Dating and depression
Dating and depression Redlady: I am dating a wonderful guy. I am deeply in love with him, and by most accounts we have a promicing, loving, fun, passionate relationship.
He suffers from severe depression. He's on medication, and sees a theripist once a week. In the past (several years ago), he's attempted suicide.
My question is, what can I do to help him when he gets in the "funky" periods? Last week, he was pretty bad for 2 days. Didn't get out of bed, couldn't go to work, didn't eat, etc. He recognized it as trouble and made an "emergancy" appointment with his doctor. I also left work to "pop over" during the day just to talk to him, and generally let him know he's not alone.
He is really good about facing issues and sincerely wanting to make things better. We've had issues in the past because his depression and negative self image of himself has in effect "blocked" his ability to feel good about most things - us included.
He is one of the strongest people I know. He's come so far, and has had so much courage and strength to look at himself in a true light and not be afraid of what he might find. We go through some really rough times, and I would really like some advice as to what I can do to help him out.
I have never suffered from depression like he does. I've had bouts of "bad times", but I'm always able to pull myself out. So, I don't think I have a really good prespective on where he comes from and the inner demons he deals with on a daily basis.
Can anyone offer up some advice?
clambakesX: I have suffered from depression the way he does, and - this is going to sound terrible - I'd say the best thing you can do to help him is not to help at all. The depression has a function, and while he's not using it intentionally, your leaving work to help him isn't a help in the long run. You have to put yourself first, otherwise you get caught in a weird helper dynamic.
Obviously I don't know your relationship history or what kind of therapist he's seeing. I had some good results from family-system therapists ... in general they're not the brightest bulbs on the tree, but what does work of their approach works quickly. Other kinds of therapists understand subtlety better and are often more intelligent, but can end up enabling the patient to continue using broken coping mechanisms. It's too bad that so many therapists let their own issues get in the way of their work, but ... it's probably really hard not to do so, and many therapists chose the field in the first place in hopes of resolving their own stuff, or because they had helper-issues and so on.
At the end of the day, it's his recovery, his process, and he has to carry that alone. You can be around to brighten things up, but it's his stuff.
jillieb44: I agree with Medusa. It's his issue, and after living with a severely depressed person for >14 years, I can say that it DOES get very tiring. All the energy you expend to help him feel better.....but where is he when you need that shoulder to lean on? Unavailable in his own misery.
It's an awful disease, I wish there were an easy cure, but there's not. He needs to get the help he needs. I'm not saying to not be supportive, but make sure that YOUR needs are being met in the relationship, too. I suppressed my own needs for so long....and finally realized he was unwilling or just plain incapable of loving me the way I needed.