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Concerned about my bf & dont know how to help
I am 99.96% certain that my partner is suffering from a medium-severe level of depression. I'm very concerned and don't know how to support and help. I feel like I'm crowding him and annoying him by trying to be supportive and loving. He's go-to coping mechanism is withdrawal, avoidance and silence and it's very difficult to not take it personally (hello, anxiety!!) - on that, I've actually blown up a few times at him from feeling overwhelmed with the disinterested behaviour, but I guess that's somewhat understandable given the circumstances and we always kiss and make up.
I'd love to be able to get him interested in going for walks together and just basically helping him find some zest for life again..... But don't know how to go about it without seeming like I'm mothering him.
My plan is to have a bit of a heart to heart with him over the weekend and see if I can convince him to seek help... But I also want to help from this end too.
Any suggestions/comments/tips would be welcome... Both from people who are helping their partners and also those on the receiving end too!!
Welcome to the forums and thanks for reaching out.
I have been on both sides of the coin so hopefully I might be able to help. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the way my partner struggles with his depression is exactly the same. Knowing what depression looks like in people is important because everyone experiences it so differently.
The good news however is there is 0.04% chance he does not have depression 🙂
Okay, so here's a few top tips - or basically some things that have helped me in the past, in no particular order.
1. Talk to him about what he thinks he needs and what might be helpful. Regardless of what the person is experiencing, what helps one is not going to help another. That's completely okay but it can be trial and error. When I'm feeling depressed I want to be hugged, but when my friend is depressed he'd like to be left alone. It's okay not to know and it's okay to ask.
(Hint: once you can have these conversations you can also start to know when he feels like he's being mothered)
2. If you feel like you might blow up, just walk away. You have to come first. I've learned the hard way (and am still learning) about the oxygen mask metaphor; you need air first. Find and embrace yourself in things that help you feel like a better person and more resilient to when your partner isn't interested;- what can you do that's fun, what can you do that you enjoy?
3. Remind yourself that it's not personal. So much easier said than done I know; but it's important. Your boyfriend is so much more than what he's going through right now, and he really does care about you even if he can't show it.
4. On bad days, make things easier. Closed questions are always good because there's less thinking; pizza or burgers? Comedy or action? This also helps when trying to give a healthy nudge; go for a walk now or after we finish the episode?
5. Never underestimate how helpful you are. This I think is the most important one, because simply being there and holding space for your partner in depression can be the kindest thing that you'll ever do. Especially going through depression sometimes all I feel is worthless, so having someone who can just sit with me is incredibly helpful, even if they don't see it.
I hope this helps! Feel free to post again or to let us know how the conversation goes this weekend.
Thank you so much for your reply. Some very valuable suggestions there which I will definitely use moving forward.
It is heart breaking to watch him suffer in silence and even more so knowing that underneath that is a beautiful, fun, kind loving person.
I have personally struggled with episodes in the past but as you said everyone's experience is different and everyone copes in their own way.
Hoping to understand him a bit better after having a chat and will let you know how it goes. 🙂
Just wanted to send a message to see how your chat went?
I'm really glad that the suggestions were helpful! I hear you that it's heartbreaking to watch your partner struggle and I agree with you. I think knowing that underneath it all is a fun and loving person can actually provide some hope, because that part of him is still there even if we can't see it for a while.
Please feel free to write in again if you want to talk some more.