I was diagnosed with depression earlier this year, and I'm currently looking for a therapist that I like. (I've been through two already that didn't work out for me.) I have some personal issues that I'm working on getting sorted out, through both therapy and my own reading of self-help books.
I don't have any close friends. The only person that I'm really close to right now is my girlfriend, who lives with me. She's been amazing through all of this stuff that's been going on, giving me space when I need it, giving me hugs and support when I ask for it. But because I'm all caught up in my own stuff, I feel like I'm not doing a good job of giving her what she needs.
I feel pressure to get better faster. Please don't misunderstand me -- she is NOT pressuring me to hurry up and stop being depressed. But I know that it can't be any fun living with a mood-swinging depressed girlfriend who currently can't handle much physical affection, so I feel guilty. I don't like that someone I love so much is stuck with the empty shell of what used to be her girlfriend.
Though she's incredibly supportive of me and the only person I have in my life to help take care of me, I often find myself wondering if getting through this depression stuff might be easier if I didn't have her, because I worry about her needs almost as much as I worry about my own. She says that she's doing fine and that she just wants me to get better, but I don't know if it will take weeks or months or years, and I don't want her waiting around for a version of me that may or may not ever come back.
We've discussed the possibility that this new moody me might be around for a while, and she said that she's fine with it as long as I keep trying to get better. And I consider that a given -- I don't like being moody and tearful all the time, so I don't intend to stop trying to get my old self back. But like I said, I feel this pressure because I hate putting her through this, so I want to get better as quickly as possible.
What do you guys think? Are my thoughts irrational? (Something that I'm willing to admit is entirely possible. I know the depression puts a funny spin on my thoughts sometimes.) Do you think this could just be an excuse to push her away? Do you think I really would have an easier time dealing with this stuff alone?
Posts: 12 | From: USA | Registered: May 2010
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Ouch. I don't know whether anything I will have to have will be helpful, but I've been there, and it's a really uncomfortable place to be. So my sympathies, first off.
Unfortunately, depression can have a negative effect on a relationship even when both people have the best intentions. It sounds like your girlfriend is trying to help you in the only way she knows how, and it certainly sounds like she cares about you a lot.
However, I think that your concerns about not doing a good job of giving her what she needs are not irrational in the slightest. I have seen relationships in which one partner felt like they had to table their needs because the other was going through a hard time, and that's never a good place to be. It can also set a tone for the relationship even after the hard time has passed, to some extent, because one partner has become used to keeping it inside.
I also can understand why you would feel pressure, even when she's not putting any on you. It's hard to watch someone you love go through what you're going through, and at least in my experience, being concerned about the effect it's having on your partner and your relationship is totally and completely normal. But--and I'm sure you know this--feeling that pressure won't help you to deal with this. Worrying about her at the same time you're worrying about you is probably going to make it all harder.
I don't know what you should do, but I have a few thoughts:
First, it does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision. You don't need to decide whether you stay at the status quo you're at now or break up completely. I, and others I know who have been in that situation, have found that sometimes, just taking a break can be really helpful. You don't need to say, "We're over." You can just say, "I feel like I'm not being a good partner right now. I know you say that it's okay, but I'm not okay with it. Can we just each take some time for ourselves?" (Not sure how that would work with your living together, but if you break up, one of you will have to find a new place, anyway.) That doesn't even need to mean never talking--it can mean a little space, but saying "Oh, let's make Wednesday nights (or whatever) our date night night." It can mean whatever you want it to mean. I do think that it can be helpful, though. My only concern with that is that it seems like she's your main support, and not having that could make it worse.
I'm sorry. I'm not sure if that was helpful or made any sense, but at any rate, my sympathies.
Posts: 22 | From: Earth | Registered: Nov 2010
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I addition to the awesome advice that Sidonie has given you already, I'd also like to suggest something: If you're worried about putting too much of this on your girlfriend's shoulders, you might try reaching out and finding some more support outside of your relationship.
Once you have a therapist you can talk to, that will already go a long way. But you might also look into joining a support group, or reaching out to trusted family, or a mentor. Do you go to college? If so, counseling services on your campus would be a good place to start.
-------------------- Johanna Scarleteen Volunteer
"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand Posts: 9192 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005
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