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When loved ones push you away
i am hoping to gain some understanding so that I know better how to support my depressed partner. I know, as a non sufferer, I will never fully understand but any insight would help me enormously.
My partner has asked for me to give him space so that he can get to a level of coping by himself.
I am giving him the space he has asked for but I am finding it really difficult. He is on medication (dosage recently increased) and has begun seeing a psychologist. However, he has no one else in his life due to divorce and moving countries, so I am very worried and don't understand why he wouldn't want me to help him in such a difficult time. I have accepted that all I can do right now is respect his wishes but I also can't do nothing.
He tells me that he doesn't want me to see him like this, he is embarrassed, that he is not a good man and that I deserve better.
Do the depressed who push support away really want us to go away?
What level of contact would show support and love without pushing them away further?
should I wait for him to initiate contact?
Why do they do it?
I would appreciate some advice and thank you in advance.
Welcome to the forum!
Good on you for coming here for tips on how to help your partner with depression. It sounds like you are innately understanding and caring, which is fantastic. Unfortunately it is very common for people with depression to push away loved ones. When they can't cope with their own overwhelming emotions, it is really difficult to be able to communicate with others. Some people, like your partner, feel that the non-sufferer deserves to be with someone who doesn't have this mental illness. Guilt, embarrassment, shame and other negative emotions can take over.
It's great that your partner is seeing a psychologist. Hopefully that will continue.
I recommend reading the Beyondblue fact sheets under Supporting someone on the blue menu bar.
This resource, while intended for those with a depression diagnosis, has info that will shed light on depression as a condition: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=37 Module 1 and 8 would be good reading for you.
Here is a link to a previous forum thread that is relevant to your situation:
The second post by Chris B is valuable.
It would be great to hear back from you 🙂
I am so happy that you are here making a real effort to try and understand. As you probably know, there is no catch-all advice that applies to everyone. So perhaps to give you a direct answer:
Do the depressed who push support away really want us to go away? - Yes and no. Yes - it can often carry feelings of guilt of not being good enough and wanting your loved ones to have better than ourselves. No - the last we want is loneliness, even if we think we deserve it. But people with depression can also think clearly. Some genuinely may feel there is something in the relationship that isn't working and it would be better for them to work on themselves before re-examining the relationship.
Why do they do it? - The answer's he's given are likely the true ones. Depression can change a person's thinking and what seems illogical to you (wouldn't it be better for him to have support?) makes sense to him (why bother if nothing will work?). Perhaps it is best to gently remind him that you can make decisions for yourself about what's best for you, but you want to know whether he thinks he needs time apart for himself.
What level of contact would show support and love without pushing them away further? should I wait for him to initiate contact? - The best way forward is perhaps to speak to him. Tell him why you want to keep speaking and reassure him that you do care and so do others. He needs to feel trusted by you, because he doesn't trust himself.
The road to recovery is one that is taken by him with his psychologist to guide him, and friends and family to support him. But it is a solitary one.
If you imagine someone with a severe phobia of spiders and they were embarrassed by this but wanted to get better by exposing themselves to more spiders. They'd want to do this in a place away from other people's eyes, so if they fail, no one will see. And cheering will probably only put them off even more. The same applies here.
So I think you will be doing the very best by offering your support and gently reminding him that people care. But beyond offering your support to make sure he is not alone, it will be up to him to decide when he's ready.
So sorry to hear about the circumstances, but I do hope things change for the better.