How Can You Communicate After Your Depressed Partner Leaves?

It’s the worst scenario of life with depressed partners. They leave, shutting out a lot of love and support because of the illness. If you’ve been abandoned in this way, the first thing you’re likely to try is to get in touch. You need to say you still care and want to help in any way you can. They may refuse all contact or send an answer full of anger and blame. Or they might say the opposite. They still love you but need to stay away to deal with the problem and protect you from its impact. Or the messages can switch from one extreme to the other. What they say makes no sense, and you can’t figure out what to do.

I hear so much about this from readers here and at Health Central. They say things like this: (I’m putting together composite remarks here based on several letters and comments. These are not direct quotes.)

  1. I sent a note and said somewhere that I hoped she could think of some happier times – it was just a small thing when I was really saying I wanted to help. She came back with a text about how I couldn’t possibly understand and how dare I tell her what to do. I tried to talk to her on the phone, but she just shouted to leave her alone and hung up on me. What can I do now?

  2. I told him to remember that I still believed in him and felt a lot of love for him, but he answered right away with a huge outburst, blaming me for everything.

  3. At first he said he was so sorry and that he was the one with the problem, not me. I really believed him and talked about a lot of things he could do to get better. But his only answer was to go through all the problems he said I had caused. He claimed I had forced him out of the house and how could I live with myself.

  4. This is all no-win. If I try to talk to him at all, he shuts me up by saying I have no idea what it’s like for him. But if I stop trying to get in touch, he accuses me of not loving him at all and that all I can think about is myself. Is there any hope? I’m getting really desperate.

I’ve written a couple of posts at Recover Life from Depression (here and here) about trying to find hope in this extreme situation. I hope you’ll read them. They represent a somewhat different take from the many earlier posts I’ve done here, such as Why Depressed Men Leave series.

I’d like to add here a few additional ideas about why it’s so hard to communicate after a break has occurred.

If you’ve been left, the initial impulse, almost inevitably, is to try to hold onto whatever remains of the relationship, to find out why and how this could have happened. Staying in touch is the first thing you need to do, and the messages usually offer love and whatever help might be needed for your partner to get through the crisis. You might also make specific suggestions about starting therapy or taking medication.

The intention behind the words is loving, but the way the messages are interpreted can be completely different from what you intended. There are a lot of reasons for this.

First, they are depressed. The illness has drastically changed their thinking and behavior. They might have fantasies that leaving for a new life is the answer and that all the problems have been caused by the “old” relationship. Others just pull into themselves and can’t handle discussing their turmoil with anyone.

They probably aren’t doing much to get treatment. For them, leaving itself is the primary way they’re dealing with depression. Whatever they might say about you openly, the underlying message is the same. I’m doing this without you.

So when they hear from you, anything you say is going to be fitted into a depressed mindset. They’re going to search your words and offers of help for proof that they’ve done the right thing by leaving.

You, on the other hand, may spot depression as the real cause for their going. That gives you reason to hope that, as soon as the illness is gone, they’ll be themselves again and return to the relationship. You’ll find once more the loving partner you know is hidden by depression. So the solution is to bring the partner back to health as quickly as possible. You can offer all the love and support they’ll need and also can suggest the types of help they can get.

Those messages of helping, though, inevitably convey the underlying message: I want you back. In such a life crisis, it’s impossible to offer help in a disinterested way, and the urgency of your need gets the partner’s attention. They interpret what you say as all about you, not about them. Letting you in to help them can seem like stepping right back into the problem they’ve just tried to get away from.

The two of you are talking from completely different mindsets and needs. Small wonder that nothing is making sense. To make it worse, a person whose thinking and feelings are dominated by depression is going through an ordeal that could flip him around. One day everything feels great and seems to justify leaving, while the next can be filled with anguish and doubt. You’ll go through your ups and downs too, baffled, loving, angry, hurt. The messages from both of you are going to convey these shifting emotions.

There’s no easy way to deal with this. Keeping in mind the impact of depression on your partner is probably most important. That is behind the sudden changes in outlook and behavior, but getting rid of depression can’t be rushed. It is up to the partner to get help and to get serious about following through with treatment. No one else can take the lead. The process of recovery and healing is usually slow, and each person does it at their own pace.

Sometimes the messages do get through, communication works and your partner invites you in to help. But if your efforts keep backfiring, perhaps it’s best to step back for a while. No suggestion works well in every context, though, and it may well turn out that the relationship will never recover from this shock.

No matter what happens, finding your own support and taking care of yourself are probably the most effective actions you can take.

What has your experience been like in trying to communicate with a depressed partner? Have you been through a crisis like this?

Image by psyberartist at Flickr

196 Responses to “How Can You Communicate After Your Depressed Partner Leaves?”

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  1. Paul says:

    Hi all

    My beautifull girlfriend of nearly 3 years left me without any warning 9 days ago. I came home from work to have lunch and see her and all her things were gone , no note just a doorkey left on the table. She was diagnosed with anxiety and depression months ago and has been on medication. She started to goto yoga classes and meditation and I supported her with all this , I thought things were getting better she was even talking about going back to work. I rang and text her with only one reply of ive left you dont try to find me. My world has fallen apart she was the love of my life and i feel like i cant live without her. After trying to contact her a few days later i was issued a restraining order and have to attend court in a couple of weeks. She thinks i want to hurt her and has told her solicitor things i said in jest and twisted them to make me sound like a monster. I know now she is suffering this awfull disease and she believes what she says it breaks my heart that she thinks i want to harm her. My friends and family have been very supportive but nothing will make me happy again all i want is my girl back the house is so empty ive never felt this scared or alone. Reading this website has helped as like many of you have said the storys and accounts on here are so similar to mine its frightening. I just want her back so i can look after her and i pray every day she does.

  2. Erin says:

    Three months ago my boyfriend suddenly broke up with me after a year saying that he was proving to himself that he let me down and that he felt worthless loving me. He works two low-income jobs and doesn’t have much time or money. I live about 4 hours away and so he isn’t able to come see me or take me out on dates when I’m in town. The week before he broke up with me he was so depressed and told me that he was ‘wasting my time.’ He refuses to talk to me and the last time I heard from him he hasn’t left his house and hasn’t gone to work. I’m so worried about him because I know he gets depressed but he’s never been in this dark of a place. I hate not talking to him because I hate leaving him alone when (he’s told me this) I’m the most important person to him and the only person he loves. I just hope every day that he will get through this and I can help him get professional help.

  3. Chris says:

    I just read through this and it has helped bring some perspective to what I am going through.

    Im 25 and completely fell head over heels in love with my ex, as did she. Everything was perfect, i built relationships with her family, we discussed the future alot. She told me there was a bigger picture with me and even at xmas she said she had completely fallen for me and couldnt wait to be with me forever.

    Only 2 weeks later she completely detoriated and was diagnosed with severe depression for the first time. She tried to push me away, and I fought back until after a few weeks she finally ended it, saying that she felt mistreated by me. Although I can sort of see where she is coming from, I dont agree with that and 2 months later we know longer talk. I am getting councilling as I genuinely feel i lost the love of my life and I cant understand how i went from being her world to nothing just like that.

    Reading this has helped. I can begin to understand that in her mind events and activities are now different. The depression has changed her views and thoughts, and she blames me for things and doesnt love me anymore. And I feel like if it wasnt for the depression, things would be different, despite what she says.
    Her reactions to what she believes where signs i no longer loved her were extreme, and despite her own mother trying to keep us together and talk it through, she wants nothing to do with me.

    I decided i need to get on with my life, no matter how much I love her. Waiting for her wont bring her back. I told so many times how much I loved her and i would be there for her, but she doesnt want to here it. She wont get therapy, she just takes her medication and gets on with it, not talking about it, and not getting support she needs. Looking back, there were warning signs in her behaviour like her extreme low self esteem and questioning of why i was with her.

    I feel everyday like i just need to let her know again that im still here and that i love her, but i talk myself out of it, because I have to believe when she is ready to talk about it she will. I dont think she will, and i feel like im letting the best thing that ever happen to me
    walk away, but it has to be her that gets better and be ready for it.

    I expect she will get herself another guy soon, she may already have done and it will break my heart. But this one is beyond my control. and thats the hardest thing for me to find.

    • Cass says:

      Hi Chris

      Sorry of course to hear you are going through all this and I know how it feels best as one can. I too thought I found the one and being more than a decade older and single all my life I thought there was no going back when I met him as neither of us had ever felt so connected, in love and had a best friend…but it seemed to be tainted by the past and what I realized all too late was an avalanche of depression waiting for us…him but it soon took me with it. he came back and forth even though he left saying how he loved me but he was just no good and toxic. (anyway long story and under final breakup section. But I wanted to say I think your brave and strong to deal the way you have…its not easy.

      I still desperately want to talk to my ex daily -thought it would fade by now. But I cut it off after 9 months of yo-yoing after he left me when he seemed worse not better. I said no contact because I loved him too much. He gave me nothing just said never wanted to hurt me an loved me and listened to me cry. Then after 4 months of trying to heal he started IMing and it wasn’t great timing for me but I was open and let him know he could talk but seemed he had nothing to say so I shut down and now 2 months later its eating at me that I ignored it all -hell I have no idea how he is not one clue -maybe that is what really kills me. And I have been trying to get the courage to call him.

      I understand not wanting to think of another -everyone wants me to date but I still cant think about it….well I try and then I seem to freak myself out. I have done a lot to progress my own life and its helped. Though getting out to meet new people is hard -mostly as I am just over going out and was before I met him, but I try to develop. I am working on strength to just try online dating and see about a few non committal dates—-I will let you know if I manage and if I come up with any advice. hang in there.

  4. Wesley says:

    Thank you so much for all of this information, it has really been helping me make more sense of what is going on with my partner. My girlfriend and I dated for two years through college, I just recently graduated and moved an hour and a half away for work. For about two or three months I would travel back to her place every weekend to spend it with her until recently when she decided the long distance was too much for her to handle.

    She has had some tragic events happen in her past and she suffers from depression. As long as I am there with her she seems to handle the depression well, but when I would leave during the week she would sink back into the depression. Well about a month ago she decided she was tired of going through this cycle and called it off between us.

    Now she claims that she is still in love with me and that she wants to make this work, but she just has to take care of this herself first. I can understand her wanting to take care of this first, but what I don’t understand is everyonce in a while she will spend the night with a guy friend that way she, as she says, “won’t be alone”. From the conversations that we have had I really truely believe she is not having sex with him, in fact I don’t even think she wants to spend the night with him. She says that she gets so lonely that she just wants a warm body next to her, and she seems to regret doing it everytime it happens.

    I have been trying to convince her to go see a therapist and after her skipping many appointments, I think I may have finally convinced her to go. We got into a big argument last week about her lieing about going spend the night at the guys house and I told her that if she didn’t go see a doctor she did not stand a chance of ever being with me again. The next day she texted me and told me she has an appointment for next week. Her appointment is tomorrow so hopefully she will go.

    This whole ar deal has been really rough on me, I care about this girl very deeply. We were discussing plans to get married and everything. I really feel like she is “the one”. If she would not suffer from depression and had such a rough past this would be much easier on me because I would of just given up on her and looked the other way. But because she suffers from depression I find it really hard to give up on her, I know this is not her taking these actions but instead the result of the depression. My question is, what should I do, what role should I try to play in this situation? I want to be there for her, but this whole ar deal is killing me inside.

    • Cass says:

      I wish I had better advice -Ive tried and failed at getting my ex to seek help….but I can say that you cannot tell them what to do or even say “I think” it really has to be them. That is the hard part as it looks and seems simple to us, but its not. (see my other posts her and on final break-up). I too feel -felt- that he was and is the one…as you can see I’m still coping as I cant seem to get it all behind me, but what I do know is not matter what he is not next to me at night anymore and he is no longer holding me when I need someone -so maybe he loves me and I love him but until he faces it Im alone and have to find a way to survive. I hope you have friends and things you can work on while you decided how much of a role you can play in her life. Keep busy and work on you….depression is sadly contagious so try not to let it get so bad like did that soon you find yourself in a dark place

      hang in there…feel free to reach out. Though I am still coping myself I dont know how much I can help but feeling not alone I know has helped me.

  5. Maria says:

    It is very comforting to read all the stories on this site, as currently I am in a state of abject misery over my ex-partner, who left me two weeks ago very suddenly and out of the blue. As far as I knew, nothing was wrong and our relationship was very healthy (although clearly it wasn’t). He was being attentive and sweet to me right up to the very last. And then I phoned him just for a chat, and he sounded strange so I asked if he was okay. And then it all came pouring out. No, he wasn’t okay, he’d been feeling unhappy with the relationship for a while, and he didn’t think he loved me anymore. He had gone off sex and felt that I was pressuring him into a committed relationship, which scared him. He came round that night and brought all my things back to me. And left after twenty minutes, during which time he could not bring himself to say anything except that he felt the ‘spark’ had gone out of the relationship, that he did want a long-term relationship but not with me, and that he just didn’t feel the right kind of love for me anymore.
    A few days later he sent me an email which said a little more, and that weekend he brought some more of my things back to me. He said he wanted to come in, so I let him in and he started talking about things and suddenly he just burst into tears and put his arms round me and wept on my shoulder for ages. And then started talking, as if he couldn’t stop the words coming. Said he knew he had a problem, that it had happened many times before with his ex-girlfriend, that he was still messed up over the breakup of his marriage six years ago and the loss of his children and that whenever he saw the children it all came flooding back and that he would sink into a massive depression. He actually ended our relationship two days after he’d taken the children home to their mother, and had a bad argument with his wife when he dropped them off. He had spoken of these feelings before, but had said that it had got better since he started seeing me. He also said that he’d been through several periods of counselling to try and sort it out, but they had not helped and that he wasn’t prepared to go for any more counselling because it didn’t make him feel better.
    I had a couple more texts from him, just being friendly, but no contact for a week now. It’s clear to me that he is suffering depression, probably caused by the breakup of his marriage six years ago, but I really don’t know what to do. Is it better for me to stay away and have no contact, to give him his space since that seems to be what he wants on the surface? Or would it be better for me to contact him and let him know that I’m here if he wants to talk, that I’m still here for him? But I’m also worried about myself. I have a small child too and I don’t want to get into an on-off, up-down roller coaster of a relationship because that will hurt both me and my child. I’m hurting so much over this and just don’t know what to do for the best. Any advice would be gratefully received.

    • Cass says:

      Hi Maria

      I understand how you feel…its like we are talking about the same man. I am not sure I can be of help really -but I wanted you to know that someone out here understands and is listening- as I am still battling getting over my ex. He left me a year ago out of the blue and even now I look back and feel like it was the last thing I would expect he was only seemingly battling things for a week -but hell it was the week his ex of 6years was putting him through it in court and loosing all his money and his kids -well I expected him to be depressed and struggle but I assured him I wasnt going anywhere and he said he loved me and we would be ok.

      All I can say is when he contacted me again at first -a few days after and then two weeks- it was horrid I wasnt ready and still beside myself and it went bad as he just needed to hear I was ok and have some guilt off his plate, but I couldn’t do it and I couldnt be understand I just wanted him back. It took a bit again to talk and I pushed him away and finally said we had to meet after a few months of his contact…we cried and talked he had be only sober that night to meet me since he left and I was devastated but knew I could do nothing. I let time pass and he called again as missed me and was confused that everyone said all he did was talk about me and they knew he loved me -but he felt I deserved better. it took time we slowly became friends of sorts but always the love was there and then we tired -I thought things were better since his son at least was back and he was working more but at least paying off more.,,,it didnt last long till I realized he never asked about me and was just depressed -it was even worse that time to break it off and it was my choice. now after 4 months he is back contacting me with puzzle like emails and I am not sure I can deal -that im ready

      So sorry to share so much but I wanted you to know that sometimes even though we love them it does little to help -they dont love themselves- and somehow it can even make them feel more failed as they can take care of us…not our faults but it can feel like it we want to save them. we cant. I know you want to call desperately but let him contact you…he will but dont talk until you are truly ready and can handle hearing what you may not want to hear. I wasnt and it made me more depressed and him upset -you dont need two depressed people in you life. Take care of you and if and when he is healthy and you are strong enough talk. Maybe your story will be better. No matter what do what you need for you.

      I am sorry you have to deal with this and I know its like death -its not easy and many people do not understand what you are going through and its never easy or simple to walk away. I am not sure I really did or can now hes back but I am being strong as I have to protect me…and you have to do the same.

      Hang in there it will get better…even if it dosent seem like it. I still love my ex with all my heart and if he can love himself we may one day be able to try but if not I have to treasure what was good and know one day I will have all that was good and more with someone who loves not just me but themselves….and so will you.

      • Maria says:

        Cass, thank you for your understanding words. It sounds like your ex is in a similar place to mine. I feel stronger today, and I know in my heart that you are right. I should not contact him because he made the decision to leave, the last thing he wants therefore is me pestering him and if I contact him now it will be too hurtful for me, however responds – unless he says ‘I made a mistake, I want you back’ and that isn’t going to happen. I wish I knew that he were okay, mainly. I know I’m stronger than him, deep down. I will probably bounce back again fairly quickly and get on with my life, in time – whereas he is permanently stuck in a pit of depression and anxiety over his ex wife and his beloved children. I just wish that he could have talked to me about how he was feeling, earlier, instead of landing it on me like a ton of bricks – that is the hardest thing to understand for me. But for now all I can do is just get on with MY life, and hope that in time he feels that he can talk to me about things and let me into his life even if it is just as friends. I know that one of the main problems for him is that he’s terrified of a similar thing happening if he gets too heavily involved with someone else, and as soon as he starts to feel those feelings he backs off. He’s said that to me. I do think that men find it much harder to move on after a bad break up, depression or no depression, comparing all subsequent relationships to the bad one. What can we do about it? Not much, I guess, just carry on and try not to get dragged down by it all.

        • Cass says:


          I am glad to know I could be of some comfort or at least make you feel as if your not alone in all this…its not easy. I know people tell me all the time to just get over it and move on and I know its not so simple when you love and care about someone and they are sick. And yes that out of the blue feeling and being hit with what feels like a ton of bricks is the worst. Don’t try to read into the why -its depression and it give no clear answers and it comes like this. Best advice don’t look back to try to see where it began or what you could have done – you did what you were supposed to he hid it intentionally or not and looking back is only torture.

          I do want to clarify one thing off of what you said about, “pestering him” -first of all don’t ever think of yourself in such a way -its normal, you care and thats what we do when we care and love people. The problem isn’t bothering him and what he needs, but what you need. He is not in the right state to take all you say with the heart you intend it as well. I do believe that that my ex -and yours- do really love us, but right now they have to love themselves to be able to fulfill that love and they have to do that themselves. They do -and he will come back in some way, ready or not -so you have to be ready to make the decision and set boundaries on what you can handle when he does. Its not easy, but don’t sit in wait and torture yourself -your worth more.

          As for being friends one day be careful, as I know he will probably ask you to saying that its all he can give you and doesn’t want to loose you. But when you love someone it doesn’t shut off and being friends is beyond difficult. My ex and I spent the last year back and forth with that idea and in the end neither of us want to be friends -he wants the fantasy he feels he cant give me and I want him back-the real him, so it only can last so long before were hurt again. Truth is its never going to be the same and I can be ok with it as long as he gets help and is happy with him, but he must believe it and that is the true struggle, so even if we can live with it how long can one wait. I had to set a limit and when I found I was constantly just waiting for my best friend to ask how I was and be happy I knew I couldn’t wait that it was beginning to destroy me. Watching the one you love not fight is hard for even the strongest person. So I left him in that final end for me -for us so it wouldn’t be ruined by more bad memories than good.

          Now his trying something to get back into my life and I know why -he never lied he loves me and misses me. After 4 months of nothing its become to much -it is for me too at times I do think of him all the time and wonder, worry and care. but the real question to ask now he’s contacting me is; “what has changed” and that is not easy to ask or find out sometimes. That said its about you in the end and what you can take and where your at in your healing. Right now I’ve left him hanging -as he has me- since I am not yet sure I can handle the answers to my questions nor if he can give them too me. Hardest part is to push aside the hope and love for a good look at reality. I have a lot of things in my life right now good and bad I need to deal with and I am not sure I’m ready so if not he will have to wait. Maybe I will -or you will- never be ready to engage them again and that’s ok. If you can be friends don’t focus on the past and what was but what is.

          I wish you all the best and hope you find peace soon.

  6. Shelley G says:

    Feeling torn and devastated. My husband left 8 ½ weeks ago. He will not speak to me at all and has only emailed. I was with this man for 10 years and love him dearly! He blames me totally and his parents and family condone his behavior. I try to just leave him be yet I still love this man. Everything I have read so far about depression and why they leave and how there mind is thinking seems to be exactly what I am going through with him. I am trying to move on and heal yet I have so many questions and absolutely no closure. I fear I will never see my husband again. I have been scared and in pain every day! I had no idea the pain one could feel from a sudden leaving of ones mate. It is like he went form totally in love and boom blew up and was gone in a blink of an eye. I never thought he would leave ever. What do I do? The pain is insane. I did seek help from a consoler. I want to be whole again. I fear I never will not with out him. I want my husband back and better. Yet with his family supporting this I do not think he will ever get help and just continue to blame me for him wanting to end his life and that I was just to mean to him. I am broken and it has been a tad comforting to read this blog.

    • Zoe says:

      I feel for you so much, it was like reading my own story. Do you have friends you can talk to, I know you said his family condoned him, but do you have someone for you?
      I know I feel as though my life has ended, I don’t know this man at all, he is so far removed from the man I loved. I would never have believed this could happen. It’s a cruel, cruel disease.
      I hope your husband begins taking steps to getting the help he needs.
      I too have this blog and ‘depression fallout meassage board’ of some comfort, just to know other people are experiencing the same thing, helps in a strage way, not to be totally alone in this.

    • Anxious says:

      Shelley reading your description is so very similar to mine I have been with my partner for 10 years married 3 and all of a sudden he decided that I was his problem, I forced him to get married but a house etc, 2 days later he said that he’s always felt this way it wasn’t my fault and it was best for me to move on so that I could at least be happy. He moved out and hasn’t been back in 6 months. We were both family orientated and had family dinners once a week but now it seems like his family are blaming me too, I don’t hear from them unless I make contact and even then they seem abrupt. I know they hurt too I get that but no one besides you or others who are going through the same thing could ever know how it feels to be left behind by your best friend the person who you trusted completely with every aspect of life. They don’t stay at home alone at night craving their touch or crying because something stupid on tv reminded them of him…I do! Sorry for rambling I just really wanted to let you know your not alone and I hope and pray everyday that things will change…I hope they do for you too.

  7. Kelly says:

    I dont know what to do as my fiance is alone and we are not to have contact until january. I’m scared I will lose him. I love him so very much. I’m scared that because I got him sent to jail that he will hate me and never want to speak to me. I just want to reach out to him. I’m also scared that he may take his life over this. how do I get the message to him that hes not alone and I love him with all my heart and I want him to be a part of our lives when we will get in trouble for contact?

  8. Patricia says:

    Hello, My boyfriend is currently experiencing depression and this has been extremely difficult for me to deal with. He has been severely depressed for about 3 months now and we broke up about a month ago. The break up was more his doing because he didn’t want to keep me in the relationship since he didn’t have much to give. I resisted at first, but realized that I was also feeling some of the effects. I would be exhausted after speaking with him because he doesnt really speak any more and I had to make all the effort. I also felt as if I was becoming depressed myself.

    Unlike some post on here, I have been extremely lucky that he has never lashed out at me. He is truly the most amazing man that I could have ever hoped for and this disease has taken that away from me. He is kind and has never blamed anything on me.I have been so angry at times and never meant to take it out on him, but unfortunately I think that I might have at times. He has been very pro-active realizing that he has a problem and going to a psychiatrist and a psychologist. He truly wants to get better and is doing his best. His psychologist suggested to him that we dot talk until he gets better because i might be putting stress on him that he shouldn’t have, like calling, talking to me, interacting.

    We have been keeping in touch through texts and he wants me to keep him updated of any good news I have. He says that seeing me happy helps him. I am just so sad and hope every day that I can get him back. Has anyone else experienced something similar? I know that he loves me and I don’t question that, but he doesn’t say I love you anymore and that hurts the most because I know he does. He has mentioned that saying I love you to me is hard for him because he doesn’t feel like he can give me what I need. I would really appreciate anyone’s advice or personal experience as to why he can’t say I love you. Thank you.

    • Lauren K says:

      Hey. I HAD to respond. I am experiencing depression as well (honestly bi-polar I) and I can only give you my opinion from personal experience: I have issues telling people I love them because I don’t love myself…..or rather my disease makes me think that way. And any experience I have regarding love be it major or minor WILL be grounds for the justification of my negative beliefs. Some ppl experiencing depression consciously and/or subconsciously remove a lot of positive around them, bringing them back to their original negative ideas….it is like a horrible wheel of internal suffering. I can’t say that my response applies to your friend, but hopefully it made sense coming from the mouth of a lady who also struggles ‘as we speak’.

    • Evelyn says:

      I can relate to your story! My ex-boyfriend was dealing with depression and was withdrawing in the relationship. He placed a lot of blame of his stress on the relationship. He told me he had checked out and has no more to give. We unfortunately have not been in contact aside from returning personal items. I want to be there for him but he has made it clear that he is interested in no contact. I am seeing him at work on a day to day basis, and am not yet sure how to behave around him. I do have hope that he will come back to me once the depression subsides but he is not willing to get help as he fears he will only get placed on medication.

      • morgan says:

        I too am dealing with the same. I work with my ex who has been on medication for depression for several years. He has a very strong personality and we often clashed. I recently caused an arguement to do with a colleage which resulted in me hanging up on him. He threatened my by text message telling me to call him or we were over, after 2 years together I was too upset by his reaction that I didnt call him and I fell asleep. I woke to a message telling me I was selfish and I didnt care about the affect my actions had on him. He said I thought more of my colleage than him and that we were never getting back together. The message ended with a simple Goodbye. I replied trying to explain, but I received no response. He has now blocked my calls and messages. I cant stop crying because I loved him so much and I really wish I could sit and tell him he is mistaken and I have always put his feeling first. I really want him to get in touch and seeing him at work ignoring me has broken my heart. I just want him back. I feel that I was justified in looking out for my colleage but he has made me feel that I was wrong to do so.

    • Jody says:

      Wow, reading your post is like reading my own story. My boyfriend has been depressed for about four months, and sought treatment early. He has a lot of issues he buried for many years, and it’s going to take some time to work through them. Our home life got so stressful and sad that he moved out; both of us feared we would break up if he didn’t. He still says he loves me, but he isn’t sure how (he lost any romantic interest — including sex drive — a couple months ago). He has never been mean or angry toward me. More than anything he was overcome with guilt because he couldn’t give me what I needed in the relationship. Five weeks after he moved out, we’ve decided that we need to severely restrict how often we see each other because I am always overcome with grief when I do see him and it’s terrible for both of us. We still talk daily and are supportive of each other. I hope with all my heart that when he gets better, his love for me will reignite and he will come home. Right now I’m doing my best to take care of myself — massages, a healthy diet, counseling, all of that. But at the end of the day I just love and miss him so much. This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through, and I suffered from depression for years myself!

      • cass says:

        I feel so similar to all of you on here and it does comfort me as when I talk to many friends they just tell me to get over it all and move on -find a new man. Like its so simple when you truly love someone and think they are the love of your life and soul mate- my best friend is hurting and I am supposed to just walk away. That guilt now has almost been the worst part.

        My ex-boyfriend did very similar when he got depressed and pushed me out and broke-up saying he loved me and would never want to be with anyone else but could not give me what I needed and I should find someone who can give me what I need -mostly house and a baby. Nothing I said made a difference and I felt like I was dying it was so sudden and I said leave but he wanted to be friends and when I said it was impossible he was crushed.

        We went sometime and he was always trying to reach out and I ignored it -it felt so cruel and unhealthy. Finally I we met and he was a mess had been drinking since the day he left and was crying at how depressed he was and how much he hurt me, but we made it through and were supportive and had some small bits of contact for awhile then it got more and then it got worse like it was my fault so I cut it off again but he came back saying he was sorry, more confused as he could not stop loving me and missing me -nor was I. We talked we were realistic and unsure if it was good so I talked to a friend who is a therapist and it was agreed that slow was ok and needed for us as the love was real and I wanted to be there good or bad. It was hard but ok for sometime -the love I could feel in him but it was burred deep and I was careful as I knew nothing I said would be right most of the time and I just tried to listen and protect myself and move forward for me in my personal life -some of which hurt him more as he did want to be there but had no energy and would feel like a failure or reconfirmed that I needed a better guy. After more than 6 months we decided to try slowly and we were doing good, he was doing good and things in his life were better -drinking was normal, money was better and one of his kids was living with him. But it was short lived and one day I realized it wasn’t really better at all as even the good stuff was not allowing him to see hope. When I realized he was sleeping his life away on a Sunday and not hanging on the couch with his kid -he was so down and it hit me I couldnt remember the last time he asked how I was and I couldn’t take it I was now crying and praying every night -I was a mess too and he didn’t even see it- so I told him I just couldnt watch the man I loved slowly die and he couldn’t talk to me anymore. I cried and cried and he just listen and then that was it for 4 months and now suddenly he is instant messaging me. Its a horrible time as we made it via the holidays and his birthday with nothing and now he’s reaching out when suddenly I have also felt like I hit my breaking point and dying to know how he is. I honestly have no idea anything about the last 4 months, but his messages are a little odd and I am confused on how and if to proceed to see what he wants and if he’s ok. Its taking a week to get a paragraph out of him and he asked how I was but no mention of himself and then said he found a truck that is perfect for me -mine was and is in terrible shape but that seemed to be one of the things that made him worse when he couldn’t fix it and buy me a new one so it seems scary to start a conversation with him contacting me to fix or help with something.

        I am so scared right now though better as I am a fighter, but I do still love him just as much which is why I suffer with what to do. I don’t want to drive him away if he is better and needs support, but I cannot let myself back to the same place or I know it will kill me . If it were anyone else I would ignore them or just ask what the hell they wanted but while I am not giving much I feel like he needs to tell me what he really wants so I can decide to talk or not and I dont know how to ask. Have you been here in this spot when they come back and what do you do.

        Sorry I share so much -I talk and write always too much:)

    • Jojo says:

      I see so much of myself in this post… it’s been quite a few months now, I wonder how you’re doing and how things turned out for all of you who responded to this post.

      For me, my boyfriend moved out yesterday. I came home to find all his belongings were gone. He had been struggling with depression and ill health for the last 2 months. Last month when he fully fell into depression, he told me he wasn’t going to do anything rash, that he had started up his meds again and was going to give it a month. It’s 4 weeks in a couple of days so I guess he figured it was no longer time to be rash. He had told me at that time he didn’t want to drag me down, too, and that I deserved better. He had been in a severe depression about 3 years ago after he had been sick for about 2 years with a chronic illness. He was in a financially disasterous relationship at the time, withdrew from her, pushed her away and eventually just one day up and left (a pattern here?) He had told me several times that he got better once he left her because she was stressing him out with her out of control spending. I guess in his recent bout of depression he may have gotten to thinking that being in a relationship was causing too much stress, which makes his illness worse, and therefore if he left me then he will improve. But that’s all just conjecture on my part.

      Like some of you here, my boyfriend (we’ve been together 19 months) NEVER lashed out at me, blamed me, or otherwise was mean to me. He was withdrawn and pushed me away by pretty much being comatose at home. When I came home after work yesterday to find him gone, he had left a bouquet of flowers, a card, and a letter. This guys is not very verbose, but he wrote a 2 page letter, and it was so kind, so loving, and so sad. It was the kindest break up I’ve ever had, which doesn’t make my heart break any less. In it he essentially said he isn’t happy with himself, he’s not well physically and mentally and need to “fix” himself on his own. Nobody can help him right now, not even his family and that he needs to do it this way. He can’t be here for me or give me the love I need and deserve as he’s got nothing to give anyone. He stressed more than once that I did nothing wrong, he loved every minute he spent with me, and that he was sorry he couldn’t do it in person but he was just too sick. I’m an important part of his life and wants to keep me a part of it and that we will talk about all of this in the near future. He answered my texts after I had a good cry and composed myself. I told him that I didn’t like it but I understood and that I don’t hate him (which he was afraid because of how he left). He reiterated again that he wants me to be a part of his life, but I’m afraid to look too deep into that.

      Like most everyone here. I hope and pray that he gets better and that he comes back. Our relationship was so comfortable, easy, and fun. We also work together, though luckily in hindsight he was recently moved to a different department so I won’t have to see him every day like I used to. I hated that, and I believe that move contributed to his depression, but in this situation I think it would just kill me to have to see him every day or to know he’s avoiding me.

      I worry that he’ll slide even deeper into depression because staying with me at least I took care of him, now who will, and it will make his absenteeism go up. Or worse still, become disabled again and not be able to work. I wish this horrible disease didn’t make them want to isolate themselves or think they’re better off “fixing” themselves alone. Why can’t he just let me take care of him like I have been and ride it out? I was knowledgeable enough to not get sucked into the vortex of his depression, and was feeling hopeful and pretty good this past week that he seemed to be improving. I know he’s doing it because he doesn’t want to hurt me or be a burden to me. But dammit, BE a burden to me, I’m saying it’s ok!

      I just truly hope that he does indeed want me a part of his life, and that he’s going to get better now that he’s moved out. Like all of you here, I love him and he’s my best friend and can only hope and pray he responds to his meds and that he gets better.

  9. Bobbye Gardner says:

    My husband of 38 years has always been depressed, but it was poorly managed. It has been a roller coaster ride for all of these years with his being emotionally withdrawn and non -communicative. Of course everything wrong in the marriage has always been my fault. He lacks any kind of coping skills and would always isolate himself during family gatherings. Because of his inability to show true affection, our daughters suffered. I had to compensate for that. Our daughters have become strong, secure individuals and are highly successful.

    My husband never really recovered from a broken relationship at 18 with his first love and often reminded me of this. Even threatened to leave me twenty years ago when she began calling him at work after her second divorce. He was wanting to leave then, but I got him books on mid-life crises. We worked through it and made it twenty more years. He was in counseling three times but refused to pursued it and refused to find the right medications. He continued to be withdrawn and angry.

    In September 2012 he connected with this first love again, had an affair. He has since moved in with her and is still married to me and will be for at least eight more weeks. He is still sending me money for the bills but is distant and buisness- like. He is still wanting me to take care of things for him. I am struggling with the idea that his first love is going to make him happy and elimiate his depression. It is difficult to think she is enough, and I never was. His daughters want nothing more to do with him, and he has taken a grandfather away from his three beautiful grandchildren. The new woman in his life has moved 16 times in 30 years, has no property and rents. He has given up a new paid-for home to move in with this woman who appears to have no class.

    • Susan says:

      Oh my goodness, this site is amazing and so much like my own story.
      I have been married to my husband for 23 years, after 7 years into our marriage, he was diagnosed with clinical depression and from then it went downwards, he left me three times and I took him back as I felt sorry for him. He needed me, it seems he cannot live with or without me. Now he left me again 8 months ago and divorce proceedings are almost done. I have taken care of this man for over 23 years, through mostly bad stuff but there were good years too, and when he was with me, he was always on a lower dose of medication, when he left, the dose had to go up. He knows it too. Now the divorce is coming and I am here – alone looking back at my life and feel very lost as I have given everything in me to keep my little family together (we have one grown daughter) and I made everything good and a safe haeven. We both had a very comfortable life and did not miss anything.
      I feel that now it hit me much harder than him, he is going to be with a thai import (as I call it). She is not in the country yet, but I am sure as soon as the divorce is through, this will happen. He still wants me as his friend as he knows that I will always be there for him. But is this fair to me? I can’t just forget 23 years and all the thorow I went through as well giving up my life for him. I have an extremely difficult time to move on. I am a very strong person but at the breaking point now, and I can’t understand why. I feel undesirable, not confident at all and very unloved. This is so hard.

      • Giz Girl says:

        Quit thinking you can not do without this man. This is not love it’s co-dependancy. It has just happened to me on 1/12/2012 and within 2 days he says he has met his “new” partner and is flaunting videos of her on his laptop and also his love bites! He morphed within one from a loving, kind person into a callous, verbally abusive stranger! I was totally blindsided but after a few sleepless nights I sprung into action – lawyer, realtor, finances , cars, dog custody. I am too old and clearly too smart to play the role of victim! I don’t CARE if he’s depressed, he has treated me with contempt and aggression so he can relive his youth. I’m organised and I’m calm and he is a stranger and a pretty nasty one at that. Incidentially I have suffered from clinical depression but I never was nasty and never failed my family and friends – I’m obviously not depressed now but I am seething with unexpressed anger but it is focussed in the right direction. Take your life back, you deserve better.

  10. Halliba says:

    Thank you so much for this site and your posts. I went through a terrible breakup with a depressed partner two years ago, and although I have largely moved on, I still think about it often and the experience has certainly changed my life and colored the way I approach my current relationship.

    I was with my boyfriend for four years, and lived with him for two and a half. There were certainly mental health red flags throughout our relationship, but it was when we moved in together that I realized that he suffered from severe depression. There were many days that he didn’t get out of bed, and many times we had to leave parties or social events because he would inexplicably start crying. He was accepted into graduate school in another state, and I issued an ultimatum that I would only go with him if he started therapy. He did, but after we moved he stopped going. Unfortunately, shortly after we moved my very close family member was diagnosed with cancer, and I became very consumed with traveling back and forth to care for this person and be with them while they were dying. My boyfriend’s depression ceased to be my priority.

    He began to lash out at me, and also became extremely paranoid – accusing me of bizarre transgressions. He screamed at me one day because he wanted to know “why didn’t I call his sister”. I didn’t know what he was talking about but later deduced that he was referring to a time two years prior that his sister had asked him to have me call her, and I had sent her an email, instead. I also was subjected to frequent, inexplicable periods of the silent treatment. Later I would find out that he was angry because I didn’t answer his phone call and he had to leave a voicemail, or he didn’t like my tone of voice when I said that I didn’t want to try his soup when we were out at a restaurant. Long story short, I had to book an emergency flight home to be with my grandfather at his deathbed, and he picked me up from the airport and told me he was breaking up with me because I “was bringing him down”. He cancelled our lease and I had one week to leave. I told him that was impossible – my grandfather was dying and I could be called away any day to go to a funeral. To his credit, he re-instated the lease. A few weeks later my grandfather died and I went to the funeral, and came home to an empty apartment. Most of the furniture (including the bed) and the kitchen items technically belonged to him. He hadn’t moved out, though – he took everything (including the mattress and pots and pans) and moved it to the spare bedroom and installed a new lock. This means that I returned home from the funeral of my closest family member and was forced to sleep on the floor and had no access to my kitchen. I was essentially homeless. He wouldn’t speak to me and came home drunk every night and locked himself in the room, with the pots and pans and all of his other belongings piled to the ceiling. I found a place to live and moved out that week. When I tried to talk to him through the door, he said “I don’t owe you anything and just want you to leave me alone”. So, I did.

    This post resonated with me because I never received any closure after this horrible breakdown. Clearly, he was depressed, but not in a position to talk to me or anyone else about it. When I contacted his friends they were at a loss. He had wanted to keep his depression private and never talked to his friends about it, so they just didn’t know what was going on with him and had no perspective. I regret not involving them and talking to them more about it during our relationship. His sister refused to talk to me. I tried to contact her many times, and I never got a response and she actually blocked me from emailing her. His mother is also mentally ill, his sister was pregnant at the time, and I think maybe it was too much for her deal with knowing that her brother was also sick.

    I did get an email from him a few months later. It was just as this post describes – blaming me for everything. It described in detail the time that the dog had puked on the duvet and I didn’t apologize, the time he wanted to adopt a German Shepherd and I said I would only adopt a rescue dog, the time I was unsupportive because I set a ultimatum about his mental health issues. He even went so far as to call me abusive because I slammed doors when we argued about breaking up. I’m not a perfect person or a perfect girlfriend. But I’m not abusive, I’m not crazy, and I did really love him. It was a very painful experience.

    At my request, we met for coffee about a year after we broke up. He was clearly not doing well. He tearfully apologized and finally admitted for the first time that he has an illness and needs help. I am, incidentally, a community health nurse. I sent him an email with information about depression, links to articles about treatment options and clinics that he could go to. He tearfully promised me that he would. I hope he did.

  11. spidermouse says:

    Hi John, I’m reall confused and distraught by my husband leaving three weeks ago. About 6 months ago, he started acting bizarre, angry with me for the strangest things and told me he was unsure about the relationship. He started isolating himself, watching a ton of porn and smoking alot of pot.
    In September, he was dignosed with bipolar disorder and quit pot so he could go on meds. About 4 days into the meds, he said he wanted a divorce and proceeded to go crazy for the next 3 weeks. He finally started stabilizing about 4 weeks ago He kept making excuses not to move out and i finally had to kick him out so we could have that space. he moved into his own place three weeks ago so he could be alone and (as he put it) deal with his demons and inner struggle.

    Since moving out, we have been hanging out, going to yoga, kayaking, going for dinner. We are still so much in love. his friends and my friends are all shocked by this and his friends tell me he tells them how much he still loves me and hopes we can reconcile in a year (???!!).

    I love him and so miss my best friend in my life. I don’t try to talk to him about our relationship right now as I do not feel he’s in any space for it so right now, I’m concentrating on our friendship and keeping it light. I won’t lie, I want us to get back together.

    Do you think I’m doing the right thing by staying in his life? I give him his space and let him contact me. He said the other day that he had a really bad day after hanging out as he missed me. I told him we could go no contact and he said he would rather have the worst day of his life than not see me again. Everytime we talk and hang out, he kisses me and tells me he loves me, yet our marriage is essentially “over” for now. Any advice?

  12. sarae says:

    hi john,
    my question for you…my boyfriend (of just 5 months, but we have been friends for over 12 years) 2 weeks ago told me he could not handle being in a relationship right now but didn’t know what would happen in the future. He was very clear that he wanted to remain friends and when I said it was hard for me to go back to being friends he seemed really upset and really wanted to make sure we would remind friends always. i told him that i felt like he was becoming depressed again and that he was not thinking straight and that all i could agree to was a break for him to clear his mind and take care of his issues (side note, the issues are big, he is currently going through a bad custody battle with his ex-wife over their two little girls. the mother is being accused of abuse by the one daughter and he is trying to gain full custody of them but i feel like he is hitting several road blocks in this battle and it is taking a major toll on him.) within the last month or so of us dating, i could tell this situation was 100% consuming him. it seemed as if he was constantly ruminating about this situation, making lists, talking about it over and over, etc. he started pulling away from me (i know now that it most likely was the depression) but i was starting to take it personal and was acting out of insecurities when talking with him. long story short, i have contacted him a few times since the break was decided but he will not talk to me at all. i still feel so bad that i didnt see how depressed he was until now and i was allowing my insecurities to affect our relationship. i want so badly to explain this to him but he will not talk to me. i know its a break but i dont know what to do. do i just leave him alone now for a while and hope that i can explain more to him in the future? he truly is my best friend and I don’t want to loose him. any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

  13. Pam says:

    My heart goes out to all here and to those whom depression has claimed. As painful as it is to read each story, it does help to know that I am not alone or crazy.

    After 2 years of being cut out of a dear ones’ life, I think the most difficult aspect is the lack of closure. After countless attempts to help or be there for my friend, the Universe made it painfully clear that I was to step back and give the man space.

    The last email I sent in September was a plea to save my sanity and be able to move forward in peace. Questions were asked to help me understand, so that I might heal and move on with my life. His reply? ” I can’t understand why you would still be hurting and the timing of your email is bad for me. I am busy with work and don’t have the time to formulate an answer for you.” It has been 3 months and I guess the timing still remains bad. I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer to my questions or have the closure I so desperately seek….but I do know this my friends.

    We are good people, who deserve to be in healthy, loving relationships. We did nothing wrong. Neither did our partners. We have all been victimized by an awful disease that spares no one. We will never get back the time we have lost, but we can turn this ship around this very second. I’m not saying forget or cut them out. I suggest we take care of ourselves and find ways each and every day to bring pleasure into our lives. Like neglected plants, we need water, sun and care. Nothing will please me more, then to know that my friend is happy, healthy and ready to enter another relationship. I want the best for him. I hope one day we can become friends again and that I will have more understanding of what his journey has been like. I believe everything in life teaches us a lesson. So many things have been brought to my attention and have been thought through. We can either rise to the challenge or let depression become our reality.

    Love, Light and most of all….PEACE to everyone here. You are not alone and you and your partners will get through this. Take care of YOU first and send positive thoughts to those hurting. In time I pray that life will give us ALL the answers we need.


  14. Tania says:

    Hello John,

    Like so many here, I’ve been in a relationship with a man who I believe is suffering from depression.

    I don’t know where to begin really, but my DBF of 2 1/2 years has left me. He has totally cut me out of his life and will have no contact with me. He does suffer from depression, as had a bout 6 months after we were together, during which time he took 3 weeks off of work. Every time we would argue, he’d end our relationship (from a month of being together), but each time we resolved it and I thought were working towards a future together. DBF’s mother suffered from Agrophobia and I wonder if this has a link to his D. I’ve been reading some of the posts on here and so many of you say how your partner is such a loveable and good person who turns into this person that you don’t know. I feel just like that. When we’ve argued – before he walks out, he is fuelled with rage (sometimes for no apparent reason) and with this he screams, shouts, swears and basically I guess abuses me. I’ve learnt to remain calm and let him walk out and try to resolve the problem the next day. The thing is I do want to resolve things, but I can’t if he refuses to see me, speak to me etc. He blames me for everything that is wrong in the relationship. We had a similar situation about 4 months ago, which went on for about 3 weeks, where he blamed me for everything and told me all of the things that I did that needed to change to help us work. When we got back together, he wanted to take things slowly and we did and I started putting the changes in place. We were seeing one another far less, just weekends really, not as before when we saw one another every day (though he’s not the type of person who likes to be alone). I wasn’t even allowed to touch him at the start. I almost felt like part of it was to hurt me or to get some sort of attention. I’m sure it’s all linked to the fact that he suffers from some form of depression. However, we are back to square one. In fact, it’s worse, since I can’t get him to have contact with me. Is it possible that he will realise that the problem isn’t actually me? He’s not happy with his life. He’s a 43 year old divorced man, his kids are at uni so he doesn’t see them very often, he lives in his brother’s one bedroom flat and isn’t happy there, doesn’t like his job, all of his friends are married off and used to tell me how I was his world. I believe I was and that’s why I find this so hard. He was involved with my family, we spent nearly every evening together until the break up four months ago. I think he felt that things were worse when we tried again, because he wasn’t seeing me every day as we once were – but he was the one who wanted to do the baby steps. DBF was married for 20 years and post that and being with me, he had relationships, which would last for only 1 or 2 months because of something minor that the then GF would do (i.e. not make this tea the way he liked it). I’m assuming he would fly off the handle the way he has with me and it’s become a pattern. It’s just that I’ve gone after him to try to resolve things on each occasion and worked at our relationship. I know his dream was for us to live together and have it all. I can’t understand why he’d do this. It’s like he’s on a self destruct. Can I ask – as you have experience in depression, what do you think of this situation? As I say above, is there any chance that he will realise that the bad stuff isn’t us, but the other things that are going on in his life and that they’re the things that need changing? I appreciate any advice you can give and anyone else reading my comment.

    Good luck to everyone out there who has a depressed partner. Stay strong if you can. I know sometimes it becomes unbearably difficult and so very painful. Hopefully the will to help and patience will override it all.

  15. DMP says:


    My SO has pulled away, saying she needs time to herself. It’s classic depression turmoil, evidenced by the fact that I hear her voice in many of the things you have written, and all the hallmarks:

    1) Dramatic almost immediate change from love, in_love, caring, etc. to cold distance
    2) Saying things that make no sense, revisionist comments about the past year
    3) Inconsolable, irrational anger outbursts
    4) Mad that I would dare to try and contact her

    When we first broke (when she first broke us) she said she’d need ‘several weeks’ to think things over. I was able to talk to her a few times at first, but she was very cold and agitated. Finally, with the help of this site, I got the message that she was pushing me away due to her illness.

    It has now been three weeks since I’ve heard from her. That feels like an eternity, given that she was my best friend, my confident, and we talked continually (3-4 times a day at least, most days).

    So my question is: Can I (should I) try to contact her? Do I have to play dead and just hope (seemingly against hope as each day goes by) that eventually she will contact me? I feel like I need to try. Try something. I can move on, but it seems so sad to throw in the towel on someone who just a few weeks ago was the love of your life.

  16. Jenny says:

    Hi John,

    Like many of the people below, I have a similar story. My boyfriend is suffering from depression and he recently broke off our relationship. The difference with us is that we still live together and aside from verbally telling me he doesn’t want me as his girlfriend, he is sometimes acting just like before… wanting to cook me dinner, go to the movies etc. which makes me believe we’re back to normal. I question him and hte break up, and he cries and says he needs to be alone and I deserve better, he can’t cope with whats happening in his head, doesn’t know whats happening in his life etc.
    We sleep in seperate rooms and haven’t so much as touched in months, he keeps saying he’ll move out but isn’t taking any steps to do so.

    I feel like I’m being pulled in a number of different directions- he wants me as his best friend (but only on his terms) but not as his girlfriend. He stays out late, and because I’m not his gf I have no right to ask where he is. I know he was “seeking support” (thats his term for what I call cheating) with another woman. The mixed messages are killing me. I want to cut ties sometimes, but his behaviour also sometimes makes me believe we can get through it because he doesn’t always hate me . He plays the victim, I am the bad guy…yet, he still wants to hang out.

    I am so confused and I don’t know what steps to take, move on with my life based on what he says, or stick around as his bfriend based on his behaviour??

    He is going to the doctor today to start meds, I’m hoping that they will bring some clarity to him- and in the benefit of our relationship.

    How long do I wait? What do I do?

    • louise says:

      Hi Jenny,

      I’ve been reading this site for awhile-this is my first reply to anyone. Your situation struck me because it is similar to my own. I’ve been told that “T” (my sometimes current, other times off depending how he feels) has been seen at various public functions with a woman who has been trying to come between us for some time now.
      I can say this, I know that if my ex were willing to work together on how to relate in a healthy way while he is depressed, I could figure out if any sort of relationship with him is worth the challenge. And it IS a challenge…

      However, I draw a line at cheating or as you referred to it -”seeking support”. Here is why…

      Depression is an illness that will consume someone and cause them to say and do things that are difficult to forgive but, I feel like when I can step away from it, I know that he didn’t mean those things. Many of the things “T” has said to me don’t compute, sometimes he doesn’t even remember. I’ve come to an understanding that he is so deeply buried in his depression that he can’t maintain a healthy partnership when he is depressed (it occurs about every 3 months and lasts about 2 months-lately he’s just depressed altogether-things have been a mess for the last 5 months with maybe 1 good month).
      To me, I feel strong enough to protect my own self esteem and self worth through all of this-and I assure you, it is not easy. (stepping away and not contacting him helps a lot because you can so easily get sucked into the depressed person’s vortex) But, I know that I could not bear the idea of him being intimite with anyone else. That is a deal breaker for me…

      I recommend deciding where you draw the line…disconnect yourself from him completely for a month to do this. Yes, it is like an addiction or a diet you don’t want to be on…do not send that text, email or call, do not visit or find reasons to contact him…even if he has your favorite t shirt or cd at his place.

      After a month, you will have hindsight (which as we know is 20/20) and be in a better situation to determine if this is a feasible relationship for YOU. You will be able to decided what you are willing to give to him and what you expect…you will have courage to say what you need with time elapsed because it will be clear and not clouded with wanting to save your SO from himself. (which we can’t do). If you decide that you want to stick by him, lay out your terms-including that he not give up on the two of you being an intimate couple if that’s what you need.

      I am trying to do this right now. It’s been 2 weeks since “T” sent me a text message telling me he cannot be there for me at a time in my life that I needed his strength. I understand that he can’t be there right now-when he is depressed, he is in survival mode but, his leaving me through a text message has been devastating to say the least. A few days later, I am told he has been going out in public with the woman I meantioned above. They arrive together and leave together. He has sworn to that he could never be interested in her…so I ask myself then WHY do you go out for dinner, to public events etc…I don’t know why he thinks I could believe him. I am trying to step back right now and heal…
      If the rumour is true, then she can deal with his depression (and I know what the end result of that will be ). If the rumour is not true, then I have a choice. I can choose to tell him how I feel -that I sincerely want to be there as an active participant while he gets help. No intimate involvement, just being allowed to be there and be present and walk alongside. I don’t think there is anything else we can do with our depressed SO’s. And if they are willing to let us in, one of two things will happen. They will find better health or…they won’t. If it is the latter, once again, it is our choice-to stay and be spun through the cycle of hatefulness and chaos or leave and know that our strength of being is meant to serve another purpose.
      If they do find better health, I still believe there is a choice that has to be made but, my mind hasn’t made it that far…maybe I’m afraid to believe…afraid to be disappointed…afraid to risk again…

      Above all, we cannot give away our power to choose in this or we become the victim. This isn’t healthy for ourselves and it isn’t healthy for our SO’s.

      I hope this can help you…good luck.

      • dana says:

        thank you, louise, for giving me some perspective in how to deal with my own health while wanting to be “an active participant” in my ex’s depression and recovery. i’m trying to find answers – or maybe i’m simply trying to find the strength to do what i know i should – on this site and your post helped me tremendously. good luck to you – and others facing the diagnosis, either your own or that of someone you care deeply for.

  17. Lauren says:

    Hi John,
    I’ve found that a lot of the research I’ve been doing lately about depression, you have been involved in. So I’m desperately seeking advice on my situation. Recently my loving boyfriend of a year a half decided to end our relationship for now because of his depression. He’s been ill with it for most of his adult life (he’s now almost 26), and it’s been a constant struggle for him. He has been hospitalized 5 times for depression (4 for suicidal thoughts and 1, very recently, for an attempt). He has gone through different anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, etc, but hasn’t found any combination yet that really does the trick. He has been seeing the same psychologist, an 80 year old man, for the past 3 years.

    I knew about the past four hospitalizations going in, and I’ve always done my best to support him and encourage him. He is used to people leaving him, and I never gave an inclination I would ever do so. He has drastically low self-esteem and is very much a perfectionist. He doesn’t have many friends, and he isn’t close with his family, so a lot of this support fell on me. Not that I minded in any way, I love him so intensely, and I still feel like he is my life partner. He is loving, supportive and does not have a mean bone in his body.

    In the past 3 months or so of our relationship, he’s become increasingly distant and shut off. It seemed that the depression was getting the better of him. He became more involved with marijuana and alcohol. He’s still in college, trying to finish up his last semester, but very unhappy and trapped. He blamed our relationship for a lot of the stress, saying that he is confused and just doesn’t know about a lot of things. He knows that he loves me, but is so unsure about everything in his future, including me. We “broke up” a couple of different times, and I say this in quotes because we always kept in close contact and ultimately decided to give it another try. I continually tried to reassure him, saying that I’m here for him and will do whatever necessary to get him help.

    This most recent time, he took 25 pills of Prozac, along with alcohol, and ended up in the hospital. He told me that he didn’t want to kill himself, he just “wanted things to change.” Well, he was admitted into a therapy program for depression (for about 6 days.) Everyday I visited him, brought him belongings to make him comfortable, cards, etc. He said he loved me for it and that seeing me was the best part of his day. One of the days, though, we had a discussion and he said that part of the reason he overdosed was because he is so overwhelmed by our relationship and making it “perfect.” He says he does see our relationship as perfect sometimes, but every now and again he has doubts. He’s this way about absolutely everything, mind you, wanting to make things “perfect” when they cannot be. We also went to a relationship counselor during his stay, and I thought a lot of things got cleared up.

    Well, the day after his exit from the program, we met up and he ended things. He said that he needs time right now to focus on getting himself better. He wondered if we could be friends for now and see where things go. He said I’m the closest person to him in his life, and he loves me greatly. But there is something that doesn’t feel right inside him, and he needs to figure out what that is. He said there is a good chance this could be beneficial for our relationship, and make it even stronger. We’ve talked nearly every day, and he reassured me that he thinks everything will work out. He has never been angry or accusatory with me. He seems to want to continue to communicate every day.

    It breaks my heart that he won’t let me be a part of his recovery process. I love and care about him so much, and I know he feels the same for me. I worry that through this process, he’ll decide that he doesn’t need me. That our relationship reminds him of a stressful time in his life. But we’ve had so many unbelievable, wonderful memories. We adopted a cat together and he said my family “feels like his family.”

    We have talked a few times since then, and he has been saying that he feels better. He got a gym membership and has been working on his artwork. He’s on new medication, and it seems to be working. But then he also asked me, just last night, if I thought getting back into marijuana would be a bad idea.

    There are so many unanswered questions: How can I be there for him? Will he come back to me? Should I cut off communication and let him recover on his own? Why won’t he let me be there? Is this the depression or just his doubt/worry about being perfect? Any insight would be much appreciated. Thank you so very much.

  18. Kate says:

    Well…..just as I thought things could not get any worse… ex partner contacted me yesterday in order to tell me that I would never be hearing from him again.He shouted many nasty and abusive things down the telephone and finished the conversation with a list of my “failings” as a girlfriend.None of the things that he cited were actually true.No one in my life has ever treated me with such disrespect or disregarded my feelings in such a way.I am left reeling by the content of the conversation….during which I pathetically tried to tell him how much I cared and still loved him (what the hell is wrong with me??)He blames me for asking him to seek help as he “cannot handle” the therapy.I have also discovered that he had been paying for web cam sex chats during the time we were together and I was desperately trying to help him with his depression.Can depression really turn someone into a spiteful abusive liar?My spirit and my self confidence are totally shattered and all I can do is cry and cry.Though it sounds self pitying ,I cannot understand why he has turned against me in this way.I adored him and did all I could to be a good partner to him.Has anyone else experienced this?I would like to think that I am not alone in being subject to this treatment (though I would not wish it on anyone) but now I am wondering how much can actually be blamed on his depression.I would be so grateful for any advice……I worry that my mental health is suffering .

    • lalala says:

      I too have gone through a similar situation. But I have been with my husband for over 10 years and we have 2 small children. I don’t understand why he’s left and so mean to me, but nice to everyone else. I miss my partner so much and am having a hard time moving on as this is what he wants. It’s fair to us as we did not choose this, and healing, moving forward seems like it will never happen. Let me know how you are doing if you’re still out there?

      • chris says:

        hi my fiance is suffering from depression , she has been taking medication for only 4 this time,she moved out saying we need a break for a week,that changed to 2 then 4 weeks, yeaterday she txt me in the morning saying. goodmorning hun hope you have a good day . in the evening she txt sorry i dont want to be with you anymore . for weeks she has treated me badly with no respect , yet talks to everyone else fine . we had a loving relationship went on holiday 2 months ago that was great. since we came back she s just been miserable , down and dont want me near her . i love her with all my heart , and if her love for me was dead i would move on, but i just dont know . i would support her in every way possible for as long as it takes , but at the end of the day , if im not wanted should i leave her alone.

      • Kate says:

        Apologies for my delayed response.I am not having a good time at the minute.I continued to try and repair my relationship until a few weeks ago when I had to accept that things were over…..I have been destroyed by the constant rejection and misinterpretation of things that I said.I also had to accept that B (my ex ) was getting on with his life and seemingly enjoying it without a thought for me.A relative of mine that was close to himdied a very painful death and I reached out to him.He was aware that I was alone and in need.He knew I was watching her die…..I tried to call him.No response.I left a message.No response.I later discovered that at the time I was trying to contact him he was sharing jokes over pictures of topless girls on Facebook.He is yet to contact me.His behaviour sickens me and he has hurt me so much that I feel I will never be able to coprehend or deal with it.Yet I still crave for the love of the amazing man that I knew.I hope so much that you are doing better than I am.I am sending all my love to you.x

        • Kate says:

          I cannot give you answers….I wish I could.All I can say is that I know what you are going through.I was powerless to do anything other than follow my heart and this led me to stay in contact.I believed for so long that, if I was a constant presence he would one day wake up and see that I loved him so and embrace that.He didn’t.I wish I had felt differently about him…I could have saved myself so much pain.I think you will know if and when the time is right for you to give up.x

  19. shravani says:

    Hey All,

    can someone suggest me what can be done here

    we were into a relation for longer time,but all of a suddenone fine day he came to me and said his parents did not accept me,so lets depart from each other and never disturb me again
    But it was not so easy for me to leave him,,because as far as am concerned,he loves me to the core and he even knew that i love him deeply
    I tried reaching out through lots of calls & lots of emails & lots of messages,but still nothing worked out
    but still i want him to be back in my life.few of his friends said that he is least bothered about me,which really make me more sensitive and tears just role out of my eyes.I am trying to forget him,but am not at all..he was the only person who was with me in all my ups and downs..
    Any suggestions pleas

  20. aussie_chick says:

    I am so grateful for having found this site, it’s good to know I’m not alone. Sorry in advance for the rant.

    I met one lovely man at the end of last year. I knew he had baggage (he was sponsored into the country by his ex) but he seemed sufficiently in control that my initial concerns were assuaged. We quickly moved in together. A couple of months later he had a work opportunity interstate, several days’ drive away. I didn’t stand in his way. Within weeks of us driving him over there and me flying back, he told me he simply needed me there, I was family to him and he missed me more than anything. For the first time in my life I took a chance on a guy and made the move to be with him. Neither of us are stupidly young and we were planning kids in the next couple of years; he was moving fast but it felt right.

    Once I got there it became apparent that he was getting depressed. He had a history of it and acknowledged what was going on. I was diagnosed with reactive depression years ago and while I’ve been fine for five years now I could see the warning signs in him. He got withdrawn and angry, but a couple of weeks later, with as little pressure and as much loving support as I could muster he ‘snapped out of’ the worst of it and I got my man back. He’d got himself a referral to see a psychologist… but that was six months ago and he had one session, five months ago.

    Work didn’t pan out the way we’d hoped and after someone very close to us was murdered in our new town, he took a regional contract doing back-breaking work and I moved back to my old job in my old city two months ago. We agreed the separation would be short-term (he was offered great money with the new contract) and said we’d see each other at Christmas. When I got stressed he reminded me we were doing this for the sake of our future together.

    He’s been withdrawing for the last month or so, described his constant exhaustion and the sadness was evident in his voice: textbook signs he was not doing well. I’ve been worried. This last week I was told I need surgery, nothing life threatening but I’m still scared. I called him to talk and he blatantly wasn’t there for me, which was a first and hurt like heck. After several days of absolutely unprecedented silence I texted him this morning asking what was up. He responded that he thought we needed to break up so he could work on his mental health. By text. He rang me tonight and confirmed that he meant it, that he’d never be able to replace me but needed to be alone now.

    If I’d seen this coming I’d have never moved back interstate – he has no-one close to him there and much as it was his choice I feel responsible. Working crazy hard in the desert surrounded by rednecks is bad enough; having no place to call home and no-one to come home to isn’t doing him any favours.

    I’m gutted. He’s the first man I’ve ever really allowed myself to need. I knew he wasn’t perfect, but heck, neither am I and I was raised not to give up on the people I love. I know his being prone to depression is here to stay but his ‘baggage’ is in a sense temporary as the major stress factors (visa and divorce) will be dealt with in the next couple of years. Not exactly short-term but I do think he’s seeking permanent solutions to a situation majorly exacerbated by temporary factors. Having been depressed myself I know that by acknowledging the triggers and being vigilantly good to yourself it’s possible to live a happy life ‘in remission’.

    So, my plan: I’ve texted him details of free confidential phone counselling available to him through my work, and reminded him he has a lot of people who love him, want to be there for him and believe he deserves the help he needs. That he deserves happiness and love.

    I have booked flights to see him in the next fortnight. I know he’s not gonna be ecstatic to see me, but even if he doesn’t change his tune I know myself well enough to know I won’t feel any better without closure. That may be selfish of me but our last day together was beautiful and this doesn’t seem real. Much as he may see that as an intrusion I plan not to crowd him in the meantime; he’s said he needs his space and I’ll give him as much as I can.

    In the meantime I’m praying hard and will hugely appreciate anyone who wants to include us in your prayers.

    I’d also appreciate any tips on what to/not to do or feedback on my plan of action. Or more generically on how to not go batsh!t crazy with grief.

  21. Eve says:

    Hi John,

    What are your thoughts on Larsk K words?
    I think if I read these words a year ago I would disagree but the more I understand of depression the more they seem to make sense.

    I’m still trying to be there for my ex – in the hope i can be with her again one day.
    We agreed to just have ‘outings’ together and see how things go from there.
    At the moment my ex is not responding much to my text messages although she is away for a couple of weeks on a holiday. Before the holiday I thought our communication was good.
    Then I had a miscommunication on an email with her where I thought she was up for more of a relationship so I suggested this and then she wrote back to say – She wasn’t sure about anything yet, and hoped I understood.

    I’m trying not to take the lack of communication personally but i can’t say it’s easy.
    I have written some general messages to her that haven’t been answered. I’m aware that I don’t want to put any pressure on her to commit to me in a relationship sense at the moment. But I would like some more frequent communication! Is this a form of pressure for someone who is depressed?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Eve -

      I’ve just written a post in answer to your first question. Let me know what you think. The impossible bind in trying to communicate is that the depressed person may not be trying to hurt you, but the withdrawal is, of course, as personal as it can be in its effect on you. I think you have little choice but to wait and see how your friend’s treatment progresses, if in fact she is doing all she can to deal with depression. You have to take care of yourself and be honest about your needs with her and with yourself. I’m not sure that there is much more you can do.

      I hope things take a turn for the better for both of you soon.


      • eve says:

        Thanks John for your words of support.

        I’m interested to read this new post that I see you have posted in the other section.

        At the moment you’re right – i will have to wait and see what happens with my ex.
        At the same time I will mention my needs – basically i just need to see/hear she is working on looking after herself! The communication i hope should follow this. Although, i fear that my ex’s treatment may take some time and it will test my patience – i hope i will be strong enough to stay on the side lines through this period without being too eager to engage more with her.

        I will continue to focus on taking care of myself – something that I’m enjoying doing.
        Started yoga, swimming.

  22. dawn says:

    I am at a loss. My boyfriend of 2+ years has left me – suddenly, and almost without explanation. The only words he’s said are that he needs to do this (leave me) if we’ll ever have a future; that he feels numb inside, always sad, and can’t dream or hope about anything; and that he can’t do it anymore. He told me he loves me, that we’re best friends, that I was like his right arm. All true! And until this happened, we were seemingly happy and deeply in love. This was on a Tuesday, and by Saturday he had moved out. We haven’t spoken since.
    This comes on the heels of weeks of realization (on my part) that he is depressed – beyond the numbness and sadness, he refused to see his friends, is gaining weight, seemingly angry all the time, insomniac, and completely lost his sex drive. I tried to talk to him about it, asked him to consider getting help – to no avail.
    I am so torn, I love him! He’s my partner! The love of my life. This doesn’t make any sense. But he’s shut me out completely. No communication until… when? When he decides, I guess. Do I wait? Do I try to hate him so I can move on? I see my partner suffering and I want to help – but it’s clear to me that is impossible. Any advice, at all, is appreciated.

    • aussie_chick says:

      Hi Dawn,

      I am so sorry to read of what you are going through. It’s hard to know what to say as the disease affects different people differently and I’m surely not a psychologist.

      What I will say is that I don’t think hating him will help you. I totally understand your sentiment but if you must hate, hate the disease. Hating the man might the distort the memories of the good times you had and you’ve gotta remember that they were every bit as real as the depression and its effects which unfortunately seems to bring out the worst selfishness in people. Easier said than done I know, but that lovely man was real and so was his love for you – so don’t start mistrusting your judgment.

      I pray that he comes around. If you have a way of contacting him, let him know that he deserves help and he deserves the patience, love and support of the people who love him. But if he’s cut you off then that advice is redundant. I don’t know what to suggest in terms of moving on – I don’t know how long ago he left or what’s happened since. I don’t think it’s wrong to want the man you love back, healthy, and I will pray for you and that happy end. At the same time you can’t put your life on hold indefinitely. After all, you deserve to be happy too and if he’s moving on then you really need to do so too. Which is, again, easier said than done when he’s not communicating.

    • WR says:

      Hi Dawn,

      Your story is so similar to what I’m going through with my depressed BF right now :(

      I see your post was many months ago… could you share what has happened in your relatioship since your post?

      Thank you,

  23. shravani says:

    Hey All,

    can someone suggest me what can be done here

    we were into a relation for longer time,but all of a suddenone fine day he came to me and said his parents did not accept me,so lets depart from each other and never disturb me again
    But it was not so easy for me to leave him,,because as far as am concerned,he loves me to the core and he even knew that i love him deeply
    I tried reaching out through lots of calls & lots of emails & lots of messages,but still nothing worked out
    but still i want him to be back in my life.few of his friends said that he is least bothered about me,which really make me more sensitive and tears just role out of my eyes.I am trying to forget him,but am not at all..he was the only person who was with me in all my ups and downs..
    Any suggestions please

  24. Vany says:

    Hi, I need some help…

    The problem is that my boyfriend and I aren’t currently together (he left me about a month ago). We have a relationship of 5 years very solid relationship, we love each other a lot and I know he cares a lot for me and I for him. Well the thing is he moved (like 3 hours away from me) like 9 month ago to study, he comes every weekend and used we spend that time together. He graduated college and is studying another thing…but he’s not currently working cause the economical situation in my country (DR) is not very good right now. He feels incredibly awful to the point that he tells me he doesnt even want to get out of bed, talk or be with anybody…he feels like a failure and he’s only 23, he thought that by this time he was gonna be independent cause he does not want his parents spending anymore money on him. He’s a very conservative person and does not like to talk at all about himself he only talks to me about that, i’ve been supporting him but I’ve been feeling lately i was the one investing more in the relationship, and i was wearing out, we talked a lot about this but things did not get much better.

    The breakup was really awful and heartbreaking..he told me a lot of things that hurt me..Like that he didnt feel the need to be with me, or kiss me or anything..that he has been feeling a long time like that and was waiting to see if it changed but I could see that he was hurting a lot just by saying this stuff to me.

    I asked to please go to a psych and he promised he would do so (the day we broke up he promised(…one week later he told me he did go but hten i found out it was a not like him to break a prmise like that. from what ive been hearing he’s been getting into a lot of fights and started playing rugby and that is so not him in the 5 years we we’re together he never fought.

    I tried supporting him after the breakup but i was really hurting and i went down a road of selfdestruction… i started drinking a lot and had sex with a guy (my ex was my first) and hooked up (not sex) with 2 other..and felt really bad afterwards. I was also diagnosed a time ago with depression

    Right now im just really lost i dont know what to do..i sent him a text saying that i was ok with the break i understand that he has to solve his problems by himself and that he shouldnt worry about me since i was doing fine…but i also told him that a needed some time without us comunicating (it was to difficult for me waiting days for him to speak to me..) cause i needed to sort out some things in my new life …

    I just need help i wanna speak to him so badly and tell him how much i love him and miss him

    • Kate says:

      I am so sorry that you are hurting so much.I know only too well the pain of trying to stay strong when inside you feel anything but.And I also know how difficult it is to keep a distance when all you want to do is tell someone how much you love them and miss them.I wish I could give you the answers but all I can do is tell you my story ,what I did and how it worked out for me.I invested so much into my relationship and was not prepared to see it beaten by my partner’s depression.We had a silly fight that he used as an excuse to split with me.He said some awful,hurtful things that to this day stay with me.He told me,as your partner did,that he had lacked feelings for me for some time.I cannot tell you how much that hurt.I tried to contact him via calls,texts,letters.Tried so hard to tell him how much I cared and wanted us to work.I thought that if he felt loved we would be OK.On the rare occasions that he responded to me he would dismiss my comments with harsh words .He only ever phoned to shout at me.He turned into a stranger and sometimes I could hardly believe that such vile things were coming out of his mouth….before his depression he had been a gentle loving man.Months down the line and I still stare at my phone hoping for a call or a message.Nothing.I think my point is that I wish I had just walked away and taken that pain rather than expose myself to the hurt of having every effort I made disregarded.I know you will want to speak with him and tell him how much you care,but you may not get the response you want.I certainly didn’t and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.Protect yourself sweetheart,I so wish that I had.I do so hope that things work for you and your partner but make sure you look after yourself.I know it is no consolation but there are others who know from painful experience,what you are going through.You may feel awfully alone but you are not.I hope you stay strong.

  25. Sarah says:

    I see most of these posts are a few months old but I couldn’t help wanting to add my story. I actually feel so much better after reading these posts! My situation isn’t as serious as some I’ve read, but it has caused me an immense amount of pain and I think writing about it and maybe getting some feed back would really help.

    I met C online, and we immediately hit it off. It’s hard to explain, but we are both really intelligent, and we both love to be sarcastic and self deprecating and have the same dark sense of humor. He made me laugh and made me feel alive. He made me feel like more than I had been, gave me permission to be my quirky self and took me outside my box.

    C was very open from the beginning about the addiction issues he had when he was younger, and his lifelong struggle with depression. I understood these things because I have a degree in counseling and have worked in social services and mental health for years. Her seemed to have a lot of insight into his issues and was very upfront about everything. I figured I would see what happened, as he was just too wonderful to walk away from.

    We met in person several times and talked on the phone several times a week. We texted many many times a day. Neither of us was in a hurry to push our growing friendship, as we both have busy lives and kids. I thought things were going well. He liked me, I liked him, and there was obvious chemistry and attraction. I was a little scared of getting hurt, so I was not as honest with my feelings as I could have been.

    Then two weeks ago he texted that he was having a hard day because it was the 3 year anniversary of the death of his best friend. He needed to be on “auto-pilot.” I was okay with that and over the next few days we texted about once a day. He wasn’t sleeping and was really messed up. I tried to be supportive without adding pressure. It was also during this time that I started to explore and admit to my true feelings for him. I discovered I am in love with him and the idea of living without him was unthinkable. The thought of dating anyone else had become laughable.

    Then last Sunday we talked on the phone and he sounded really bad. He told me he is depressed and really unhappy. He stated he feels bad about what he is doing to me and I explained he’s not hurting me any. But I wanted to make sure I’m not going to become another burden in his life, another source of grief. I can’t handle the idea of causing him any pain, even inadvertently. So I asked what would make it easier for him. He said he can’t feel good about himself with me in his life right now. It was like a punch in the stomach but what could I do??? He offered to reach out to me when he is better and I agreed that’s what I want. Then we got off the phone and I cried for an hour.

    So now I am living without him and just trying to make it through every day. I refuse to think of myself as “waiting” for him, because I’m not, I’m living my life. But I do survive on the hope he will keep his word and get in touch when he is better. I can’t even consider dating anyone else. I have never felt the way I feel for him for anyone before. And I am making an effort to stay healthy. I talk to friends, journal, write him letters I don’t send. I have an amazing support system and a very busy life. But still. I miss him every minute of the day.

    Just typing this out has made me feel less alone in all this. I know he may never contact me, and I may “get over” him and move on. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month or a year. But I do hope he can be a part of my life again. I know there are long term considerations and no easy answers. But if I am able to be realistic and healthy, and I continue to want what I want right now, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in hoping.

    • Kate says:

      You should wait as long as you are able to stay happy and healthy.But do not wait,as I am, in misery.It is destructive.Stay realistic,stay happy.I am not strong enough to be either of those things.I know only too well what it is like to miss someone every moment of every day.I made the mistake of sending the (many) letters I wrote and calling/texting etc.It only served to make my ex partner more distant and left me reeling from the rejection.My ex partner also stated that he could not feel good with me in his life (which was ironic as I did everything I could to make him happy and secure).For a long time now I have put my life “on hold” just hoping that the man I loved will come back to me.It does not get easier.Your story reflected mine… admit your true feelings just before your partner’s depression caused him to walk away.I hope you are able to hope but also continue with your life.I am hoping but my life has stalled…silly really but I could never put into words how I feel about my ex partner.

  26. Kate says:

    I am so relieved to have found this site.I have spent so long struggling alone with my (now ex) partner’s depression.We had the most beautiful loving relationship for a year and I knew I had met the man I wanted to marry.He loved me so much and I adored him.And then came his depression and introduced me to a world of despair would not wish on my worst enemy.He withdrew totally from me and began to find fault with everything I did and said.He would disappear for hours,not return my calls and became the exact opposite of the attentive man he had been previously.I tried so hard to make us work and tried so hard to remember the caring gentle man that he was.One day after many weeks of walking on eggshells I retaliated and asked him to consider how his actions were hurting me.He told me he didn’t care about my feelings and left.This was three months ago and he has rejected all communication from me since.If he does answer the phone he is dismissive and nasty.Any attempts by me to communicate are either ignored or he puts a negative twisted interpretation on them .To everyone else he is fine.He is going out with friends and seems to put on a front for everyone bar me. Only I and his parents know of his depression.In his nicer moments he tells me I shouldn’t love him as he is not worthy of me.In his nasty moments he labels me manipulative,controlling and shouts at me.He seems to blame me for destroying our relationship (which I did not) and his thinking is so distorted when it comes to me and my actions.He has tried to cut me out of his life.He is totally selfish.Despite everything I love him and cannot seem to get over his leaving.My life has been horrible over the past few months, I cannot sleep,eat or seem to function but I cannot let go of the good memories and I cannot stop thinking of how fantastic out relationship was.I think of him all the time.I do not think he thinks of me at all.I do not understand how a man with whom I made plans for the future and with whom I was trying for a child could suddenly turn against me.I assisted him in every way I could .I ensured that he saw a counsellor and doctors.I just feel very lonely without him and want my lovely boyfriend back.But he has made only one effort to contact me over the past few months……and this was to argue with me.I am not an emotionally strong person at the moment and am getting weaker with each day that goes by without a call or text from him.I feel like I am being tortured…..why would life be so cruel as to give me the most amazing man only to replace him with somebody that doesn’t seem to care at all?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Kate,

      I am sad to say I do not have advice for you, and I am sorry. I just want you to know that reading your comment made me feel as though I had written it myself. I cried while reading because it is so similar to how I feel (especially, why would life be so cruel as to give me the most amazing man only to replace him with somebody that doesn’t seem to care at all)?

      I wish I could make it better for you, and for myself. Please know, I will be thinking of you tonight while I cry myself to sleep. Best of luck coping.


      • Kate says:

        Thank you so much for your kind reply.It is comforting to know that there are people thinking of me.I can only hope you are faring better than I am.I too cry myself to sleep every night.I also cry whilst I am at work,walking down the street,at home.It is cruel that we should have to go through this.I wish you every strength and can only hope that your story turns out better than mine.


    • Patricia says:

      Hi Kate,

      I feel your pain and please have faith that things will get better. Your statement about meeting the most amazing man and having that taken away from you is something that I am experiencing right now. I am angry, sad, hopeful, so many emotions at one time and not many people to speak with that can relate.

      Unfortunately, there is nothing that I can say to make you feel better, but I would like to tell you something that came to my mind the other day….Even if the worst of the worst happens and you don’t get him back, you were extremely lucky to have met such an amazing man and had the love that you had. There are so many people that will never experience that in their lifetime or meet someone as wonderful as you have. Even if you were only lucky for one year, you had him for that time and what you two had is yours to cherish forever.

      Hope that helps you to heal a little:)


  27. Denise says:

    Anyone know how to tell if he is depressed because he has been unhappy with you for so long or if he had depression for years and has been blaming you for it?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Denise -

      Depression isn’t caused by being unhappy with someone. It is fairly common to become depressed without knowing what is happening and look outward for the cause, and partners are first in line to take the blame.


  28. SarahLund says:

    My mum saw my ex in town, a few month back. He told her to tell me that he’s sorry for what he said to me, and to tell me that I’m welcome to visit him anytime i want. How do I go about that? I can’t just suddenly just turn up at his door unnanounced. What if he’s busy? It made me wonder why he said I can go visit him ANY time. He said he hardly gets out anymore. I don’t know why he told my mum that he has mended his ways. My mum had to tell me, as I wasn’t in town with her, when she bumped into him. At first, I felt angry at this. Now I just feel happy that he see’s me for the caring person I really am. He knows I care about him. He told me himself. And if he wants us to get a home together, then I really don’t have much to complain about. He says none of the women he’s ever laid eyes on, can compare to me :) That made me giggle, in my head. As flattery will get you everywhere. I didn’t want to have to find another man to be with. Luckily, I just waited it out. You can only go by how you feel.

  29. SarahLund says:

    Ok I get the whole depression thing. I had to break up with my man because my bowel illness was enough to take on, without having to cater to his confusing ways. If I don’t rid of stressful situations, then my bowel illness gets way more painful. What really irks me, is the fact that none of my family stopped to consider that me and my man, had planned our future to be together. How we had our future mapped out to live together, etc. I will have a child when I choose. I will live where I want, and with who I choose. I am human like everyone else. Some parents think they’re doing a good job at making you feel equal, when really you see how it really is.

  30. amanda says:

    I am 50 and have been in a 10 year relationship-he was the centre of my universe so much so that I gave up a senior job 4 years ago to work in his business. Our dreams were to earn enough money to live in the country.He worked incessantly and had no social outlets so my life followed suit and consequently I have no real friends apart from his family. I have my own home he has no home of his own and lives with his brother’s family. Recently My mother died and immediately after he walked away from our relationship because he needs to spend time alone to work out his life- He wants to be “away from everyone” but needs to run a business,he has no money is unproductive at work which caused us to quarrel for the past 2 years and cannot get his life together. He has rejected my offer to have him move in with me and only really calls me about work.Says most is unrelated to me and he needs to sort himself out and possibly is still suffering from issues from the relationship before me. He said he would seek counselling over 2 months ago but has not made any effort to do so. Im devastated as the love of my life and best friend /support person is no longer in my life except at work! I am going through a home renovation on my own, awaiting the imminent death of my father and just two days ago had to put down one of my beloved pets .My brother in law has been diagnosed with a health problem so Im also trying to support my sister and her family.I am also testing the job market to see if I can escape totally and join a new company where I may make friends. The pain ,lonleness,desperation, lack of confidence and trust/ confusion and guilt is engufling me and I need sleeping medication and anti-anxiety medication. I do not know how to get my life on track and the loneliness and lack on interest in anything is overwhelming. Can someone please advise where to start?.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, amanda -

      With so much loss and grief, so many life changes to consider, I was wondering if you had considered counseling or therapy. You sound so overwhelmed now that I should think you would need all the support you can get to figure out how to move forward from here. You don’t need to be clinically depressed to benefit from therapy – these days most therapists are helpful with short term problems and major life decisions when you just can’t get any perspective by yourself on what to do.

      I’m sorry you have to go through this and wish you all the best.


    • marilyn says:

      I just read your post and I am so sorry for what is happening in your life. I read your post because you stated your age. I am 56 and going through something very similiar. ) I have been with Allen for 28 years and he is everything to me.)
      It hurts alot doesn’t it?

  31. Nony says:

    He told me I was increasingly miserable, I knew it too. He told me my negativity was draining the life out of him…so I told him I don’t know what to do but you are right, and I will remove myself from our relationship and our apartment. The fact is he is an incredibly negative person himself, he can’t see anything without making some social commentary (example: saw a picture of 3 adorable kids from Japan, I said “look how cute this pic is!” his reply was along the lines of something derogatory against Japanese government…these kids were like 4-6 years old?!) or some remark about how everyone in the world but him thinks wrong, but I kept that to myself, wasn’t the time to bring it up again. I told him I still loved him, but I told him that I couldn’t figure out how to fix myself, we were together 12 years and I just didn’t see a way to do it and be a good partner, have a good relationship. In the last month of our relationship he was more and more bitter towards me, I begged him to not let it end badly, I said “why can’t we be friendly” his response was oh you want to be friendly today? He knew I was depressed, I never hid that and I FREQUENTLY apologized when I knew it was just my mood and not something he did that caused me to be “in the dumps” and reply to him with something snarky, or just give him a hard time. In our circle we were the famous couple for doing that, we talked everything out and nobody else could believe it. Our friends were the ones that traded “fuck yous” as often as “I love yous”, we could never conceive of being that way toward each other.

    Right when I left, he was sitting on the couch watching tv and not lifting a finger to help me with my heavy things. I was running up and down the stairs with my things and not closing the door behind me, I was pulling it “to” – not closed, but not wide open. He gets on me for “slamming” the door, so I tried to ignore him. Then he goes into “see this is how it always was, treating me like I did something” which is unfair, I did get mad at him for some things that were actually his fault – he quit brushing his teeth years ago for example, and I’m sorry that always bothered me? So it’s not like I was just always in his ear about some bullshit, I just wanted him to take care of himself, and to make it so I wanted to be around him. Well I didn’t get roped into it with him, I just said instead of griping about the damn door, he could be helping me. I didn’t want to ask him for any help because that entire last month he treated me like I’ve always been this huge burden even though he willingly took over the rent and even the bills when I couldn’t help. Told me it would all be fine since he makes enough (and he does). So here comes another argument, and this time instead of fighting back, asking him to be nice, or anything I just shrugged and kept doing what I was doing. “Fuck you”, he says. I’m depressed, leaving to get out of your hair, not cheating even though you don’t do many things for yourself including brush your teeth, I’m cooking your dinner, cleaning your house, washing your shitty ass boxers, and I get “Fuck you” after 12 years?

    I don’t even really know why but those two little words make it so I’m not sure how much I want to live anymore. I tried to do the right thing by him, but apparently I should have been doing whatever the fuck I wanted all those years. A week before he’s telling me he still loves me and he hopes I’m going to be alright and he’s going to be alright (of course these were his drunken words which kind or not, he’s always told me to disregard) so I guess he really didn’t love me, and it was really just “fuck you”. He was my best friend, and I guess we couldn’t have been friends after the break up anyway, but I didn’t know it had to be like this.

    I hate this so much because I lost my best friend, and even if I could talk to him again I wouldn’t want to now, I just feel horrible. Friends and family mean well but “don’t let him upset you anymore” doesn’t work – I’ve been with this guy 12 years, known him for 16 years of my life. I don’t know how to get over this. I’m trying, I’m working full time again, I have my cat here with me, my family is around, I just feel horrible.

  32. Siobhan says:

    My ex has started talking to me again we had a few chats and he is doing well staying of the drink and doing this he enjoys but doesn’t mention anything about us. I text him to hint without putting pressure in him but he ignores it and just says I’m wonderful and he misses me. What do I do feel like I can’t cope waiting

  33. lorielle says:

    so glad i found this website today; really could use feedback. i’m the depressed/anxious/angry partner here, and after becoming angry, going silent and withdrawing just one too many times, my partner stopped communicating with me. nothing in 8 weeks. we’ve been involved for 5 years, and yes, my problems have caused difficulty and pain in the relationship. he and i also have a significant age difference; he is older.

    i have suffered depression for most of my adult life. sadly, the anxiety/anger/depressive cyclone has caused me to clam up and withdraw one too many times. i am in therapy, and he knows this. we had been in two separate residences while trying to work on the relationship. it wasn’t going well because i was so hurt he’d broken up with me, and things had started to improve…and then i just melted down. no emotional scene, just silence and withdrawal.

    i want desperately to reach out, but fear it’s hopeless. he has always stayed in touch before, but not this time. i am working hard in therapy and have an appoint next week to get back on some medication. i want to tell him how i’m the same person he feel in love with, i just got all covered up with fear and despair. maybe that is selfish. i just feel so hopeless-maybe he really is done with us and has given up on me.

    • Michelle says:

      Hello Lorielle! Every relationship is different but I wanted to share a thought. As an ex of someone depressed, I can say that there came a point in time when I realized my ex is the one who is control of himself and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop him from withdrawing without him resenting me. My phone calls and texts went unanswered and it was heartbreaking. My only option to save my sanity, was to move on and leave him alone. He is the only one who can change. I still wonder how he is doing and would like to hear from him. But that doesn’t mean I would take him back. Your boyfriend has been through a lot with you over the years and he has been hurt by all of this. You need to focus on yourself and your treatment. Go back to counseling and get out on medication and stay on it if it helps. Once you can be stable, maybe you could try again. Your boyfriend had always been in contact with you before, so maybe it’s your turn to reach out to him this time. Try calling or write an email or letter to him. Explain how you feel and what you are doing to get help. He needs to know. No one knows where he is emotionally, but you both deserve answers. There are so many people dating those suffering with depression, and they are as lost as you are but would love to hear from their exes. Regardless of what happens, focus on yourself and continue to get help.

      • Cheryl says:

        I agree with Michelle. Lorielle, it is time to focus on getting better. Yes, you are still the same person, but your behaviour and responses to him, and to the rest of the world are not the same.

        It is possible that your ex has realized that you need to do this for yourself, on your own, and has stepped back to allow it. Or, it may be that he has been hurt too much, or too often, and needs to take the time himself to heal. Either way, you know you have some work to do, and you are definitely headed the right way :) GREAT!

        If you feel you do want to develop a healthy relationship with him, when you are stable again, then maybe it is a good idea to let him know that you are getting treatment, working hard and trying to get better. But remember, he may not be able to have that relationship, and it will never be the way it was. That is just something that both sides in this situation have to accept, and it is never easy. I know for me it would be a relief just to know that my ex is getting help.

        • lorielle says:


          many thanks to you as well for your response. i am hopeful that one day i’ll be well. i wish i felt hopeful that after almost 9 weeks of silence (on both sides) that there might be hope to try again. i’ve never felt quite this terrible before.

          as i said in my OP, i was in therapy before we stopped talking., so he knew i was working on the problems and trying to get help. with this in mind, the fact that he hasn’t bothered even to ask me how i’m doing makes me think that he no longer cares. it’s scary. on the other hand, i have gotten angry, silent and have withdrawn a few times, and in this instance, he was the last to contact me, even if it was just to let me know about a message left on his machine. it wasn’t relationship talk, but it was an opener for conversation, and being too angry, i never responded. how i wish i’d responded now, after two months. the ball is in my court, but i’m frightened he’ll reject me outright or ignore me.

          am i being selfish if i contact him? does his silence mean ‘leave me alone’? i suppose he could be asking himself the same questions. i doubt it, though. if he wanted me in his life, he’d do something. he’d say something. he hasn’t.

          he’s got a buch of my stuff in a storage unit, and yet he hasn’t ‘kicked me out of it’. i think if he were anxious to be rid of me, wouldn’t he tell me to get my things out of there?

          i need some hope in all this darkness. i want to get well to offer my best to him.

          • Cheryl says:

            oh Lorielle, this is the problem that “lack of communication” causes; complete emotional upheaval.

            I am sitting in a position quite similar to you ex boyfriend’s position. From my standpoint I can tell you that contacting him is NOT selfish. Just because he is not in contact with you currently does not mean he will turn you away, and is not wanting that contact. Is there a chance that he has willingly left you alone in hopes that you can recover on your own terms? Is he overwhelmed with his own emotions that he is not able to carry yours as well? I don’t see how reaching out, if done respectfully can be selfish. If you can do it in a way that shows you are open to having him in your life, but without any expectation or pressure on him to “fix” anything, then his response will hopefully be honest. Perhaps he is hoping that you will realize how important he is to you and you will go looking for him?

            I’m not trying to put hope in your heart. But part of depression is negative thought patterns. You assume that you will get a negative response, and the thought of the consquences is so horrible that you “freeze” and do nothing. Fortunately for me, I also suffer from depression, and so I understand that this may be what my ex is going through, and may contribute to his reasons for not reaching out.

            This “irrational fear” froze me when I saw my boyfriend slipping into depression. I myself didn’t know what to do, and since he insisted he was ok, it let me off the hook; he could handle it. These fears are so powerful that they completely take over reasoning, and we assume that doing anything, making any decision and acting on will make things worse. What we depressed people FAIL to realize, is that it is INACTION that actually makes things worse. Not offering my support in a gentle, non-commital way meant that BOTH my boyfriend and I could continue to live in denial, until the point where nothing would stop our breakup.

            It all goes back to the fundamental rule of physics: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. You can’t make progress with depression unless you move, whether forward or backward, you need to move. In order to get a response, there needs to be an action; someone needs to reach out and connect. You can wait for him to do it, but so far, he hasn’t. You cannot guarantee that he ever will. The only part you have control over is your decision whether you reach out or not, and to accept the result and move forward. This is the same decision I have to make, but it has only been just over a week since he cut off all contact, it is not time for me to make mine just yet. I let him know that I still want to be in his life, and I am still here, and for now that is all I can do.

      • lorielle says:


        thank you so much. taking the time to answer so candidly was very helpful. i am in regular therapy and have an appointment fr meds next week. hoping it will help me, and help this terrible pain of loss to stop.

        of course no one can know where our partners are emotionally- if we did, it would be much easier. i want to reach out, but honestly, i am too fragile and frightened of a negative response right now.

        if i may ask, why would you not take your ex back- given of course that efforts to change were being made?

        thank you for your words of encouragement; i really am trying.

  34. Joanna says:

    Dear John,

    My boyfriend of what would have been 2 years next month has just broken up again with me 3 days ago. He is bipolar and unmedicated, and also has made several references to being Borderline, but I can’t be sure. This is the 8th time he has broken up with and the break-ups seem to be becoming more frequent…2 times last year, and 6 times this year.

    This person is terrified of any commitment with me and has told me several times that he cannot commit. However, we see each other generally every weekend and 1 day during the week and I honestly don’t think he has ever gone out with anyone else during our time together. In that sense, he seems committed so I’m not sure what he means…but Facebook has always been a major source of disagreement and he basically acts as if he didn’t know me on Facebook, although he has left 2 photos of us together that I tagged him in.

    He broke up with me now this last time exactly because of Facebook, just because I asked him why he comments and likes other women’s photos but never mine.

    I am a complete wreck and have not stopped sobbing since Saturday. It seems that with each breakup, I get more crushed and have more difficulty recovering. I fear for my job now because I can’t function at work and spend a good part of the day in tears.

    He seems to be in a depression for the past week or so, although I thought it doesn’t seem as severe as some of the other times, but perhaps this is completely wrong. for the past few months, he seems to only seem the negative in me and has criticized and made rather condescending remarks. Is this also depression?

    I have sent him several texts already since the breakup, one just after the breakup apologizing for mentioning Facebook in an rather annoyed manner and telling him that I loved him very much (bipolars seems to never take the blame for anything), and he has responded, although slowly. Now each text seems every so slightly less distant, but perhaps I’m just imagining that because I so much want him back. His responses are still rather cold, but polite. This almost seems worse than anything…

    Should I continue texting him to show that I still care very much for him or is this just pusing him further away? He has not asked me to stop contacting him, but perhaps he’s once again just being polite.

    I really am an absolute wreck and need some advice quickly before I lose both my job and my boyfriend for good. I am writing this in tears…please help…

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Joanna -

      It sounds like the primary need is for him to get adequate treatment for his bipolar condition. Most of your crises with him and the negative remarks are due much more to his condition than anything you might do or say. This incredible amount of pushing you away and coming back again is obviously driving you into deep problems, and I urge you to get some sort of counseling to help sort through everything. He needs to commit to treatment with a good psychiatrist and perhaps therapist as well. You put a terrible pressure on yourself in looking for stability in a relationship when he’s in this condition. The most important thing you can do is to get your own help and support from a good therapist.

      All my best to you — John

      • Joanna says:

        Dear John,

        Thank you very much for you response which I really appreciate. Yes, I need to work on myself and get help because this constant pushing away is really destroying me. My boyfriend or rather ex (it’s incredilby difficul to call him that), seems so strange this time, not anything like the other times he pushed me away when depressed. He says he is taking Lexomil, which does not seem to me to be a good idea over a long period of time, particlarly since he takes no medication to stabilize his bipolar condition.

        I unfortunately lost it last Friday, and told him how much I was suffering and how much I wanted him back. This is apparently the LAST thing to do with a bipolar when they are like this, this pushes them away definitely I’ve read.

        In any case, I am absolutely devastated and once again in terars while I’m writing this. Yes, the pressure and stress in this relationship was unbearable and I should have given up long ago, but I love this man so much.

        Thank you again for listening.

  35. Lou says:

    Gosh, I thought I was alone…… I’m so sorry there are others sharing the same pain as me, but it really does help that I’m not the only one in this heartbreaking situation.

    I know my partner is the love of my life, and I’ve stayed hopeful that he’ll get better and be the lovely man I met. But reading everyone elses story makes me wonder if my hopefulness is a wish that will never be answered. I don’t want to move on, I want him back. Is hope lost once they shut down completely?

  36. Amelia says:

    I am so relieved to have found this forum as it has made me realize I am not alone! My boyfriend of 5 years has recently been suffering from depression which is having a huge impact upon our relationship. We aren’t sure if the depression is caused by withdrawl symptoms as he was recently addicted to annobolic steroids which he done for 4 months behind my back. I only found out one month after he originally split up with me out of the blue to which he confessed to have done as his parents had found out about his steroid abuse and he knew it would hurt me that he had betrayed me in this way as I always made my feeling clear on these matters. He claimed to have split up with me to protect me from getting more hurt from what he was about to go through beating the addiction (cowards way out if you ask me).

    Anyway, I chose to stand by him as he was severely depressed and I seemed to become his shoulder to cry on. We agreed we wouldn’t officially be together until he was completely better as I did not want him to think I would just take him back after doing this to me. So to start with things were fine, we were enjoying spending time together, he would be laughing & joking, seeming genuinely happy then he has a depressed ‘episode’ and tried to cut me out his life. His only reason is “I just dont want to be in a relationship” however over the past 3 months he has done this to me 4 times now & always changes his mind usually after a week of feeling extremely low. Every other time this has happened I have convinced him it has been a reaction caused by what he is going through, gave him the space he asks for & then everything goes back to being fine again, but this time I just can’t get through to him.

    It has been 4 weeks since he last done this to me & the time has been amazing, he has really shown me how much he loves me, making a huge effort & just genuinley enjoying our time we spend together. It sounds cheesy but I feel as though we have fallen in love again. But in the space of two days he is saying he doesn’t want anything to be between us anymore & I can’t help but think it is being caused by this depressed episode that seems to come over him every so often.

    He has been on meds for it for 4 weeks now & they appeared to have been working but I am questioning this now. It’s difficult as I don’t know what to believe. I am trying to believe what he says and how he is with me the majority of the time rather than when he has a moment like this but it is difficult to almost tell him I don’t believe what he is saying without him feeling as though I dont take him seriously.

    It isn’t only me that he cuts away from, he has also withdrew from his parents and rarely speaks to them or leaves the house without even mentioning where he is going. We are all so concerned about him but just don’t know where to go from here. We have been told a 12 week waiting list for a psycologist which is far too long.

    Do I take him seriously & think of us as over or do I disregard it to what he is going through at the moment and wait for it to all blow over? It is so frustrating and tiring!

    Thanks for the support everyone & I pray for love, answers & healing to all of you going through this sort of thing to!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Amelia -

      Given the swings in the state of his feelings and his tendency to retreat from people when depressed, this sounds like another of those dips. I don’t know about the effects of withdrawal from steroids, but it’s certainly possible that the volatility in his feelings relates to that. I think he and you should give the withdrawal time to work – his moods could also relate to the medication he’s taking. It can take a lot of adjustment to get it right, especially in light of the steroid dependence – which I hope is over as far as active use is concerned. These things take time, and depression brings great confusion about feelings – often you seem to feel deadened emotionally and think it must be the relationship when it’s really the depression. I’m sorry to hear about the long wait to see a psychologist. I believe therapy is essential when relationships are threatened in this way.


  37. Cheryl says:

    I am also stuck in this limbo state, not knowing how to support my ex-boyfriend. We enjoyed 10 months together, became best friends and IMHO soul mates. We joined our lives, lived together and each brought a daughter and they became fast friends. But as life happens, and as the “in-love” hormones subsided, he began sleeping more, getting migraines and generally pulling away. I knew the moving apart was normal, and he made me promise not to let him push me away like he done in his past marriage and relationships.

    I tried, but of course I couldn’t stop it. He talked about needing to be alone, about the noise being so disturbing, and soon decided he needed to move closer to his daughter in order to foster that relationship (which I supported), and swore that even though we would be living apart, we would still maintain our relationship.
    As the time approached for us both to move out, communication slowed to a stop. I couldn’t get him to talk to me, he only gave me snippets of what he was feeling, and put up a wall so that I could not ask or offer support. This triggered my depression to return, and we both shut down.

    it has since been about a month since we have moved. At first he maintained daily contact via text and the occasional phone call. He made plans to do some repairs to my apartment, and has slowly managed to fulfill all but one. That should be done next week. Contact is becoming less and less. He is pushing himself, working full time, and then working a second job weeknights and most weekends to recover financially from his divorce. I understand, he needs to get back on his own feet, as we started our relationship within a year of his separation and he did not really get the chance to be on his own.

    I believe he is avoiding his “fall”, or admitting that he is in a major depression, by working so much. He talked about going to his doctor to increase his medication (he was on a low dose as I am) in the last few months of our relationship, but it seems he never did. I didn’t want to push, maybe I should have? Maybe I should have been angry with him for pushing me away, but the 2 times I did show him real emotion he ran out the door in a panic.

    I honestly understand what he is going through. Maybe not the depths of it, but I have depression too, and I know its tempting ways and the call of isolation. At first I reacted from my pain, and I beleive that only confirmed his disillusions and he pushed me away, either to protect me, or himself. But now that I have had the time to think, and read and learn everything I can about depression, I know how I could be there for him, and still move forward (but not move on). He has maintained since we moved that he “wants to stay friends, good friends”, but I have no idea how to actually communicate that I am still here; that I am ready to give what he needs, even if that means he has nothing to give to me for the moment.

    How can I offer my support without pressure? Has anyone succeeded in “being there”? Please help, there are many of us waiting for some suggestion…

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Cheryl -

      When you ask about support without pressure, I know how sensitive a problem it is to communicate without getting a turn-off response, but pressure of a sort is unavoidable. You love him and make clear that you are there for him. It may well be that he feels any expression of your love as “pressure” because he is too confused, depressed and withdrawn emotionally to deal with his own feelings or to respond to your feeling for him. As you know from your own depression, I imagine, it’s often impossible to hear or accept the love someone is offering. Either you can’t feel anything or you can’t believe you’re worth someone else’s love. Running and hiding from emotional commitment is the easiest thing to do but never helps in the long run. He needs more help in dealing with depression than medication can provide – or trying to escape in work. It seems to me that it is supportive to talk to him about what you miss in him and that you hope he can explore other ways of dealing with the problems he’s having. It sounds like he recognizes that he does have depression (that alone is a huge step forward) but may not be aware of the variety of ways there are now for dealing with it. Sharing what you have learned about the illness and what has worked for you can be helpful. I think if you tell him things you really feel in a supportive way, the content is less important than the underlying message of love from your heart that comes through. He may reject what you say or panic, but I think a part of him knows the emotional truth and that he needs to do much more to deal with his depression.

      All my best to you –


  38. Eve says:

    Thanks for your words here from someone who suffers from depression.
    They ring true – being a gentle therapist is what depressed ppl need. And I wish I’d don’t more holding hands in silence for my partner – hopefully my ex through friendship can see I understand how to be there for her now. I have learnt a lot on d in last 3 months.
    I’m willing to give it a try – but my ec needs to meet me half way and seek professionL help too.
    I still have hope especially now I know more about the illness – and how they can view a relationship as a series of demands.

    Can I ask if your non- d partner helped you?

  39. Larsk K says:

    As someone who has mild depression, sometimes relationships just cause more pain/shame/anxiety than they’re worth. Especially the deep ones that require effort and attention. Past mistakes can come back to haunt either of you, resentment grows… next thing you know, it’s hard work just to pass each other in the kitchen.

    Most of all, the non-depressed partner sometimes doesn’t truly know “how to be there”. They may say so, but they don’t really know what that means. They lack the imagination to leap one step ahead of the depressed person and talk them out of their funk. They don’t hold hands for 10 minutes in silence (i.e., that type of non-demanding contact). Instead, they try to fix things or recommend help. They rarely listen non-judgementally. The non-depressed partner doesn’t often play the role of therapist, which is what the depressed person really needs. The depressed person sorely wants intimacy with significant others, but they’re not getting it from the mechanics and cheerleaders. They get intimacy from being logically and gently talked out of their funk. Their shame is rarely addressed and gently set aside by a non-depressed person, who tends to underestimate the role of self-shame. They get true emotional intimacy from gentle therapists. If you want to keep a depressed partner in your life, that’s what you need to become.

    Don’t feel slighted if a depressed person wants out of the relationship. They’re just not getting enough of the positives (deep understanding, safety, non-judgemental listening, no pressure to perform) to outweigh the crushing claustrophobia of a close relationship (sharing space, sacrifice, tight scheduling, loss of freedom).

    • Nicky says:

      I disagree totally with this. I don’t think a partner should try to become/behave like a therapist. I think there is a lot you can do to support someone, but I think using the term “therapist” is dangerous as it alters the dynamics of the relationship.

      I think people often take on too much responsibility for others. If you have shown love and support and done all you can but the person is still not willing to get help, there isn’t a lot you can do. It is easy to stay in the comfort zone and allow fear to overtake life than to do any work to overcome this.

      Some people choose to remain ill. It is sad, but it is ultimately their choice. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

  40. eve says:

    Not sure my update comment posted –
    My ex removed her online dating profile yesterday, a day after she created it.
    I wonder if me questioning this caused her to remove it? Was this a boundary I was setting?

    Either way, i feel better today after seeing psych yesterday. Cleared my head somewhat.
    Back to concentrating on myself!

  41. eve says:

    Also forgot to add – i messaged my ex that i saw her profile last night….
    she responded this am with ‘it’s a small world’

    seems so cold. Unlike her previous messages.

  42. eve says:

    Hi John,

    Some words of advice needed. Although i’m going to see a psych today so that should help me too.
    I’ve read a lot of books, forums etc and become much more informed on the monster that is depression.
    I’ve been in friendly contact with my ex now since we broke up 3 months ago.
    I just responded in a light and positive way to messages and saw her occasionally. She seemed to reach out to me at times and i was there to help I’ve been able to keep busy and move on somewhat in my own life.

    But i feel it’s now got to a crisis point now for me – i found out last night my ex has just joined a dating site (as a non-paid member she can’t message others at the moment till she pays)
    This now I feel is the final straw – i couldn’t be friends on the side knowing my ex is chatting or dating others. What do to now, let go completely? even though my love feels extinguishable. But my head and heart feel more pain now than when we broke up.

  43. Ger Smith says:

    I don’t know what that fear is about but I do understand as I was with someone who suffered that fear of me. We were together for 19 years and I found out when he left that he was a compulsive liar , manipulated me and continuously tried to gain control of me by being abusive to me. He got off on it and discharged his feelings , I became the container for them , a great big bin. I then tried to gain control of him by trying to make him better or do what I wanted. He would agree to doing things with me and then coming up to the events or on the day he would tell me that he didn’t want to do what every it was or go to whatever event we had planned. He would try and get away and then I would call him and he would come back. He said that he just wanted to run away , he would do things and then not take any responsibility for them. I think he wanted to go but he couldn’t do it so he became abusive as anything to me privately. In front of family or friends or neighbors he was the great guy , he had time for everyone and everyone loved him. I would convince myself that I had gotten it wrong that he was a good person. My head was mashed with confusion , he would convince me that I had a bad memory. I think he wanted me to end it but I was in love with him. We fostered a a child together and parented her for 8 years , she loved him very much and was very secure with him. We did this at a time very early on and it all slipped so slowly that I cant say when it started. He pretended he was working away and was home at weekends , one day I found out that he was living a double life with another women.He was living with her for three weeks. He came back begging for forgiveness , he was still living away and she had gone back to her home and after 6 months when I decided to give it another go he told me he had met someone else and he cut off from myself and daughter for 3 years. He tried to distance himself by sending the most painful and abusive letters , so formal and business like and imperialistic telling me I was toxic. An example was he sent me a letter calling me Miss and my surname and said ‘I wish to inform you that I am now married’ after 19 years that’s what and how he said it. He never told me his father had died yet I had been the equivalent of his common daughter in law, he never told our daughter who regarded him as her grandfather. He never linked in again with our daughter until now. He has tried to shame me and hurt me since he left. He phoned me yesterday justifying all the abuse by saying he was damaged goods and should never have been with me. I spoke with him yesterday and it has opened up wounds that I had tried to close and I feel in so much pain and am so hurt after all I have been through he couldn’t even honor the relationship we had. He wants to get together with our daughter and I am glad for her as she needs some kind of closure or contact with him. I am so angry for me and for my daughter , to see a child in pain is the worst thing it magnify’s my pain . To be abandoned once in life is bad but to put your trust in a second set of parents and for him to let down her down is downright cruel. When I asked him why he did various things he said that he couldn’t remember that he did those things. He seems to want to hurt me , he told me that he should have left the relationship 10 years before he did. Great as I am the one that has been rejected but I really felt there was no need to rub it in. I feel like its a put down as what can I say to that comment ? What a waste of my life. To stay with someone who didn’t want to be with me but had no backbone. He used to tell me that he was depressed but he was using it as a cover for another life. He always felt guilty.
    Over the last few years I have been afraid of him, I feel he could annihilate me , every time he walked out in the past I became a tiny clinging baby ,clinging to him for dear life in case I was abandoned. The said thing I realise is that I had abandoned myself. He appeared so big like a giant and I allowed him to have that power over me. I was not my own person. Somewhere in loving him I lost myself. I cant blame that on him. I felt trapped and we moved away from friends and as soon as we did , he distanced himself from me. Looking back he had me where he wanted me to be. I followed him as I thought that was what a person did if they loved someone. He doesn’t give me a cent. He moved on to a woman who also has a teenage daughter a few years older that ours. Regarding your situation I don’t think it has anything to do with you what I think is that you remind him of someone else , some nerve or vunerability is being touched on. Its so hard when something like this happens but its really not about you. Its about him and he cant face his feelings about you. I wish you well and hope that in time your friend can talk with you about it but until then all you can do is look after yourself. Just keep saying to yourself that it not you. Best Wishes Ger

  44. Dolly says:

    My ex left me about a year ago. We had known one another at a distance for some years previously and then started to see one another. We were together for about 8 months and we were completely in love. Everything seemed perfect. We both suffered relationship anxiety and found being apart difficult. I went to see a therapist to deal with it and this helped me enormously. We moved in together. He complained frequently of feeling nauseous, we talked a lot about our anxieties and we understood one another. Then, literally one day he started to retreat. He slept a lot, told me how anxious he felt, that he was not in control of his emotions, that he knew he loved me but didn’t know if he wanted to be in a relationship despite having found everything he had been looking for with me. I was understanding and told him I was there for him. He momentarily came back and insisted that we go and see a house to buy together. When we were there he said – let’s buy it, then the next day he left asking me to leave him alone for a couple of days whilst he sorted himself out. He suffered panic attacks and went to the doctor during these days who prescribed him anti-depressants, he also started counselling. He wrote to me telling me what was happening and that he was trying to sort himself out. Then, two weeks later he announced that he could not be in a relationship with me as he was unable to cope. I tried to communicate with him and he told me not to, that he would be in touch when he had gone through the process but that he didn’t know how long it would take nor could he make me any promises. I heard from him months later, he had suffered a nervous breakdown and was getting help. He told me that it had been due to self esteem issues and that it was still me or nobody. Throughout this period I was a mess but I held out hope that he would come back. I heard nothing from him. I know that he was fully functioning, working, holidays etc.. eventually a few months ago I contacted him. He was off the medication and was coping. I asked if we could meet up.Initially he agreed then cancelled claiming that he was too anxious and unable to. Then he agreed to meet for an hour. He cried and we talked. He told me that he had come to realise that we were always wrong for one another and that we had no future as he had no feelings for me. I accepted this. We agreed to be friends but he wants nothing to do with me at all. He has completely cut me out of his life! I understand and accept that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me but I can’t understand why or what I have done for him to want nothing to do with me at all? I contacted him to catch up, he agreed and then cancelled again!. He will not even entertain the idea of a phone call. I must stress that I have not plagued him at all!! It makes me feel like some kind of monster – I know that he is very active socially and doing ok – it seems as though he is scared of me and I don’t understand it? Can anybody help to explain? It eats me up!!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Dolly -

      I can’t explain what is going on with him, but his pain is entirely inside him. You haven’t done anything wrong, and you’re not a monster. He really can’t cope with his own feelings, and it’s likely that you bring out the deeper level of feeling that he is running from. A lot of people with anxiety and depression can handle day-to-day social and work relationships, going out for casual dates, etc, precisely because they do not involve getting close to someone. It doesn’t make his staying away any less painful, but maybe you could remind yourself that it’s not because of anything you’ve done.

      My best to you –


  45. Miranda says:

    Dear whoever can offer me help,

    I feel so torn right now. My boyfriend just broke up with me on the twelth and I know there is something wrong.

    I met him about a year ago after I had my surgery. I was comming back to school in a wheelchair knowing that I was gone for two weeks and no one had tried to contact me knowing that I was gone. I felt very alone and weak.

    At first he seemed like a huge creepy weirdo. But then two months later, I realized he was not.

    Over Thanksgiving Break, he tracked me down through a mutal friend because he liked me and wanted to talk to me. We started taking more and then started dating two days later.

    We realized that we were meant for each other.

    We understood each other perfectly and he wanted to spend all of his time with me.

    And we could talk about anything. I told him that I was Bipolar (which Im scared to tell most people because they think all teens are or that they think Im an over emotional freak), I was in an abusive relationship with someone and that I still felt haunted by it, that my mom had a brain tumor that has now given her permanent brain damage, and that my dad was an alcoholic. I even told him about my genetic disorder (Proteus Syndrome).

    He told me about how his parents got divorced when he was 13, how he then started to steal his mom’s booze, how he cut himself and nearly died because he was bored, how his dad snagged custody from his mom (he would rather live with her), how he was bullied for his weight, used marijuana, was cheated and now mistrusts everyone, and that he had depression.

    I of course did not care because I am Bipolar and lost my last boyfriend because I was so depressed
    and he couldnt do anything about it.

    We loved each other so much and were always together. He always did everything for me. He always talked to my mom about how beautiful I was and how perfect I am. He was someone for my brother to look up to and was like a friend to him. He was respectful to everyone and always just wanted to help and be there for me.

    But sometimes he thought that I was too good for him, and I assured him that anyone that will be there and love me for who I am is perfect for me. And because of this, he was also very protective of me. No one could lay a hand on me because if they did, they would have him going after their sorry butt. But he also talk about how he would kill himself if I left him and cry himself to sleep every night. But I also assured him that I would always be there for him, and I was, and still am.

    I helped him with so much: his drinking, his sadness, and himself…. I was always there.

    He did need some space from time to time though.

    In Feburary, he needed to be alone for about a week because of the stress from his parent’s custody hearing.

    Then in mid March, he got into an arguement with his dad and his dad beat him. He kicked his head into a wall nineteen times and nearly strangled him. But my boyfriend got arrested for defending himself because the bruises hadnt shown up when the cops arrived. The damage was so bad that he was put in a neck brace and had to wear make up on his face to cover the bruises. When I saw him with the neck brace and when he asked me if I could tell if he were wearing make up on his face, I started to cry. Then he became paranoid and depressed again.

    He was so paranoid in fact, that I had to go pick him up from the woods beside the school because he was hiding and thought the police were following him which made him skip school in the middle of the day.

    It got so bad and it hurt me so much knowing that I couldnt make him smile and that he didnt want to live anymore. Then in early April he had to get inpatient treatment. I felt even worse because I left to go on vacation which made him even sadder even though I was fighting to stay with my mother who was ill again. He was gone for three weeks, and I didnt get to see, talk, or even text him for the whole time.

    When he came back, he wasnt the same for awhile, but soon he got better and became himself again.

    But about 3 or 4 months ago, he began to sleep more and more and more. It was to the point where he would be alseep for 5 or 6 hours at a time in the middle of the day and even miss dates.

    I brought it to his attention after it happened several times and then we worked it out so it wouldnt happen anymore.

    But now in the recent 2 months he has lost motivation. And now, hes off to a bad start because he doesnt do any work and its concerning because if he doesnt get it together, hes screwed for life. Ive been trying to motivate him, but he just wont budge.

    Then on the Monday before last, he told me that he was going to go off of his meds because he felt so unmotivated and intrested and slept all of the time no matter what his dad would say or do. Then he asked me if I would still support him and I said yes and that I always would, but that I was going to be mindful of his mood for changes and that he needed to be midful too.

    For about Tuesday to Thursday, he was feeling a bit better and I could tell that he was a bit more energetic and peppy.

    On Friday, he remained happy but silent whenever he talked to me. When I asked him why, he said that he felt like he was going to blurt something out and be really crude and obnoxious if he did.

    On Saturaday, he got into a vicious Facebook fight with an ex of mine over me because that particular ex chose to like one of my statuses. He was very aggressive and threatening towards him.

    On Monday, he got really really mad again because the same ex who angered him liked another one of my statuses. He sent my ex a death threat and told me to de friend him and I said no. He then said that it shouldnt be a big deal and that he defriended people all the time. Then I told him maybe. Then he said that if I wasnt going to do it then maybe that he should defriend me. I hung up angry and crying. He sent me a text ten minutes later apologizing and saying that he loved me and that he knew being mad at me wasnt okay.

    On Wednesday I was home sick from school. I hadnt talked to him prior and he sent me a Facebook message saying that he was thinking about us today and that he felt like he was weighing me down and that we should see other people. I told him he wasnt and he said that he was and that when I get over him then I will see that he had been the whole time. I told him no, I love you and he answered, “I love you too but not like you love me, and Ive already defriended you on Facebook,”…. I asked him what he meant but he wouldnt awnser and he said goodbye.

    When I came back to school on Thursday, I wrote a letter and gave it to him, but he made no later attempt to awnser.

    On Friday I asked him if he had read my letter via Facebook messaging and there was no response.

    Yesterday I had a sudden realization that he hadnt been on his meds and sent him another message asking if he was still on them because he has had the same view on our relationship and life and need for space whenever he has taken a break from me.

    This time he awnsered, “Miranda, I dont want to be in a relationship, its too much responsibility. Thanks anyways though.”

    I awnsered telling him that he would know where to find me if he had changed his mind, to think about it before throwing me out of his life, that I wouldnt say no if he came back, and that he can always just take a break if he needed it.

    He told me to just leave him alone please.

    Now I feel like an utter piece of crap because now IM depressed somewhat too. Ive thought about telling his mom about his sudden behavior change because she would understand and maybe help him get treatment, but Im too scared that Ill just smother him. Im sitting looking at my skype contacts and hes online and Im just waiting for him to call me, tell me that he loves me, and that hes sorry, but I know that probably wont happen. Im isolating myself and all I do is cry because I dont know if this is how he really feels or if he is sick again. The left side of my brain is telling me that he sick while the right is saying that Im not good enough.

    Ive also speculated that he may have Borderline Personality Disorder also or actually be somewhat Bipolar.

    I need someone to talk to and help me with this. I dont care that Im in high school or if others may think Im young because I CAN love and the pain that I feel IS real. I just want my Tyler back….

    (sorry for all the info..)

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Miranda -

      I’m really sorry that you are going through this. You must be an incredibly strong and resilient person to live through so much personal and family pain and preserve such insight and mindful balance. As an outsider, it’s easy for me to say that your left brain is correct, that he’s ill and needs help – therapy as well as meds, but I understand also the other side of your mind with all the hurt, grief and feeling that you must have done something wrong. You know you really haven’t done anything but treat him with the love and respect you feel. Sure, you have gotten hurt, angry and frustrated at some of his behavior and perhaps said something you later regretted, but that has nothing to do with the turmoil inside him. I think it would be a good thing to tell his mother and do whatever you can to help him back into treatment but not imagine that you’re responsible for him. Once he’s on an even keel, it will be up to him to stay with treatment. I hope you too will get the support you need so that all this doesn’t trigger more in the way of depression or hypomania.

      All my best to you –


  46. Tasha says:

    My fiance has had depression for 3 years and i’ve stood by him no matter what mood he’s been in and tried to help him through it. He dumped me tonight, blaming me for all the problems and saying i drive him insane. Now he’s alternating between “i’ll think about whether we can try again” and “we can still be friends, we’ve had a good journey together”. I don’t know what to do- i am so devastated and keep thinking “if i hadn;t done this…, or if i’d noticed this….or if i’d reacted this way…” and i’m tying myself up in knots about it. He bottles his emotions and waits till they explode and this time it’s blown up right in my face. Can anyone please give some advice, i don’t know what to do… :(

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Tasha -

      I think the most important thing is to get some counseling for yourself – his condition is not your fault, and there is nothing you could have done to prevent him from going through depression. Sometimes, you need the outside perspective of a counselor or therapist to help you see that. A therapist could also help you tell him that he can’t treat you the way he has by blaming you for his pain. Depression doesn’t give a person a right to hurt a anyone.

      All my best to you –


  47. Shaz says:

    hi I’ve been seeing my partner for nine months, I have suffered with depression myself for a number of years (it comes with my BPD) so wasn’t too put off when he mentioned his illness at the beginning of our relationship. However, his mood has drastically got worse in the last six weeks and although I have tried to be both supportive and understanding, he has stopped answering calls and is rarely replying to my texts (we live 40 minutes away from each other and usually speak every night on the phone). He is going through a lot of personal stuff too, he was made homeless just before we met, and had to move in, and work for his father (he’s 33 years old and sees this as a failure). Although he has told me I have done nothing wrong, he has also stopped saying ” I love you” and won’t reply if I say it to him. I can’t stand the thought of our relationship being a trigger to his depression, so tell myself the depression has made him feel “numb” towards me, and he is simply trying to be honest about his feelings or lack of. Should I keep texting once every night? should I give him space and leave him to it? I don’t want him to feel trapped in our relationship because of promises he made to me before (he takes a promise very seriously), but I don’t want to risk losing the best thing to ever happen to me. We can’t sort this out via one sided texts, but he refuses to answer the phone or see me. Does he want me to end it? or is he crying for help?

    • Dede says:

      Almost exactly what I went through. It’s been 3 months now, I stopped trying to contact him after 1 month. I know he fell into a pretty bad depression, and I also know that there is hope because people do overcome it. I think they need the time to do so though. Don’t get me wrong, my heart breaks when I think of it because I still love him to death. But the space is important. I feel when he’s ready, he’ll be coming back around. Interested to see what the reply to this is; should you be reaching out a helping hand, when it’s been pushed away in the past?

      • Aliyah says:

        I’d be interested to hear responses too. Our communication has really fell off and some of his friends have expressed concern to me because he goes out to bars 5-6 nights a week alone. Our situation is tough in that we have a ton of mutual friends. Most of which have been hanging out with me because he pushes them away. I want so badly to be there for him but he won’t allow it and is now pushing me even more away. What started as him constantly telling me he still loves me and misses me has turned into one word texts and that’s it. He said he went on higher dosage of meds and he’ll be fine in a few weeks once they start working. It’s so frustrating.

    • Shaz says:

      We broke up on Saturday. No talk, no text, no nothing! I woke Saturday morning to find he had changed his Facebook relationship status to “it’s complicated”, when I tried to call and text for an explanation he simply didn’t answer. I have given up, and I urge you to do the same. I tried to be understanding but I will no longer make excuses for a 33 year old man, that thinks that “disappearing” is an acceptable way to end a relationship!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Shaz -

      It doesn’t sound like your relationship was the trigger so much as the stress of losing home and job – and then just the fact that he’s no stranger to depression. It’s more likely that the illness has deadened his feelings to the point that he can’t feel much for you. Numbness is exactly the feeling that can go with depression. Becoming homeless and having to work for his father must trigger a lot of shame, and that too contributes to depression. But whatever the cause, his remoteness and lack of feeling hurt a lot. It’s almost impossible to read between the lines – or read his silences. He’s probably too confused and depressed to give you a straight answer anyway. I would just support him in getting treatment – that will influence the future far more than anything you might say or do. I hope you can focus on your needs as well as his while he’s going through this.

      My best to you –

  48. Siobhan says:

    Hi my boyfriend has left again, we broke up twice but neither of us could stay away. I recognised the symptoms as I had depression before and when he got really bad I suggested to him but he ignored it. We met up he declared his undying love everything was perfect and the next day didn’t want to know He told me today he has went to the doctors at last but he wants me to stay away as he needs his own space and I don’t deserve it and he needs help. All his issues are about commitment from a past abusive relationship with an alcoholic. I love him so much I am lost

  49. Aliyah says:

    I am so glad I found this site and don’t know where to begin. I met this wonderful man a little over a year ago, we connected right away and fell deeply in love with each other quickly. So quickly that we began talking marriage. He told me he was on an antidepressant for his “craziness” but he seemed to be ok – down some days but nothing I couldnt deal with. We got engaged and life was awesome. We started planning our wedding for the next year & then winter comes around. He had stated he had seasonal disorder so he became down in the winter and wasn’t taking his meds (I don’t know when he went off them). After a few months with everything pretty much ready to go for the wedding in 6 months he wanted to postpone it. I didn’t handle that well but we made it through and agreed to work on us. He said he wanted to make sure we were ok before getting married. After a few more months he got so low I became worried for him and asked him to see his doc about going back on meds. He only saw his family physician and is put on the lowest dosage available. He got a little better but not towards me. I tried to get better at communication and making decisions since he said those parts of me and the relationship were weak. He then needed space so I went and stayed with my friend for a few days before he asked me to come back and he loves me he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him. Now, 3 weeks later he just ended and asked me to move out. He said he needs space and that he doesnt see the problems in our relationship (lack of communication, my insecurities, etc) changing so he has to end it. We’re both a mess and one minute he is saying he doesn’t rule out a future for us because he loves me so much but we need time apart to grow and then a few hours later he says he doesn’t see us getting better and not to get my hopes up? It’s pulling me in all these directions. I want to be there for him and I definitely don’t want him out of my life but it’s hard thinking about being friends with Someone you love like I love him. I’m lost and don’t know what to do. We’ve texted because we are both hurting and we need to get some stuff straightened out like our phone plan and me moving everything out of the house. But the texting is becoming less and less. I want so badly to tell him how much I care And love him but think that will only hurt the situation instead of helping. Should I just let him go? I feel like he has a deeper depression or more issues than he will admit and he refuses to get the help he needs. I tried suggesting a few months ago we go talk to someone together and he said no. So I have no idea what to do or how to make him realize With work our relationship can be back on track.

    • Nicky says:

      I offered to go and see someone too, to help him talk and help us to learn how to support one another when this happens… But he didn’t want to know.

      I think the only thing to do is wait and see if anything changes. I’ve not given up hope (although everyone is telling me I should) and will keep the thought that there is a possibility he will come back for at least a few months. If there is no contact by then, I guess I’ll just have to accept that he’s gone. It’s a horrendous ending to such a wonderful relationship and not being able to give the love and support to the most important person in your life is absolutely heartbreaking. It feels like watching someone drowning in a swimming pool when you are standing alongside them offering a pole but they just won’t take it!

      For the confusion… A friend of mine, when I talked about there being no reason for us ending, said “but there is… he’s depressed”.

      I’ve been amazed when people ask me what’s happened and I say he suffered depression and broke up with me, how many people react with “oh that’s really hard”… And then go on to tell me about a family member or friend who suffers. I have lots of friends who suffer from depression too.. That’s been a great help to understand that actually its nothing personal (although, clearly it is so painfully personal!) and that it’s not my fault that this has happened. Trying to search for a reason or the trigger is, I realise, futile. All it will do is drive us further into a state of despair.

      Not a moment goes by when I don’t wish with all of my being for a text, or a call, or something. Nothing comes.

      Knowing there are people out there who are experiencing the same or similar situation is so comforting. Sending lots of love and support to all of you who read this. It’s a horrible place in which we find ourselves.

      • Sarah says:


        I feel the same way. You don’t know if you should just let it go or hope and wait for things to change. I can’t/won’t put my life on hold — after all I am going to graduate school and this is for ME, not anyone else. But I still have this hope deep within my heart that he will come back to me. Maybe it is useless wishing, but I can’t help it. I don’t want to give up on him, on us. I guess I’m going to do what you’re doing, focus on myself but hope that in time things will change.

        Someone told me you’ll know when you’re done. You’ll know when it is time to give up hope and by then you will have fully accepted it all.

        I hope for us all our loved ones come back and can survive this illness they have.

      • John Folk-Williams says:

        Hi, Nicky -

        Your friend’s comment is so true – depression is a powerful cause for disrupting relationships. I read the other day that the chance of divorce increases 9-fold when one partner is depressed. It’s good to keep reminding yourself that this isn’t your fault, though, yes, it is agonizingly personal in its impact, and, yes, I’m sure you can torture yourself with thoughts about what you might have done differently. It’s also easy to feel that what you say or do now that he’s gone could determine what might happen in the future about the relationship. But the intensity of depression has more to do with that than anything you might say in your attempts to contact him. Obviously, there’s no rule to follow about staying in touch (how often, what to say, etc), but I think it helps to look first at your own needs and to be clear with yourself and with him about what they are. As I mentioned in reply to Sarah, you don’t want to wind up being driven by his depression and changing moods. His rejecting treatment and blaming you for everything is a response that many men seem to take – I went through a phase like that. From his point of view, it must make complete sense – everything is explained, and he can interpret everything in a way to support his assumption about what’s wrong. That colors the way he will interpret your attempts to communicate, as I try to point out in this post (I added more on this problem in the rewrite I did for the ebook). Until and unless he begins to see that his explanation isn’t helping and looks at other possibilities, this makes it hard even to express your love and support in a way he will really hear. Sometimes, seeing a counselor or therapist helps in order to sort out the onrush and confusion of feelings and grief that you’re going through. Therapists are best, I think, at giving your skills for dealing with the hardest problems you face and for coming out of them in a healthy way.

        My very best to you –


        • Aliyah says:


          Not that I ever wish this situation on anyone but I do feel comfort knowing others are going through it. Our situations all sound so similar. He has texted me every day but like I said its less and less. Some days he says are so hard and he feels so alone. I tell him I’m here for him and he just says he knows and I’m always good to him. It’s so hard to understand. I just want him to say “let’s try and work this out but in a different way”. I realize space will probably be good for him but struggle with the fact that he feels that means we can’t be together. I want to give him his space but still be with him. I’ve started focusing on myself and getting my life back together so it has taken my mind off things but in those down moments when I don’t have anything to do all I do is think, think, think and it brings me down. I pray that we all make it through this and our partners find what they need to be happy. I am really hoping all of our patience pays off!

      • spidermouse says:

        Nicky, this is such a painful situation. I feel for you as I am going through the exact same thing. I have been married for 14 years. When I look back, I remember a couple of times early in our relationship where an “episode” probably occurred.

        Three weeks ago today, he was diagnosed with bipolar. Five days into his meds, he told me he wanted a divorce. We went literally from being best friends who were affectionate, loving, sexual to pretty much nothing.

        He has been fighting with mania the last week or so and I’m holding out hope that he may stabilize soon. He is vigilant with his meds and his therapy. We still live together though he plans to move out soon (though that changes on a daily basis). One day he calls to tell me how much he loves me, the next day it takes all his might to say “hi”.

        I haven’t fought the divorce or tried to change his feelings of wanting to be alone and not be in a relationship but it breaks my heart in two that he can barely be close with me. At first we talked about being great friends, being in each other’s lives but, as the days go on, I fear I will be nothing more than a casualty of the war that he battles in his head.

        You’re right in that the important thing is to take care of yourself because sometimes, before you know it, instead of putting on your own life jacket, you have drowned to save someone else.

        Sending you love and support.

    • Kimberly says:

      I am so glad I found this site! I can relate so closely to what is written in many of these posts. My common law partner of 3 years told me he wanted to leave me. After a lot of discussion he opened up that he was very, very depressed and that he needed space to deal with this and get himself together. He shared that this was how he had dealt with the one other major depression he has had. Through the discussion he asked if he could stay and then by Thursday morning told me he had to leave to go and focus on getting himself well. He says he knows that he loves me but that he just can’t feel it or anything they way he once did. He says his mind is just not allowing him to feel anything but feeling sad, ashamed and guilty that he has not been able to have his business ventures over the last few months work out successfully. He feels like a failure, not worthy of my love and says that I shouldn’t be so supportive of him and kind to him as he doesn’t deserve it and that I deserve better.

      I am so heartbroken…prior to this we had a very loving, affectionate relationship and a very close friendship bond. I feel like I have not only lost the love of my life but also my very best friend. He says his plan is to get some space, get himself together and return to me and out blended family. He says he is too ashamed of how weak he feels to share his depression with anyone but is glad now that he opened up to me. He has told his kids that he is going through something and it has caused some problems between us so we need to separate for a while to get things worked out.

      I have seen him once or twice over the last week when he has needed something from the house and have spoken to him when he calls and he often cries when he sees me or talks to me. It’s hard to hear him say he is more sad when he speaks to me because of the shame he feels. I am trying my very best to be strong and remind him that I understand depression is a very significant illness, that I feel awful that he is going through this and that I love him and am here to support him. At times while I have been very happy to see him/talk to him for a moment I am very sad after I get off the phone as I can’t help but to think back to how he used to speak to me, treat me and love me. He has never been mean or angry with me…he just seems like a distant shell of himself.

      It’s so hard because I know he is dealing with this terrible illness but I can’t help but to feel sad, confused and a tremendous sense of loss. I miss him so much.

      I’m trying very hard to be strong like he has asked but find in moments when I cannot find something to busy myself with I have moments of weakness, worry and lonliness.

      • John Folk-Williams says:

        Hi, Kimberly -

        I would hope you could give yourself a little space to mourn for the loss (at least for now) of the relationship. It isn’t weakness – it’s only natural to feel terribly sad and lonely and to worry about him and about the future. You both sound like very loving and considerate people, and it’s great that you both seem to understand depression. I doubt, though, that he will find a lot of relief by isolating himself from you if he is simply going to wait out the depression. You don’t mention anything about treatment, especially therapy. He sounds as if he is completely fused with depressive thinking about being a shameful failure and undeserving of love. That’s depression talking, and you know so well that there is a lot more to him than that. I should hope that he could get some sort of counseling to help change the way he feels and thinks about himself. But while he’s going through his process, I hope you can find your own sources of help and support.

        All my best to you –


      • Di says:


        We have very similar situations. It is torture. My partner of 10 years left because his financial situation due to his business failed to pay off. He had debts galore, credit cards bouncing, vat, personal tax etc etc. he couldn’t afford to live at home and I think he felt ashamed and embarrassed, worthless and useless. He was so overwhelmed with it all, everything took its toll on him so me and my three children have been left alone. I admire him in a way because he said I wouldn’t be able to handle his next chapter and I do now think he’s right. If he had stayed we would have argued and fought I think. I miss him terribly. It’s been 4 months since he left us. Last contact was in August. Now he has his space to deal with his business which I do know he is still in the middle of trying to sort it out. I love him so much and I hope and I pray that god gives me the strength to carry on. It is so hard. We loved each other so much but the strain on him and then us as a couple really took its toll. I do believe in my heart that I will hear from him again because before all the trouble with finances etc life was great.

    • Ashley says:

      this sounds identical to my situation, but we got married and he left abandoned me only 4 months into the marriage. im now seeing 3 therapist a week to cope with the anxiety myself. the only thing that really keeps me going right now is god, my daughter and mother

    • Bella says:

      I am glad I came across this site,
      I met my boyfriend (now ex) online, we were penpals for a long time before we decided to meet. By the time we met we had become best friends and since it didn’t rush into anything intimate directly, we got to know each other on a deeper level.
      He told me he was ill early in the beginning of our friendship, my first reaction was sadness because I felt that it was unfair that such a young person would have to deal with something like that. He was 22 when we met, and we’re both 24 now.
      I didnt know much of the illness but as the time went on I got to know it better. Getting into a relationship with him was a big step for me, but I fell in love with him and as scary as the thought of something happening to him one day was, I decided to stay by his side unconditionally.
      The first year was so amazing, it was like I brought him up from a dark place, he began dreaming and wishing and planning things with me, we’re both quite young.
      However this year things started going downhill, everytime he tried getting a good job he got ill and had to take time off, leading to having to give up his job. I can’t even imagine the way he must have felt, but I was so supportive and always did my best to pick him up again.
      We live in 2 different countries, but we saw each other a lot, and I was planning to move to him so we could be closer and get a real chance.

      2 months ago he left me, I thought I was going to die (thats how bad it hurt). I couldnt wrap my head around it, it was like a nightmare. I knew that the year had been tough on us because of his ups and downs, all the hesitations when it came to planning anything, but I always thought or hoped that wed make it through cause I have never been so close to anyone as I was to him. When you feel like someone is your soulmate, because your love is so deep and your friendship is so strong.. it completely sets you off track.
      He couldnt really give me a specific reason for it, he just said he is so lost in himself, that he wants to find his way back and figure out what he wants to do.
      I just wanted answers, but he couldnt give me any, it was so frustrating for me because I wanted to know where it went wrong.
      After the breakup we still had contact on and off because it’s so difficult not to, this is someone you speak to everyday, someone you say goodmorning and goodnight to, someone you share your day with and say I love you to.

      In his messages he always added kisses and hugs, and said I love you.. and that if we’re mean to be we will be together again, it gave me so much hope. But then I also heard that he was busy making plans to travel to Australia to work, and I just felt so betrayed. I told him this and we got into a big arguement, I guess he felt like it wasnt any of my business but how could I not feel heartbroken? I planned to move for him.. I feel like im stuck here not knowing which way to go or how to pick up the pieces of my broken heart.
      He knows how much I love him, and I know he loves me too.. but what do you do when the person you love wants to leave to “find” himself and says its best to go seperate ways?
      He told me to focus on myself, but its so difficult.. and his family keeps saying, oh but you guys have made great memories.. how can you turn love into memories just like that and go on like you dont feel anything or that you never met?

      I want to reach him.. but I cant, whatever I do just makes him distance himself from me.. so it makes me question our whole relationship, which is bad because deep down inside.. I know or Id like to believe that nothing was a lie. The worst part is that I cant stop thinking or analyzing things, its torture. When someone you love so much leaves you with so many unanswered questions and just says its something you have to do.. how do you process?
      I try to spend time with my friends and do things, but nothing can replace that empty space he left.. I feel so lonely that I sometimes just want to dissappear..

  50. Nicky says:


    My boyfriend (now ex) and I had been together for two years. We were buying a house together, trying for a baby and talking about marriage. We never lived together as we work so far apart, moving was going to make life a lot easier and cut out all the travelling. All along the way when talking about our plans for the future I always. checked he was happy with them and felt sure and not pressured. I told him if at any point he wanted to hold off we could, as he has a stressful job/life.

    We had two very special years together and I had committed to a life with him.

    He started to show signs of depression about three months ago – being tired all the time, losing interest in doing anything, reduced libido, saying he was becoming numb and detached etc and went to the doctors. The doctor tested him for thyroid functioning, diabetes , all the usual to rule out other conditions and asked him to return if the results came back clear. They did but he refused to go back. Things got worse. A month ago he told me he no longer wanted to move but that we were stable and he was just having a “wobble”. After telling me that his language changed towards me. The small affectionate talk disappeared and he seemed cold and distant. He said he was trying to break old habits by not shutting me out and by maintaining contact.

    He had a chest infection and had to return to the doctor who tried to talk to him about his mood. My boyfriend started talking therapy and agreed he’d go back to the doctors in two weeks. The therapy seems to be making everything worse and he refused to return to the doctors. I’m sure that the doctor had recognised his depression right at the start. Although my boyfriend will describe all his symptoms he won’t accept the label or consider the fact he is depressed.

    Progressively his behaviour towards me got worse. Until he asked for a break for a week. He said he didn’t know how he felt about me and was confused. After the worst week of my life, not being able to contact him and giving him his space, he ended our relationship. On the phone he was sobbing and kept saying “stop it, I can’t take it” when I said anything kind. He wouldn’t meet face to face and when I said about returning all his stuff he said he couldn’t cope with it. He said every time I contacted him it felt like more pressure and he wanted to simplify his life. He said he felt “hunted” by everyone. Everyone wanted something from him.

    I did what everyone here seems to do… I told him I was here for him and that just because he needed to sort himself out he didn’t need to be alone and I loved and wanted to support him.. Nothing made any difference.

    I’m now in the position that do many others face, where I don’t know what to do. Should I accept it’s over or should I try to contact him in a couple of weeks? I don’t want to make things worse for him, but neither do I want to give up on him.

    He is dealing with a lot of stress in his life – family ties, high pressured job, ex partner etc and I think that rather than deal with any of those things he has blamed me for everything. It’s easier to then get rid of me than face up to the problems.

    I’ve spoken to his mum and dad, neither of whom knew of our seperation. They were both extremely shocked and had thought I was their next daughter-in-law. He has distanced himself from them too. I was shocked they didn’t know he’d ended it.

    How do I let him know I’m still prepared to love and support him? How long should I wait to contact him? What on earth do I say?

    Do you think he is depressed or was this an out? I wondered if there may have been interest in someone else, but if there was an pretty sure it’s because it’s light and fun and a distraction. I can’t see that you can go from the depth of love we felt for each other to nothing in a month or two.

    Please offer me some help as I an feeling so confused!

    Many thanks xx

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Nicky,

      I’m going through something similar in terms of I don’t know if I should accept it and move on or wait for him. I’m pretty heart broken. I felt he was ‘the one’ and I’m utterly lost. I wish I could offer advice, but all I can say is I think we both want to wait for our exes — we love them so much. But I think in time we will know when it is time to give up hope. I keep thinking things will change for us, but I’m not sure. If you’d like to know more about my story it can be found in the comments under “Does The Partner or Depression Cause The Breakup?”

      • Aliyah says:

        Same with me! I feel so lost I wish he had the strength to work on the relationship but he said it was exhausting him.

  51. Debbie says:

    Hello! What you’ve written describes so accurately what happened to me seventeen weeks ago that it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
    My husband, who I think is probably a workaholic, became depressed about his work, and his up-coming sixtieth birthday. He left me, very suddenly, after thirty-five years. He said he didn’t love me any more, and that he hated our house. He was going to make himself a new future!
    The grief and the shock were almost unbearable.
    I am now trying to get my life together and sort out what to do if he doesn’t come back. I am lucky, I have three children who have been wonderful, and friends who support me.
    We were in touch at the beginning, but it was pretty horrible, now we haven’t seen or talked to each other for nearly two months. I don’t know what to do. He’s taking anti-depressants now, I have found out, and has to have an operation for slipped disc. He also has intestinal problems. Nothing has gone right for him since he left, and the great new future he saw for himself has crumbled into the dust.
    I’m angry with him, sad for him and conerned about him, all at once.
    It’s a nightmare!
    Any ideas on what to do next would be gratefully received.
    Regards, Debbie.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Debbie -

      I’m glad to hear that you’ve come through this nightmare with your own health and a balanced view of yourself and him. So many who write here haven’t yet gotten that far. It’s good to know that he’s getting some treatment, but medication can only deal with basic symptoms. If he does decide that he wants to return to you, I should think that therapy would be important for him but also for the two of you – especially if you could find someone who does emotionally-focused couples therapy or something similar. If and when he is able to listen to you again, I think it’s best just to lay out everything you’ve been through – your anger, sadness, concern – and that often needs the help of a therapist. He needs to recognize – and feel – the destructiveness and hurt of his behavior but in a way that gets beyond guilt to healing. As my wife learned, being truthful about her needs, setting boundaries for my behavior, gradually letting herself trust me again – and forgiving – were all important for her getting through. It’s wonderful to hear that you have such great support from family and friends to be there for you, whether or not he comes back. Taking care of you is the number one thing I would suggest.


  52. Mike says:

    I read your ebook and it was helpful. A little back ground info. I’m 34 and shes 31. I met my wife a little more than 5yrs ago, we married last yr. The first 6 months were great then shortly there after she started to become really stressed with her new job. A few yrs back the same thing happened with another job only that time she left it move in with me. At that time I didn’t know it nor did I understand it but she became really depressed. Im ashamed to say I did not handle it well mostly because I did understand it. Saying things like why can’t you snap out of it or just be happy, you get the idea. Well at that time the depression was so much geared towards me so we got though it a little better. Our relationship got stronger and we were really great together and got married when a really amazing wedding.
    Fast forward to the prestent, after the 6 months the high stress from her job brought back her depression. For a while I didn’t know it and I thought it was just the stress. At that point I still didnt understand depression the way I do now. I too was under a lot of stress from my business growing really fast and doing really well. We started to have arguments and disagreements. I’m very straight forward and she holds it all in. Things were rocky but I figured we would pull out of it and everything would be ok. Well thing got worse when I found out that she was talking a another guy. Nothing physical happend and I believed her but the hurt and trust were broken. I was so upset but I love her and we all make mistakes. In the mean time she became more and more resentful and angry with me. Bring up things from the past 5 years that I thought we were past all of it. During that time I want to do everything I could to fix it and make things better but I was walking on egg shells. Everything I did would back fire on me. At the time I didn’t know how much the depression was involved. Looking back after researching everything I see that it was a big part of it. She just wasnt the same person anymore. All she wanted to do was leave. Each time begged her not to and we could work on it. One day she was supper nice and the next it was I don’t love you, we are not good for each other, I’m not good with relationships ext. Finally I couldn’t handle it anymore and agreed to let her leave and stay with a friend. We could not communicate what so ever without her breaking into tears and just wanting a divorce. We try to go to councelling but the two we tried, one turned us away saying we were to damaged and the other really rubed us wrongly. She didn’t want to go to couples counseling anymore and I didnt know what to do. She did go to and still does go to her own counselor.
    It hurt so much to watch her leave but I know she needed it. We agreed to see each other for a date night and they went well but as much as I tried not to I would bring our situation with only caused her to cry or shut down. After a month she started to talk about seeing a counselor. I found a really good one that I started to see for myself and she agreed to see both of us. I thought this was great and a more in the right direction. We went to the counselor once and my wife when once on her own but then somthing changed and she pushed me away again and all she wanted was a divorce. I couldn’t take it anymore, I love her so much, I really believe she’s my soulmate. I have tried everything to help us but she has to want the help too. I realize I have to take care of me and she has to do the same. I wrote her an email saying I love you and I’m here for you but feel that I need to give you some real space. That was a month ago and contact whats so ever and she’s been gone for 3 total months. We do have a house together were we stilt the bills and she is still paying haft. She did come by the house once and let me know. The last time I saw here she want to give me the ring back but I wouldn’t take it. I figured she would have left it when she came by but didn’t. My counselor saids that I’m doing the right thing right now. She is in a dark place and needs to figure it out and take care of herself. I know she will berry herself in her work and she very good at dealing with us. I’m here left wondering what to do next. She could be filing papers as we speak or found another guy to fill a void. This house is in her name and I have one but it being rented out. I hope she use this time to take care of herself. During the past 3 months she is one minute crying about how she’s home sick but doesn’t want to come back until we go though some counselling and the next she just want a divorce and telling I would be happier without her. I’m just so heart broken. I love her so much and I will see this to the end just what end I don’t know. Please any encouragement or advice. Thank you.
    Broken heart

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Mike -

      This is such a hard time for both you and your wife, and I’m sorry that you have had to live through this. I have to agree with your counselor that you are doing everything you can do right now and that she needs to find her own way to deal with depression. It sounds like the counseling and any other treatment (?) she might be trying simply aren’t working. Her rapid shifts in what she says about her feelings are typical of the confusion and remoteness of feeling that you often experience with depression. I think you know that it’s not caused by you or a reflection of the feelings she would be in touch with if the depression weren’t clouding her life. It’s unfortunate but, I’m afraid, not surprising that couples therapy hasn’t worked. You would have to find someone who understands the effects of depression on relationships and who is also skilled in bringing couples through the deep feelings involved. Emotion Focused Therapy is an especially effective approach, but it’s hard to find a therapist with this specific training. If there is a chance of her agreeing to another try, it would be worth doing research on couples therapists in your area. Apart from that possibility, I think the best you can do is take care of yourself and let your wife know that your love and support remain strong.

      All my best to you –


      • Mike says:

        Hello. It’s been a few months since I last wrote. I little update. After a little over 2 months of no contact we talked a few times and even went to dinner a few times. Even-though our talks were good and dinners went well she still said she wants a divorce. I ask her if there was any I could do and ask her to sit in on one of my counseling sessions to see the improvement that I have been working on. She did agree to come and was proud of the things I have been working on but still feels that it won’t work. She has been told that I’m verbally abusive and controlling by her counselors. I agree that I my communication with her in the past have not been very good. I come from a very loud and out spoken family were we can say whatever, whenever and she comes from complete opposite family. I realize now through counseling that my way of communication will never work in my marriage. Unfortunately my wife and I never really talked about this stuff until all the hurt has been done. I’m human and I will make mistakes but I will learn from them and I pray that my wife will see that and can fine forgiveness. I really feel like her depression keeps that from ever being possible. She can never anything positive about us. I know deep down there’s still love for me but she won’t show it. She saids she wants a divorce but she won’t make any efforts to move forward because she doesn’t want to hurt me. She is now really up set because she can’t afford to live on her own and pay for her part of the bills. I asked her to move back, go to counseling together and take it day by day. She said she will think about it but feels there’s to much hurt. I know I’ve done things wrong but I don’t feel I’m completely to blame. Its so hard to see the pain and not know what to do. I don’t want to push her away, I’m trying so hard. I don’t know what to do, she gets so emotional and I feel she just wants me to end it to not put anymore stress on her. I’m just not ready to give up just. I married her for the good and the bad but I don’t want the bad to be forever. Thanks for any advice.

  53. emma says:

    Hello first of all i w!nna say how much some post have helped so much. Ive been with my bf for 2 years i thought everthing was fine till on day he said he was depressed and wanted to. Move out to pretect me from it at first it was few days then week now he says he wants.his own place im trying my hardest to be suportive towards him. Am i spose to not tell him how much im hurting, everytime my feelings come up he ends up having a go at me. Which makes me feel worse. I just want to help him get throuh it but it seems like im making it worse ive tried not textin to give him space but then he thinks im ignoring him.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Emma -

      There are no rules that work for everyone, but as a general thought I think it’s important to be honest about your feelings and the way his behavior hurts you. It’s important to do this in a supportive rather than angry way so that he can really hear what you’re saying. The key thing is to see if you can help steer him toward getting help for the depression. Whatever he’s going through is not your fault, and moving out is not a solution.


  54. Deborah says:

    Hi John,
    Firstly thank you for a brilliant site & forum, very helpful to me right now. My wonderful boyfriend has changed overnight. Three weeks ago he returned from a 6 week boys surf trip and when he saw me the next day he didn’t seem too excited to see me although he told me he missed me & couldn’t wait to get back just a few days before. He also told me he ran into an ex girlfriend on the trip & how it annoyed him as she was a “bunny boiler” (his words) & he left without speaking to her. He went on about her a lot. I ended the date after a few hours as I was crushed that he was more into talking about her than me.
    The next day I told him I felt a little awkward (but not why) & we just need a little time to get back into it. He text me later that he wants to break up as he has too much baggage & is struggling to feel anything & it’s not fair on me, that he thinks a relationship isn’t right for him right now.
    He wouldn’t take my calls, saying it was too hard but we could talk in 2 days but blew me off then too. I had no choice but to text him a lovely goodbye an told him what I loved about him & would miss & wished him nothing but the best with love. I didn’t expect a response given the way he broke up.

    He text a heartfelt apology for the way he is treating me and told me it’s not just me but everything in his life and he can’t cope. He felt terrible about ending it & doesn’t know what’s wrong with him. I told him I knew that this wasn’t him & maybe just coming back from holiday had a lot to do with it too.

    A few days later I text if being back at work was helping as he’s a guy that needs to do things, he replied positively (with xo). A few days later I sent a text about my feelings but no response. I see now the mistake in that. I left it 10 days and sent another to apologize for my rant & that it’s been hard for me to deal with, but feeling better & hope he was too. He responded with a repeat that he just needs to be on his own & he was not unhappy with me, but would like to stay friends. I told him I understood & respected his decision & offered to stay friends.

    I can’t help but wonder if this is depression or just a lame way of him breaking up. Hard to get closure as I want to see him through this and restore the relationship.

    We are both late 40′s. He has a lot of responsibilities, part custody of 2 teenagers and an ex wife who is harassing him about everything including me, and along with the “bunny boiler” ex-girlfriend who lashed out at him dating me, I don’t want to be another ex who won’t leave him alone. I think he has enough of that.

    Any thoughts?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi Deborah -

      When someone says they’re confused, can’t cope and pulls away from a close relationship, depression could be involved, but it’s hard to say. Does he have a history of depression or other symptoms? That, of course, is for him to explore and get help with, if he needs it. The terrible part is not being able to know or learn anything much – an occasional text is not all that informative. He doesn’t sound hostile toward you so much as unable or unwilling to deal with strong emotions. Letting him know of your support is good – it’s unlikely that his cutting off contact will help him with this crisis.

      Thanks for commenting and for your kind words about the site.


  55. david says:

    Dear John,

    I met a girl 5 years ago and formed a deep connection for 6 week we were together and it was perfect then unfortunatly she had to relocate. I wanted to contiue in a long distance relationship but she made it clear that she didn’t want me. It hurt but I accepted her choice as we were younger and I thought it was probably wise on her part.

    A couple of years past she contacted me but I was in a relationship and didn’t reply. My feeling for her were still there and I didn’t want it tho effect the relationship at the time. However for the past year we have been back in touch but only through skype and on the phone, I do still feel the connection and love for her very strongly.

    She split up with a boyfriend a few of months ago that she loved deeply and was affected by hugely. She loved him and he seemed very casual about the relationship in the end she left him. She is still hurt about it. We have always been honest with each other and always communicate our love for one another also with her saying we will marry one day and me hoping it could be true, I always believe our love was beyond any other relationship and that we will find our way back to each other when the time is right. She has recently spent 6 weeks at a psychiatric hostpital and left about a month ago as she was suffering with depression.

    I always thought depression was when you were down abit and just generally having a harish time, I didn’t realise it made people more vunerable or sensative. To be honest I thought she didn’t really need the hospital that it was just an experience for her like away to make the healing quicker. She is an extremely intelligent, beautiful and kind.

    Up until recently we hadent actually met for 5 year she told me she’d booked a flight to visit me, I live in a different country but we had planned to spend 6 weeks together. Due to some misunderstand and my interpretation of our discussions on skype I though we would be romantically involved.

    We were getting on fairly well until it became apparent that my expectations of romance were not being realised. I was trying to get her to feel the way I did about her. I became frustrated and upset that my efforts were being met with her being frustrated and contempt for me.

    I really didn’t realise how vulnerable she was and how she would respond. I told her she was being rude and selfish and that I could be with someone that actually wants to be with me. I had had 2 drinks of whiskey and this loosen my tongue I don’t drink often so it went straight to my head. My rant was over the top as I was so upset I asked her to leave. There is a hotel next to the building I live in. she packed and went there as I cried in self pity hoping she would reassure me. She didn’t so I chased after her asked her to come back she refused. I didn’t think for a minute that she would be on the next flight home. Some part of me thought that if I stood up to her showed her how I was hurt and that my love for her is real then she’d start treating me with a little more love.

    My judgement was so off and my reaction possibly the worst thing for her from what I now have read and understood about depression. I haven’t seen her since my outburst, she sent me a message say she is so disappointed and that she doesn’t love or care for me anymore she doesn’t even want to be friends and she will not reply to any of my messages, She say that she was so scared to have to get a hotel… and that she could never forget the those feelings and that I put her through that. I have apologised accepting full responsibly I have exhausted how to apologise in words, I bought a return flight so she could come back, which is a 6 hour flight so expensive, she refused to get on the flight and said she would not come back so I cancelled the ticket, I’m not sure if this upset her further but I can’t really afford to spend that money if she’s not going to use it.

    I’m at a loss she has cut contact and said our connect ended that night, If only I’d realised where she was In her mind I wouldn’t have been so selfish, I am at a loss as to how to regain her trust which she say is impossible, I’ve offered to fly to her she has said not to, should I ignore and fly anyway just to prove to her how much I care?
    She’s pretty determined to push me away. I’ve told her I won’t accept that it’s over and that we will always be apart of each other lives. She left on Sunday night. What is best for her.
    If i’d had a better understanding of where she was at I would have been able to cre for her appropriatly rather than selfishly, What can I do? Was I just a fantasy solution or can I fix this?


    • david says:

      update, she won’t reply to my mails anymore, i’ve sent messages and flowers and paid for the flights that were wasted but still no reply, she say she’ll never speak to me again and it will never be the same that the connection we had is now gone. I’ve ruined her summer and given her another trauma. I deeply regret my behaviour and how badly I communicated. Will she ever remember how we were, will she ever conntact me again?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, David -

      Hospitalization for depression is pretty serious, and it may well be that she is on medications and/or outpatient psychotherapy. So, yes, she would be in a vulnerable state and likely dealing with depression quite actively. And, yes,you made a mistake of the type I recognize well from my own history. As you say, you wanted her to take care of you at a time when she was looking to you for some sort of help, and you were angry because she wasn’t feeling the same thing for you that you were for her. Hurt expressed as anger tends not to provoke sympathy and love so much as more anger or fear. I think any effort you put into trying to “fix this” now will come across as all about your need rather than about hers. Perhaps the first thing to do is shift the focus for a time to what’s happening with you – but not by beating yourself up over it. When I’ve been acting like this, I’ve found it helpful to talk with a counselor or therapist or someone whom I can trust to have an independent view of what I’m going through. In my case, the rages I experienced had a lot of fear at their core, and when I could talk with my partner about the fear, she could relate perfectly well to that – and we drew closer. I hope this works out well for both of you, but it does take time to heal.


      • david says:

        The money for the flights didn’t transfer. I’m not going to transfer the money as it won’t make any difference and i can’t really afford it.

        Thanks for the response John, I think on this occasion I have to learn from my mistake and move on. I hope she does well in life and realises how special she is. I hope i’ve learn not to allow my fears to control my behaviour.

        Thanks again, much appreciated!

  56. Theresa says:

    Hi John and everyone,

    This may be long and I apologize if it is. I believe that my ex-boyfriend is dealing with depression. He broke up with me about a month ago. We were going with each other for 7 months. Things were so wonderful between us. In the beginning, he would do anything for me without me asking, fixed stuff in my house (my furnace) my car, etc. He was so loving and caring. I thought I finally met my husband. We talked about goals early on and he said he wanted to get married and have children, same as me, and we both said we didn’t find the right person. I’m 39 and he is 48. He does have a unique living situation however: he lives with his elderly parents. They are in their early 80′s and are both doing fairly well. He is an only child, just like me. Although my parents are deceased, I can relate to his problems, which I think are at the root of his depression. Before I go any further, please be understanding. I wouldn’t have dated him had he not had a life outside of his home. He holds a full-time job and travels, does different activities, etc. So, combine that with what a wonderful and caring person he is, I fell in love. His parents are nice people as well but it is what he told me that made think differently. Most of the time when we would go on dates, his parents would call him, mostly his mother (luckily, he didn’t answer the phone and they went to voice mail). They would say things like, “Where are you? Don’t you care about us? All you care about is yourself, etc.” He told me they tell him this at home too. They also tell him that he doesn’t do anything for them around the house, which he does. His parents even flickered the porch lights on us one time when we got back from a date after midnight (I had my car there to drive home afterward). I said I can relate because my mother, God bless her, was overprotective of me and had the same tinges of what his parents do. Things started going downhill in March. He started to say that if his parents got sick, he would have to quit his job, stay home and take care of them. Before this, he told me he wanted to become a landlord and rent out a double-family home and live on one side. I told him he wouldn’t be a bad son if he decided to move out but come back and help them. He told me at one point that he didn’t want to drag me into his family and their problems. I told him he wouldn’t be and I would love to help. But it fell on deaf ears. Now, with the weather getting nicer, he started doing side jobs (carpentry), as he had done in the past and will work his normal (physical labor) job all day, come home for a brief moment and then go to his other jobs before coming home by 10pm and start the whole process up the next day. In May, he told me he wasn’t sure he wanted kids anymore and had to do his side jobs and that we wanted different things. The last time I saw him, it was like the light went out of his eyes and he looked empty and hollow. I told him constantly that I cared about him and wanted to be there for him and it is like he didn’t hear me. He told me has no life, that he should have gotten married and had kids in his 20′s and it was too late for him. I told him it wasn’t too late. He told me to find someone else because the only reason I was staying with him was because I didn’t think I could find anyone else. 100% not true and I told him that. I asked him why he was pushing me away and he said he wasn’t. He said that maybe we could be friends. And that was the last I talked to him. Well, on the advice of two people (one we mutually know), I called him a week ago to see how he was doing. I am happy to say he returned my call. Unfortunately, he is going through a bad time. His dog of 14 years more or less has cancer and is not doing well. A good friend of his also has cancer but they think they caught it in time. He is working non-stop and told me he worked all weekend on a project (Saturday, for example, 11am-10pm). I really do think he is using the side jobs to avoid his life in general. A friend of mine said it is like he is punishing himself. He asked how I was doing. He seemed happy that I called. I called him the next day because his dog was going for tests and we talked for awhile. He immediately called me right back after I put the phone down. I let things go (5 days) until yesterday and called again and we talked for half an hour. I asked him if he had plans for the 4th and he said he may take off some time at the end of the week. My question is. The next time I talk to him, I really want to ask him about doing something together for the 4th. Would that be bad? I don’t want to run to him and profess my undying love to him (although I would love to). I am so grateful that we are talking again and he seems genuinely happy to be talking with me. How do I go about this without messing it up? I really love this man, despite most people telling me to forget him and he is a loser, etc. What should I do? Thanks for your help and understanding, as this situation isn’t a common one.


  57. Mara says:

    Hi John,

    I am really confused and desperate for advice. When I met my partner he was the happiest, most positive person I had ever met. He adored me so much for the first year we were together. We were each other’s first love at 24 years old. After one year we moved in together and things began to go down-hill. He began to disappear on the weekends, get so drunk that he would vomit, never come home and not respond to any of my calls/texts. This went on for a few months, and then in November last year I decided to move out and back home with my family, but we were still in a relationship with each other. We then met up and he told me he had depression, and I believe he was using alcohol and partying as a way to escape.

    Things continued this way through to NY, where he didn’t show up to my place when he had planned to spend the night together, because he got too wasted and passed out. In the following weeks I didn’t speak to him much, but received calls from him at 5:00 and 6:00 am one Sunday in Jan. So I went to his house to check on him and he was so drunk, and he told me some very bad stuff that happened to him as a child, and said “Are you happy now that you know.” He also kept repeating that he was “so sorry”, and he revealed to me that he had been doing drugs (speed) for the past 6 months or so. This was such a shock because neither of us had ever done any drugs and the guy that he was 1 year ago would never do this to himself. That coupled with the fact that he had been lying to me for the whole time. He also booked a 7 week euro trip with two of his mates (bad guys who take drugs).

    I decided to leave, not because I had given up, but because I thought doing something drastic might make him seek professional help. He has not done this as he believes he can take care of everything on his own. One day in March, he showed up at my house saying that “he had been so stupid” and that “he loved me so much and would never leave me again”. He said he was not going to go on his euro trip, and with me by his side he could overcome his pain. So naturally I got back together with him.

    He stopped the drugs, so that is one positive. However, he became very distant again, and would not return my text messages etc. And he decided he is still going on the trip. We then broke up again after a fight. He said that he was suicidal, and that he was going to go to europe and “vanish”. Then he told me it was over and to never come back. I was the only person who even knew he was unhappy as he is so good at fooling all his friends and family that he is ok. I thought that if he did go through with these things that I would never forgive myself especially since I’m the only person who knew. So I called his dad and told him only that his son was unhappy and had mentioned suicide. Please tell me if this was the right thing to do??

    A few days later, my ex contacted me and told me he didn’t want to lose me and said that he knows it will take a long time to sort himself out but he hopes we can start off fresh one day. We kept in contact and I met up with him once a week to hang out. But I sensed that he didn’t even know that I had called his dad. So I felt that I should tell him, and I did in a letter.

    He has since not spoken to me, and today he has departed on the euro trip :’o(. I know on this trip he will drink and self-destruct. His family did not even talk to him or do anything after I had told them about his unhappiness, so it achieved nothing but causing my ex to believe I betrayed his trust.

    I am really lost and feel like I failed massively, I could have been more understanding or done more. Now he is gone and I’m so terrified that he won’t come back, and will vanish like he said.

    Please help.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Mara -

      No, you didn’t “fail massively” – whatever he does is not your fault at all, though it sounds like he’ll blame you from time to time. Reaching out to family is perfectly natural. Often people close to an addict will try to get together because they know the person they’re concerned about is great at covering up and fooling people – and they want to try to get him to see the need for help. It’s too bad his family didn’t respond, but that’s not your fault. I wouldn’t call any effort to help someone in so much pain a betrayal. It sounds like he has done nothing to get help on his own and he really has to do that. No one can do it for him, and going off on his own isn’t going to help him at all. You’ve been hurt a lot by his depression and alcohol and drug use, and I hope you can get help for yourself. You need and deserve a lot of support since all this puts you at risk for developing problems of your own.

      All my best to you –


  58. Stefan says:

    Hi there,
    I read the article on depressed partners and it really spoke to me on a personal level.
    Up untill recently I was with my partner of three years and for that time we were very close and got on so well this was a solid relationship and one that I chreised with all my heart.
    My partner she was very supportive to me as we had the same thing in common elderly parents both (mine and hers) had varying degrees of dementa.
    Although her father who she loved very much had a far more progressive onset of wells syndrome.
    It was tough for both of us but I knew my partner had a lot off the respinsabilty as she had to care for her father directly.
    I tried so hard to be supportive to her as she had to deal with a lot of work related stress and a very demanding elderly mother.
    This built up over time so much so that she had to sit with her farther as he lay dying in hospital for about six weeks.
    It was a terrible time and I was devastated as I was forbidden to attend the hospital to be there for her as her mother(whom she lived with) prevented me being there.
    It hurt me so much and I feel into despair as I loved my now ex partner with all my heart that I could and was not allowed to be there for her.when she really needed me.
    Anyway sadly her father passed and I know how much this must of hurt my ex as I have lost my sister and my father.
    I was not even allowed by her mother to attend the funeral but I sat and said little about this as I did not want to make matters worse.
    The reasons were clear as her mother just did not want me there.
    Now there was never any thing or reason other than this, I was never allowed into there family as her mother views me as not good enough for her daughter despite repeated attempts by me to leand support to there cause.
    About four weeks after her fathers passing and my disbelief at how little time my ex returned to work from arranging the funeral and everything else I was pushed away by my ex.
    I tried very hard to do all I could to try and let my girlfriend know I loved her and still wanted to be there for her and even if she did not want me as a boyfriend anymore I would still be a good friend to her.
    I was understanding and basically begged her to speak to me.
    But for the most part I received silence for my effort.
    I knew in fact I was certain of two things one my girlfriend was not allowed to grief properly and I also know that from that point on all the blame and sorrow was now directed at me suddenly everything was my fault.
    I offerd apology after apology to try to reconcile our friendship but no matter what I said it was clear she would not even talk to me.
    I love her and still do, I could not belive this was happening and at one point was suicidal.
    Because I could not see my future without her. Or ever imagine not having this person in my life.
    I had to go to get help and fast as I was in serious pain.
    Never thought I would be so upset.
    Part of the problem I was not prepared mentally for this breakup and it all happend so quick.
    I never thought stupidly perhaps that my love would aim it at me.
    I’m on the mend now it’s been so hard as I miss her so much and everyday I want to reach out to her and tell her it’s going to be ok.
    I know she needs her space and that’s all I can give her.
    But I live now with the possibility that she is lost to me.
    My Counciler has been great and I recommend anyone who has been affected this way please go and get help don’t try and deal with it on your own as there’s no shame in asking for help.
    I have sufferd loss and in my case on several occasions my close family has passed.
    So in this case I speak from experience but I was strong enough at the time to deal with it but ironically I suppose losing my partner too depression was the last straw.
    I close by saying depression affects alot of people everyday how you deal with it is up to you but I recommend you talk to someone about it, before it’s too late.

  59. Kathy says:


    I started seeing a man 10 months ago, the relatioship was great to start with very intense and progressed very quickly, it seemed as though the relationship could really go far, however after a month of seeing each other he disapeared, he would’nt return my calls or texts, so i thought maybe i had upset him so i stopped persuing him, 6 weeks after he had disapeared he sent me a text explaining that he suffered from depression and had been seeking help and did not want to tell me because he thought i wouldnt understand and would not like him because of the illness, i responded telling him that i was concearned about him and that i was glad that he had contacted me and told him that we could meet and talk, which we did and the relationship started again, however he has now disapeared again, i am unsure of what to do i have incredibly strong feelings for him and can not understand what is going on with him, it makes me feel so sad as i would do anything to help him however he just will not let me.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Kathy -

      I can understand your frustration, since you can’t do much for him if he won’t let you. However, he did open up to you about his condition and seems to want the relationship. He must be very confused in the midst of depression – it’s probably hard for him to be sure of what he feels or how depression is distorting his feelings. The illness seems guiding him at the moment, not his feelings for you. Nevertheless, disappearing without a word is a hurtful thing to do, and I think it’s good to let him know how this affects you while also expressing your support. If he is actually getting help, then he may well need the time to work with a therapist or whatever form of treatment he chooses. If he disappears to be alone in hope that the depression will disappear, though, he won’t be helping himself at all.


      • AnneMarie says:

        Hi John and hi Kathy … Girl this is a very hard relationship to endure being with someone who is suffering with depression my mind wants to say run and don’t look back. My heart says eberythibg else.sighhh . Like John has encouraged all of us who are on the outside of the depressed person ” Read asuch as you can about depression and it’s effects” . Where you are I have been there at least ten times in a period of two years before the relationship ended. Sadly I wasted close to the last three years that ended up gone anyways. There are a few good stories on the long run with those who suffer with depression but many sad drawn out waiting and wondering stories . It’s early In the journey for you so gain some insight on depression and I am sure you will make the right desicion for you.remember take care of you first…

  60. Michelle says:

    I didn’t see him on Sunday as I said I would. I decided that I didn’t want to be around him this weekend while he is in his depressive mood. I called him on Saturday to let him know I wouldn’t be stopping by on Sunday. He mumbled something, then said okay. I did invite him to a cooking class next weekend and he said he would think about going. He asked me how much the tickets were, so I really think he will cancel. Cooking is his passion!

    I did tell him that even if he doesn’t go to the class, I would like to see him. He said he would think about that too and then he said he was tired and wanted to take a nap.

    Everyone I have talked to in the past couple of days say I need to move on and I deserve better than he was able to give me in the relationship. They say that depression is not an excuse for putting up with his behavior and that I need to just let go. It’s a difficult concept for me because I do love this man and know that he is depressed.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Michelle -

      I’m sorry this is such a difficult time for you – though it’s good to hear you found a support group for people with depressed partners. I hadn’t heard of such a group before, but it makes a lot of sense – and I hope it’s helping. It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to do and say the right thing. It’s easy to exaggerate the importance of each remark and detail of what you did or didn’t do during those moments you’re together, but I think what depression is doing to him is far more important than anything you might say. Depression tends to separate you from the normal flow of feelings, so it’s not a good time to look to him for clarity about his feelings toward you. He’s likely too confused or preoccupied with his own pain to be able to be fully present in any relationship. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anything about his getting treatment for depression. If he’s not trying to do much about getting better except isolating himself, it’s hard to see a lot of hope that he can be emotionally available for an intimate relationship on a long-term basis. You might try talking all this through with a counselor to get another perspective – and to figure out what’s best for you.


      • AnneMarie says:

        Hi John ..what you wrOte was absolutely do true. Michelle I understand what yOu are going through but what John is saying is 100% true. Depression is there problem and I can say first hand as I have done it if you reach put to him to answer your questions why this why that to fill your need done for answers as I personally myself it may in the future really make things worse let him go through what he needs to and in the mean time step back help yourself and pray. If you need to chat John can give you my email if you want .

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you for your comment. I have been reading your blogs for some time now and have found some understanding and comfort from your openness about depression. This is all new to me, and I just don’t know what to do now. My ex said that his depression began about 10 years ago, althought the counselor said it may have been longer than that. He did try medication then, but said he didn’t like the way it made him feel, and he doesn’t want to try them again. When we last spoke about treatment, he said that he was dealing with his depression by isolating himself and just thinking about things. I don’t know if he has seen his counselor recently, but I do know that he canceled one appointment that he had before he ended things. He said he didn’t know if he would go back. I think his solution to this is to just isolate himself, yet go out to the bars with his coworkers and to just wait until he feels better. He told me that it would eventually pass.

        The support group is somewhat helpful and I am thankful for it. The people that go are family members, spouses and loved ones of those with bipolar and depression. It is interesting to listen to the various stories people share and it is helpful to talk about my own. I am the only one there who is not related to, married to, living with or even in a relationship with someone now.

        I am at a loss as to what to do now. When he was in a better place, he asked me to never abandon him and to not let his depression push him away. But now he is pushing me away more than ever, and I feel his is too deep in his depression to be reached.

        • Michelle says:

          Last night I decided that it is time for me to let go. I sent a text in the morning to ask if he would go to the cooking class tomorrow, and he ignored it. I sent one in the evening and he said he “has errands to run” tomorrow. The cooking class is in the evening. I’m upset that he couldn’t tell me the truth, that he just didn’t want to go, had a date, is going out or whatever. He has also been going out more to the bars with his coworker who is a known married cheater.

          I sent him a text that basically said that I still love him, we deserve another chance and that I don’t deserve to be shut out of his life and treated this way. He responded an hour and a half later with “I don’t deserve to be in a relationship right now.”…..He chose the work “deserve” not, I don’t want….etc. That makes me think that deep down, he feels worthless and undeserving of my affections. I know that is part of the depression. My friends think he said that because he really doesn’t want me to be done, if he did he wouldn’t have responded. That he chose those words because normally, I would have said something positive to him to boost his self esteem. But I ignored the message. Like I said, he is too deep in his depression to be reached and he wants to live his life denying his feelings and just drinking away and being alone. It’s sad to me and I hurt for him. But I have done everything I know how to do, and have been rejected too many times. Now I have to learn how to deal with the hurt caused from accepting this and moving on.

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Hi, Michelle -

          Perhaps he is too deeply in depression to be reachable. The idea that he can deal with depression by isolating himself and thinking about things isn’t helpful at all. His current depression may well pass by itself, but waiting for that doesn’t help. The less active a role he plays in getting well, the more likely it is that depression will return. Then he’s pretty much at the mercy of the illness. Medication may not be the answer – it certainly hasn’t been very effective for me – but there are many other options, including therapy – and it sounds like he’s not giving that much of a chance to work. It may well be that you can’t do anything further until he is ready to focus himself completely on getting better. But you can help yourself, and the support group is one good way to do that.


          • Michelle says:

            Hello again! I just wonder, what is it like for someone in a depressed mindset to have someone they know will be there for them no matter what? I know I said I was done with my ex, but I am not. I have seen him since my last post and it was still somewhat awkward. He was upbeat and positive when I first arrived, but by the end he was shut down again. First I helped him unpack some new lamps and helped set them up and we talked like friends. But then he seemed slightly uncomfortable and started cleaning up the kitchen, and when he sat on the couch, he put his head back so he wouldn’t have to look at me. I told him that I just like to see him and his response was “I’m still alive”. I asked him to make a deal that if I could reach a fitness goal, he would have dinner with me and he said it is a possibility.

            A few days later, he sent a text to say that he doesn’t hate me and is not mad at me. He just needs to learn to be happy with himself before he can make anyone else happy. He’s not happy now. I did end up writing him a letter later on and he did tell me he received it. I know that he is down now and that he thinks poorly of himself. The letter was positive about him, so he may have trouble dealing with the nice words. He always seems to.

            I am going to give him some space now. He knows how I feel and he knows that I am still here for him. I am taking care of myself in the meantime. I’m going on a mini weekend vacation to see an old girl friend and her daughter. He is often on my mind, but I am still functioning as normal. But my question is, do you think this is helpful or hurting? Do you think there’s even a part of him that appreciates that I am still here?

          • John Folk-Williams says:

            Hi, Michelle -

            You know there aren’t any rules – plenty of possibilities, yes, but I can’t really know what’s going on or what he needs. It sounds like you’re being respectful of each other, and that’s a very good thing. Depression is as variable for him as your moods and reactions are for you. So I’m sure he has his ups and downs when thinking about you. One person’s emotional presence inside another person is pretty mysterious. There’s a core that probably doesn’t change much, but everything surrounding the core can undergo some astounding make-overs. I think you’re doing the right thing by getting back into your life and taking care of yourself. The hardest thing to accept is that your love – or anything you do – is probably not the critical thing in helping him getting his life back from depression – but it is a support that I’m sure he values a lot when depression lifts the veil a bit from his soul.

            All my best –


  61. Michelle says:

    I have been dealing with this for awhile now and am not sure how to handle things. I dated my ex for nearly 1 year and he had many life changing events. He was divorced shortly after we met, his father passed away after suffering with cancer before we met, he hates his job and ended up moving to a new place. I know we didn’t have the best relationship because of everything he was going through and his depression. He tried to end things in the beginning, but we hung in there for awhile. But since he was dealing with his own issues, I was unable to get what I needed and ended up acting very insecure and was always questioning his feelings for me.

    Towards the end, he started to withdrawal. When he said he loved me, I would always say “no you don’t. Actions speak louder than words.”. He started to go to counseling, and I went to a support group for those in a relationship with depressed people. I made the mistake of telling him that I was going to the group to “learn how to deal with him” and that I was trying to not take his depression personally. He could see in my face how much this was hurting me. We had plans to spend a weekend together after a very stressful week. The week consisted of talking about a future and me moving to be with him, going on a vacation, introducing me to his family…then the next day it was he didn’t want to go on vacation and didn’t want me to meet him family. That was after he had a counseling session too.

    That weekend, I went to see him and ended up leaving him at his house on Saturday morning to meet with some gay guy friends. I took the wrong approach, and just said “I’m leaving you for a few hours.” He told me to go and to have fun. But when I came back, he was angy and ended up breaking up with me. He said he wanted to be alone and knew his depression would get worse so he didn’t want me around it. He immediately deleted me from facebook, and when I called to confront him, he said he didn’t want to hurt me or end up hurt himself. He said that every girl he has been involved with has hurt him, abandoned him or betrayed him.

    That was 1 month ago. Now, he ignores the majority of my texts, especially the ones that say how much I care about him. I sent one on our would have been 1 year, and told him that he was an amazing smart man, etc. He ignored that as well. He has asked to be left alone, yet will answer the phone when I call and open the door when I visit. The last time I saw him, he would talk normal for awhile, then switch to putting his hands in his pockets and stare at the floor. He says he wants to be alone and he is trying to get his life in order. He took my pictures and cards off the fridge and makes it seem as though I never existed. He said that he wishes Iwould stop caring about him and seeing him isn’t a good idea. He says that the less I am around him, the less chance he has of saying or doing something that will hurt me. That has been his common theme throughout…he knows he will end up saying or doing something to hurt me.

    That was last weekend. He said he doesn’t want to date and doesn’t want me to get the wrong idea. Yet, I still persist. My feelings have not changed. I told him that I would be back this weekend and he said that was a bad idea. I told him I didn’t want him to decide until he heard a knock on his door, then he could decide if he would answer it. I also said I wouldn’t text him all week, and would be there this weekend. I have kept true to my no contact this week, which is quite a change for me. I have always said something every couple of days.

    I don’t know what to do about Sunday, or what to do any more. He says he wants to be alone, but then he is still responsive in a sense when I do call or stop by. Is he just being nice, or is it possible that deep down, he really does want me to keep trying? When he was better, he told me to be patient and to never abandon him. I’m afraid that if I do leave him alone, he will feel abandoned and sad on some level. I’m also afraid that if I walk away, he will either replace me or will never return. I just don’t know what to do any more. The reality is that I do want him back. I find it hard to open up to men and be myself, but it was easy for me to do with him. I miss him terribly.

  62. debbie says:

    Hi all,

    I am currently working on healing myself. I have broken contact with my ex-partner after 10 months of a rollercoaster ride since he left our 11 year relationship. John, you have very kindly supported me with this on the “Trying to heal..” forum.

    It has been 24 days since I last made contact with him. I say that as if I am an addict, and I believe for some of us here this is the case. In the months since he left, my emotions have alternated between a coolness and relief, during which time I would get on with my life and not make contact, to a desperation in which I would phone / text or email him.

    Any time he chose to contact me he was either abusive and blaming or just distant and difficult to converse with. Because of this I changed all my contact details several months ago. The only way he could contact me was by calling at the house, which he did a small number of times.

    I, however, could phone him and he has left this option open to me. My “24days” continues to be a valuable learning experience to me. As I fight the addiction to phone him I ask myself why I feel compelled to contact a man who continually fires abuse at me or else uses my contact to tell me long deluded tales of bizarre new relationships with other women. (TRULY bizarre stories that would not look out of place on a movie screen).

    The answer has just come to me. Its by no means rocket science, but my emotional anguish has blurred my reasoning for far too long.

    The answer is that when someone, someone of importance to us, hurts us, we want that person to undo the hurt. Certainly it is ONLY that person who can undo the hurt. So we allow them in in the hope that they will take back the hurt and tell us they made a mistake. We desperately want to hear that they realise we were not to blame and that they value our support and will work with us to get better.

    Friends and family listen patiently and tell us we have tried all we can and that we did no wrong. But that is not enough. We need our loved one, the person hurting us to tell us. To make everything right again. The man who could not look into our eyes and say he loves us because his head tells him he is incapable of such feelings is the one we need to heal our wounds.

    Many of us here are waiting for that to happen. Holding out a glimmer of hope. I have held on to that hope for almost a year now, and although it hasnt gone away completely, the hope is fading with a new sense of realism.

    So I have stopped phoning in the hope of hearing what I want to hear. And yet still my head bobs up like a meerkat with every passing car just in case. Just in case he is calling to take back all the hurt. That is what we do.

    I believe it has taken this addict 24 days of clarity to realise that we cant always have the outcome that we want. I am praying that this 24 days has given my man some clarity to work through his own pain and that he will find some positivity and happiness, even if… even though it can not be with me.

    Love and hugs to you all

    Deb xx

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Deb -

      You’re searching through this – torture? – in a wise and thoughtful way. It’s hard to get any distance from such a level of hurt, and you’re doing it with a lot of self-awareness. I just wouldn’t worry about the number of days – it takes a long time, and there will naturally be a lot of back and forth. I would add one thing when you say only the person who has hurt you can undo the hurt. I think they also need to be able to work with their partner to process all the feelings of what has happened so they can catch the problem if it starts coming back. If the relationship is over, though, acknowledgement and forgiveness are still important.

      All my best to you — John

  63. anne says:

    Hi John,
    It has been a month today since my fiancee and I broke up a month later he is still hasnt interacted but a few times one time being very painfull abusive and hurtful,then the next day communicating how sorry he was asking me to meet with him.I declined not because i didnt want to see him as I still love him ”loving the man not the state of depression.but if i would have met with him i worried that it might be worse.I have went through the mental and emotional abuse and i have seen a beautiful man filled with guilt shame and confusion.It hurts me deeply,I have been searching for all the right things to heal and greive loosing him.However he is avoiding also because he is hating how he gets and doesnt want to abuse me verbaly…it just seems to happen..Well John a month has passed however i love him just as deep and not sure what i will do.I want to beleive he will come around but it seems for him to fall into depression deeply at least every three months and stay in it for as long as 3 months it is a tough place to thought s are alot about him the person not the state i am broken inside and learning about depression has made it easier for me .I just wanted us and now there is no us,just the memories of the great times and bad times….


    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Anne -

      I’m sorry things have turned out this way. I think you’re asking the right questions of yourself and hope you have other forms of support. Taking care of your needs is important.


    • C says:


      I’m wondering what has come about between you and your fiancee? I am in a very similar situation. For me it has only been 7 days. In an irrational fit of anger and verbal blaming abuse, he up and left and has cut me off entirely not counting a very abusive and hurtful text message. I’m left wondering what I can do, he suffers from Major Depression and while this is the first time he has fully left, I know it will continue to happen if he ever does return. Biggest problem is, I love him, HIM deeply. I’m hurting so terribly and I’m so confused and lost. I think of it as, I wouldn’t leave someone with cancer so why would I leave someone with depression? But alas, he treats me awfully during these times.


  64. debbie says:

    I’m beginning to see a pattern.
    I have posted on the “trying to heal” forum and I have finally decided to let go. I say “finally” … is 10 months a long time? I dont know… I wish I knew.

    He left 10 months ago and I’m still hurting and trying to understand.

    But what you say about your daughter, Ger… I guess I’m lucky we dont have kids together. Its only me thats hurting. But he had kids (3) by two previous partners and, yknow… I get upset that he turned his back on our beloved dog. She adored him and he doesnt give her another thought. Which brings me to wonder how his previous partners coped with him turning his back on their children.

    Its a pain I cant understand.

    Ger, my man was leading a double life too. He wanted to move to the States (from UK) to be with his internet mate and he couldnt see why that should be a problem to me at all.

    He’s bipolar and I have read that you’d have to be some kind of saint to live with that. Well, saint I am not. I need loyalty and devotion. I got promiscuity and open flirtation.

    I hurt. I hurt badly. I cant see the light at the end of my tunnel. All I can see is the beautiful life we used to have.

  65. Ger Smith says:

    I am so confused about depression. I was with a man I loved for 19 years. He told me that he suffered with depression, his father had addiction and mental health problems and he was very afraid to get help. I stuck by him but over the years got very resentful , our relationship was always based on his needs and what he wanted. I lost myself completely in it but we had started out and had many very happy years in which I felt so loved and cared for that I felt it was his depression that was the problem.He said he needed space that he couldn’t cope with family life and work , we had one child. He took every opportunity to go to conferences and workshops , some weekends he went away. When I asked him where he was he would say that he couldn’t communicate with anyone and he had booked into a b and b and drank alcohol. Sometimes he would not come back when he said he would and would turn off his phone. A day or two later he would contact me telling me he was sorry. This went on for a few years and I accommodated it. Every now and again he said that he wanted to go but after a few days out of the house he would come back saying that he was sorry and he would get help. Once or twice I told him to go as I was so hurt that he couldn’t connect with me. He would agree to doing things with me and then he would change his mind all the time. We had no physical life together. My boundaries were shifting as I didn’t know what to do and I was so afraid of losing him. We never openly fought. He would not communicate with me always blaming his depression on what ever had happened. Then one day he said that he had a plan that may work , that he just couldn’t cope with family life any more but he wanted to be with myself and my daughter. He told me that he wasn’t happy at his job and he was going to move away and come home at weekends , it was an academic post and he would have long summer holidays in which he could look after our daughter. He would be home on a Thursday and stay until Sunday. I knew I had lost myself and was delighted with the plan and agreed. He left in November and came home at weekends , I was so happy and he appeared more connected with us. He was working away three weeks when I got a call from a women who told me that they had been having an affair for the last 18 months and they were living together did I know? he had betrayed me , she was from Australia and was a childhood girlfriend and who was now divorced and had contacted him. She told me that he had gone to Australia twice and had a holiday with her. He had told me he was in a residential clinic dealing with his depression. She left and went back to Australia. He asked me to come back into the relationship that he was desperately unhappy and she thought he was great he was so elated, it reminded him of his youth when he had so much hope in his life. After 6 months I said that I would consider coming back into the relationship with some kind of therapeutic intervention , he had been asking me every time he came back to visit, although he was not staying in our home. When I said I would try and take him back. He told me that he had met someone else and was madly in love with them , she was a single parent with a daughter a couple of years older than our daughter. He married this woman shortly after and cut off from me . He has become so abusive to me , he has not settled anything in terms of a separation agreement or parenting plan. He sends out daughter birthday and Christmas presents. I feel such a fool. If you looked from the outside you would think he was the nicest man under the sun. He walked out without telling our daughter , initially he wanted to come and go as he pleased but this was not good for our daughter. She never knew when he was coming and sometimes he just didnt turn up when he said he would. She is so distraught as I am but I am the adult. I have made excuses for him over the years and colluded with him over his depression. I didn’t know how to stand up to his endless lies and I now feel that it was abuse I was dealing with. Its four years since he walked out. My daughter hasn’t seen him for nearly two years, he hasn’t made a plan for her , he has treated me with such disrespect and I thought it was depression and I was being understanding. I feel like an empty shell I gave my total trust away. Its so much clearer now , the same things are happening in the way we communicate. I will never trust this person again. I’m in my mid 50′s and am still shocked. I am now concentrating on healing myself and looking after my daughter. The weird thing is that there is a part of me that loves this man. I am detaching but its so hard. I am trying to rebuild my life which feels so empty. I look for closure and some logical reason for what happened. He will not engage with me but we have email contact , he doesnt want to discuss the past. I feel so hurt.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Ger -

      I’m glad that you are concentrating on healing yourself after all these long years of an abusive relationship – and can see that it was abuse you were dealing with. It’s very hard to tell what role depression has had in his behavior. In any case, his treating you and your daughter this way can’t be justified or excused by a mood disorder. To an outsider, it seems unbelievable that anyone could try to stay with a person after all that you describe – but that’s the way it is in abusive relationships. An outsider can’t begin to feel what it’s like. I was wondering if you were working with a therapist to help you with this healing process. You talk of confusion, and I think anyone in your position would be confused and hurting in many ways. I wish you well as you rebuild your life and hope that you will see that your happiness doesn’t and can’t depend on this man.


      • Ger Smith says:

        Thanks John. Its true what you say. I was in this madness for so long I feel like my brain has been rewired. I lost myself completely. I have only recently recognised that it was emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is so subtle. Once my boundaries went , my life was like quick sand I just could not grasp anything to hold onto. I cant believe I let things go so far myself. When I met my X I was living hundred of miles from where I am living now and had a full life and a lot of friends. Then we moved because he wanted to change his work. I was so far from all my friends although I came from the town I returned to but I had not lived here since I was young so don’t have friends here. Nobody I know from here would believe what I allowed go on , they would not believe me as he was so charming to the outside world , often he would not talk to me and then when we went out he would chat to everyone on the street. I would then convince myself that it was nothing to do with me , as he would start to talk to me again. My mother suffered from some mental illness so I was well used to not being acknowledged and cherished or listened to , my childhood was always about her and her needs. I used to walk on egg shells around her and wanted to fix her as a child so she would destroy me and she would be happy. I was afraid of her as she seemed and still does so powerful but more so when I was a child. I feel so ashamed and stupid , my self esteem is so low at times when it comes to thinking about my x partner. I am an adult and I work in the caring profession and I was totally taken in by him. He had many techniques that he used that would unsettle me and he often convinced me that I had forgotten something he had said so he would appear right and I would look like I had memory failure. Arguments went in circles and he would start picking me up on things I had said so nothing every got sorted. In fact if he went away I was only too glad to get some peace. You asked if I worked with a therapist and I did for a while but I don’t think that the therapist got it and its only now that I am beginning to understand the effect this relationship has had on me. We own a house together so we have some contact which unsettles me completely and I find so painful and hurtful , although its all valuable for self development and for moving forward. I want to rebuild my life for myself and my daughter and get stronger and feel peace. To reread my story is powerful for me as I am very isolated and other people who knew us would think I was mad , so thank you for the space which I have used to tell my story.

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Hi, Ger -

          I hope you won’t be too hard on yourself for having been “taken in” by him (I’d call it more like being caught in a trap) – this is exactly what happens to everyone in an abusive relationship. There are a few good books that might help you. They’re especially good at describing the process of abuse (and there are worse horror stories than yours) and also suggesting the kinds of help you might need. Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft and Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen. Hirigoyen discusses the danger of conventional psychotherapy for the victim of abuse since many therapists will focus on your problems that made you vulnerable to abuse, and so reinforce the idea that you were partly to blame. She says you need a therapist who is skilled in the specific problems of abuse survivors to rebuild your inner confidence and sense of who you are. I hope you can find the help you need. Getting away from the relationship – forget how long it took – is an act of courage and shows you have the resilience to get stronger and feel the peace you are looking for.


  66. Jenny Volk says:

    Hi John, thank you for your response. My partner has just not long ago “broken up” our relationship. He is going through a really tough time and says that he wants and needs to break up as his head and heart are not in it any more. Obviously I have taken this extremely hard as we got along just so so so unbelieveably well in every possibly way. And it was like that until just a few days ago – when he appeared to me in an extreme amount of pain. He had a counselling session the day before he suggested the break up. He sounded so very very depressed and is not even communicating with his family. He did reveal to me a couple of months ago that he was sexually abused by his father – his family are not even aware of this as he fears that it will destroy his mother and sister if they find out. So he is carrying that burden within him too. So I would not be surprised if this has come up during counselling and he is also having to relive through those memories? And I guess he does not want the burden at the moment of being in a relationship and the worry of how things are affecting me? I contacted him via text this morning just to say to him that I would like us to remain friends, good friends ,as he is too special a person to me to have leave my life forever. He responded and said that he would hope that this will happen. Because of our intense and compatible relationship I guess I am feeling, and hoping, that given space and time, for him to sort things out, we could be together again. But, how often can I touch base with him. Should I just “stay away” until I hear from him. Or is it OK for me to give him a quick call every few days, just to see how he is going? Surely, given the state he is in, this would not be a bad thing? My best friend suggest that I don’t make contact with him for at least 3 or 4 weeks otherwise I come across as being needy. But me making the contact is of a caring nature to see how he is, not begging for him to come back to me. I guess that is what I should do, stay away, if I hear from him then obviously respond, if I don’t hear from him then I know it is time to move on? I am so confused and hearbroken.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jenny -

      I sympathize deeply with you since it is so hard to know what’s best to do. You may need some help to stand back a little and get perspective on what you are going through. One problem is imagining that your relationship depends on your maintaining contact with him, and so the question appears to be how often, what should I say, etc. I can’t really judge how your relationship might work, but I doubt that so much depends on your calling every few days. Of course, you do that to assure him of your love and support, but, as this post cautions, a depressed person who is telling you they need to be away can easily take your message in a different way than it’s intended. They’re preoccupied with the inner pain, and that tends to distort everything else. It’s also easy to torture yourself by guessing and imagining what he’s going through, what’s he’s working out with his therapist, why he wants to be alone to deal with this. You don’t know and won’t know until he opens up about it. That’s why I suggest a counselor to help sort all this out and suggest what you might need to do for yourself. The pull of such strong feeling for your partner will always get the better of rational advice, but I find it helpful to know what that advice is so that I can keep reminding myself.


  67. Jenny says:

    I am so needing your advice and support. My partner and I have been together for just over six months, we live 120 kilometers apart. He injured himself at work a few years ago and has had recurring back pain on and off since. Only recently he did a lift at work (too heavy) which triggered something to move in his back and he has hardly been able to move since. This is a man who was once extremely active, running marathons, cycling, swimming, walking, loves gardening. Now he finds it extremely difficult just to get around at times – though he is an extremely strong person and until now has managed to get through those times. But, he is now in a severe state of depression. Apart from visiting his doctor, he has started to see a psychologist. He went for the second time a couple of days ago and he has only responded to my contact once, and then he said that he was really struggling and did not want any company or any conversation from anyone – and he hoped that I understood that which I do. But I am starting to get really down within myself. I text him just to check and make sure he is OK. II don’t expect a lengthy response, just some sort of response so that I know he is still in the land of the living. He is really pushing me away and I totally understand that is all part of depression. But I just want to know what I can and should do. I so wish that I was living at least in the same town where I can help him out more, but that is just not the case. He made me aware a couple of months ago that he was abused as a child, and I am thinking that maybe this has come up at counselling and if so he may be having a difficult time dealing with these emotions, seeing as they have been suppressed for the last 40+ years? I am so so sad, though I don’t want him to suspect that, and I don’t know what to do, where to start. I love this man, he is my world, and I can honestly say that I would never want to be with anyone else, ever. But I just wonder at times, for my own health, if I just need to let go, at least for the time being. Heelllppp!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jenny -

      The combination of crippling physical pain and depression is one of the worst conditions I know of, and your partner has a terribly difficult road ahead. I can understand how frustrating it is to be cut off from him at a time like this, but it’s hard to do anything if he simply won’t let you – beyond letting him know of your continuing love and support. Apart from that, I think it’s really important for you to take care of your needs, perhaps consulting a therapist to help sort out what you’ve been going through. If you’re wondering what’s best for your own health, that’s a message to yourself you really need to listen to. In my experience you need a helper who can offer a more detached view than you could probably manage just now.

      My best to you –


      • Anne says:

        Hi Jenny,I just wanted to try and support you as I am somewhat in the same situation,It is very hard to be pushed away after building your life around someone and loving them as I have had the same thing happen to me.However if you dont you may have a chance of totally loosing him,at this point it would not help a bit for you to try and press anything,it will only cause him more frustration. I can tell you as I have been dealing with my ex-fiancée who has been going through this for the last few years.Do take care of yourself that is what you need to do and i know this is a hard place to be,as so many times after having to let my fiencee go to work out his own things as he also voiced he needed I find myself wanting to call and text and I have from time to time and I can tell you he hasnt once contacted me and I have become disheartened but this is I know the result of his depression.I found it important not to put my life on hold as when we where together he was my life and we did all together,but since then i have has to make a list of all the things i enjoy and when i get down i take it out and do something on the list,till it becomes easier for me to deal with his absence from my life.sounds sad and it is but that is the pain of depression.This group has been my saving grace and a thanks to john for helping me understand and the post on this site.


        • Jenny says:

          Hi Anne-Marie, thank you so much for your words of support. It is so so hard. I am going through my first weekend of not being with him and I so want to contact him. But as yourself and my friend both advise, do not, as it will frustrate him more. I can’t help but hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that I will again be in his life when he is ready, and not someone else. But I guess I have to let go of that hope and expect that he wants the relationship over for good. Move on? It would be easier if we had not been such the perfect match in every way and so so intimately and emotionally connected. Being a typical male, he doesn’t accept any support and keeps everything to himself. I was hoping that because of our special relationship that he would let me in, at least as someone to talk to if nothing else. But to shut me out altogether has been absolutely heartbreaking, to the point that I really don’t want to be here anymore. But, I have lovely girls aged 11 and 17 to support so I must be strong. I live in hope, which is not a good thing I know, but as the weeks go by, hopefully I will grow stronger and be happier within myself. Thank you so much for listening. Jenny x

          • Anne says:

            Hi jenny ,
            I know for myself I never felt like I never wanted to live as I was wanting a interdependent relationship not a codependent one,and I am happy that I can say I am happy within myself and he was the additive in my life,yes I understand as I thought we where perfect for each other as well and it was hard to let him go,but you must be patient and in that patients gain your own strength to stand alone and do all the things that you enjoy.I had to sit there and make a list of things just to carry with me after loosing him so i could stay on track and i will tell you i forced myself to do things but then I found out just how much i enjoyed it.from a simple bubble bath to walking and burning off hurt.I found a book called” when women love to much” and it really allowed me to take care of me, but being on this side of having a depressed partner is far from easy.Stay strong girl and keep reading and writing it is strange how when you come together and see what others go through how we all gain a support.have a great weekend and if you want to talk I am here.

  68. Marci says:

    Hi John,

    First of all thank you so very much for this site. I have been dating a man in his mid forties for just under a year. I’ve known him to be nothing but kind, gentle and caring. I truly thought I’d found “the perfect mate”. He works two jobs and is a single father of a freshman in college. When he complained of being exhausted I assumed it was only because of his commitments. Over the months I noticed that he seemed to sleep an awful lot, but again, assumed it was because he’s working two jobs and is paying for college 100% out of pocket. He has never mentioned depression as an illness, but would often talk negatively. About a month ago he seemed to simply shut down, completely out of the blue. He suddenly stopped taking calls, wouldn’t reply to text messages or emails, etc. I’ve never known anyone affected by depression… from everything I’ve read the symptoms all seem to fit. On the rare occasions he contacts me or responds to my calls he insists that he loves me very much, but is going throgh some things and just needs to work through it alone. I worry about him daily but don’t want overstep any boundaries or betray his trust. He has very few friends in the area and no family in the area. We share one mutual friend who is actually his co-worker. That person has communicated to me a concern as well because although he seems to have thrown himself into work, his behavior at work is less than productive and obvious to other co-workers. I’m uncertain what to do. I have his parents contact information and am tempted to reach out to them, but as I said, I don’t want to betray his trust. Is it possible he’s been through this before and this is just his way of coping? Should I expect that when he’s better he will simply “re-appear” as if nothing changed? Please offer me some guidance.

  69. Anne says:

    Hi,I have been feeling so desperate to speak to someone who may be able to help and understand. I feel i have been on a roller coaster with my fiancée for the last two yrs and it is fiancée had a long distance friendship we supported each other and talked each day for a few yrs.I never seen much as being abnormal however we came together soon after I lost my dad he was my night and shining armour.I was hesitant to get involved as I had been hurt before however i took things slower then he and after a time we ended up together.Within the a month he shut down went backwards and became dark and distant this went on for aprox 5 months,then he bounced back for a few months then back into it again,he moved out and in dec this last yr we got back together it was a honeymoon for 3 months and in that period we got engaged i was tickled and he was doing great,then then in late feb his mood was shifting.granted he works nights and sleeps day and is very tired but it got worse.I want to leave him go but my love for him is so strong.however he uses words like anne save yourself,and it ends up he only comes over it seems for booty call sorta speak and then gone,he drinks a glass of wine through the week and a bottle or two on the weekend and he has been talking about how unhappy he is ,how he isnt any good,and it kills me inside.i have tried everything to help him and he refuses to go to the doctor because my brother who is a preacher tells him he needs god and that is what is wrong with him.i disagree big time.anyhow he spoke to me on tuesday saying he needed time to work out some things in his mind.of course i panicked and said is your mood effecting our relationship?..he said i dont know that is what i have to figure out.this has been hard.he said he would speak to me on the weekend.i was so frustrated thinking he would not talk to me nor discuss anything and leave me in limbo to either have me or dump me …I texted him and told him I the last five days have been tough but it has made me see that now i need time,i love him but i am not ready to talk to him,not in the fear of loosing him but wondering if i want to stay in this.the saddest part is he goes up and down,and my fear is if i leave he may want to die,or give up,so i stay and dont get me wrong i love him but i know this isnt healthy and it is very hurtful.he wont get help so what do I do??

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Anne -

      Your decision to step back sounds to me like the best thing you could do. He seems to be severely depressed and really in need of help, but he isn’t trying to get it. I know the pattern is full of ups and downs, but the good times are deceptive. They don’t mean the depression is leaving. There is a lot of change in the experience, and that makes a person unpredictable. It’s easy to imagine that something you do will make a big difference but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Your support for him is important, but only if he can hear what you’re telling him. So stepping back to think about what you need is essential to your own well-being. Depression and the problems that go with it really do spread as your life becomes more and more drawn in to his pain.

      My best to you — John

      • Anne says:

        I just wanted to share what has come about in the last few days in regards to this relationship.As I felt the relationship was slipping my fiancée and I finally got together yesterday and talked and I new when I looked into his eyes and could feel the distance and the walls around him and his heart where this was leading.The last two weeks of his not wanting to communicate and being down was so heart wrenching.I took the advice on this board and just supported him in the conversation and was careful not to make him edgy!!..He talked about his ups and downs and this Love me one day and not the next kinda thing.It was heart breaking in all as I heard him say that he had nothing inside him to contribute to the relationship in his state.I softly responded I agree!! He said he was not going to continue hurting me . when he is in his right mind he is the most gentle human being in the world.I just looked at him and said I understand.I told him I cared for him and if he chose to seek help i would be there for him and I seriously meant that however I didn’t want to get caught up in the enabling him in his addictions when he went down in his darkness using alcohol to ease the pain.I set some boundaries with him on how we could communicate this was what I needed. I didn’t abandon him ,I haven’t stop loving him,I just unselfishly let him go to take the first steps to make the decision to get help and take some responsibility for his depression and actions .This isn’t easy for me and I am very thankful I can share with others how it is hard to let go .Love isn’t a light switch…

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Hi, Anne -

          This must have been so hard – to be this honest and clear in the midst of all the clashing emotions. That took a lot of courage, and I thank you for sharing this here. My best to you as you continue to work through this ordeal.


          • Anne says:

            Hi John,I want to say since March 19th it has felt much longer.but in all,My Ex has contacted me one time to say he has went back to seeing his Councillor and has not drank since the 21st I know this isn’t long but it is a start,he realizes he has a problem but refuses to take meds it is hard for me as I have read how depression has its ups and downs,i did tell him I was glad in what he is doing but I am not sure if he realizes that depression can pop its evil head again. and right now he is still talking from a place of depression…however I can not force him to do something he wont do.He has avoided me and any time i have text him ,this is hard but I know time will lesson the daily blows of all this.I just dont know if someone who suffers with manic depression can really get healthier without meds??

  70. Renee says:

    Your blog has described what my husband I are going through to a tee. Four months ago, he left by telling me that he wasn’t feeling like much of a man and couldn’t face me. We have been married almost 12 years and been through more than our fair share of crisis. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the destruction of my office by a tornado this spring. My husband is my office manager and the stress and I suspect some PTSD pushed him over the edge. Now, four months later, he sees his therapist regularly. Takes two different anti-depressants and is still not home. I too see a therapist and have made some positive life changes in addition to keeping our home, continuing to work and taking care of our young daughter. We communicate mostly via text message and even though impersonal seems to be the best since he still has difficulty controlling his anger. My biggest problem is the inconsistency that I get from him emotionally. He will ask me for patience. In the same conversation with me, he will tell me that he has never stopped loving me, that I am the best thing that ever happened to him but he does not want to give me false hope when we go into couples counseling that it may not work out. Meanwhile, he is putting forth efforts to rebuild my office, refinance our home for the 30 years, fence some property that we own together and is going on vacation next week with some friends. At this point, I don’t know what to believe. I pray every day that he will let his feelings for me out. I know that they are still present but buried deep inside under the depression. I have continued to tell him that I will wait for him and am committed to him. Today is especially difficult because it is Valentine’s day and I am expecting only heartache today since I did on my birthday, Christmas and thanksgiving. Please give me some insight.

  71. "Jane" says:


    Reading this site is very illuminating for me. For about a year now I have had sporadic contact with a man who pursued me very passionately, and then suddenly dropped me – failing to arrive in a country where we had arranged to meet. Since then, any contact has been loaded with him refusing to discuss it, or apologising in terms of his own problematic history. Caught up in my own pain at rejection, I kept trying to force an explanation, or his permission to explain my feelings. He said he wasn’t ready to have the discussion, and that state of affairs has continued for a year: Shallow conversations, that ended up collapsing when he or I trod on ‘forbidden’ ground.

    It was confusing and upsetting and I had been trying to rationalise it in terms of my having been tricked by a player – my misjudgement of his sincerity – that the relationship which was blossoming at his instigation had been some kind of performance on his part.

    Last night he suggested that he was badly depressed, and probably also bipolar. He has been keeping the conversation open because he didn’t want to burn “what remains” of our connection. I’ve been seeking closure and have found that frustrating.

    Now I have a little more to work with. I am happy to provide support as a friend, and would like some advice on how to do that. I am also wondering if the phase of intense courtship might have been an expression of the mania side of a bipolar episode, which would be slightly upsetting, but probably would make sense. I might have been the dream woman that failed to solve his problems. I’m not sure if it’s important, or whether I should just enjoy the memories and not wonder if his feelings for me were just an illusion manifesting his own need for an escape.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jane -

      You might be right in thinking that his early courting could have been driven by a phase of either bipolar or depression. The thing is that he hasn’t let you get close enough to understand what’s been shaping his behavior or exactly what he feels about you. It could be that he simply doesn’t know – depression can be confusing in the way it clouds your perception of other people. It can also lead to the sort of escape illusion that you mention as a possibility.

      But you don’t know, and it’s easy to torture yourself with speculating. You can tell him – however you usually communicate – that you are there to support him, but it’s going to be up to him to do something about his condition. If he remains depressed and doesn’t look for treatment, I would guess that he’d remain confused and that he’d continue to keep you away. He may stay in contact sporadically just to check to see if you’re still there – trying to hold onto you without risking closeness. It’s up to you to decide how satisfying that is or how long you could tolerate this sort of relationship.

      All my best — John

  72. Eliza says:

    My boyfriend of 9 months who has depression broke up with me about a month ago after his winter depression (according to his history- the climax of his depression) came around. I’ve only exchanged 1 text with him– when he wished me a happy birthday. My friends and family have discouraged any contact with him. But I want him to know I’m here when/if he needs/wants me. I’m not sure how to reinitiate contact (if at all) or if I should wait for him to talk to me? Any advice/stories/help would be appreciated!

  73. Jocelyn says:

    Dear John: I am the depressed one; the one thinking about leaving- moving closer to work to reduce the 3.5 hours commute and the unsympathetic, cruel treatment I receive from my husband. He says it is my fault I am depressed because of the stressful job I took a year and a half ago. He said I never told him about my depression issues when we got together. He says he wishes he had stayed single in his apartment, the quiet life he had and I have disrupted. He regrets having been kind and loving to my because I am ungrateful and don’t appreciate anything, so why be kind and loving now during this depression bout, which in fact I am to blame for and brought upon myself for getting myself into a job I knew would be too stressful and overwhelming, for being immature, for not knowing myself and who I am. It is hard to get better under these circumstances. I am working out a bit, taking medication, going to theraphy, praying, but I I think I need to distance myself from this as it is contributing to the despair and I don’t seem to just be able to co-exist in the same house and avoid each other. I know I have to do for now, just rent a room near my job, perhaps come home on weekends but perhaps not for now. This is so hard. I will discuss with my therapist tonight. I haven’t left and the communication that we have is so cruel, mean, resentful, unkind, and unloving, full of resentment and almost punishment.

    • david says:

      I’m no professional but it sounds like your husband is also depressed and is looking to you for reassurance if he wanted to be single if he meant what he were saying he would leave. He needs your support…Sounds like he’s pushing you away as he probably fears you’re going to leave him anyway, he’s probably blaming himself for your sorrow, because in his mind he has failed as he should be able to make you happy and can’t. To him it may mean he feels worthless to you as he can’t help. Give him a hug tell him thanks.

  74. John says:

    Thank you for your support, Lou. I truly appreciate it. A week ago tuesday, she was trying to get me to elope and we went to view houses together… shortly thereafter it spiralled rapidly and by last Sunday she was talking separating. I let her know I am here for her, and want to help if she’ll let me, but I can’t do that from the outside… we need to ride this out and I will do anything I can to love and support her through this… but if I’m gone, I’m gone, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to stay involved with her children because it wouldn’t be fair to them or to me, as much as I love them all. On Wednesday she decided that still is in love with me, but that she was done and merely having symptoms of “stress” and not depression. I told her that if she was done, I was done as well. Unfortunately we have decided to part ways, and I will be leaving the state to begin a “fresh start” to my life going forward. It is a sad ordeal, but it needs to take place. I also let her know that when she wakes up in a month or so to what she has lost, I will not be here. I am not trying to be a hardass, but at the same time I deserve to be treated far better than I have thus far. I am willing to put up with it and work together on it going forward, but only from the inside and she is not in a position for that. She asserts that she loves me, is in love with me, and that I have done everything right in the relationship and that we have the “poster child” of a relationship – love, honesty, communication, etc – everything anyone could ever want in one.

    I know for a fact that I am the greatest thing to ever happen to her, to her kids, and to her life, but Sarah has to realize that I can’t always be there and only on her terms… she has to recognize her situation and be a main force in resolving it for her to ever have a happy life, which I want for her.

    Thanks again,

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, John -

      I’m sorry to hear how this is turning out, but I think you’re doing the right thing in being clear about your needs and what you can’t and won’t put up with. You may not be aware of this, but Sarah’s back-and-forth is a classic thing depressed partners do. By not deciding – and sometimes that’s a symptom of depression – they push a decision about separating onto the other partner. Anyone who’s depressed and acts in a hurtful way in a relationship needs to be reminded that they’re still responsible for the harm they cause others. I was fortunate in that my wife gave me clear warning that she’d had enough. But she stayed to see if I would get serious about treatment, and we worked things out.

      I really sympathize. This is the hardest thing to deal with, but in the end I think you just have to draw the boundary and take care of yourself.

      Best of all wishes to you -


  75. Lou says:

    Hi John,

    It is a long road and I am glad she is seeking help. I suggest you do as well – our Relate counsellor has played a really important role in me keeping strong.

    Take it a day at a time – in communicating, I would suggest not talking or thinking about the future. Try not to place obligations – do you love me – do you this – do you that…just be.. and you need to decide if you can be in this for the long haul.

    Visit the message board at it helped me know I wasnt alone and the forum is a very supportive place to be.

    Most of all look after your essance. We hope they will come back from the dark and painful place they are in. I still love my partner with every fibre of my being, but it has to get worse before it gets better – whatever has triggered this has to come out – the shrapnel (sp) has to come out and it is deep, and there are infections too .

    Take care of you. I struggle- and I am strong. It has been a very long 4 months (longer but 4 months since her left me on 8 March). I keep my truth – so I communicate. I offer my heart, our home when he can be here and our bed when he needs a snuggle.

    Take some time. Breathe and listen to yourself – Mental health issues don’t just go away. Can you live with them in one form or another? Strength to you. Not having a great day this end….

    • Colette says:

      Hi Lou,

      I read your posts, and how are things are going for you now? I feel so much for what you have been going through, because I can identify with everything you have been talking about. My husband left me before Thanksgiving, and I feel I am living everything you have been discussing. I love my husband, although the hurt is indescribable, and I am trying to extend unconditional love to him. I know this will be a long road, because he has multiple mental health diagnoses. However, I said my vows, and I know God wants me to be patient in waiting for a much prayed for healing and reconciliation.

  76. John says:

    Hey guys and gals,

    I’m in a slightly different but similar boat as the rest of you. I’m a male, who re-ran into an old flame from my teen years a few years back… we hit it off better than we ever could’ve imagined, and had the most amazing times together. I’m like a father to her children, as their father is barely involved, and we live together. This is the 3rd or 4th time where, while talking marriage, buying a house (we rent now), etc… she suddenly has flipped course in less than a day to being unable to make or stick with any decisions, not taking care of herself or those around her, sleeping unnatural amounts both great and small, and suddenly has no strong feelings on anything and is pulling back from everyone and everything… but can’t figure out “why” this is occurring, let alone every few months. She is finally seeking some help to figure out what is wrong, and it is not an easy challenge for either of us. I’m a very affectionate and loving person, who is there for everything in an active role with love and support. I can sympathize with the women above with not knowing how or why the person that we love “isn’t there” and doesn’t see us for who we are, sometimes overnight. I don’t know or understand what to do here, or what is right. I’m fed up and hurt and she knows this, and trying to decide what to do, with one option being if she can’t decide if she wants me in her life overnight, should I just disappear? I just don’t know, but was compelled to share my experience here, even if only in loose terms.


  77. Dotty says:

    Hello Lou,
    I hope things are working out for you and your partner.


  78. Dotty says:

    Hello John,
    Thank you for your feedback. It’s all very valueable to me and hopefully to others reading this fab site.
    Sometimes situations and feelings can make me feel on edge as in I get an anxious feeling if I haven’t heard from him. I have to push it aside and I think that can make the partner or friend of a depressed person also go through the mill. The reason I mention this now is because we are living apart and I knew that would be a big worry for me. He said to me that I am not responcible for him but after a year of going through lots of changes and anxious moments it’s hard not to just pick up the phone and call or text him but I stop myself and I know this is also a part of a boundary that I am building. It feels like a barrier but in a way I suppose it has to be because it needs some strength. I know for sure that my ex is trying hard to manage and I know that he doesn’t like putting himself or me through all this. I wish I could find a giant pin to burst the big bubble that he is in. Onwards and upwards :)

  79. Dotty says:

    P.s. My ex is in theraphy but only with meds at the mo. He is waiting for psychological assessment. I have a book re: codependency so will pick it back up :) It sounds like you are getting to a balance with your boundaries and are very open and healthy with your outlook. I take my hat off to you.x

  80. Dotty says:

    Hello Lou,
    Thank you for your perception of my situation it helps to have a clear perceptive from someone that doesn’t know me but is travelling the same path. I too had panics today about how my ex was and fortunately he iniated contact even though I wanted space. I kept to texting just purely about the reason for contact so no emotional feedback was given. I felt stronger but then guilty and confused so yes I think I need to seek help to set my boundaries. At least I knew he was somehow managing. I did however get tired of the reason for contact and that’s what triggered my guilt. I don’t really know what to think about everything at the moment but I do know that if I let my emotions cloud my judgement then I could be letting myself down.
    Lou, I hope your day has been a contented one :) x

  81. Lou says:

    Hi Dotty

    The stories of depressed partners are all so similar. I have found enormous comfort from the depressionfallout. com message boards. It helped me to realise that he is ill and in asking my partner to step up was like asking someone with a broken leg to go jogging.

    I do not know whether your partner is in therapy, but either way I urge you to talk to someone, to help you set your boundries and work through this enormously painful time.

    My partner is improving slowly and what is hardest is understanding nothing will ever be the same. I dont know right now if I do want him and the drama back home. I am working with that now.

    Once something is broken you can put the pieces together but the shape will be different. I have found my partner is now being reactive, not proactive. So I find to ask questions that require answers work, not making statements. Also it is 100% easier for him to spend time with someone flirty who has no idea of the depression and fallout than someone that knows him and loves him – each time they look at you, they see the love , the pain, the hisory, and feel terrible inside.

    I continue to talk to my partner, see him and enjoy the glimmers of who I know him to be that peek out, but it is a long road.

    Strength to you. Read everything you can about co-dependancy and about depression and try to focus on YOU. A healthy you is far more able to have a healthy relationship with your partner, yourself or the next love in your life.

  82. Dotty says:

    Hello Lou,
    I have just read your above post and I to am in very similar shoes to you at the moment and it hurts like hell. Background info firstly though! My partner moved out 3 weeks ago as I struggled to understand his depressed actions. We had been together for 11.5 years and I only found out last year when he suffered a breakdown that lead him into hospital for 5 months. I became his carer at home and loved, cared and supported him. He explained that he had a crush on a woman and couldn’t get her out of his head. There onwards medication relieved these symptoms but still to date his depression I believe hasn’t lifted. Anyhow he met another woman via a workmate and then got chatting to her on the web. She has been drawn into his world of flirtation but she has taken out the element of his depression and made him feel wanted so much so that he has been in relations with both of us at the same time. When I found out about his cosy texts and chats with her he said that he didn’t want a relationship with anyone and that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me and that he liked us both but was confused. Things got very tense between us and the only convinient place he had to go was to her house. He stayed there two nights and then said she wasn’t me and wanted to come back. I welcomed him back on the understanding that we could sort things out. In the meantime his meds were being adjusted every 5-6 weeks. He came home and all was good. I then found out that he was still seeing her behind my back. I was fuming!! How could he??He moved out 3 weeks ago and I believed that he seriously wanted his own space and time to heal as that’s what he has lead me to believe. I have stepped back and been the friend that he needed and tried to do my own thing but he keeps taking more out of me. We agreed to trial seperation but he thinks that means he can still see her and/or other women and that I should be fine with that!! I then heard that he had been on a night out and she joined him. She posted her thanks on a site and I was totally humilated. I contacted him and shrieked down the phone why would he treat me in this way! He said coldly that we weren’t together and what was it to do with me!! I replied that we had previously discussed our hopes that maybe we were going to be friends again and then maybe have a go at being together once he felt stronger and wanted a relationship. He seems to forget that and deny that he ever lead me that way!! Grrrrrrr!! I can’t believe that he can be sooo cold after all we have been through. She contacted me to say that he told her he wasn’t happy in his relationship with me and she believes that she has been used to get him out of the relatonship. I have since decieded to have a break of contact from him for as long as I need to understand where our love went and what I need for me! My man has been replaced by some heartless person. We were happy enough before his breakdown and I could never figure out why he wasn’t entirely happy. Then I found out that he suffers from severe depression and there is a family history of it. My view of him during the last year has always been of love but just lately I can’t understand his actions they are just so contradictory. He contacts me and we have most of the relationship that we used to have and then he thinks that my support is all I have to offer. I have a lot more to offer but I have to protect myself. I have explained to him about my feelings of love for him but he just throws it away!! I’m writing this now and I can’t believe how foolish I have been and how nasty he has been towards me. I told him he has no respect for me and I can’t understand why as all I have done is be in love with him for 11.5 years. Lou, I know so much about the hurt you feel. I can’t advise you but I can certainly relate to it. It is soul destroying but I refuse to allow me to be crushed any longer. I hope things are working out for you now.
    Take care,

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Dotty -

      I agree with Lou about the need for you to set boundaries, and I’m glad to hear that you have been doing that. I doubt that you can attribute all your ex’s behavior to depression. It is true that depressed partners get wishy-washy when it comes to breaking off a relationship. They often go back and forth, and I think there are a couple of reasons – I’m speaking here as a man who has acted in the same way as your ex, though I never actually left my wife. For one, when depressed, you genuinely have trouble making any decisions – nothing is very clear, and you may waffle depending on how well you’re feeling. Depression does have these ups and downs. However, it’s also true that a fantasy about another mate can seem like the answer to all your problems. That’s easy because fantasies by their nature don’t include real life problems. I have to add another reason, though, and it’s emotional abuse. He’s acting abusively, and there’s no excuse for that – he’s responsible for what he does to you. That’s why it’s so crucial that you set your boundaries – and really stick to them. If you are firm and make clear there are consequences to crossing the line, you haven’t set a boundary at all. He’ll know he can keep using you. Abusive behavior is about control, not love, and a relationship of that sort causes the abused partner to go through a lot of self-doubt. That’s due to the manipulation by the abuser. Everything is great from his point of view only so long as his needs come first and yours disappear. As soon as you assert your needs, he gets angry and convinces others that everything is your fault.

      Sometimes that behavior comes with depression, but if it’s serious it could be a life-long pattern. I certainly can’t have any idea what’s really going on with him – but these are possibilities that come to mind.

      So set clear boundaries based on your needs only, get help from a therapist who can spot abusive behavior rather than focusing solely on you. (To do so only reinforces your self-doubt, when, in fact, the abusive partner and his manipulation, not your behavior, is the problem.)

      My best to you –


  83. Lou says:

    Thank you both.

    A hard week this week. But something shifted for me last night and in the words of the serenity prayer (a gift of a link from a dear friend) I am needing to find the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. It is hard but I am getting that it is me I can and need to change.

    He finally called last night. To be honest I had begun to get into a state and really fear the worst as his parents were not responding either but he was chipper and up.

    If you can imagine the feeling of delight he was actually not in the abyss I had imagined he was in, mixed with the outrage that he hadn’t even texted back to tell me he was breathing.

    And then it hit me -after 9 years of living together as husband and wife, breathing each others breath, loving, building a wonderful home together, I in my 40′s was scrabbling around on the floor for a crumb of a text message. That must stop. This is taking away my dignity.

    He then chirpily told me he was coming up to town, on Thursday, had arranged to see friends and stay with them (not me? Why?) for a few days, go out for drinks and might ‘swing by’ on Friday. (ok so where am I on this priority list?)

    I was not mature or chilled. I told him what I felt and what I thought and hung up the phone saying I deserved more than than from him.

    A wonderful friend of mine talked me down and said it seemed to her he was acting like a 14 year old. I had to hear him when he said the relationship was over and that maybe in this depressed state that I represented adulthood, responsibility and his perceived failures and whist he said he loves me, he needed now to be away from any relationship, to be drinking and playing computer games with his younger friends (he’s recently become friends with some student types – he is 40) who didn’t know his darkness or his pain and that seeing me would just make it worse for him.

    I feel conflicted and so very sad but as you say John so many times, we have to take care of ourselves. I am seeing our Relate counsellor alone now so she is being a support.

    I think I have to cut off now. Liz what worked for you? I read your partner showed you respect. Mine isn’t.

    I dont want to lose him, but it feels as if I have already. I have to keep some protection around me. Do I cut all contact?

    I honestly don’t know what to do for the best now. He suggested ‘swinging by’ to fix my laptop. It is in need of some TLC (as I am) and from all I read making him feel useful is an important part of the process- but part of me wants to tell him not to bother. I am hurting so much that he has chosen not to come here and spend the weekend with me. To not include me in his well days but only in his crisis and to dismiss the last 9 years as if he were indeed 14 and it was 9 days without even getting to first base.

    Rant over. Thanks for reading. And breathe…….

  84. liz says:

    Hi Lou–I feel your pain. I know it. I understand it. You wonder where the depression ends and the person you fell in love with and who fell in love with you begins. I am a fighter so I didn’t give up. He is the love of my life. I know that for sure. I’m not advocating that is what everyone should do. Only you can know what you can take. We are not martyrs so please think of your well-being above all. In the throws of his depression and us separating, it was always respectful and honoring the relationship that we had. There have been numerous times when he didn’t respond to my texts/emails but I knew deep in my soul that he read them and they resonated with him. I don’t have the complication of his family being involved but I am sure that is incredibly frustrating for you when you love so deeply.
    Your question regarding collating my posts is perfect timing and thru John’s website you should see something fairly soon. I’ll reach out to you with more specifics at a later date. In the meantime, be well.

  85. Lou says:

    Thank you Liz. I would like to follow your journey to where you are now. Is there a way to collate your posts into a list? I am a technophobe so sorry if it is totally obvious.

    I know deep down my partner has to work this through himself and at his own pace. What is so painful is the 9 years seemingly being negated by his depression.
    He is now not responding to my gentle hello text and I am very alone. And his family have cut me off. So painful. Had a good week with my family and friends but then something happens and whoosh the grief hits again. New day tomorrow.

    John, this is a great resource. A real comfort. Thank you.

  86. Liz says:

    Hi Lou–I am no expert. Only a woman who loves a man very deeply as apparently you do as well. When illness strikes (no matter what the illness) you want to be there for them, love them and help them through it. Unfortunately, when someone is in the throws of depression they tend to push away the people that are closest to them. I can’t begin to understand why. This StoredMind blog is a wonderful resource for partners of people who suffer from depression. His insight and clarity may be helpful to you in learning what your partner is going thru. Every one’s experience is different but it is so helpful to read that you are not alone. It’s not your fault. And, yes, while the chances never seem to be on our side(non-depressed partner) to rebuild a loving, trusting relationship…for me, it was worth the risk.
    I do wish you luck. Also, stay true to yourself…you sound like a fantastic person who deserves to be deeply loved as you love.

  87. Lou says:

    Dear Liz and John,

    Thank you for this. My partner of 9 years has recently walked out. We have never had the kind of arguments when either of us have had cause to slam a door or leave and we have been best friends as well as lovers for all this time. A great deal of laughter. We are in our 40′s. No children.

    He has suffered with depression throughout our relationship and has managed it with drugs from time to time but this is the worst episode ever.

    It followed a bad 12 months – my redundnacy, the death of a friend and him being sacked from a very stressful job. He then began an online sexual relationship with an ex university friend. The gentle, honest and kind soul I love became a disconnected unkind lying stranger to me.

    He seemed to show almost releif when I found out about the online affair and he agreed to go to Relate and we slowly got back on track.

    I knew he was low again- he had recently upped his dose, but we had had a good Christmas and New Year. Then I came home from a meeting in January and he was waiting for me with a packed bag, told me he was leaving, didnt want to talk about it and walked out. That left me reeling and bewildered, and then following communication and further Relate counselling, he came back home at the end of February. I was so happy he was home.

    We had a good 6 days and then he was agitated again and said he had to go, it was a mistake to return, he needed to be alone and out of a relationship and couldn’t be himself.

    He agreed to see our Relate counsellor and she asked him who was it he couldn’t be? He couldn’t answer. He said he felt nothing at all. Inert. Dead inside. He did say he knew he loved me but couldn’t be in the relationship any more.

    He has now moved all his possessions into storage and went from sleeping on friends floors to isolating himself in a friend’s flat while she was away. I kept in contact daily, just gentle checking in texts which he would sometimes reply to and sometimes not.

    I called in on him after a day when he didn’t reply and saw he was worse – unshaven, tired but not sleeping, and not eating and a few days later he came home for 5 nights so at least I knew he was breathing.

    I contacted his family who sadly have the NIMBY attitiude (not in my back yard) but after 3 weeks finally his parents heard me and he has gone there now. His last words to me were, I love you very much. I need to get well now.

    His parents are not communicating with me, and that hurts very much. I have been a good partner to their son for 9 years and it is as if they need to blame me.

    He has seen our GP and has a CBT assesment booked at the end of the week. Whether he will follow through, register with another surgery or come back home for the treatment is another unknown.

    I too want to do the right thing by him, me and us. If being with me has indeed caused his pain then of course I will have to let him go and deal with my grief. But I want to help. He left me, I didnt leave him. He is my love. However it is so very hard. I also want to yell and scream ‘HOW COULD YOU’ but then I am yelling at someone who is ill.

    I am now exhausted. My friends have been wonderful and as I cope with my humiliation that my partner has left me, they are helping me know it wasn’t my fault but that is SO hard to hear. It’s that battle between knowing and feeling. Knowing he is ill and feeling the pain and then wondering whether it is maybe the healthy man that has rejected me and everything we built together.

    I am now saying yes to all invitations and trying to concentrate on my work (as you can see!) but am finding it hard. Learning as much as I can about this stigmatised, distructive and confusing illness.

    So it is as Liz says an emotional rollercoaster and a maze that doesn’t seem to have a handbook. Wish me luck.

    Thank you for reading. Any help gratefully received.

    • John says:

      Hi, Lou -

      I know how hard it is to hear and really believe that it’s not your fault, even though that’s exactly right. I can offer all sorts of reassurances – all true – about his leaving as only about him and depression, not at all the “healthy” him rejecting you, but I realize that the hurt, humiliation and grief can’t be reasoned away. It takes a long time living with the emotions and loss brought on by his suddenly packing up before advice can be heard at a deeper level. Advice is always rational because the person giving it isn’t going through what you are, and emotions knock out logic every time. Giving yourself time to work through the feelings is important – it’s also the sort of thing good counseling can help with. Someone to listen without judgment, without jumping in to tell you what you should do or think or feel. It’s true that your husband is ill, but your feelings count as much as his and taking care of your needs is, I’m convinced, the best form of help you can bring to this crisis – for both of you.

      One of the worst things about this is the feeling of helplessness – you can’t heal for him, of course, and you’re often cut off from seeing him or even communicating, and so can’t really know what’s happening. It’s great that you do see the big picture and have been learning so much about the illness. Taking care of yourself is so important.

      All my best to you — John

  88. Liz says:

    You are very welcome. I owe so much to you in helping me move thru the deep, dark rough times. Your relationship with your wife provides me inspiration. I don’t kid myself in thinking that it’s all done with. Like I said, he suffers chronic depression. I just hope that we are building such a strong bond that we can survive what comes next. That’s the tough thing with this illness as you never know what the next day may bring. So we choose to be in the moment and be grateful for what we have. As a result, we are much happier. But, to be completely forthright, when I let my emotions that come from fear take over, I am scared to death that I’ll wake up tomorrow and he’ll withdraw once again. That feeling has left me with an insecurity I can’t shake but I’m working on it. I don’t share that w/him as there is nothing he can do about it. It’s my issue. Thru meditation, I let go of the fear and focus on the love and that works for me. Thanks again John and I look forward to receiving your email with the other thought you have.

  89. L says:

    Hi John — I haven’t responded in a while about this subject but I am so glad you have addressed it once again here in your blog and also on your new website. In all of my research about depression and how it affects men and relationships (and I have read everything and anything I could get my hands on to try and understand what he is going through and the trauma I have been through), your comments (based on your own personal journey) have been the most helpful to me. I say this b/c I have been one of those women deeply involved and in love with a man who suffers from chronic depression. I have been on the emotional rollercoaster ride for almost 4 years now and I am happy and incredibly grateful to say that for the past 8 months our relationship has been stable, loving and very intimate. I am one of those women that needed answers and couldn’t give up on him. Did I take care of myself first…no…not initially. But, after a while, with the help of my friends and a therapist (for a short period of time), I did realize it wasn’t my fault and no matter how much I loved him, he is the one that needs to help himself. He never lashed out at me. On the contrary, he blamed himself and in the throws of his depression, realized he couldn’t give me what I wanted or needed. He convinced himself that I wasn’t his future and we needed to lead our own lives. I decided to try and let him go and in doing that, I was able to rediscover myself once again. BUT, I was always in contact with him and telling him how special he was and how meaningful his life is. I never made it about us as I didn’t want him to use that against us. Fast forward a few months, and we saw each other and realized how good we are together as oppose to being apart. We consciously decided to live in the moment. Not talk about the future. No stress. It has worked for us in incredible ways. We are much more connected and loving then we have ever been. He will always suffer from this terrible disease but what we do now that we didn’t do in the past was to talk about it. When I hear certain depressive words coming from him or he tells me about a very stressful situation, then I bring it to his attention so that he can understand that it made lead to a depressive episode. We are much more truthful about us…about his depression…and about our feelings. He is the love of my life and everyday he thanks me for being there for him. We have made it through so much and I believe with all my heart that we will make it through anything. I want to thank you. It’s b/c of this blog that I was able to truly understand what the love of my life was going thru. He is such a beautiful soul and I am grateful to have him in my life. I have read that expectations ruin relationships and I know I had expectations…but, now, like I said, when we are together we live in the moment with no expectations and it was worked beautifully for the both of us!

    • John says:

      Hi, Liz -

      This story is so moving – It’s wonderful to hear that you’re back together. And I’m so glad you found my writing helpful. There aren’t that many comments about how things work out after a separation, so a special thank you for sharing this here.

      I’ll write soon by email with one other thought.


    • debbie says:

      I know this is very belated to the above, but I just read it and I cried. My partner left 8 months ago and its taken me this long to realise how ill he is and that I need to rise above the fact that every time I contact him he hurts me. L, yours is such a beautiful story. I so want to help my man. I have battled with my reasons for this, as I saw him recently and he looks dreadful; he speaks as though he thinks I am the devil and yet he had come to see me with reconciliation in mind. This meeting had me questioning whether I really still love him at all, but all I can think about is a need to be there for him. I’m very over-sensitive by nature though and its hard for me to reach out and ignore that he has been involved with someone else and that he still blames me for everything and that I am no longer the light of his life. But I will take so much from what you have written, L. My very best wishes to you.

    • Hopefull says:

      Did you ever tell him just how much he hurt you? My partner left two months ago. He has never lashed out on me, we treat each other with respect. When we talk or are togheter we have such a good time. I pretend that Im ok, because I dont want him to worry about me on top of all. But the truth is I have been crying everyday since, praying ten times a day, hoping… should I tell him how I feel, how depressed the loss have made me?

    • sandy says:

      I am going through a situation too , and have read what L has written I too feel the same, my partner is going through depression and is seeking help but has cut me off completely. I too am getting help. He is a special person did everything for me and I too would do everything for him all was perfect we loved being with each other he always missed me and he would always say we cant keep our hands off each other. Anyway I am seeking help because he has shut me off not replying to my message. I have decide to stop them for a while seek help myself because I now realise what he is going through which is 100 times more that what I am feeling and I dont really want to be around people and not interested in doing anything. I will be working with a therapist to help me and at the same time I need to reach in and rescue my partner. I am positive I will get through somehow but with prefessional help. Thankyou for that post L

    • Felicity says:

      Hello L,

      Your story gives me great comfort and hope. A week and a half ago my now ex partner decided to end our relationship. We lived together for under a year and were together for 2 years total. He is depressed and suffering. He is in pain. I am too but my head only seems to focus on him. I feel our stories are quite similar, he feels that I deserve much better that him, he can’t offer me what I need or want and therefore wants time out to find his own self happiness and wants me to find my own self happiness. I am struggling to understand what the correct balance of contact is. I want him in my life and I love him deeply. I feel there is more more to him and I than this. It is in my bones. We have meet up once since the break up and he has stated that he wishes to keep in touch, that he wants me to be in contact with him. This gives me hope as I am not being explicitly told to get out and never come back. I ask you what level of contact did you keep? Did you call? Text? Meet up? If so how often. And what ways did you ensure that the conversations you were having were about HIM. I am aware that if and when we do meet again that I need to leave a positive impression behind. A flavour of happiness. I want that positive association. If I leave a negative one I will leave a further tainted image of myself in his mind. Any advice would be appreciated.