Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Dealing with depression (when it's not my own)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Dealing with depression (when it's not my own)
silvergirl_sailing_on
Activist
Member # 110025

Icon 1 posted      Profile for silvergirl_sailing_on     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi again, lovely people of Scarleteen! I'm in a relationship with the sweetest most caring guy. It's a brilliant relationship- though still in fairly early stages- but we're both secure in our feelings for each other and have been very open about our respective pasts and really any issues we need or want to discuss. My boyfriend is 13 years older than me, and though we recognise the potential issues of this, nothing major has arisen so far and we feel confident that we could handle it if it did. This does mean that he has had a lot more to fill me in on than I him! One thing that we have discussed a few times is that he suffered from clinical depression a few years ago. He spoke to a psychiatrist at the time and dealt with a lot of the situational issues which though maybe not the base cause, were certainly contributing. I won't discuss them here as I feel that it's possibly not entirely necessary and may be a breach of his privacy. However lately he has noticed some of the symptoms returning. At first he kept reassuring me that he is happy with me but we both understand that depression is a separate thing and we're secure enough in the relationship to realise that. He has been feeling down on several occasions lately where he just can't work out why, or has been finding himself generally more emotional than usual. He has also been feeling particularly tired, which I know to be a symptom of depression, though in fairness he has also been working very hard and hasn't always been getting ideal amounts of sleep, so that may or may not be related. To sum up his description of how he was feeling, it was that the feelings and sort of "type" of sadness if you will, were similar to the ones he had when he was previously diagnosed with clinical depression, however not nearly as severe.

He seems to be far more aware of how he is feeling and how to deal with it. He has also said that if it gets worse or doesn't go away he will consider speaking to a mental health professional again. When I suggested this to him he said that he felt that it wasn't "bad" enough to warrant that, and that he didn't want to waste a professional's time if he was able to deal with it himself using the methods he learned previously. I said that he wouldn't be wasting time as it was still a genuine mental issue and it could perhaps nip it in the bud so to speak. However, for now, he wants to continue managing this himself and obviously that's his choice to make. He also recently found some of the booklets and leaflets from his last session and has offered me to look at them so he's clearly willing to be very open about this (it hadn't even occurred to me that he might have actual material from his sessions.) He knows that I'm happy to be a sounding post or a shoulder to cry on or just a friendly listening ear or someone to discuss it with if he wants. He knows I will support him in whatever way he chooses to deal with it. (He also knows that I'm halfway through a psychology degree and have a real passion for mental health and welfare and he seems to benefit from this knowledge as it seems to dispel any lingering niggling doubts that he's going to come up against stigma from me about this, having experienced it before from various sources. I was worried that he'd think I saw him as some kind of a case study- I really really don't- but he doesn't and instead appreciates my interest in the area and the fact that he doesn't need to entirely educate me about what depression is just to have a conversation about it!) I was sort of always the friend among my old group who people would come to to talk through their problems or worries, and it was a role that I took happily, as it came easily to me and it didn't affect any of us in our ability to have a totally normal relationship the rest of the time.

I know that in a relationship- especially a romantic one- it would not be healthy for me to take on any sort of therapist-type role but I'm just wondering what the best ways are for me to help him work through this? The things I'm most aware of just now are to listen when he needs it, discuss things when he needs it, just be there for hugs and to show him and remind him how much he is loved and often just to have fun and let us both forget about it entirely!

I'd also like to just say (in case it's coming across as a one-sided relationship or as if I am actually taking on a therapeutic role) that this level of support really does go both ways with us. He has helped me to talk through my past experience with an abusive partner as well as some anxiety issues I had around that time but which occasionally resurface. Neither of us are trying to be the other's therapist but we both believe that a strong relationship thrives on discussion and trust and support, and that a problem shared is a problem halved. (Ok, with mental health, maybe not halved, but at least a bit reduced [Razz] ) Another issue with this is that due to my very close exams (ugh) we're not seeing each other nearly as often as we'd like so when we do see each other at the moment we're trying to keep discussion somewhat limited unless he's feeling particularly down so that we can enjoy the time we have. He says this is sometimes one of the most helpful things, to just forget it and enjoy himself for a bit, and it does contribute to a healthier relationship. Neither of us wants to spend all our time sitting down having serious discussions as it just wouldn't be healthy for our (or any) relationship but we give them their place.

So if there are any other suggestions about how best to support him with this they'd be greatly appreciated!

Also thanks for just reading this and all the services in general here at Scarleteen. I've been lurking on message boards for a few days now and you're all doing amazing work! [Smile]

PS- I had to go back through this and paragraph it, as I realised I'd basically made a wall of text, so some of my paragraphing might seem a bit arbitrary.

--------------------
~Ciara

"Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way."

Posts: 40 | From: Scotland | Registered: Apr 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sam W
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 108189

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Sam W     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Silvergirl,

A few tips come to mind that I can think of. You're already in a pretty good place in a lot of ways, since it sounds like the two of you communicate well about this, and that you are aware that you can't be his therapist. I would highly encourage keeping that communication open, and be ready to use it on a case by case basis if he starts to feel down. What I mean by that is, if he's feeling down, ask what he thinks would help (it sounds like you're already doing this), and also kind of keep a mental list of things that have helped in the past. That way, if he's having trouble coming up with or articulating what would help in that instance, you can try using things that have worked in the past. The caveat to this is that both of you should be ready for this to be really frustrating at times.

I would also say that something helpful you can do is encourage him in any treatment he decides to seek. I think reminding him that he would not be wasting anyone's time seeking help was a very sound thing to do. And it might help, if the depression appears to be worsening from what you can see, to (gently) remind him of his statement that he would seek counseling if it continued or got worse. Sometimes, it can be helpful, when we're dealing with mental health issues to have someone we're close to go "hey, I know your jerkbrain may be telling you otherwise, but you're allowed to ask for help."

Hopefully those suggestions made sense and are helpful [Smile]

[ 04-14-2014, 09:04 PM: Message edited by: Sam W ]

Posts: 1292 | Registered: Aug 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
silvergirl_sailing_on
Activist
Member # 110025

Icon 1 posted      Profile for silvergirl_sailing_on     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Sam! That's all really helpful information and it's good to hear a slightly different perspective. The only way in which the depression seems to be worsening is that it wasn't apparent to me at first, even though I knew it was something he had suffered in the past, and now it has "resurfaced" if you like. Since noticing the symptoms, they haven't actually worsened, it's more that previously there were no symptoms and now there are. So when he said if it got worse he meant if the symptoms got worse which in fairness, they don't seem to be doing. If that makes any sense whatsoever [Smile] Yeah, he does seem much more ok with the idea of asking for help (he told me it was something he put off a lot the first time round) but at the same time, he hasn't asked for proper help yet, so it might indeed be a good idea to give him a friendly reminder [Smile] Thanks, they did all make total sense and definitely very very helpful. [Smile]

--------------------
~Ciara

"Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way."

Posts: 40 | From: Scotland | Registered: Apr 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
silvergirl_sailing_on
Activist
Member # 110025

Icon 1 posted      Profile for silvergirl_sailing_on     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Update! He told me that he's been working a lot of things through in his head lately and has been feeling a lot better for it. He also looked out all his workbooks and "material" if you like from his past sessions and has been sort of working through them again. We had a look through it together (his offer) the other night and a chat about some stuff and he does seem a lot less troubled than before. He's also decided he's going to get a hamster. It's small enough for him to be able to take care of whilst managing work and stuff, but he says that he read somewhere that small pets can give people suffering from depression something to focus on, as they have something to take care of aside from themselves. He also said that he feels it will be company for him when he's on his own, as that's when he notices that he feels worst in general as his mind runs away with itself a little. I get the feeling he maybe just needed some time to come to terms with the possibility that it was depression rearing its ugly head again. But now that he's sort of realised that mostly of his own accord, he seems to be taking really good steps to fix it, and I feel like now if it does get worse, he'd be more open to the suggestion of going to see a professional again. So thanks for your help, I just wanted to let you know where we're at. He's quite private about this stuff so not all that many people know about it, so I wasn't sure who "in real life" I could really talk to about it without it feeling like I was betraying him a bit. But I sort of needed to talk about it for my own sake. There is one of our mutual friends who I probably could talk to without it feeling like going behind his back, but we don't get much chance to talk, so this has been really helpful. [Smile]

--------------------
~Ciara

"Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way."

Posts: 40 | From: Scotland | Registered: Apr 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Molias
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 101745

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Molias     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm glad to hear that things are looking up! Thanks for the update. =)
Posts: 1352 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3