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Topic: Giving space to someone with depression

19 posts, 0 answered
  1. Puppies
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    8 July 2017

    Hi there,

    I've been in a long distance relationship with my partner for 3 years now and he has had depression since before we met.

    The thing I have always struggled with is giving space, either when he asks for it or when I know he needs it. I have done a lot of research over the last week because we are yet again in another bout of depression. This is the worst it's been, and this time he straight out said he wasn't sure if he wanted to be with me anymore or if he even loves me. This came as a surprise to me as I know that he loves me and wants to be with me, but his depression makes him think otherwise.

    I haven't spoken to him in over 2 days, as he asked for space, and we have hardly spoken since Sunday (it's Saturday night now).

    I am at a loss as to what I should do because I don't like not communicating with him, as I feel communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship.

    I am not looking for people to tell me that he needs to go see someone, all I am asking is to hear from those who have depression/anxiety and those who are carers, about how much space is enough. I have sent a couple of messages over the last few days to let him know I'm here for him, but he hasn't replied. Will he send me a message when he is ready? What if he doesn't? I don't deal with these bouts of depression, I just want him to get better and be happy and I just need some assistance because I have never been so lost.

    puppies

    4 people found this helpful
  2. geoff
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    9 July 2017 in reply to Puppies
    hello Puppies, it's always very difficult to know how to cope with someone you love who has depression, because everybody is different.
    The messages you have sent him are good for him to know that you do still care about how he is feeling, and there will be times when he doesn't respond back to you, that's not because he doesn't love you, it's his depression that makes him not want to reply, but when he knows that you're still out there waiting for him, he may ring or SMS you at any time, especially when he's at his deepest.
    It's always painful waiting for him to make contact with you, because you are always worried about him, unfortunately it's a waiting game, but when he contacts you or comes around to see is when you offer to help him by going with him to see his doctor/psychologist, but it has to be taken slowly, because as soon as you try and push him, that's when he will close up.
    I'm sure he will make contact, that always seems to be the case, and I say this because that's exactly what I did, plus there have been other posts where it has also happened.
    Now you have to look after yourself by going to see your doctor, and I hope by saying that it hasn't broken what you asked not to be told. Geoff.
    1 person found this helpful
  3. Puppies
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    9 July 2017 in reply to geoff

    Thanks for your reply Geoff

    I'm still waiting to hear from him, and it's Sunday morning now. I hope he comes around but I'm feeling very down about it all, and last night I remember thinking that I had never felt in so much pain before.

    I'm glad that you said it's his depression that makes him not want to reply, because with all my research, I have been able to understand that.

    However, the other day he suddenly turned around and said (over text message) that he wasn't sure he loved me or wanted to be with me anymore. Now I'm just worried that as I wait, maybe he'll realise that that is actually what he wants to have happen next. I know he loves me, but from a distance, it's hard for me to talk to him about how the way he's feeling is because of the depression. I just have to wait but I'm not sure how much longer I can

    Puppies.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Just Sara
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    9 July 2017 in reply to Puppies

    Hi Puppies;

    Distance between couples seems doubled when confusing or hurtful situations occur. I must say I was taken back by you receiving a txt msg saying he didn't know if he loved you anymore.

    That phrase made my blood boil. Sorry; I find it cruel and insensitive. You seem to be really concerned about what he thinks, but it's you that's important in this scenario. How hurt you must be.

    I'm concerned you're not grasping the reality of what depression can do to men. Women tend to crave affection or someone to talk with; men hide and try to bare their pain alone. It becomes such a horrible and frustrating situation, they sometimes take this out on those closest to them.

    I'm not saying this is what's happening, I'm saying long distance relationships have many obstacles; the most obvious is communication.

    In my opinion, and that's from what you've written, your focus needs to be on you instead of him. Your feelings are really important, so when he writes something of this nature, your response should give him insight into how it makes you feel.

    If you feel hurt and fearful, write that. If you feel upset and teary, write it. The point I'm making, is that you can't go into his head and 'guess' what's going on. That practice ends in feeling helpless and hopeless. In reality, you have no control over his feelings/thoughts.

    Even if someone has depression, they need to know how it affects others especially a dear loved one. Telling him what to do, or asking him to tell you what's wrong won't work. All you can do is plead your side of things because that's all you know for sure.

    Unfortunately, exchanging words long distance doesn't guarantee complete honesty or the whole story. I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic.

    You can take his words at face value, or risk your sanity by imagining the worst. More importantly, is to express your feelings honestly instead of trying to make him feel better. Please don't forget 'you'.

    I'm sorry if this offends Puppy; I'm upset and a little angry to be honest to know this is what a man's capable of with someone he's been with for 3 yrs.

    Again...I apologise.

    Sincerely;

    Sara

    3 people found this helpful
  5. Puppies
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    9 July 2017 in reply to Just Sara

    Hi Sara,

    I understand what you're saying , but I do also understand how depression affects him.

    I don't really know how to respond to you because he is only like this when he is depressed, otherwise he is very lovely . Depression seems to make him very confused as he does not know how to deal with those feelings.

    My fear when it comes to posting on these sites is that people will assume he is a bad person because of how he fails to deal with his own depression.

    I do tell him how I feel, and he does listen.

    All i asked for was for information about the space to give based on someone who does or does not have depression.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. The Possum
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    259 posts
    10 July 2017 in reply to Puppies

    Hi there puppies

    I'm not a carer of someone with mental health issues, but I have mental health conditions - bipolar ii/anxiety/depression. So I'm going to give you some feedback from my perspective and hope it helps.

    When I'm in the throws of depression I often don't want to talk to anyone. I will ignore email, ignore texts, I'll even put my phone on silent in a drawer for days to avoid the communication. I don't answer the door if someone visits.

    I've done for a whole week at a time. It's not that I am being mean, or that I hate people, it's just that I can't deal with people at that time. My head is consumed by my thoughts.

    I find during these times if I do communicate with people it's often not pleasant. I will say offensive things, I'll be irritated and have a rant (I've even had a few rants here on the forum when depressed). Again it's not intentional, I'm just in a place of pain, and I'm letting that out.

    It's really why I have now opted not to communicate much or at all until I get a better grip of it as I know ill upset people.

    I'm not saying this is why he is or isn't behaving as he is, but I'm hoping it sheds some insight into why he may.

    My actions or inactions do affect others. And my lack of communication worries some people. It took a while for me to acknowledge this. I once had a friend so worried that she was about to call the police to my home. I realised then how selfish I was been, even though I didn't mean it.

    I ended up deciding that no matter how bad I was feeling, every 2-3 days I'd make an effort to send the people who cared for me a quick text just saying 'I'm ok I just need some space'. This gave them piece of mind and me the space I needed.

    I also reassured those who cared that I was proactively dealing with my condition. That I was seeing doctors, on medications etc This again gave them piece of mind.

    Distance really has no bearing on the things we can do to alleviate one's concerns. If I were you I'd have a chat with him that you understand his need for space but this is really worrying you & making you I'll & see if you can make an arrangement for communication similar as above.

    People also say a lot of negative things when they are depressed. I've told my husband that he & the kids are better off without me & I want a divorce. I don't really. But when depressed I can't see anything good. It's why they say make no decisions when depressed!

    I don't know if this helps. Take care x

    6 people found this helpful
  7. Puppies
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    10 July 2017 in reply to The Possum

    Hi The Possum,

    Your reply is exactly what I was after! I will definitely have a talk to him about communication, especially when we're apart and he's feeling down. I was trying to understand why he said hurtful things, not only to me but to his family too, and I think your explanation tells me that he may not be saying things he really feels, but at that moment is unsure of how to go about dealing with things.

    As you may have read, he told me he wasn't sure he loved or wanted to be with me anymore. In your last paragraph you said that you've said similar things to your husband, even though that's not what you want when you're feeling good about things.

    Although I now accept that he said it only due to his depression and not because that's how he actually felt, I will still need to talk to him about boundaries because I am not ok with feeling so upset for a long time about something that has come from nowhere and has left me confused.

    Thank you so much for your reply! I now understand 'space giving' much more and hope that I can talk to my partner about how it can affect me when he feels this way and shuts me out. I'll just have to see what he says!

    Puppies.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. The Possum
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    259 posts
    10 July 2017 in reply to Puppies

    Puppies

    I'm glad my insight could help you a little.

    Yes I agree communicating is definitely the way to go, so that you don't need to feel so shut out in the process.

    Boundaries are essential too. Whilst I might say things I don't mean, my family know it's a limited time and they have confidence that I'm getting the right help so this will pass.

    They therefore have tolerance for it, but don't feel like a punching bag at the same time. Which can be hurtful.

    So he needs to be made aware that his actions are hurtful. He also needs to be made aware that you're willing to tolerate it provided he is getting help.

    Good luck with everything x

    2 people found this helpful
  9. Puppies
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    10 July 2017 in reply to The Possum

    Hi Possum,

    Yes that's exactly right. I hope to be seeing him in the next 4 days and I have quite a bit to chat about. I know that he hates long talks to I'll try and split it up into bits that we can talk about over a few days.

    And yes that's exactly right, if we're on the same page and he is willing to get help, then I am willing to tolerate his behaviour and support him through it, but only if I'm being respected at the same time.

    puppies x

    2 people found this helpful
  10. The Possum
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    259 posts
    10 July 2017 in reply to Puppies
    Awesome plan! Good luck x
    2 people found this helpful
  11. Just Sara
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    10 July 2017 in reply to Puppies

    Hi Puppy;

    I apologise for my remarks. As we're not professionals on here, there are times when personal perspective interferes with our responses. I hope you understand.

    I'm in awe of your ability to stand by your man to do whatever it takes to keep things rolling along effectively. I'm also grateful to Poss who's come to your rescue with some pretty amazing advice and wisdom from her experience and pain. Thanks Poss...

    Again, I'm sorry hun. I know you'll be fine as your replies have been wonderful. I'm a bit ashamed actually that I treated your situation the way I did.

    I wish you well; I genuinely hope everything works out for you both.

    Sincere regrets;

    Sara x

  12. The Possum
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    259 posts
    10 July 2017 in reply to Just Sara

    You're all good Sara, and thanks for the compliments too.

    I can totally see your points as well though, and really different perspectives add value.

    And as you know, I've had my own fair share of struggles and voiced them rather negatively on here..

    Take care x

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Puppies
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    10 July 2017 in reply to Just Sara

    Hi Sara and Possum,

    That's ok Sara there's no real need to apologise, I think that one of my biggest issues is that if I talk to someone about my problems with him, and they think of him in a bad way then I end up getting defensive only because I don't want people to talk badly about him. I love him, and I only want support from the people I talk to about these things.

    I understand both of your views, Sara and Possum, but in the end i think I'm too selfless to put myself first. Even when I'm feeling at my lowest I still want to put him first. We have a good relationship, and I read somewhere that sometimes it can be hard to feel that way when one, or both partners, suffer from depression. When he doesn't have these bouts of debilitating depression then we are fine, we have arguments like any couple would but I'm fighting for the good times in our relationship, and to make those good times the only times we have (without depression).

    Thankyou both for your input, I've found that other people's experiences have helped me immensely

    Puppies x

    1 person found this helpful
  14. Puppies
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    18 July 2017 in reply to Puppies

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to post an update on my situation and ask for more assistance!

    My partner and I have since seen each other (I made a visit) and have spoken about what went on. We are ok now, and i understand more about why he said/did some things. I told him that some of what he said was not ok, regardless of whether he has depression or not, but I now understand his thinking and reasoning for why he felt that way.

    I just wanted to ask how people cope when they have depression. I want to hear from those who have depression as to what process they go through to feel better. He said he needs space away from me when he's feeling down, but I'm not 100% sure if I understand why.

    puppies x

  15. Blackdogtimetraveller
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    1 posts
    9 May 2018

    Hi Puppies

    Not sure if you guys are together, but just want to share my experience. My partner has MDD and frequently needs space. During this time I feel very insecure, because normal human attachment doesn't look like this. You must expect this to happen, without warning and be able to give that space without feeling insecure. I say to myself now.. ok, the Black Dog is back. You must not expect nor have a time frame on when it will go away or return, no one knows.. You have to be extremely resilient and able to focus on self care, spending time with friends and being independent. When your partner sees this, he may feel comforted, or feel incompetent. It's then you need to remind him, you are allowing him the space to get well he requested (if he doesn't respond well). This is a hard slog. It is painful at times, it's exhausting. But your partner doesn't mean it, he sees it as protecting you and it's his body's way of saying 'time out'. He needs to do this to get well. He's going to say cruel things, hurtful things- it's that damn black dog. Just remember, it's not him talking. Soon enough, you'll see when he's sliding and be able to mentally prepare yourself for living independently for 'a bit'. I say this because no one, not even him, will know or be able to predict how long the episodes will last. It's really up to you as to if you can stay level and balanced, but if you can't, it might be you that will need some space to consider if you can live with it.

    Its hard, it's confusing and it feels so unpredictable. You'll be ok though! Xx

    4 people found this helpful
  16. Puppies
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    4 October 2018 in reply to Blackdogtimetraveller

    Hi Blackdogtimetraveller!

    Sorry for delayed reply! I just read through the whole thread from July last year and came across your response.

    Yes we are still together - over 4 years! Your response makes a lot of sense. I need to stay in the mindset of ‘his hurtful words are not from him, they are the BlackDog’. I think that may help me a lot when things are bad. Unfortunately we’re currently trying to deal with another bout of depression which is even worse this time. It started with an argument but then things spiraled out of control and he tried to hurt himself. It hurt me a lot to see that. I’m still sticking by him, but once again the BlackDog makes him push me away and demand space. We are still long distance (unfortunately) but he seems to be grasping a better understanding of the fact he needs help. And I’m hoping that once he has a bit more space that he will realise he does want me in his life (he’s been saying on and off that he does and doesn’t but HAS continued to say that he loves me). It is a difficult decision for him because even though it’s been a few weeks since things were really bad, his head still isn’t in the right place.

    A couple of other responses I have received have told me to take care of myself and to put myself first, but over the last few weeks I think I’ve realised that I don’t actually know how to do that. I have always been selfless and I like to believe that I know how to look after others. But I also think I just realised that sometimes looking after others means doing things I don’t want to do (like giving space to my partner). I hope he knows I’m there for him. But I find that his comments are opposing between his good place and his bad place. When he’s feeling good he may thank me for sticking by him and then when he’s feeling bad he may tell me I’m not there for him. I think I needed to read your response because I definitely believe that if I think of it as the ‘BlackDog’ that I may be better able to dissociate the depression from my partner.

    Thank you all for your responses, I’m not feeling so good this morning but I am feeling slightly better now.

    I hope that things turn out for us, I really love him and I enjoy our time together, I don’t want for it to end.

    thanks - Puppies

    2 people found this helpful
  17. chasethechaser
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    3 September 2020 in reply to Puppies

    Morning Puppies,

    I know it’s been years since this post. I came across it last night when I was googling for help with the exact same issues. I’m wondering how you’re going with your partner and if things have improved. If you have any advice to share? I am in a long distance relationship (currently not together) and I too struggle with the space thing, fearing I make things worse no matter what I do but all I really am trying to do is be there and show him I’m not turning my back on him. It’s hard, it is so painful, but I try to stay mindful that it’s painful for him. I’m feeling quite at a loss atm.

    I hope this find you well :)

    1 person found this helpful
  18. Steve68
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    9 posts
    13 September 2020 in reply to chasethechaser
    Am glad you reawakened t this post as I am going through similar with my partner. We actually live together ..she has recently been diagnosed with severe depression and all of a sudden has been telling me to stay away...stay with friends and won't communicate.
    I have been sad...confused...angry ...to read that this appears to be a normal response is very heartening. To read that it's the black dog talking not her...gives me hope.
    Thank you
  19. KG82
    KG82 avatar
    39 posts
    18 September 2020 in reply to Steve68

    Hi Steve68,

    I too am glad that this post has been revived. My partner has been struggling recently, and has not communicated with me in almost a week. I don’t want to push too hard and have really only sent messages to let her know that I am there. It’s heart-breaking wanting to help, and also having to accept that you can’t make someone accept your help.

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