but I don't know how to do that because he just doesn't appear to care about his words or actions, but still proceeds to say he loves me and doesn't want to lose me. I need to somehow make him get help but I can't force it 😞 I don't know when to say enough is enough. I feel so bad even saying that.

Hello smaireewall, thanks for getting back to us.

It's so difficult to understand why someone you love makes distasteful comments to you and then says 'he doesn't want to lose you', makes you wonder what is actually happening.

If he sleeps 'days on end' then you can't be sure what happens in the bedroom, especially if he has an addiction, but for you to suffer yourself with anxiety/PTSD this is only going to aggravate your condition.

There may be love between you both but it's not the type of affection you are after, simply because you are never sure how he will be when he gets out of bed, and that's a big problem you have to try and cope with.

His behaviour at the moment is not going to be helpful for you at all, unless you are getting the assistance you need, but even this can sometime break down, when you are actually confronted by his actions, I'm sorry to say.

There are different options to consider, however, if he is adamant and has an addiction, then sometimes when people separate it can wake that person up and decide to get help, not only with how he is feeling, but also with overcoming this addiction.

I know that it's a difficult decision to make, but there are ways to cope financially if needed.


Life Member.


Community Member

Hi smaireewall, it is never easy and I am not one to give advice but to say you are not alone. My wife suffers from depression and is an alcoholic, we have three beautiful kids, and there is no end in sight. She is abusive and like you I live on egg shells. The right thing to do is leave, but I love her and don't want to hurt my three kids who I love dearly. To stay will destroy me and the kids, especially as she is in denial and won't get help. Like you the hardest choice is sometimes the best one. They don't know what they will lose until it is gone, then they may get help. Most of all l, look after yourself. 

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi smaireewall


I feel for you so deeply as you face not just his mental health issues but also your own.


Does he know he's depressed or does he think 'This is life and life is just sh**'? I can recall saying to a friend not to long ago 'I can't understand why my husband doesn't see how depressing his life is becoming. He's happy to just come home from work and drink and spend time on his own. He has virtually no sense of adventure and refuses to seek excitement' and so on. They suggested his drinking was getting in the way of him seeing how unfulfilling his life is. As long as he was drinking to feel happy and relaxed, he wasn't feeling unhappy and challenged (to change). Btw, as long as no one was challenging him, there was no need for him to fight us. Addiction can create an illusion.


Can be so triggering, working hard on your own mental health and your partner flat out refuses to work on theirs. Smaireewall, as you'd know, it takes a lot of hard work to figure out so many of your triggers, raise your consciousness to manage those triggers, become more aware of your emotions, your environment, the people in it etc. You can want your partner to become more conscious, so they can reap the benefits of their hard work. Some people are hard to wake up. They can be either asleep to the severity of their mindset or be so self righteous they're dreaming you have the problem. Little wake up calls can make a difference. Use your sensitivity (your ability to sense/feel) to your advantage. 'I can sense you being disrespectful, I can feel the lack of respect. I can sense you being irresponsible, not taking responsibility for what you say and how you behave, I can feel your lack of responsibility' etc.


While I used to channel 'the people pleaser' in me, to keep the peace, it was my intolerant sense of self that began to set boundaries. I could feel when that part of me was coming to life. You'd know that feeling...starts as butterflies, works up to the heart, starts to power up your whole body to the point where it's almost shaking. From the heart, let it continue to the throat. Self love then speaks 'You will not speak to me like this. I will help you but I will not, under any circumstances, enable you to treat me like sh**. Wake up to your self'.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear smaireewall, welcome to the forums. Glad you're here for support. 


I hope you can get a Counsellor soon too. Not to dismiss you, but to have personalised guidance from a MH professional. 
Doing your own research could help a lot too. 


It's AWESOME you're sharing, hugs. 


Yes, establishing boundaries IS important, they can save your life.
We need clarification on what setting boundaries actually means. 
Reading "I've read that establishing boundaries is important but I don't know how to do that because he just doesn't appear to care about his words or actions.." 
The underlined part shows a misunderstanding of "boundaries".  


It's not about HIM. 
Or "making him" do this or that or anything at all.
It's not about changing him. 


If we had a dollar for every woman who said "I'm hoping my partner will change" or "If I do this then maybe he'll change"... this thinking is an issue, mainly for you. 


Some personality types NEED an empath to be in a relationship. 
You are that empath (I was too). They feed off of us. They need us a whole lot more than we'll ever need them. 

Boundaries are all about you. 

We're only pushed to work really hard on our boundaries with others when there's little or no respect for us from them. EG in relationships with addicts, alcoholics, abusers and or people with certain personalities - narcissists, sociopaths etc.  


Creating boundaries helps makes you SAFE. 
Not enabling their behaviours is paramount. Making excuses for the abusive person's behaviours are classic empath go to's. 


Love EM


Community Member

It can be very difficult trying to help someone who looks unready to help themselves.

But, I agree with other posters that it's so important to take care of yourself.

Boundaries are a huge factor, and it could be worth reaching out for counseling for yourself, in order to clarify what your boundaries are and how to assertively maintain them.

Despite loving someone, you cannot make them change themselves, and it is not your responsibility to do so.

I knew of someone who used substances to harm themselves, it also had a negative affect on their partner.

This person's issues stemmed from their childhood, and other things that their partner had no influence over.

So, it is never worth placing yourself in danger or tolerating poor treatment, because it might be considered a form of enabling that behaviour or allowing them to continue.

It took a lot of time and support for the person I know's partner to step back, get more support for themselves, and stand firm from a safer place to let them know that their behaviour was no longer acceptable.

When he says things like "sick of having to worry about how I [you?] feel", he looks to be verbally aggressive towards you, perhaps because he knows he is acting unfairly but can't recognise enough to apologise and seek treatment for his addictions as a good longer term option.
I am not a specialist in mental health, but I do know that sometimes people who suffer from a mental illness become so focused on how they feel that they can loose the ability to recognise how someone else might feel.

He may be facing reasons why he is unwilling to confront his depression, the reasons for the depression, or how much it is affecting his life or anyone else.

You don't have to walk on eggshells, as this threatens your mental health, and you deserve to be well.

Relationships need to support health, not risk someone's health because the other is unwell. Surely love is about wanting the best for each other, not sacrificing happiness to dwell in the depths with someone who continues to refuse any kind of help.

When you say "I don't believe I'm too sensitive" I agree with you, because if he feels you are being too sensitive, this could be seen as a form of gaslighting, or placing tremendous doubt over how you feel, which no one has the right to do. This can make you dismiss your intuition and lower trust in yourself, which is not healthy.

Perhaps some time away from the relationship is best, and again reaching out for support for yourself would be helpful.

What would you say to someone who was experiencing something similar?

You are not selfish, it sounds like you are trying to care for him and that is having a negative affect on you, which you can see.

Again, if you depart the situation, he may no longer have anyone to blame and it may help him see that he needs to sort through his own issues with help from a mental health worker.

Please look after yourself.