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Getting my live-in boyfriend to understand my depression
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aaa4811 posted:
I'm new to the site, and am not really sure where to start. I have suffered from anxiety issues for about 4 years and have recently been diagnosed with full on depression. I have taken medication on and off for the past 4 years and am now starting with my second therapist (the first one didn't work out and I haven't seen anyone except my medication prescriber in 3 years). I have a family history of depression and grew up with my mother suffering from depression and getting treatment.
I recently (2 months ago) moved in with my boyfriend of about one year and although we had a picture perfect relationship before, my depression is causing us to fight a lot. I have manic episodes where I lash out irrationally at him. Even though I know that the underlying cause is the depression, I cannot get him to understand this. Each time, we discuss him moving out and decide that we love each other too much to be apart and that the issues we are having are worth solving. I know that I am trying to get the help I need through meds and therapy, but it doesn't seem to be enough to keep us from fighting yet. I don't know how to make him understand that our relationship isn't flawed, I'm flawed. There isn't anyone else that I want to be with and my fear is that if I can't get him to understand why my depression is affecting our relationship and what he can do to help me that he will leave.
I want to suggest couple's therapy but I'm afraid that he will just shoot my idea down and say that him moving out is the best option. I'm afraid that he won't understand how much I need for him to accept that depression is a part of my life.
If anyone has any advice on how to work through this, I would really appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
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susiemargaret responded:
hello, A --

before i say anything else, i want to comment on one thing you said -- that you are "flawed." you are not flawed; you have an illness. depression is not a character weakness or a personal failure. please don't think that way about yourself.

i'm also concerned that you described your lashing out at your boyfriend during "manic episodes." do you mean you lash out at him out of frustration or anger that he doesn't or won't try to understand? if you truly feel these are episodes of mania (e.g., wild mood swings accompanied by high energy and/or inexplicable irritability), have you talked with your therapist about the possibility that you may be bipolar?

are you taking psych meds right now? if not, perhaps you and your therapist might explore whether you should see a psychiatrist for an evaluation of whether meds might be useful. (i suggest a psychiatrist rather than your family dr because psychiatrists usually know way more about psych meds than family drs do; i'm not sure who you mean when you say your "medication prescriber.")

as for the actual subject of your post -- at last! you say -- i think it might help if your boyfriend understood more about depression. is it possible that you would be willing to allow him -- and that he would be amenable -- to come to one session with your therapist so that he could get a better grasp of exactly what you are going thru and how best he can support you?

you say your relationship was "picture perfect" before you moved in together, but did your depression not affect your relationship then as well as now? how did you and your boyfriend deal with it then?

at the risk of offending you -- which is certainly not my intent -- have you considered that there are worse things than not living together, even in a committed relationship, and that one of them might be trying to live together when one of you -- specifically, your boyfriend -- might be having doubts about whether it was such a good idea after all. if you think he might be out the door at the mere suggestion of couples counseling, what does that say about his commitment to living together in the first place?

i don't think i'm calling into Q the extent of the effect your depression has on your relationship; in fact, if anything, i'm doing just the opposite. the issue i am trying to raise, rather, is whether the frictions it apparently causes could be reduced if your boyfriend understood depression better, understood that it is a chronic illness that you have -- just like diabetes, for instance -- and understood that, for you, even while you are working to learn how to feel better, living with depression is just part of the territory. the Q of whether you should live together is really a peripheral consideration, it seems to me, until these other difficulties are resolved.

i hope that you and your boyfriend can work out whatever is the best way to continue in your relationship. please keep us posted on how you are doing.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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sluwiggey replied to susiemargaret's response:
You stated you had taken meds on and off for a few years. Have you considered staying on a medication and working with your doctor to achieve the appropriate level in your body. Psychiatric meds must build up in your system and when you go off and on them the optimum medication level in your blood is never achieved.

By all means though you and your boyfriend should not be living together while achieving the optimum level. There are too many swings in life alone and adding a relationship only adds more depressive posibilites.

You and your boyfriend should seek counseling. Meds alone are not the answer it is a combination of medication, monitoring, doctor intervention, and social activity are the anwer. Have you considered an in patient treatment facility where you can work on the depression issues? When You get out of the inpatient it is imparitive you follow up with out patient counseling.

Fix yourself first then let the relationship happen later. You have to be strong for you before being any help to another. You can do it though. Achieve not only personal satisfaction but also a relationship that is also satisfactory.

Love yourself enough to let your boyfriend know the problem before just opting out of the relationship though. If you don't you not only hurt Him but yourself because you may burn a bridge that was very stable.

Finally accept changes in life. People are ever changing creatures and it may be that your are no longer compatible but don't throw it all away before seeking professional therapy alone then together!


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