There are plenty of posts out there about having depression and being in love or socialising with depression and anxiety but what about those who love someone with depression. Like me.
Just over a year ago my boyfriend was diagnosed with severe depression. We’d been together two and a half years at this point. To me, it came out of nowhere; he suddenly became a different person, although looking back, his anxiety had definitely grown over time. We’d just been refused a mortgage after putting an offer in on a house (whole other rant, right there), it was almost Christmas, the stress of work was getting in the way and he plummeted into a deep depression, they reckon it stemmed from incidents in his youth. He was given a month off work, which almost makes it worse because he had nothing to do in that time and he was a hermit. What’s even more horrendous, was his best friends abandoned him and kicked him out of their band, his favourite hobby. They blamed it on his depression and diabetes… although they said he could still be mates if he wanted. Some friends, huh?
I don’t actually remember much about that time, just that he was so spaced out, he can’t remember Christmas Day. It was one day in February that he let slip in conversation that he’d tried to overdose on pills a few weeks earlier. He thought he had already told me. I was completely crushed. He said it had been nothing to do with me but you can’t help but think ‘If you love me, why would you leave me?’ and this still hurts me. I cried a lot but he couldn’t understand my point of view, he just kept saying that I would be better off without him and would find someone else. But, excuse me, do you not think I would be scarred at 22 if my boyfriend committed suicide? AND he hadn’t written a note either. I would have tortured myself with blame and guilt over this life ruining moment. I chose to block it from my mind as though it had never happened.
It got harder in April/May time; we hadn’t done much as his anxiety prevented us from going anywhere busy so we didn’t tend to go out, especially in the evenings. He also didn’t have the confidence to go out and make new friends so I was his only companion. It’s not that I got bored of being with him because I didn’t but his clinginess started to grate on me. I felt guilty for going out with my friends or visiting family because he’d be alone. If I was going the pub with a friend, for example, he would ask to come with and I’d brush him off because I just wanted to spend some time with other people having a chat and doing something different.
It came to another head in June. One of my vices is that I hate arguing, I just hate being shouted at and I don’t feel physically able to shout back. If you argue with me, I’ll just cry and he took this as me trying to make him feel guilty, but I genuinely can’t help it. I’m a big crier. As well, I don’t tend to let my negative emotions out in front of people, I’m more likely to have a big rant at myself in the mirror and feel like I’ve got it off my chest (the foibles of being an only child). We’d had a couple of fall outs leading up to the moment when he told me that an old girl mate he’d gone out with a couple of times had confessed she “loved” him (so bitter). He had expected me to go ballistic and accuse him of cheating but my response was ‘I’m not surprised’. I just had that girl vibe that I didn’t like her long before this point but as he had no other friends I couldn’t bear to stop him going out. What makes my response so much more upsetting though is that the stress of him over-thinking about how I’d react and what he was going to do, led him to try and overdose on his insulin and other medication two days before. He’d woken up slightly paralysed but it wore off, he was very lucky.
This was the most difficult time for me because how could I be with someone who I couldn’t trust to be there for me. I still loved him though because he was a good person and treated me well and I enjoyed the time we spent together, I still saw us having a future. After a lot of talks with several people I told him that we had to postpone our hunt for a mortgage because I couldn’t take the risk of being left alone with that kind of debt. In my head I also made the decision that if he didn’t improve by Christmas then I’d have to leave him, for my own good.
August was when I started having my own personal struggle. I was stressed at work to the point that I became physically ill (still ongoing) and had mild depression myself (again, another post for another time). I’m not sure whether all those months of being constantly together finally got to him and I was surprised that he was so unsympathetic towards me considering everything he’d been through. He started to have mega mood swings, he’d snap at me over the smallest thing, such as me coughing, then bring me tea and toast to cheer me up. It was exhausting!
As much as I’m focusing on all the terrible bits that have happened this year because I need to get them off my chest, there have also been plenty of good bits too, hence why we’re still together. Such as trips to the cinema, cooking together, days out and steadily he’s getting more confidence. I actually managed to get him on a plane for a trip to the German Christmas markets. Big improvement!
What’s been nice is that people I have spoken to about it, the first thing they say is ‘That must be so hard for you!’ It is, thank you! In this sort of situation, the focus seems to be on the person with the illness but being around it all the time can have a major effect on your own life.
I can’t say there is a definitive happy ending at the moment as every day is still a struggle for him. However, I am very proud as during Autumn he started reaching out to old friends and now has a booming social life, which means we actually spend less time together which is making us appreciate each other more. He also bought a bike last week so he can cycle to work and he’s rejoined the gym, finally he’s getting some of those endorphins I’ve been banging on about! His confidence is on the up and up and we’re taking a good look at our relationship and how we can sort things out. Basically, I’m going to shout at him more.