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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / How to offer support to a loved one who has shut you out from a distance

Topic: How to offer support to a loved one who has shut you out from a distance

11 posts, 0 answered
  1. SeekingAdvice01
    SeekingAdvice01 avatar
    3 posts
    30 August 2017

    Hi,

    I have read many posts on helping loved ones with depression and have found so many of these to be very helpful. It has also eased my mind, as I can relate so much to these situations. I love and support my partner and believe he has been battling depression for a lot of his life. I have only known him for 12 months and have been dating him for 8 months. During this time I have been able to see all sides of him, from the most loving, selfless and caring person I have met to withdrawn, judgemental and selfish. It has been a rollercoaster, but being aware has made me more mindful on how to react in certain situations. I know during times of stress, he starts to withdraw from me and his mood becomes dark, which only lasts a couple of days. It hasn't been easy and I know the criticism and judgement are not personal attacks, but unfortunately being human makes me susceptible to this at times. He has on a couple of occasions indicated he needs to seek help and I told him I would always be there to support him when he decided to make this step. I have never pressured, nor would I, as I know this is only a decision he can make on his own and when he is ready.

    In the last month he was made redundant over an incident that occurred at work, that was in no way his fault. Unfortunately this hit him hard, which was to be expected, as he felt responsible for letting everyone down. I have been there to support him the whole way through it, as much as I can. Unfortunately, as we both work in FIFO and live in different parts of the state, once I had to return to work, he started to slowly shut me out. Messages were 2 word replies and then there was no contact for 5 days. I finally made contact and discovered he was in a worse situation than I had thought possible. He didn't want to talk much about it and I didn't want to pressure him. Now it has been close to another week with no contact. I have sent occasional messages offering my support and letting him know how much I care and will not give up on him. I try calling every couple of days, as I don't want him to feel suffocated, but also don't want him thinking I have given up on him. I have no one to contact to find out if he is ok. Do I just need to be patient and give him his space and respect he wants no contact or is there more I could do? It has been tough not knowing. I have another 2 weeks of working away and don't know if I will hear from him before then to arrange to see him. I feel so helpless.

  2. BballJ
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    BballJ avatar
    2032 posts
    30 August 2017 in reply to SeekingAdvice01

    Hi SeekingAdvice01,

    Firstly, welcome to the forums.

    We see many posts on here about supporting people with a mental illness and the fact you are so caring and compassionate is amazing and not to be undervalued. I am sure your partner would think this too but it is hard for someone who is suffering from any mental health issue to show those feelings at time, but deep down we always appreciate the support we get from our loved ones.

    These situations are always tough to give advice on because there isn't a lot you can do or we can say that will generally change the situation, I think that if he wants his space, there is good reason for it but I am a big fan of always staying in touch, sending that message letting them know you are simply thinking about them or checking in to see they are ok, I think these are always good things to do because yes they may be feeling quite low but we always like to receive messages of support and knowing someone cares about us. You don't know any family members who can let you know he is alright?

    One thing I can suggest if you don't already know and that is at the top of this page there is a section called "The facts" under there is a part about supporting someone and has a lot of information about supporting someone with a mental illness you may be interested to read.

    My best for you and your partner,

    Jay

    3 people found this helpful
  3. SeekingAdvice01
    SeekingAdvice01 avatar
    3 posts
    31 August 2017 in reply to BballJ

    Thank you for your guidance and kind words Jay, I really appreciate it.

    Unfortunately, I believe his family are the root cause of a lot of his issues, so me contacting them would only cause him further distress and I don't want to do that. His friend base that I know are rather immature and I feel making contact with them would have the same outcome as a family member.

    I will continue to attempt to make contact with him every couple of days to let him know I care and I am still here for him when he is ready and hope that he will let me know soon that he is ok.

    Thank you again.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. geoff
    Life Member
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    geoff avatar
    15594 posts
    31 August 2017 in reply to SeekingAdvice01
    hello SeekingAdvice, another sad story where depression has taken over and put a wedge between the two of you, no one is to blame, but the one thing that does worry me is that you both live in different states FIFO jobs, and unfortunately this makes any r/ship difficult to get to know what the other person is always thinking about, sure you can talk to each other on the phone, skype or by texting each other, but that's only a small fraction of the time of your day.
    What happens when have finished talking to each other and then something awful happens so it might not be possible to contact each other again at that specific time, this only adds onto how you are feeling, and you can't forget that even as much as you want to help your partner, you have feelings as well, and these can't be forgotten about because all you want to do is help him which is lovely, but you need to look after yourself.
    You can't stay at home and wonder what's going on, because that could mean that your mind starts to wonder into thinking about negative thoughts so this can lead you to breaking down yourself.
    We don't want that so please go and visit your doctor, there maybe nothing wrong with you, but at least you have checked yourself out, and remember you have to be strong so that you can help your partner. Geoff.
  5. SeekingAdvice01
    SeekingAdvice01 avatar
    3 posts
    31 August 2017 in reply to geoff

    Thank you for your advice also Geoff.

    Yes, it is very unfortunate as to the distance between us atm, as this was only to be short term. We did discuss that we would wait for him to start his next job and look at me transitioning across. Unfortunately due to the amount of time he had off before starting the new job, it appears this has pushed him over the edge. He was due to start his new role this week, however, due to a situation that occurred, I am not sure whether this eventuated because of it.

    As we only have the phone for communication atm, it makes it all that much harder, as he isn't responding. I certainly have my moments of struggling with this and not knowing if he is ok, but also understand he will come back to me if and when he is ready. I believe once he starts a job, he will start to get back on track, I just hope this is sooner rather than later.

    I have just recently started sleeping again and understand the importance for both of us for me to be in a good state of mind when and if he does contact me next. Yesterday I did book in to see someone when I am home next, so thank you for your concern.

    Thank you again for your kind words and support Geoff.

  6. Rococo
    Rococo avatar
    3 posts
    4 September 2017

    Hi Seeking Advice 01,

    My situation is similar. I get two words replies all the time, and sometimes I doubt whether he's depressed or not in the mood or just doesn't care. I guess also because our relationship is not that long, same only 8 months, I couldn't really tell whether it's us or him or depression that's causing his withdraw and that made me feel insecure and desperately wanted more communication.

    I've also tried very hard not to pressure. But when we talk about it, I realised sometimes he felt the pressure still when I checked on him and wanted to know what's happening in his life. Again, maybe it's him, maybe it's depression. I'm still learning to be more patient and don't think negatively about it and give him space.

    One thing I also struggle with is that he can't commit to any plans, because he doesn't know what would happen in a few months, how would he feel that day etc. For example I realised I couldn't count on him to spend New Year's Eve together.

    It is tiring. I'm a very positive person, always think of the brighter side and celebrate small successs. We argue about things sometimes becaues I wanted to show him the brighter side while his complete negativity is beating me up.

    I did a lot of research before but I think I need to keep reminding myself of the things I should and shouldn't do. The key thing is to take care of myself and lead a healthy life, be responsible of my own life. From reading a lot of comments in the forum I thought maybe I should reduce my expectation, because it wouldn't be a normal balanced relationship. But because I love him and want to stay in this relationship, I should make sure I don't drain myself while supporting him, which can become pressure for him and end up distancing him more.

    I felt hopeless sometimes too, but I hope I'm doing the right thing.

    Please community champions, give me some reassurance too.

    Good luck to both of us.

    1 person found this helpful
  7. BballJ
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    BballJ avatar
    2032 posts
    4 September 2017 in reply to Rococo

    Hi Rococo,

    As I said in my initial post to SeekingAdvice01, supporting someone with a mental illness is very tough, as you almost have to change the way you would normally approach things as to not upset or disturb them. My partner went through similar things with me when I was first diagnosed with anxiety.

    Is your partner currently seeking help for the depression? Being withdrawn is a common thing for mental health sufferers as well, our minds are always in overdrive that we almost can forget to live in the now. I think you are doing all the right things, you are trying to be supportive and doing what you can to accommodate his feelings which is great. The fact you understand what he is going through is great as well. I know it's tough with two word replies as well but when you feel you are pressuring them so they distance themselves but you clearly care about this person so all you can do is keep gently supporting them and reminding them you are here for them. You should continue to focus on yourself and leading a healthy life, people who are suffering from mental illness need people like that around them I believe, positivity is such a strong thing.

    My best for you and your partner,

    Jay

    3 people found this helpful
  8. Rococo
    Rococo avatar
    3 posts
    5 September 2017 in reply to BballJ

    Thanks a lot Jay.

    This is very helpful hearing you have gone through similar experience and have things working well now.

    My boyfriend was seeing a psychologist for a few months. Now she's on maternity leave so he stopped. I think he's willing to work towards getting better, but it's hard to have to explain it all again to a new person.

    I can see more swings these days without the regular visits to the psychologist. I hope he'll be able to keep himself on track. Otherwise I may suggest him consider talking to someone.

    Thanks again Jay. I'll keep gently supporting him and stay positive!

    R

  9. BballJ
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    BballJ avatar
    2032 posts
    5 September 2017 in reply to Rococo

    Hi Rococo,

    I know it is tough having to explain to a whole new person but put it this way, explained it all again can be annoying but having another point of view can be very beneficial and open up different ways to look at things so do remind your boyfriend of this if you feel you need too.

    My best,

    Jay

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Rococo
    Rococo avatar
    3 posts
    6 September 2017 in reply to BballJ

    Hi Jay,

    Ithought so too! Was holding off not to push him on this :)

    Thanks for the advice. I'll keep in mind and remind him at an appropriate time.

    Thanks!

    R

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Coastie7395
    Coastie7395 avatar
    1 posts
    30 May 2018

    Hi,

    I found this thread very helpful as I am going through something similar myself. My boyfriend and I have been dating for only 3 months and things had been going well until I felt him starting to withdraw. Unfortunately I suffer from an anxiety disorder and feeling him withdraw sent me into overdrive which pushed him further away to the point I got a message saying, "things aren't going to work between us are they???, he couldn't do the things he needed to do to keep me, he couldn't keep me happy, he hated his life and didn't want to drag me into something I'll regret" but in the next sentence he said he didn't want to lose me because I'm the best person he has in his life. This happened a week ago and I have been a wreck since.

    I tried reaching out with a couple of phone calls and a message or two and got nothing back until Sunday when I sent him a message saying "I wasn't going anywhere and that I would be right here waiting for him when he was ready". He replied. He thanked me, apologised for not replying or answering and told me he was closing himself off from the world atm which is how he wants it right now. It was enough to stabilise me. I have since seen my GP about my anxiety, I am seeing a counsellor later this week and have sought out forums like this to get advice and I guess feel not so lonely when going through this. I'm now trying to balance how often to message without pressuring him but to still let him know that I'm here.

    Hope all going through similar things are doing OK x

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