Does the Partner or Depression Cause the Breakup?

burning sunset in dark clouds

I’ve often described the way depression can break up close relationships, but does the illness explain everything? How responsible are depressed partners for the human cost that others pay because of what they do when they’re ill?

One reader told me I’d confused her about this. First, I talked about depression taking over someone, as it had done to her husband. The angry stranger he became was the opposite of the man she had married. He became remote, blamed her for everything and left for a time.

Depression can do that. If it’s treated effectively and goes away, however, it might be possible for the old, familiar person to return and the couple to get close to each other again.

It seemed to her that I was putting all the blame on depression, as if the couple had been hurt by flying debris in a tornado and then could heal their wounds after the storm had passed.

Thinking about her partner’s leaving and coming back made more sense to her when explained as the impact of a destructive illness. It wasn’t really him acting in those terrible ways but an inner monster that was driving his behavior and twisting his thoughts. To some extent, that’s true, and I have often described it that way.

But I’ve also talked about the responsibility of recovering partners to acknowledge the damage they’ve caused. They were the ones who acted abusively, had affairs, left home without a word, then returned and apologized, then left again – or did other things just as destructive to their families.

When I talked about depressed partners in that way, she thought I couldn’t empathize with her returning husband. He was back, full of remorse and trying with her to restore the relationship. It sounded to her like I was blaming him, after all, rather than his depression.

I know it’s confusing, but this isn’t an either/or choice. Depression causes the changes in behavior, even personality, but depressed partners still need to own up to the damage and pain their actions have brought about. I believe that is an important part of recovery.

It’s such a complicated and sensitive thing to talk about – especially when answering a question from someone who is trying so hard right now to understand what happened.

Though I’ve written about this before, I doubt I’ve ever hit the right balance in describing the way I see it. And, of course, the way I see it only comes out of my experience and won’t necessarily match what others are going through.

Depressed partners can’t simply put the blame on their illness, assure their partners that all the hurtful behavior wasn’t aimed at them and expect that everything will get back to the way it used to be.

I know that doesn’t work because I used to think that way. After a long spell of sullen withdrawal, feeling like my wife was to blame, wanting to get away, I’d snap out of it and be responsive and loving again. I’d feel deeply remorseful but explain what had happened with words like these:

You have to understand that it wasn’t about you. It was all about depression and what was going on inside me.

That was sincere but didn’t help much. Both of us wanted to believe that I was back, and that we could pick up where we had left off. However, things weren’t really the same at all.

Before long, I’d get depressed again, then come out of it, offer the same explanation and feel the same remorse. My wife couldn’t accept that explanation after the first couple of episodes.

She’d tell me:

How can you say it wasn’t personal? You did this to me not to a shadow in your head. How am I supposed to trust you now? I never know who you’ll be from one day to the next.

Saying it was all depression wouldn’t cut it. I had to accept the reality that I had done deeply hurtful things to her. I had to own up to what I had done, get help and work with her to restore trust.

I also had to face her anger. That wasn’t easy for her to express, and it sure wasn’t easy for me to hear. With the help of a therapist, she could get it all out, and I could sit there and take it without trying to fight her off or get angry in return.

What I had done really sank in then. For the next day or two I felt a deep grief. My eyes were clouded with tears much of that time. That’s when I fully grasped the emotional impact on my wife and kids and could see in bright sunlight how much I had put at risk.

After that, I could never again rely on the idea that depression alone had done the harm. It did its work through me and my behavior. I had to learn how to live with the illness and limit the damage I might do to my family while under its influence.

Worrying about what the cause was, who or what is to blame, isn’t going to help much. What happened is done and can’t be undone. Yes, depression will change behavior in drastic ways, but treating it successfully doesn’t bring a relationship back to what it had been.

I put it this way in another post about broken relationships:

… the relationship you used to know may not return. It’s likely to be changed as a result of living with depression, especially if it recurs of if a single episode continues for several months, perhaps even years. It’s only natural to long for the return of the loving partner you used to know – your partner wants the same thing – but be prepared that it may not be so simple as that. You and your partner are more likely to face a gradual process of redefining how to live together.

It’s a great thing when a relationship can adapt to the impact of depression and survive. Many don’t, especially when the illness keeps coming back. There’s a lot anger, hurt and broken trust to deal with, and treating the illness of one person won’t do it for you.

That’s been my experience. Has it turned out differently for you?

184 Responses to “Does the Partner or Depression Cause the Breakup?”

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  1. BBD says:

    I am a university student who was sadly born to parents with very strong cases of depression. I have always known this so i have always understood that i have a problem. I choose not to medicate my depression however, as i believe that it will not cure it – simply mask it. My view is that depression can be cured, you just simply need to know how to handle it. Anyway:

    Me and my partner have been together for three years and we are incredibly devoted to each other. She is the most incredible girl i know, who would do anything for anyone and has time for any person. However, my depression flared up VERY badly a few months ago and it has taken a beating on our relationship.

    I would call her names, blame her for my problems, constantly complain about why the world is horrible, loose my motivation and sleep all day. Simply be a completely bad person.

    Once this hit home with me (she broke down over the phone) i have realised how terribly i treated her. This has caused me to address my problems and sort the things i did wrong. But i cant help but feel like she has lost faith in me.

    We took a break, as i thought it would help but i only lasted 3/4 days without pleading her to talk to me again. It opened my eyes and i can see how much i love and need her in my life. She brings me so much joy and happiness.

    However, i cant help but feel things have changed. She explained how she has some doubts about our relationship and she needs time to see that i am getting better. What did i do? I took her straight to the cinema and a few days later we had a family bbq. Perfection.

    But these doubts have stalled my depression efforts. It has made me incredibly paranoid and worried that “She doesnt love me anymore” “Ive ruined us” etc.

    So i start becoming my old self again, as i get so scared. I start telling her how i think we should break up all the time due to me making her unhappy.

    We are only young – she is 18 and i am 21. I cant help but feel like i am holding her back, but in reality we only make our lives that much better.

    I need some advice into how i can show this girl that she can trust me in getting better and that i have a disease – which makes life a little harder for me.

    I would really like to marry this girl one day, the pain i cause has to stop today.

    Thank you for reading, i would snap my spine to bend over backwards to make things work. I just need faith and trust to fuel my engine.

  2. Sandie says:

    I give up. I just…give up. John, I have visited your website, purchased your book, read your newsletters. I have even passed on all of it to my husband and his therapist. My husband’s comment after reading the introduction of your book: ‘It seems to be all about how it’s affecting her (your wife). She must have problems. Why don’t they talk about what she does to trigger him?’ I was shocked enough not to even comment.
    It has been 5 years since his diagnosis of depression, and still he does not want to talk about it. He says he doesn’t have much time left and he doesn’t want to waste it talking. It is all about him.
    So, I give up. He is such a smart person, and had been a kind and loving person. Now, he just wants what HE wants and does not care about anyone else, except to be angry at me for not wanting what HE wants all the time. There is discussion, there is no thought of working on things or working it out.
    I feel I have to stay because he is a heart attack patient; but, for the life of me I don’t know how to conjure up any loving feelings anymore. I. Just. Give. Up.

    • firefly says:

      I feel your frustration. It’s very difficult to be in your shoes and I’m positive it’s even worse to be in his shoes. I understand when you say that basically nothing is getting thru to him and it’s all about HIM. At this point it’s pretty much useless to talk him into thinking otherwise. And even IF he does feel remorse about the way he’s behaving towards you, the focus in his mind is about himself and that’s the only thing he can ruminate about. Until hes able to deal with the inner issues he has, he won’t be able to move forward in working on your relationship together as a team. I know this because this is what I’ve been facing for a few months now. They have to face the music like someone said to me. But Sometimes the fear of even thinking about it is overwhelming for them. So just like you, I give up. I have tried many times but it’s like talking to the wall. So I’ve made a decision to stop enabling his behavior and told him that I’m not going to let him treat me this way regardless if he is depressed. I told him if he wants to be happy it’s up to him to change and make effort in dealing with his guilt and shame but I cannot take this hot and cold mood swings anymore. I sincerely suggested that he seek professional help and walked away.
      Of course he was outraged because he said I was being selfish and only was thinking of myself. I told him NO. He was so drowned in his sorrow that he can’t see what he’s doing and that I feel like I’m talking to a stranger. I walked off and sure as heck the next day he’s all sweet and cordial and a glimpse of the man I once knew was there. But I don’t trust him anymore or rather his mood swings because once I respond kindly, he fixes to lash out at me and the cycle begins all over again and it’s all about HIM and his pity party.
      So I understand your feelings. And I understand you feel like giving up. For me it’s a bit easier to walk away and support him from afar since we aren’t married. So Maybe you might have a greater desire to stick next to his side. But he has to make the effort and WANT to change. You can’t change him. And YOU shouldn’t have to change for HIM just to appease his sensitive ego. It doesn’t always work and sometimes just makes them think they can keep acting the way they do.
      Good luck with your situation. I hope you guys have a breakthrough soon as I can attest to hoe draining this whole thing can be. On a good note, I think it’s good there’s a counselor involved although I’m not sure what the counselor meant about John’s book. I always thought a counselor should be neutral?

      • firefly says:

        OK. I just reread your post and realize it was your HUSBAND who made the comment about John’s book. Now THAT makes a whole lotta sense now. Of course he would feel that way. HE doesn’t want to admit that HE has a problem.

  3. Robert says:

    Dear Friends,

    I just wanted to drop a note to express the sheer relief I got from reading all your kind words and all your experiences, however painful they have been. THANK YOU.

    I too was dumped by a someone who suffered from depression. I searched the internet for answers, “How could someone I was so close to and shared so much just turn there back and walk away”? I have grieved for months always trying to explain our “connection” and how special we were.

    I sought professional help, decided not to contact my EX no matter how painful and trusted in my treatment and that GOD would reveal all when it was time.

    This is my conclusion. I love my EX but I love me more. I fell victim to a disease (depression) that offers very little explanation for it’s effects on those who have it and those who suffer its effects. It’s not my EX’s “fault” for having the disease. I have a choice to keep my EX and the behavior that comes with depression in my life (I have chosen to walk away). I feel good that my “NON-ACTION” in the matter of reconnecting with my EX was the right thing for us both and look forward to a simpler life in the future.

    I would have never known any of this prior to reading all your stories and seeing that I am not alone, this is not something that happened just to me. Our experiences all match at some level and we are all hurting very much.

    Best of luck in the future to all of you. I wish US well.

  4. Carrie Crow says:

    Hi there everyone. I just found this website in a struggle for something, anything which might point me in the right direction.
    I have been seeing my bf for a number of months, we both suffer from depression and are both receiving treatment. His depression is worse than mine at the moment, I suppose his is more constant whereas mine flares up and then eases off. He has been separated for two years and has a close relationship with his family, he has children and he is very involved in their lives and see’s his ex wife on a constant basis.
    When we met he told me all this straight away, I couldnt believe how open and honest he was. He told me about his depression and other stuff that happened in his past. I accepted everything and appreciated his openness. However, I couldn’t talk so easily about my past, some of which I’m deeply ashamed of. Recently he asked me about my previous partners and as I have always been honest with him whenever he asked a direct question, I told him the truth, a truth that is the worst thing about me. The thing I hate myself most for. And now he cant get over it. He has slept with a lot less people than me because he was married for over a decade. And I used to use sex as a tool to make myself feel better. That was a long time ago tho, I’m a different person now. But now I’ve told him and he says he’ll never be able to feel close to me again. For that reason he says it’s over, but we’ve also become best friends in the time that we’ve known eachother and so we are still talking to eachother, going over & over & over it. I’ve told him everything at this stage, how the other sexual encounters were just a means of getting some form of affection, that they meant nothing, that I love him and that he is the only one I want now and for the rest of my life.
    There are a no. of issues at play – I didn’t tell him until now, when he told me all his personal stuff up front without my asking. He is very insecure so now he feels like he’s just one in a stream of guys and feels like he’s not good enough to be with me or anyone else. And of course, I’m not the person he thought i was. He has lost all respect for me – and really I don’t blame him, back then I didn’t respect myself, the men in question didn’t respect me and I now I realise that I couldnt expect to sail thru life without having this come back to bite me in the ass.
    We were so happy until he asked this question and now I think i shouldve lied – he says I should have. He says I must have known it would come up at some stage and if it was before we were in love then neither of us would be in this pain we’re in now.
    I’m wondering if this is just a depressive episode and if it’ll pass and he’ll realise he can accept me and that I’m still the same woman he fell in love with. Or if not, what can I do to make him see that i love him more than any woman has ever loved any man. He saved me from a prison of loneliness and despair and the time with him has gone a long way to healing my pain. Now I’ve broken both our hearts, he feels like he can never be with anyone else again cos he’s not good enough. And im struggling grasping for anything i can do to show him how much i love him. My words just aren’t getting through to him. If anyone has any suggestions please reply. I need help, we both do, I don’t want to lose him. Thank you.

  5. Celia says:

    My husband has been going through a depression with very high anxiety for about a year now. Starting back last August, he began frequently seeking me out to talk with me about how he felt. He said that this was what a marriage was for and that he couldn’t imagine being married to someone that he couldn’t share his pain and his anxieties with. So we began having these conversations, first just a few a week for an hour or so, but slowly growing longer and more frequent. He would tell me how terrible he feels, and then I would try to provide some way to reframe things that would help him, and then he would either accept what I said and move on to another way in which he feels terrible or he would reject it and explain to me why my idea wouldn’t work. Sometimes we do have good conversations that genuinely help, but more often not. Now these conversations will last for hours and we will have 1-2 a day. I will find myself spending 6-8 hours a day listening to him talk about how miserable he is (no, I am not exagerrating, and it frequently starts at 4:00 in the morning). I can’t take it any more, I find myself flying into fits of rage, begging him to stop, to go to work or go to the hospital or take a nap or do anything but PLEASE to stop talking to me. His therapist and his doctor have both also told him that this is “reassurance seeking” and that he needs to stop because it is reinforcing his anxiety and keeping him from getting better. His doctor offered to admit him to the hospital to keep me from getting burnt out. He tells me that he can’t stop and I just can’t believe it–surely he could at least allow me to leave the house so that he couldn’t seek me out! But every time I try to stop a conversation, he starts in with “how can you leave me like this, can’t you see how much worse I am, I can’t believe that you could just walk out on me when I’m in a state like this.” I am coming close to a breakdown myself and I am trapped in my own home (we are both self-employed). We have been married almost 17 years and have three children. I don’t know how to stop this downward cycle–any suggestions? Otherwise, just some support would make a huge difference. I am with you all in your difficulties.

    • Anon says:

      Dear ceila – you have just described my situation! I think most people assume that men don’t like to talk about things and that this then causes them to become depressed. I’m in a simular situation to you in that my partner constantly talks about how he feels and his problems, so much so that I feel constantly drained listening to it, the only escape I get is sleep. He is currently off work for 3 months with a very bad bout of it so we are both at home (I am a stay at home mum, we have a two year old). I have insisted that I carry on with my normal routine with my daughter so that I’m not trapped in with him and his dark thoughts. I can completely relate to how you are feeling. You must stand up to your husband and tell him you can not allow him to take you both down, especially as you have children to consider. My partners therapist told us that we must organise specific times to talk about our problems, almost like a meeting, so that we do not spend ours on end talking about them. I am also making my partner sleep in the spare room a couple of nights a week so that I can go to bed early and just read a book and have some quiet time away from him – this really helps. I have explained to him that the constant talking is starting to feel like a type of torture! I have also made him read this website so that he understands that while I understand the depression is causing his behaviour it doesn’t excuse him from any blame on what it’s doing to me and that also if it carries on it will have a lasting affect on our relationship because I’m not a robot or a saint! I wish u all the best in your struggle, the main thing to do is insist on your on space and time to yourself.

      • Celia says:

        Thank you for your response. It is nice to know that I’m not alone, though I’m also sorry that you are in this too! Things have changed a bit since I posted, mostly because I got to the point where I simply couldn’t stand it any more and I told him in no uncertain terms that if he needed me to be with him or talking with him in order to feel safe, then he needed to be in the hospital and that I would be happy to take him there. I really mean it, and he knows that I mean it, and this has forced him to stop (mostly). I feel for you because I think it’s worse when they aren’t working–my husband is self-employed and work is slow right now. It’s really hard for him to find anything to do other than talk to me. But whenever I feel as though he’s starting to slip, I just leave the house. It upsets him, but (despite all his fears) he hasn’t had a break down yet because I’ve been gone.
        I hope that things get better for both of us soon!

  6. firefly says:

    I fumbled on this site after having a blow out with the man I love. A little history. ..met him when he was unhappy in his 10 year marriage. He was my professor. We hit it off and have
    been seeing each other for 3 years. The wife filed for divorce a year ago after he put off telling her about his unhappiness and about me. After she found out initially she kicked him out. He was a wreck but even more so now that the court date is in a few weeks.
    He says he loves me and cares about me. But the next day its like a different man. He says stuff like he feels guilty for carrying on our relationship and that he shoukd have done things properly. He says he feels guilty bc he thinks his kids won’t accept me and he doesn’t know if he can bring me into their lives bc theyll see me as the reason for the divorce. He says he feels guilty bc his friends will blame him for the divorce. He says he feels guilty that he can’t be there for me 100 percent. He keeps saying guilty and I’m so sick of it. All the hurtful words don’t help and yet he still says he loves me.
    The tabkes seem turned now. I used to be the insecure one. And one time a few months back he tokd me it was bc I had no faith and confidence in US. Well I told him the same thing the other day….
    He seems to be so distraught and uncaring as to the words he chooses to use with me. As tho I can just take them and forget. He’s stressed about his new single life ahead and all the responsibilities he will have. He stresses about the the divorce and what people will think. He says he’s unhappy with himself and therefore he is unhappy with me. I get that he’s scared but its sooooo hard to talk positive with him bc he allows him self to stay in the hole. I try to be supportive but he views me as being selfish and only caring about myself, which isn’t the truth! Its like he’s so depressed that he cannot see the good in anything and anyone…even ME.
    I tokd him I can’t change the way he feels and only HE can help himself out of this self loathing and fear. Today he blasted our chances for a future. I told him he was just scared to ACTUALLY be happy with me and that he is setting us up for failure without even giving us a fair chance.
    I was at a lost of words bc it was like talking to a wall. No love. No care. Just self pity and guilt and negative.
    He harped about me not giving him space and time to sort things out. I DO!!!! But he doesn’t seem to see it. He acts as if when I ask him to talk that I’m stealing away his freedom. But yet he can put off important obligations to go out with his friends. I’m the ONLY person he talks about his divorce and fears with. So it hurts to be shunned away like this.
    He says that he needs to clean up his life and get things sorted and be happy with himself. I agree! But it feels awful when he projects his inability to carry out those things bc of ME when REALLY its his own doing and procrastination.
    It hurts the most for me that he’s so depressed and EYE seem to be the target for his rut he feels he’s in….hurts so much.
    I don’t know what to do anymore bc anything and everything I say is only viewed as insincere and selfish. I told him I care about him as a person ans want him to be happy and confident in himself. But as with everything. …he had a negative response. He said I hope you meant that. As if I didn’t??? I told him he doesn’t have trust in me anymore. He said he doesn’t think I’m getting HIS point.
    I don’t think he has a REAL point except that he’s feeling depressed and sorry for himself.
    What am I to do????

    • kiwi says:

      Hi firefly, I understand what you are going through. I think your b/f’s life in last few months has become too complicated and its ok to be confused. But it seems as if he was not transparent about his relationship with you to his family and friends and hence the guilt is normal. This is his moment of facing the music. So you can’t do much. Its hard to be calm. But, I suggest be patient. Try not to initiate these talk with him. Do not advise him to do the right thing. Or else he may feel that you are pushing your agenda. I think, he realizes that his guilt is his own to bare. Let him solve his problem himself. By getting involved in this you are directly coming in the line of fire. Be with him, show you care but with a cup of coffee or a meal. Also, he might need a shrink to seek some clarity. There are some risks involved by getting into a relationship with a married individual. But clearly, he was not happy in his marriage or else he would’nt have been with you. Do not loose hope but try to concentrate on other areas of your life. Its critical for you to strike a balance in your life too.
      Good Luck! :)

      • firefly says:

        Thanks for your response!
        You are pretty spot on with what I was feeling and what I was thinking. We are at a point where I feel I am walking on thin ice with my bf. All his guilt and shame has gotten the best of him. I know I haven’t been of better help by wanting him to be more assertive in getting his life together. I have never told him to get his butt in gear because I felt it might be too much added pressure. So I trusted he would be fine on his own accord. Months later I see that he was procrastinating prob from fear of the unknown as well as not dealing with his guilt.
        For now I have been keeping my distance and just texting short GM to see how he’s doing. He responds but I can tell its reluctantly. As tho he’s afraid he will lose focus or maybe he’s still upset that I told him that he’s feeling sorry for himself last week. I know that was insensitive but its kinda the truth and I was at a point where I couldn’t take being the target of his rant.
        I will slowly taper off even texting him unless he contacts me. Because although I do care how he’s doing it also hurts that he is being stone.
        His court date for divorce is coming up in a month. I will do as you suggest and stay out of the line of fire.
        I do miss him. I miss seeing a smile on his face and feel a bit awful that he sees me as a potential enemy at the time he needs support the most.

        • Brent says:

          firefly try to understand that it is the depression that makes him see you as an enemy…or so he says. The guilt one feels with depression is insane. If he is like me, my depression forced me away only to protect my partner not to hurt them. You express blame but inside it is shame. Does this make sense ? The depressed truly feels they are hurting everyone and it is the last thing we want to do.

          • firefly says:

            I understand. He uses the word shame to describe himself. He sometimes says he feels ashamed of himself and what others will think of him for the decisions he has made.
            I understand he may feel like he is trying to protect me but he really is only making things feel worse. I guess its frustrating to see him not deal with his battles face on and instead see him hiding from them. This kinda makes it difficult for anything to flourish when he is a roller coaster of mixed emotions. He doesn’t want help. Sometimes I think he feels inferior when its offered. But its only because people care.
            I can see how he is struggling and I know that it is something he needs to work on himself while I silently stand by his side with compassion. I try to reassure him and let him know that he’s not alone. I don’t want to give up on him just yet. I wouldn’t want him to give up So we shall see

  7. May says:

    In my case am the one who is suffering depression but the sad thing is that noone seem to understand what am going thru even though i have a very loving family. Moreso i am yet to get treatment bcos at d moment am out of job so am unable to raise d cost of treatment d psychotherapist asked me to bring.
    As at November 2012 i ws stil in a relationship with a man who has bn very wonderful in caring for me, i can say i culd nt have gotten someone who culd be as understanding and supportive as he is. My depression affected me so much that as much as i desire to give him all my love, i get easily irritated, cry alot, experience sleeplessness, anger alot as well. We were already planning our wedding. Until i got angered late november and got physical with him,told him i dont want him again in my life. He was shocked, later when i calmed down i felt so ashamed and pained bcos he has been so understanding, i never bliv my condition culd get to this state. I begged him, but he doesnt seem interested again after the incident. Now i feel so worthless and helpless having lost such a caring, loving man. I dont know what to do bcos i love him so much

    • kiwi says:

      Hi May,

      I understand what you have gone through. But the damage has already been done. At this point, I think you should try not to panic about loosing him. Give yourself some time to recover fully. Even if he takes you back in his life and gives both of you another chance, you might again cause him hurt by getting back into depression after a while. Hang in there and let the heat cool off. If he really loves you, he may come back someday.

      Good Luck

      • Sarah84 says:

        Kiwi what is your connection with depression? I think a lot of advice you’ve given on here is off the mark and incorrect.

        • Anne says:

          You have to deal with your depression first before you try to deal with your relationship. From my expererience, you won’t be happy with anything or anyone until you are happy with yourself. I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but it is very important to take care of yourself first. I understand you love him and want him back in your life, but it will continue on the same path if left untreated. Please talk to a doctor and find out what they can do for you in your area.

          • firefly says:

            I agree totally that you need to be happy with yourself first. Not just people with depression….EVERYONE

        • kiwi says:

          Hi Sarah, at this point in my life, I am trying to move on even though someone gave up on me who suffers with depression. In her reasoning, depression is not the reason why she wants a break. More things that came out from nowhere left me in shock. Shattered and devastated. I think, people who are in a relationship with depression patients have a life of their own to live and care about too. I have seen normal and healthy people spoiling there lives over people who are in a state of depression and that includes me. No matter how much you blame depression, one has to claim responsibility of their actions when they are in it. And “Yes” it is definitely infectious. They need time off- thats fine, they want to explore other love options-thats fine, they feel they don’t need us- thats fine too.
          But they should not expect us to be taking them back after they put us through all this and much more. Instead, should concentrate on their own lives and leave us alone if we have somehow managed to moved on. Real love is not always about acquiring but to be selfless…..

  8. Mino says:

    Cant take this pain much longer… My partner left end of Nov 2012… We have been together almost 8 years, with a break of a year in the middle. The last 30 months have been very painful. After getting back together ( weeks later) I noticed, he was withdrawing emotionally…. At first I thought nothing of it, thinking, stress, ect… Months go by I keep asking “whats going on” He brushes it off, and does not want to even talk about it… I let it go for a few weeks, getting less and less affection.. i bring it up, he now is getting angry, cussing, and running from me just to “NOT have a conversation… A year goes by… My anzeity is on High… daily… trying to figure out what is wrong… guessing… imagining… going literally crazy! I write emails trying to comunicate… he is now completely shut down… He literally lived with me but ignoring me most of the time escaping to tv every night… Hardly speaking, Lovemaking felt like I was treated as the stranger, I felt he didnt even want to kiss me anymore…I ask many times , ” do you want to leave? Should we break up, because I feel you are not happy here anymore… he kept saying, he know he loves me, but its buried in his heart, and he FEELS dead, and FEELS no love… I tell him Ok, if you want to work on this go to a therapist… he goes for 3 months and quits… During this time his anger got out of control… during my wanting to talk… he ending up cussing at me… calling me really bad names…I say you need to go on medication… He goes back to a med doctor, who precribes him zoloft… I thing the dosage was to much… 150 ml… He then was getting even worse… zombie state… During a small dissagreement, he tells me he want to leave… He feels guilty, cannot look me in the eyes saying he knows how much he is hurting me… He is moving out to be a recluse and hopefully “fix himself…. He moved out weeks before Christmas…We do work together, I see him daily, he walks by me says hi, and keeps going… He is hiding behind his desk most days, looks Flat, sad, or indifferent most of the time… I feel my heart is broken in thousands of pieces.. I am Still in total disbelief… The man I loved so much.. just walked away… without even looking back… I know he is depressed… I know the medication made it worse… i cry daily, lost 10 pounds, and I feel I just sit here waiting, waiting for him to show up at the door… I do know he is sitting in his new apartment, wallowing in his deprression, escaping to tv, playstation and sleeping… he has cut himself off from most people…. I feel so helpless, I want to help him, but he will not accept it… I feel I am dying a slow death here

    • Mino says:

      During the meds ( 2-3 months his anger goes away… He becomes very mellow, which was a good thing… but he emtionally becomes completely dead…..

    • kerry says:

      Reading your post made me write for the fist time on this forum. If only you knew how much what you have gone through is reflected in the relationship with my husband and myself. My husband left in July for what I thought was a trial separation. I really had no idea how much depression was affecting him, but over the next few months I did everything I could to learn more about the disease and how it affects people. It made me have a better appreciation of why things happened the way they did. Don’t think for a second that having a more nuanced view of how depression affects relationships has caused anything in my marriage to improve. My husband will not come home, and distance is making his heart grow fungus- not fonder. I miss him with every cell in my being, and the fact he won’t come home is heartbreaking. I keep telling myself that I just have to ride this out (it’s been almost 6 months since he left) but it’s getting harder and harder to do. I saw him for 5 minutes over Christmas and noticed that he no longer wears his wedding ring. We separated, he’s moving on, and here I am left hanging, mostly because I do not want to let him go. Completely helpless I tell ya! Going to therapy, reading self help books, trying to exercise, pretending not to take this personally, reading and learning about depression…….have not produced the results I want- that my husband returns to me. Wish I had answers for ya….just haven’t figured it out yet. But I hear ya sista…I’m kinda in the same boat. I’m actually trying really hard not to fall victim to depression myself. Tough times.

      • Sarah says:


        Your post was very difficult for me to read because I could have written the same story about myself and my husband–except that I was the depressed one who left. Some of the advice I have you won’t like, but hopefully it will be somewhat helpful.

        The ‘thing’ about depression is that it makes you believe you are unhappy with the situation you are in–your job, where you live, or the relationship you are in. It’s hard to understand why this happens, but the best way to explain it as I experienced it is that your spouse is supposed to be the one in the world who can make you feel happy and fulfilled, despite everything else in your life. And if you’re a victim of serious depression, you suddenly find yourself unhappy and unfulfilled for “no reason” (i.e. depression, which doesn’t always have a triggering event–it can happen spontaneously). Your default reaction is to think it must be your spouse’s fault–they’re the person who is supposed to understand you, to fix everything, and make it all better, and when they can’t, they’re at fault for the unhappiness.

        The depressed person then urgently tries to fix the thing that is making them feel sad–they might leave work, feel the sudden urge to go on vacation or move, or in our cases, the depressed person flees the relationship. You actually believe it is your spouse who is causing you to be sick, and your reaction is to get away as soon as possible. You even feel deep resentment for that person. I suspect this is how your husband feels, and for absolutely NO reason other than depression is wreaking havoc in his head. It impairs your ability to think clearly, to manage emotions, to think critically. (Which is why they say not to make any big decisions when you’re severely depressed.) Although your husband might sound coherent, a person’s judgment in a depressed head is severely impaired.

        I know how you feel, which is exactly how my husband felt when I left him. As much as you try to understand the nuances of depression, it doesn’t produce the result you want, which to have your spouse back as they were before. But it’s going to take a lot of time and patience. It could take months or longer (1 1/2 years in my case) to fully recover from depression–and often it’s never a matter of “recovering” but being in remission and learning to manage the lifelong illness. There is very little you can do to knock him out of it, and even if he wakes up tomorrow and realizes how bad his illness is and commits to fixing it, it will take some time and serious effort on his part to fix it.

        For practical purposes, you can’t treat him like a rational person for the time being. You have to think of him as the victim of something very serious. It’s hard to believe that depression can cause the kind of behavior he is exhibiting, but it absolutely does. The depressed person doesn’t “see” what they’re doing, they don’t see what they’re doing is wrong, and they don’t see what they’re doing can cause real permanent damage.

        In my case, my husband did not realize how sick I was (neither did I) and he got tired of waiting for me to come back. And I don’t blame him because I was truly awful. And now of course, I regret everything and know that I lost the best person I’ve ever met. I’m sure in time, your husband will feel the same way. My honest advice would be to suggest legal separation or divorce to him (not that you actually want to go through with it), but that sometimes the depressed person doesn’t realize how bad things are until they see what they’re losing.

        In the meantime, there’s not much you can do except absolutely don’t take it personally, remember that he is a victim of a serious illness and it’s not his fault, or yours.

        If you are wiling to be patient and give him the space he needs to figure things out, in time (and it might take a LOT of time), things will work out.

    • Beenthere says:

      The story you just described is me exactly. This is exactly what happened to me but I am the other partner. I am the depressed one and you story is precisely what happened to me. The anger the guilt..everything is the same. I now am deeply depressed as I have lost the woman I love so much but couldn’t see the things I was doing wrong.

      • Beenthere says:

        You are all welcome to ask me questions as to “why” a person does such things and I will try my best to answer them. Maybe one of you can tell me how to expain to my ex what I have done in a way the she may understand that it was not in my control. I love her so much but hurt her so much at the same time…unknowingly. Please help.

        • K says:

          Hi Beenthere, can you give us some more background on your story please? Did you live with your ex and how did you push her away? Thank you.

          • Beenthere says:

            Four years ago I met the love of my life. She was starting a new teaching job in a new city, after a exiting a terrible relationship. We were both from the same small town and knew of each other but that was about it. I had a small crush on her back then, that was about it. 20 years later we met up on facebook. Anyway, we both moved to the new city together along with her 12 year old daughter. I sold my home and was in the process of selling my business in order to move on together and get married. Due to her past relationship she had insecurity issues which drove me up a wall. So when we first met we opened up to each other completely for the first time in my life I felt that I had no walls around me. One of the first things I told her when we met is that I mostly stayed home alot of the times as I was so sick of drama….at the time I was 41 she was 33. I told her that I used to smoke pot almost every night. Not realizing at the time that I was self medicating for what I now know as depression.
            Sorry if this all seems muttled as I am currently severely depressed and it is very hard for me to concentrate on one thought at a time.
            Many events took place between us, starting our new life together started by her one day announcing that she was pregnant. I had an anxiety or panic attack instead of being happy. We only discussed having a child once or twice up to that point. Then the complications started…turns out she had endometriosis and had a miscarriage. I was blameed a few times for infidelity type actions which were totaly untrue. As time together went on I slowly found myself withdrawing from her. I worked the long hours, sex became distant, I became distant. She knew it and told me so. My irritablily and anger came from no where…to me it was unexplainable. The smallest thing would make me mad. We no longer kissed each good morning or good night. She tried so hard to make me happy again by doing little loving things. None of it mattered I just shut down more and more.
            Finally two springs ago, after not working all winter but trying to make a go of it by trading stocks….which I failed at….I told her one day out of the blue that I felt dead inside. I had not made any real friends in the new city in two years. I had told her once that if she ever blamed me for cheating on her ever again that I would leave…well she did.
            I finally told her I couldn’t take any of it any more and I was leaving. She asked for us to go to councelling but I said if we need it now what is going to happen later……I know …so stupid of me. So we split up…a month later she contacted me and asked if we could work things out I of course said yes. The long and short of it is we tried a long disatance relationship …which she always told me she hated… every time I was there I was irritable.
            Finally last March I again said that was it and that I was never coming back again. I spent the summer totaly involved in my business working 18 to 19 hour days and on 3 occasions I worked around the clock. My mind was totally consumed. As it is a seasonal business once September came and it slowed down. I looked on facebook to see that she had moved on with another person in April and it killed me. Since that time I have gone off the deep end. I started slipping into full on depression, I’ve had panic attacks, anxiety. I came to realize that I caused so much pain in our relationship, the guilt was starting to eat away at me. So the more distant I became the more unloved she felt and the more unloved she felt the more she blamed me. Does that make sense.

            I know none of this what I wrote probably made any sense…I am so messed up right now.
            I’ll try post again and be more specific. This is so hard for me to write right now.

          • Beenthere says:

            I basically withdrew from everything. I just thought I was tired from work, but now after reading these posts I think it was much more than that. I threw a lot of blame for things her way that may not have been all her fault. She often would tell me that I was sucking all the energy out of her, and how apathetic I was. Evening were spent basically watching TV. We would try to have a family night, but it often turned out with someone being ticked off by the end. At first me and her daughter got along great but then she turned 13 and we started butting heads. We would often spend many days not speaking to each other. I thought I was just trying to teach her responsibilities but she thought different. I should say that once we got together I quit smoking pot. I felt I no longer needed it once I had found her.

          • K says:

            You wrote your story very eloquently Beenthere and I am so sorry to hear of the pain you have gone through and are currently experiencing.

            Have you thought about writing a letter to your former partner, explaining how the depression made you say and do things that were out of your control?

            I’m sure that it would also be nice for her to know that you are receiving medical treatment for your severe depression and are no longer self-medicating, as hopefully this is the case…?

            The Depression Fallout message board forum has a section that ‘contains informative posts from members who are depression sufferers and their personal experiences with their own battles with depression’. I’m sure if you posted there it would be of help to other sufferers and ‘fallout’ partners. There are many people desperate to know why their depressed loved ones are pushing them away and I’m sure your input would be very welcome and beneficial.

            Sincere best wishes, K

          • Beenthere says:

            Thank you K for your kind words. I wish I could write her, she doesn’t even know that it was depression that caused it all. The last communication we had, she had moved on and told me that there was just too much destruction in our relationship. I would do anything to have her back, unfortunately it’s never going to be again. The fact of that has now put me even deeper into a clinical state of depression and anxiety. I wrote several emails in the mean time to the point where I completely pushed her away. Now I just want to send this one last email to her, the one you suggested K. Whether or not I ever will I don’t know.

        • Sarah says:


          You and I have almost mirror experiences with our relationships and depression. I pushed my husband away, the absolute love of my life, and he finally moved on and moved in with someone else, and I’m totally shattered. It plunged me back into a deep despair and I had to go (back) on heavy anti-depressants. He knows I had depression but he doesn’t realize how bad it really was or that it was the exact thing causing the destruction in the relationship. I, too, sent him emails that pushed him further away (and it had everything to do with the fact that I was in such a state of despair, I didn’t know what I was saying or doing anymore and I felt numb and dead inside, and thought I hated everyone and everything). In reality, the underlying relationship was great–we were compatible, it was special, everything was right until depression came along. I’ve been drafting a letter to him going on about 10 months now that I never seem to finish or that I don’t have the guts to send him because I don’t want to be disrespectful towards his current relationship or sound like I’m belaboring the past. Even though it might not bring him back (and probably won’t), I know it will make me feel better sending it to him, and who knows, maybe he will like what I have to say and maybe he doesn’t feel that deep connection with her that he did with me? And maybe (just maybe) your ex feels the same way? So maybe we can exchange letter ideas, ha. But I think the focus needs to be on you and getting better for right now, not on her. If she hears an email from you when you’re in a happier place, that would make the letter more compelling than if you were to send her another depressed/negative email.

          • Beenthere says:

            Wow Sara our stories are exactly the same. I really didn’t know what I was writting towards the end as they didn’t make any sense any more. I too originaly wrote her and her daughter a letter each with her permission and as you say didn’t want to finish writting it and told her so in the letter. I stated that as long as kept writting the letter the our conversation could go on for ever. I was still pretty sensible then…not like now. I’ve written so many other emails that I have never sent, just saved them as a draft.
            Sara it is so strange to hear all these stories being so so similar to each other. The exact same thing transpires in the same order. I just want her to see these stories and she could judge for herself whether or not she thinks it is just me or the illness of depression that tore us apart. In all the stories the significant other that leaves…rarely tells the other that they do not love them and that they just think they would be better off without them. I never said that to her but it is exactly how I felt. Some how I thought her and her daughter would be better off without me …. and so I ran away. You can email me anytime Sara I would like to chat. Don’t know how to give you it however. I am on Daily Strength my user id is jackfish01. There are many supportive people there.
            I should also say, her thoughts on what depression is and does to a person wasn’t accurate . We used to discuss my mother as she was diagnosed 7 years ago with anxiety/depression. She though depression was only if you were bed riddin and couldn’t do anything. Maybe I was crying out for help with prior to leaving ….. and never got it.

          • kiwi says:

            Hi Sarah and Beenthere,

            I read both your stories. I now understand what both of you are going through. But don’t you think writing your respective spouses a letter even if they have settled with someone else with great triumph will again be selfish on your part. I think the best way both you can appreciate their importance in your lives is to leave them alone and move on with your own life. I know you were going through depression but real recovery would be coming out of it with a selfless feeling for them and making sure they are not bothered or messed up even for a sec. Think bout it :)

            Good Luck

          • Marikka says:

            Hi again been there, you are an inspiration and should be so proud of your road to recovery. You show so much self awareness it’s commendable. You really hit the nail on the head with your explanation so much so I read it to my partner who agreed. My partner said he’s always felt that unworthy feeling and can’t even imagine not feeling that. It makes sense though as the therapist digs she s suggested he’s been like this as a child and I’ve always believed his depression has been have given me more insight than I’ve gotten out of therapy so I thank you very much. I hope your ex partner realises the work u have put in. You mentioned something earlier about chia seeds can u share ????

        • firefly says:

          I would like to inquire…..
          What does it take to have the depressed partner see what they may potentially lose in a relationship? Does that ever happen before it’s too late? Why can you see the goodness of your partner now that she’s gone? Did you guys talk and have open communication? Or at the moment did anything she say seem negative to you? Did you truly ever give her an opportunity to say how she was feeling? And if you did, did you think she was off base? Sometimes I think people who suffer from depression are so obsessed with their pain that they want to find someone to blame. What do you think you need to do for yourself in order to rise up?

          • Brent (beenthere) says:

            firefly, the depression clouds your head so much, they need to realize that they have depression first off, secondly they need to seek help for it. I don’t know for sure but I think if I had read this blog I would have seen the similarities within myself and realized that I was ill with the disease and sought the help needed to fix myself. Counselling is the number one thing I believe. Unfortunately, you as the partner probably will not be able to explain this to your depressed partner. They have to realize it for themselves…you can suggest to them that they read this. It may and may not work. Its worth a shot. Like I said I wish I had read this while we were still together.

        • Marikka says:

          Hi been there , I’m curious to know if depressed ppl lose a conscious ??? The reason I ask such a blunt question is my partner who suffers depression did a complete personality change. He went from being a very decent person with good values and morals etc . To going on dating sites hitting pornography taking sexual enhancements really opposite behaviour. Without any thought to me or the family only 3 months after baby was born. But on the other hand saying I love you etc. I had temporarily moved out of the house. Wanting to come back home but him saying I need some time to get better yet doing all this stuff. Now tells me doesn’t know why he did it . Therapist says an embellishment or him searching for feelings I normally provide ??? I’m not sure about this I’ve been thru this behaviour twice . Is depression an excuse to do this to your loved ones ???

          • beenthere says:

            Believe it or not I have read many many stories of your exact situation. Where the depressed goes of and either does as your partner is doing or they go off and become problem gamblers or they fill the void in what ever way they can, and you must understand ….depression is not the same as you saying you are feeling blue. The chemicals with the brain and body have changed which in turn changes the person, and more often than not, the person does not even realize it….that is until they hit rock bottom that is the point where all that suffer depression unknown to them finally realize they have an illness. I was lucky I realize on my way down that I had the illness I was however unable to do anything about it as it took over my life day by day more and more until I was nothing more than a lump on the couch. I then went to my doctor for help. Help in the form of medication, medication to sleep, and antidepressants to help get me going again for with out it I feel it would have been impossible to do. But as I say I was lucky as I knew I had the illness before rock bottom and so I filled the void on learning about my illness that filled all my time, no gambling, no women, no wild reckless acts which are all traits of depression. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have about the illness I will try to answer as best I can. I am also now proud to say I no longer take any sleeping pills or antidepressants. I have my reasons as to why I had such a quick recovery I still have a long way to go though. Therapy, counseling and exercise became a large factor in my recover. The meds are just there to help you get to the therapy or counseling. Chia seeds is the only other difference I have made in my life since hitting rock bottom.

          • beenthere says:

            Believe me Marikka it is not intentional and no it is not nor should it be used as an excuse. I hear the same comment from many of the depressed partners significant other. It is not an excuse but at the same time it is not the same person you fell in love with… is but it isn’t . I am now the same person that my partner originally fell in love with ….I just hope she realizes it.

          • firefly says:

            I wonder the same thing about losing their conscience….

            I don’t know exactly what point it began but I feel that my now ex bf has lost his. He had started to lose it a few weeks before we split or at least that is what I f eel. I could no longer take the bouts of showers of love and care followed by lashes of coldness and confusion. I stopped trying to cultivate the foundation as it appeared he was so engrossed in his life stresses that he could no longer show empathy or feelings that matched the many times he would say how important I was to him.

            After we split, and it was him hinting at it but not saying the words. ….things became more apparent that he was a different person. I asked if he thought this was permanent or if he wanted to take a break from the relationship. He couldn’t even answer a yes or no. He kept talking about not saying no because he didn’t know for sure and he didn’t want to say yes because he didn’t want to disappoint me if he couldn’t deliver. Either which way I was still in limbo. His words before we split were all over the place. He said he loves me, cares for me, and has feelings for me and blah blah. Fine. I feel the same but know by his erratic unstable behavior that he’s in some dark place that I cannot reach. He made a comment about him being unhappy with me because he was unhappy with himself and mostly the reasons he was unhappy was because of the relationship…..meaning all the guilt he was dealing with that I had written about above previously. He said a relationship is about two happy people not just one. I agree. But honestly I think he’s in denial because I deep down believe he hasn’t truly been a happy person since his divorce process started. I feel like he’s trying to find an easy escape route because he doesn’t want to deal with issues up front and rather them disappear so he doesn’t have to go thru any type of alterations, emotional or physical.

            So I let him be. I was hurt and sad. I felt confused because I still care and love him but its like fighting a battle that can’t be won. It took me a few days to realize that EYE am not the one with the problem but he is the one. And even tho he has said I did nothing wrong, I feel like I could have been more sensitive to his emotional stagnancy and the type of communication and dynamics he had with his wife for the last 20 years. I think this is very important! He always said his soon to be ex would make him feel undesirable, call him stupid, shut him out, argue to the point where nothing get solved but 10 more issues get added, always telling him what to do, always pretending in front of friends and family like they were perfectly happy (which he did too), make comments about him to the kids in facetious ways, ignore him to make him feel guilty, etc. For the three years we were together I showed him that this type of communication was not healthy. He was receptive for the first two years but once the divorce started, I noticed he was exhibiting the exact treatment he had with his wife. Its like the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. I started to feel like he was reliving his past within our relationship. It sucked. During our break up chat he said he didn’t want me to hate him and that he wants me to be ok but that he needed to clean his life up. To this day, I don’t know if that’s the whole truth but I accepted his words and he told me that I am so important to him and have made a huge positive impact on his life. I don’t know if I believe that and I’ll explain a bit why.

            We’ve been split up for almost two months and when he sees me at work its still the same rollercoaster of emotions with him. One day he’s nice and sweet and acts like we haven’t seen eachother for years. Hes engaging and seems happy. Then I’d see him an hour later and he’s cold and a jerk. This went on for two or three weeks and I finally told him I could not handle this hot and cold anymore. He said he felt like anytime he was nice to me that he felt I might want more than a friendship. I was appalled. I told him I dont want to be in a relationship with him right now because he is unstable and has a lot to of deadlines and issues to deal with first. I told him to get an ego check because there ARE other important family and friends that are also in my life that I am enjoying. It seemed my comment of me not actually wanting him made him turn nice again but I decided to stay away from him and let him talk when he felt like it. And when he did, I answered politely but made sure not to get too happy because I didn’t want to get burned again. This was ok but he would get upset when I wouldn’t give 100% attention to him. REPEAT….I AM SCARED HE WILL turn cold on me once Im my true self around him.I told him right now I don’t trust him completely. When he talks of fun things he does over the weekend, I listen and feel happy for him. I make sure I ask how his football games are going and how his running matches went. He is genuine and happy that I ask and am happy for him. Of course I am! Like he said of me, he is important to me too and I am thrilled when he has something good going on. When I mention something positive happening to me or a trip or concert I’m going to, he sits there and its as tho I’m talking to the wall. He acts like he doesn’t hear and when he responds its with an irritable “uh!”. Whats up with that? Its like he’s mad that I can actually be happy without him? Is he jealous? I don’t get it.

            The final straw came the other day when he had asked about my doctor appt and I told him I needed to get a biopsy done. His immediate response was if I could let him know the results so that he knew if he had to worry about any diseases too(as in STD). I was hurt and disgusted. First off, his immediate response wasn’t to ask if I was OK but rather he made my situation about himself. And secondly, I told him I haven’t touched anyone else for the last three years. I told him his comment was insensitive and he got super mad and stood up to walk away. No apology. He said he didn’t need a lecture. I was fed up to the gills. No conscience at all! I told him how I felt he was selfish and everything was about him and his feelings and what people think aboutn him…him….him. he sat there silently and finally he spoke up and said like a 7 year old, “Oh yeah, well remember last week you facetiously told me to have a nice day?!”. I told him to get over it and that I wasn’t playing this blame shift or deflecting game with him anymore! I told him that I had been trying for the last two months ro be cordial and supportive but that he is brainwashed into thinking negative things about me and my intentions. I told him I put up with his crap for three years and have been ultra sensitive knowing he hadnt had a clean example of a healthy relationship while married for 20 years. But i made a point to tell him that since IN HIS WORDS (during our break up chat) theres no WE right now, that i dont feel obligated to be as sensitive to his feelings anymore since we arent in a relationship. He had no words but his face was red and his lips curled. I told him that he says I’m his best friend but he treats me like I’m trash. I told him he was so self absorbed and lived in a bubble. I told him if he’s going to continue treating me like crap, I’m going to return the favor. If he’s gonna be consistently cordial and nice, I’ll return the favor too. It can’t be all one sided where I’m doing all the work and right now I don’t even know if its worth salvaging a friendship with someone in his condition. I don’t know how he will be when I see him at work again as this is the only time we have contact now. But I’m afraid he will either be stone or cycle back to his seemingly happy mask and hit repeat. I will say that despite his erratic display of emotions or lack of, I still care for him. And i want to believe that under all the layers of hurt and guilt and anger that the good person I have known is still there waiting to be freed. I know it sounds dumb of me but I do also feel a sense of compassion towards him and also feel sorry he hasnt the right frame of mind nor courage to emerge thru this difficult period instead of mulling in it. I am at a loss with his behavior and thinking with everything I just wrote about. Is this NORMAL behavior with someone going thru depression?
            Sorry for the long vent session:(

            P.S. I had suggested he see a counselor again like he did when the divorce was filed but HE feels he’s perfectly fine. I had also suggested he open up to his male friends to get male perspective and have someone else to talk to besides me. Also because I feel its not biased advice shoulders. He said he rather not anyome know what he’s going thru and guys don’t talk about feelings. He said no family or friends know why hes divorcing. He said many dont know but hes preparing foenhis soon to be ex to slander him to everyone…..which if he was forthcoming hed stand up for himself and let it be known he was unhappy for years and not use our relationship as the tell all kill all. In his head he fears they and his family would judge him for seeing me and would think he was a bad person. I empathize with his thought but I dont agree with writing things before they even happen. The truth they say, sets you free…

          • Marikka says:

            Been there, we’ve actually come back together now but I’m still finding it difficult to come to terms with everything that’s happened. So many lies …….. I suspected stuff at the time he denied it that can’t be depression ???? Obviously from my snooping I found things out then confronted him and the rest follows he says when your depressed you don’t think of other ppls feelings your just trying to survive. But too me telling your partner by day you want them then by night doing all this other stuff seems so crazy . He tells me now he can’t believe he did it and can’t say why because he does t even know. I find that unimaginable. He’s never been into this stuff so I guess I question did I even know him. Some woman hit him up for his number and he gave it to her said he felt pressured and couldn’t say no. We were going to therapy and the therapist told him he had to kick his parents out if we wanted to save out relationship and he couldn’t do that even knowing I was living with family with 12 ppl in a house. Says he didn’t even think of that even though I told him. Do depressed ppl not think ???? Is it all about them ?? It’s like at times he’s lost his memory. I find things out he explains I’m like why didn’t u tell me he’s like I didn’t remember until u confronted me. Is memory loss a problem ??? I’m like do I have to live my life worrying u will do this again??? I’m very understanding but it’s hard when I’ve bad so many lies and I keep finding stuff out because he forgets. Maybe u can explain that. I’m thankful for taking the time to reply and so glad to hear your on your road to recovery. I feel so cheated sometimes because I’m like why me he had such a horrible past marriage and we’ve had such a lovely relationship I feel why did this happen now.

          • Marikka says:

            Hi firefly , I feel for you because it’s battling to try and understand their actions. When someone you love pushes you away it hurts. The push and pull they put you thru almost drives you mad. I’m at the moment looking deeper in myself as to why I allowed myself to be tangled in it. I feel when your in a good place yourself you would handle it better yourself. Sometimes taking a look within helps with all the madness. In my partners case his poor self esteem lack of assertiveness in his life sweeping things under the carpet finally took its toll on him. I could tell him till I was blue in the face and he didn’t hear what I was saying. Fortunately the therapist has come to same conclusion and he’s working thru it. U ask the same question why didn’t it happen in the last relationship why now in the good one. I ask that all the time still haven’t figured it out . We had , had a baby when it hit hard I was devastated he wasn’t even bonding with her. Someone said to me once you can’t make sense of madness and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. But u can’t and when they are off doing this stuff it just feels like that. I guess when they finally realise what’s gone on its hard for them to deal with what’s happened. My partner who I’m back with now said nothing I could of said and done would of stopped it. He found it more harder to deal with me saying things hence arguing and distancing himself more. I wish you the love and happiness you deserve and hope it works out for you. He has to be the one to recognise it and make the changes. It’s out of your hands.

          • firefly says:

            Yes its a battle. Although I know its a battle for him too. I also have been looking on the inside to see what I have done or didn’t do and have taken a deeper view on who I truly am. The type of behavior in general that you and I experience from our loved one is very draining but like you said, its all in their hands.
            In my case, I am at war with how much more I can withstand. I do want to be there for him because I care, but how much more of being a doormat to his outlashes will I take? I agree that when you yourself are in a better place its easier to deal with when you are exposed to their behavior. But it still is confusing and hurtful at times. Sometimes I wonder also if he knows what he says and does. He also had a problem with sweeping things under the carpet and waiting for everything to pile up which causes more stress. And like you, when I mentioned it, he would turn on me and shift blame. Its a vicious cycle for two people to go thru. I have not mentioned anything about his responsibilities he has pending to him anymore. And I don’t know what or how he uses all his time now since we haven’t been together for almost two months. But like your loved one, he has exhibited tendancies for risky behavior and fantansies. I don’t want to assume this is what he is doing in his freetime but its not my say anymore. As far as how he treats me when we see eachothet, that is a different story. Although I sympathise that he is in a dark place right now, I don’t feel that letting him continue to use insensitive words towards me is right and I have been standing up for myself. If he can’t see it then that’s not my problem, its his. There has to be boundaries when it comes to this things. All I can do is make him aware of how I feel and let it pass within myself. Everything else after that is up to him. I don’t know if he will ever or if he realizes what he does and says, but I know he is slowly seeing that I am not going to take it anymore. I pray he heals or comes into the light. He says he doesn’t want to lose me in his life, but his behavior isn’t matching up.

            I hope your situation gets better everyday. You sound like a good person who truly cares for your man. Take care of the self too:)

          • Marikka says:

            Hi firefly, today’s a good day for me because even though we are back together after being apart for almost 3 months it’s still been a roller coaster. Still very hurtful somedays but its getting fewer . While I was apart from him I also seeked therapy as you know it’s so easy to blame yourself and the last few days whilst writing on here it’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Today I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on the coping tools I’ve been given its hard but whilst we try and work it out life is flying by . I’m reading a book called hidden victims hidden healers and its about ppl In our situation very helpful. It looks deeper into why we take on these rolls with the depressed partner and how to keep yourself in check and support someone in a healthy way . If u get the opportunity read it. Setting boundaries etc. my partner and I battled for months the antidepressants took ages to work and finally when dose was increased we were able to talk with him actually not being shut off and it was the right timing for me to put my foot down and say enough was enough and if he didn’t come home and put the effort in I was out. I’d said it many a times . But I guess when he seen I was in a good place rather than begging him or fighting with him to come back be knew I ment it this time. But I think until they are in the start to recovery your words are fruitless. I hope your man gets the help he needs so you both have a chance to recover. It’s a lot of work and still painful I’ve been thru this 2 times. The first time he wasn’t as bad but still did same things took his tablets for 4 months started to feel better and ditched them. So u can imagine how hard the fall was this time. This time he never wants to go off them because he knows how bad he will fall if he comes off too early. He was suicidal this time and it scares him. It’s a crazy illness that somedays makes me feel angry, sad, hurt and missing the person I fell in love with but on the bright side he’s starting to heal and deal with all the things in his life that got him into this place so I’m hopeful I may just have a new and improved partner. Sending you positive thoughts all will work out the way it’s suppose too.

          • beenthere says:

            I’ve never understood the risky behavior thing as I never exhibited it personally. You ask why it never happened in his previous relationship….. believe me depression is always there. The fact that it was a horrible relationship by the sounds of it is why non of the symptoms that you had to endure were present in the other. For it is the prior relationship that depression loves, remember depression is self pity. You are or become unworthy. When you are in a loving relationship you feel so unworthy of your partner but if you are in a horrible relationship with no love…. that feeling of unworthiness can not exist or does not exist. Depression will never show itself in a relationship like that because it is exactly where it wants to be…it is content. It is only when you are in a loving relationship with true love that the depression will show up and sabotage it all. It will do it’s best to destroy the loving relationship. It will tell you that you are not worthy of your partner and that your partner deserves so much better than yourself, and so the self destruction of the relationship begins…. all unknown to you initially. It’s such a crazy illness you guys you have no idea of what it is all capable of doing, and you have no control over any of it. Mostly because you don’t think there is anything wrong with you…you think all of this behavior is completely normal….but nothing can be further from the truth because it is everything but normal.

            So the orginal question of do depressed ppl lose conscious…no …I never…I knew of every thing I did….. I felt I was doing it to protect my partner…from me. For I was not worthy. The other thing is I had no answers to WHY I was doing some of the things I did. It took me two years to figure out why I did some of the thing I did in the relationship. Now I know I did them because I suffered from an illness called depression.

          • beenthere says:

            What I am trying to say is you more conscious than ever, its is so huge that now controls your life. You conscious bothers you so much that it slowly starts tearing you down little by little. It is you conscious that tells you to go and leave that beautiful person that is in you live that you do not deserve.

      • Lonley123 says:


        My husband is exhibiting the same behavior as you did. It is INCREDBLY difficult for me to understand and feel compassion for his behavior. Prior to us getting married, knowing that he had bouts of depression in the past, he assured me that all was worked out. We had long conversations about his feelings and his “coming out of it” in a few days or so. Yet, once we married, and the stress of lay-offs, family disputes and moving… the time he spent alone, sleeping, watching TV, or on the computer increased exponentially. After 3 years of these episodes happening on and off.. and the this episode lasting over 6 months so far….It became painfully obviously to me that something was very wrong. Our once exciting sex life ended. I would try to connect physically and emotionally- only to be rejected time and time again. He contributed his behavior to stress, and asked me to be patient. After a week of silence from him, I blurted out that we needed to see a marriage counselor, and he agreed. But when I asked him why he thought it was necessary he (finally) said “ I need to find out why I’m so unhappy!” Inside, I breathed a sigh of relief! For the last few months, I had been trying to get him to admit to his unhappiness. When he would try to blame me for it, I would respond by asking for specifics. Yelling, “Tell me what I am or am not doing that is making you unhappy!” He could never answer. He would say “Love isn’t enough.”
        I am happy that he is accepting that he/we need help. Our 1st appointment with a marriage counselor with specialty in depression is in just a few days. However, in getting to this point I am now faced with the following questions:
        1. How can I thrive in a relationship that is not mutually benifical?
        2. How long can I last being the sole provider of love, support and consideration without reciprocation?
        3. How will my needs (that only my husband should give) be met?
        4. How will I stop feeling sooooo resentful?
        Looking forward to any feedback as I start this journey…

        • beenthere says:

          Lonely, you must have faith that in time that the relationship will be mutually beneficial. You have to be strong to be in a relationship with someone that battles depression. Once the depression in under control, whether that be medication and or therapy, the distance and coldness should diminish. Your first three questions should be taken care of with the right help for your depressed partner. And when those first three questions are no more…your 4th question will answered and you will have nothing to be resentful for.

          As I have found out on my own, you never win the battle. I have been doing so well for the past few months up until a couple of weeks ago, when I felt the ugly head of depression once again entering my life. Unknown to my Dr. I have quit taking my antidepressants as of two months ago, and as my Dr. told me there are cycles to the depression. I believe I am back in a down cycle but nothing compared to my rock bottom. I am fighting it will all I have, exercise, cognitive therapy, if need be I will start therapy again, but so far I am beating it off and staying ….rather upbeat.

          And you are right to sigh that relief as he has understood his own unhappiness….a huge step to healing. I am here if you have any other questions. I spend much time alone now which is part of why the depression has returned I believe. I am always open to lend a helping hand…. makes me feel needed…if you know what I mean.

  9. Linn says:

    Almost 3 years ago I met this guy, who I fell more in love with than I thought I could possibly love. He and I were both divorced and had not been in a relationship in several years. We both have two kids each and we took the relationship very slow for the first 2 years. Not only were we very physically attracted to each other but we always had a lot of fun together no matter what we did. We enjoyed being together alone and with our kids. One thing I always have loved about him is how positive he always was, even though he had had a couple rough years before I had met him. He was diagnosed with Intermitted Explosive Disorder, and was put on prozac for this. He was always very open about everything and his past problems and bad marriage. Never doing our relationship had I ever worried about him loosing it or not being able to control his temper. It was never an issue for us. Everything seemed so perfect, although at times, we would get depressed and seem to withdraw some here and there. Then he would be back to himself again and everything was great! After a couple years together, we had typical arguments, but nothing terrible or extreme. After two years of dating, we decided to live together. He moved into my house and we decided to do some remodeling and thought in the near future we would put it up for sale and buy a home together. His kids and I could NOT have gotten along better, I truly love them. He also got along very well with my children, seemed very caring and was always considerate of their feelings. My son got along well with his kids and they really enjoyed playing and being together. My daughter is 18 and can be difficult to deal with at times although he always was great with her, but she was out of town working all summer and lived with my mother soon after he moved in. We worked all summer on the house, painting and putting new floors down and had a lot of fun doing this together, laughing and joking and talking about what we should work on next. We went out of town to visit his family with my son and his kids. We had such a fun summer, working on stuff, building a tree house for our boys. At one time during the summer he seemed very depressed for a few weeks. I was worried about him, and asked what was going on. He said he didn’t know, but every time he was with his kids, he felt very depressed. Which was so unlike him, it didn’t make sense. He is an incredible dad and his whole life revolved around his kids, he loved being with them. Towards the end of this time, I had talked with a mutual friend of ours and told her I was concerned about how sad he has been acting when the kids are around. She asked if he was taking his medication? I didn’t even think about it, so I asked him, and he responded that he hadn’t taken it about a month because he had ran out and had just started back on it. He went right back to acting like himself after a week or two.

    October of this year, I started seeing him being depressed again. I asked him what was going on, he always said that he just was tired, stressing about money, or that he just wasn’t happy with his life. When he got like this, I always felt like he wasn’t happy with us, but he always assured me that it wasn’t us that it was just his job and money…etc! Just like always, although he didn’t seem to be quit his self, we spent time together and with the kids, we continued talking about things we wanted to do together. We talked about Christmas and what fun stuff we wanted to do with the kids, and going shopping and putting Christmas lights up, finding the perfect tree. Although he seemed withdrawn some what, he still wanted to spend all his free time when he wasn’t work with me and the kids. He still would text me or call me when he was at work and tell me about his day like always. Since he had to leave for work an hour before I had to get up for work, he continued like he always did………he would wake me up when he was leaving and kiss me and tell me he loves me and to have a good day! Then he would text me after his first class and tell me how it went and asked me how my morning was going. December 5th, All went exactly as it always did, he work me up…..kissed me and told me he loved me. Then after his first class at work, he text me…….Have a wonderful day Babe, I Love You!! The following while he was eating dinner and we were sitting and talking, he said he was moving out tomorrow……I was in shock of course. I didn’t want to believe it. He said he went to his friends house before going to work and he was going to move in with him. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t believe it. The only thing he said is that he loved me, but it just wasn’t enough to keep going. He said that he would miss me and would never forget me. We held each other all night, I could hardly sleep and kept waking up and couldn’t catch my breath. He was off the next morning and said he was going to start moving out while I was at work. He told me again and again how sorry he was and that he did love me. I was unable to work and couldn’t stop crying so left work. When I got home, he was not there and had taken a lot of his stuff out of the bedroom, and had boxes all over. I was a mess. He returned for another load and when he walked in his eyes were very red and looked like he had been crying. I had never seen him cry. I started talking and we both talked and cried for 3 hours. I asked him to please stay and to try…..I couldn’t image not being with him. He said he would stay and we could try, we went out and had dinner and had a great evening together and the next day we went to get a christmas tree and had a good day, till that evening, he was acting strange again and said he just had to go. I begged him to try to think of the kids and please lets not do this right before Christmas. Once again, he calmed down and said he would stay, even called my dad and told him to cancel coming in town, since he bought a ticket to fly in town to be with me since I was such a mess. I finally thought to ask if he had been taking his medication, he said he had not taken it for a month or two. I asked him why, he just said that he is always wanting to not have to take it, and doesn’t want to have to need it. He continued going back and forth with his wanting to move out thru the next week, then told me and moved out on dec. 14th, even after he told me he was definitely moving out, he stayed with me every night for the next three days, we talked and held each other every night too. He continued to say to me……I do love you. Then the day he moved out, we met for dinner and told the kids, they were very upset and cried and his son asked if he could still live with me. It all was so heart breaking and unbearable. His son called me twice that night and asked me to come to his basketball game the next morning, which of course I did. I have not seen him in a week and a half now, we have talked and texted here and there. One day it is kind and sincere, and the next it seems like he is treating me like I did something terrible to him. He doesn’t want to see me he says, then a couple days later he text and asks how I am doing and acts like he cares. I have never been in love with someone like I love him. He has broken my heart and I have never felt so much pain. I can’t even understand what happened. We never fought over stuff that couples usually do, we had a great intimate relationship alway and we were each others best friends. We did everything together.
    I am at an incredible lose of what to think, I don’t even understand what happened.

    Thru all of this, he never talked to anyone in his family or any of his friends except for the one he moved in with about leaving me, he never even gave me a reason. All of my family and friends think that there must be someone else in his life that he was leaving me for, but non of the signs were there. Till the day he moved out…….he was with me always except for when he was at work. I never really noticed, because I love him so much, but looking back at pictures from a couple months ago, he had really stopped taking care of himself. He was wearing the same clothes to work everyday, he stopped shaving, he hadn’t gotten his hair cut in months and wouldn’t even trim his beard or shave his neck or gotten me to trim his side-burns like he always use to every month. He had definitely gain some weight and just generally didn’t care about his appearance at all. He and I have always played word games against each other on our phones, and we have continued for the past 2 weeks since he left. He even started sending me messages the last couple days thru the game, joking around and being silly like we always use to be. Then tonight I got a message thru the game that he was going to quit playing for a while.

    • Linn says:

      Just wanted to add…..that I would really appreciate any advice. I am not sure what to do. I am trying to get thru each day and trying to take care of myself and my kids the best I can right now. I miss him so terribly much, he is the love of my life and I can’t even bear to think that I will never see him again. I don’t know if I should contact him, which I have not done since he left except for responding to his text or phone calls. I know he knows how much I love him, he has always told me he knows that I do and that he feels it. He can be stubborn at times but he has never treated me so cold or been this distant with me before. He may have a day or two where he has been distant and not wanted to talk or interact much but he always goes back to being him again. As much pain as he has put me thru, he has every chance to just say I don’t want to see you again, but he hasn’t, he has told me that he misses me and still is very attracted to me. But keeps saying that he just doesn’t see a future for us, that he doesn’t see it working out in the long run. But this is the same man that for almost 3 years now has told me that he loves being with me, and that he felt like we met for a reason and that we were meant to be in each others lives, that he felt that we were meant to be. Thats how I have always felt too.

      • K says:

        Linn, I’m so very sorry to hear what you’re going through. I would suggest not contacting him for a few days and if you don’t hear anything, perhaps just send a text saying that you are thinking of him. In my experience, if you don’t ask any questions, he may be more likely to respond. I am sure that he still loves you, but the depression is messing with his mind so much, he just can’t think straight. Unfortunately, if our depressed loved ones do not take their medication, the depression is likely to be more severe and last much longer.

        First and foremost, you must do all you can to look after yourself and not get dragged down too. The Depression Fallout website is an excellent place to seek support.

        All the best,

        • Linn says:

          Thank you K for your thoughts and advice, it means a lot. I am trying to keep going and not get depressed myself, but It has been trying with the holidays and just the shock of it all. My friends have been supportive, but they keep telling me to heal and move on, they think that he is not a good person for the way he has treated me. I keep finding myself defending him, because I was closer to him then anyone and I knew the real him, and they didn’t. I know they believe that I am giving myself false home that it is his depression and not that he just stopped loving me. I am beginning to think maybe they are right. I really know he suffers from depression and has for some time now and is terrible about staying on his medication. But maybe he did just stop loving me…….

          Thank you,


          • K says:

            I know what it’s like to have your friends tell you to move and forget, but that’s so difficult to do. I haven’t seen my xbf for 9 months and maybe never will again, but I will continue to be here for him if he needs me. At first I couldn’t imagine being without him, as I thought I’d found the person I would spend the rest of my life with, but after so much time has passed, I would now consider dating again. I do still live in hope that he will recover and want me back though!

            Stay strong and let me know how things go.

            Hugs K x

          • K says:

            How are you getting on Linn?

  10. Nick says:

    Hi guys,

    I have been in a relationship with an amazing girl for 2 years, I love her and we were amazing together until about 2 months ago when she changed and became uninterested. She realised she was depressed after we looked it up together and then was formally diagnosed by a doctor when she went to see someone, she was put on anti-depressants, and after 6 days of being on them she has dumped me today out of the blue, when 2 days ago she was saying she still wanted to be with me and she appreciated how supportive i have been. When breaking up with me she said she still loves me and she just needs some time to herself, and it has nothing to do with me. As you can imagine I am taking this badly because I do love her a lot, we were amazing before the depression and even with it we still had a happy relationship. How do you think I should deal with this? Should I leave her to herself for a while to get herself together or should I highlight how good we were and how good we will be again. I really don’t want us to end forever, and I am concerned if I leave her to it while she has time away she will think I don’t love her anymore and not attempt to get back with me. She talked about having feelings of guilt and worthlessness while she is depressed, do you think it is this that has caused the break up?

    Look forward to hearing any advice or feedback, its appreciated.

    Thanks, Nick

    • K says:

      Hi Nick, I’m so sorry that your gf has broken up with you, but unfortunately it does seem to be a common scenario when depression is involved. I haven’t seen my exbf for 9 months now, but we do still keep in contact through texts and email.

      If you think that you have the patience to wait for your gf to come out of her depression, you must try to give her the space she has asked for and just be a friend to her. Try to keep any emotion out of your messages to her, as I have found that this can push the depressed person further away. You also need to focus on yourself and keep doing the things you enjoy most. If your gf knows that you are happy and getting on with life, it will make her feel better.

      There is a huge thread which you may find useful on the Uncommon Knowledge forum, ‘My boyfriend has depression and he has pushed me away’. The Depression Fallout website is also very helpful.

      All the best,
      I’m just adding a link to a great article about coping strategies when loving someone with depression:

      • Nick says:

        Thank you very much your reply K, I appreciate it. Whilst I am devastatee at the moment and cantnseem to get myself together, I definitely believe I have the patience to wait for her to come out of the depression because I do love her and want to be with her, and i know that she loves me as well.
        We are both at university together in our final years and do the same course and whilst we are on the Xmas break at the moment, we do have to go back in January for exams and then we will be having lectures etc together for 4 months, so I will be seeing her on a regular basis, and she only lives about 10 houses down from me whilst we are at uni. I am not sure how I will handle that situation because I will be desperate to sit next to her and talk to her etc and evennpop down to her house every now and then, but if she wants space away from me I don’t know how she will feel about physically seeing me a couple of times a week. Do I try to talk to her or do I avoid her?
        I hope that the situation with you and your ex boyfriend works out, and that you are able to overcome any problems, and fingers crossed for a positive outcome in my situation as well.
        Thank you very much for the link you attached as well, it was very relevant and interesting, and I can definitely take some points from that. It’s nice to know at there are people out there who are willing to help out a stranger that is new to all of this.
        Thanks again,

        • K says:

          It’s difficult to know what to suggest for January – perhaps just say hello if you bump into her and see how she reacts? Whatever you do, don’t put any pressure on her regarding the relationship. Remember that medication takes a while to kick in and it sometimes needs to be changed, so don’t expect to see any significant differences in her for quite some time.

          I hope that things work out for you too. Perhaps you could let us know how you get on when you get back to uni?

          Best wishes,

          • kiwi says:

            Hi Nick and K,

            Your story is a typical case that I have read through a lot of forums for last 5-6 months.
            @Nick I suggest that the best you can do is to talk to her therapist and if all 3 of you can work this out together before your gf would be advised clinical separation aka trial separation. Later on things might become impossible to recover once her medication hits 3-4 weeks time milestone, where the patient in most cases does not feel romantic emotion(typical side effect discussed in many medical conferences) anymore.

            @K you seem to really love your bf a lot. But may be your friends advising you to start looking for new options is not bad after all. As they all seems to realize our importance after they realize we are gone.

            Good Luck

          • K says:

            Thank you for your message kiwi. I am not actively looking for anyone else at the moment, but if a nice man came along, I would be open to dating him. My dxbf could be like this for another year or so and I have already been waiting for nearly a year already!

          • K says:

            How are things going Nick?

  11. Vel C says:

    This is a good blog ( A man who suffers from depression describes how he ruined his relatonship when he felt “nothingness” while depressed. Now that he is in counseling, he can see he drove away the love of his life, and wants nothing more than to get her back.
    Lots of useful tips on relationships and why a man leaves.

  12. Kathryn says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years. We will both be 28 in January. He has had slight depression since the death of his father 5 years ago.
    Everything was great for the first couple of years until his depression got worse and he even now refuses to get help. He relies on me for everything. The cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, feeding the dogs, dealing with all the finances including working to bring home money. He doesn’t want to go to work, he has lost all sense of responsibility and just wants to escape reality. He has started to use drugs. he takes off all day and some nights. the way he speaks to me or should I say yells at me, blames me for everything, doesn’t want to go anywhere or do anything with me. I’m finding myself starting to resent him! He was never like this, he was always so caring and loving. I am staying with my parents at the moment as I have just had surgery 1 week ago. I couldn’t stay at home because I don’t feel I can rely in him to look after me while I recover. He knows what has to be done but just doesn’t want to help himself… I’m out of energy, I don’t know what else to do? I don’t even want to see him right now because he just stresses me out so much. I have reached out to his family for help but they couldn’t care less! They just used it against him and turned their back on him. I need help to know how to deal with this because I am at breaking point myself. He doesn’t believe he has a problem. Im at the point I am distancing myself from him completely because I’m so frustrated that he can’t see he needs help?

    • Vel C says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      I am in a similar situation except my love ended the relationship.
      We are still in touch and he opens up a bit more when I give him space.
      I was the bad one too and his friends are fabulous!! But really they don’t care because they never gave me or our relationship a second thought.
      One thing therapists and depression help lines have said to me is “take care of yourself too”. And that is very important. You should talk to someone and stay healthy. Take vitamins, (B in particular) exercise, get good nights sleep because I have been told that depression is contagious.
      Wishing you both all the best.
      Vel C

      • peter says:

        hi to both val.c and Kathryn,
        I want to let you both know that i was a sufferer of depression for 2 years and am glad to say i am just out now. Girls if i can say its only himself that can get out, you cant do it for him, I too was in a very deep relationship with a girl when my depression came along and i done a lot of the same thing as the man did in the top story thank god we had’nt a family. The differince was that i made my partner feel like shit we broke up time after time and she would come back after i would convince her it would’nt happen again. It only really started for me last feb. and i just wanted to be on my own and i broke up with my g.f. and went around in my own bubble for months after then i broke down something serious and relised what i had done. Girls if you really love him and want him back to the way he was at the start, Take my advice now but prepair yourself its going to hert you a lot at the start untill he wakes up. Girls leave him now dont contact him at least for 2 months your gonna have to show like you dont care. he will then start to wake up then you can give a little support but not much he will find his way then. He has a lot to go trough you will think he’s getting better but dont give in untill he stops crying down the phone to get back you, It’s gonna take the best part of 8 months for him to be right again he has a lot of stages to go trough thats what you need to hear him talk about that way you’ll know he’s on the way out.
        One more piece of advice he will be looking for that one thing to make him happy he’s always gonna look for the big thing, girls were my thing ,yes i went out to find love again but i could’nt find because i was not happy with my self so i wouldnt be happy with anyone else. But dont worry at the end of the day it will be you in his toughts.

        Hope this helps, if you need to ask me anything on it please feel free to contact me.

        • Vel C says:

          Hi Peter,
          Many thanks for your advice.
          Are you back with your gf now?

          • peter says:

            hi vel c,
            No we never got back together i did try a lot and kina still am. i would’nt blame her for all i put her trough. but i do pray that someday we can come to an understanding.

          • Vel C says:

            Hi Peter,
            I am sorry to hear that. Maybe one day everything will work out for ye, I really hope it does.
            Wishing you all the best and thank you again for your advice.

        • biglove says:

          thank you Peter
          Sharing your experience and advise on how to handle, at least part, of this insidious disease. It’s greatly appreciated and desperately needed by those of us watching our gorgeous partners change into hideous out of control puppets.

        • Rae says:

          Thank you so much, Peter. I hope your (ex-)girlfriend can come to forgive you in time, but most of all I am glad you forgave yourself. It takes a great deal of bravery to look that hard in the mirror and confront your own worst enemy: you. We’re all dancing with our own shadows. You are a good person. And with your words, you have made me feel that bit better. Thank you. x

          • kiwi says:

            Hi Peter, thats a nice piece of advise you gave their. But I dont think it will do much good if Rae and biglove’s respected partners are on medication and therapy. Cause the therapist keeps reminding the patient that their despiration is normal and prescribe them higher dosage which again kills the emotion out of them. Not sure though….

            Hope all you guys get your love back. Good Luck!

  13. Sally says:

    Hey. My boyfriend finished me after 6 yrs because he said he no longer had feelings for me. It was by phone and we haven’t spoken since. There were signs that he wasn’t happy such as he’d ask me what i would do if i was single/ comment that none of my friends would be his friends if we broke up etc. A lot of stuff happened to him while we were together and he wasn’t the success that he deserved/ should have been. His behaviour changed about a year before we broke up. He was very controlling of everything in his life, his routine, food and was negative about everything. He didn’t like anybody in my life (even if they were nice to him) and constantly said he didn’t would to be places even though he would be upset if he wasn’t invited or didn’t have anywhere else to go. He because obsessed with certain things but would not try anything new. This was all in the last few months. He constantly said negative things but had no better suggestions. I tried everything to remain positive, invited him everywhere and did my best to build him up. I was then so shocked when he ended things by phone and has since no responded to my request for a chat. It ended a few weeks ago and we haven’t spoken since. I am in shock and greiving massively because for a long time our relationship was amazing. I am at a loss of what to do. I love him so much. However, the guy that finished me was not him. I honestly thing he developed depression and ended it with me. Do you think this is the case. Is there anything i can do. He has a close family so i hope they can do their bit but i just feel so hurt by being left when i dodn’t do anything but try and be positive. Will he realise or will he just be negative about everything. I feel so lost and hurt. I dont want to insult him if he isn’t depressed but his behaiviour wasn’t really great towards anybody when we broke which makes me think it’s not all me.

    • Vel C says:

      Hi Sally,
      I know exactly how you feel. My love broke up with me in September 2012 and I had to leave my lovely new house, our home. My world was turned up side down by a cold angry stranger.
      I fully believe it was depression.
      As I said above, you have to take care of yourself. I heard it a lot and ignored the advice because I was so worried about him and what he was feeling.
      Now I am looking after myself because this will take it’s toll on you.
      I find space works wonders. I used to be ringing him, texting him to see how he was. But now I am pulling back and surprisingly he made first contact this week, for the first time in months. So I know I am on his mind.
      Wishing you all the best.
      Above I mentioned a blog where a man describes what depression feels like and how he ruined the best relationship he ever had. I found it inspiring.
      Vel C

    • Giz Girl says:

      Sally, my husband of 7 years handed me his wedding ring on 1/12/2012 after he threw a massive tantrum over nothing. There was no warning, we had just moved into a lovely house and were still buying stuff for it. We slept in sepatate beds, and in the morning I tried to give him a cuddle and make up – nothing, just cold eyes and viscious insults! I was in a state of shock because somehow I realised that he had manouvered me into a finacial abyss and had isolated me from all of my support systems. Luckily I have remained friends with my previous husband because I had no car and my “loving” husband refused to drive me anywhere. Yes he saw a phychiatrist 9 months ago for depression and i was told that he was high functioning Aspergers. The behaviour of your boyfriend is pretty much the same (controlling but disorganised. I’ve decided that he is a construct, he is an empty vessel that must be filled by his partner of the time, really just a body snatcher. Get on with your life we’ve both had a lucky escape – stay positive and keep busy and good luck!

      • Sally says:

        Vel C and Giz Girl – thank you, its tough, the toughest thing is letting go and thinking that you are leaving them (even though they’ve already left you). I think i am getting stonger now day by day. I know that i will 100% support him if he gets in touch but i will not prevent my life from moving forward. I’m taking control of things, reading loads and making changes in my life and i feel happy. I am not ready for another relationship but if i do get to the point where i am then i will take that step and if he comes back to me then i will have to deal with that at the time. I have definately learnt from this that the only person you can help is yourself. You can offer to help them but the most important friend you have is your inner self. Take care of it and it will take care of you. Lots of love x x

  14. Malcolm Mclaren says:

    I was in relationship for almost 10 years , she left me because of her family wanted her to married her own kind for her country my last 10 years

  15. Claire says:

    I recently ended a very long term relationship and moved out of the home we shared. My partner and I had been together for a decade and, while we had ups and downs like most couples, things had been going pretty well. We got engaged and had a wedding all booked, but then he experienced a depression induced psychotic break. He was hospitalised twice in a year but we were all hopeful he would make a a full recovery. That was a year ago now and unfortunately recovery hasn’t been as complete as I’d hope. We were forced to cancel the wedding and put our engagement on hold. In the past 12 months he has been unable to return to work for more than a fortnight at a time and spent his time sat at home doing nothing. That was really difficult for me to deal with in itself but then he began lying to me, not just about big things like the amount he was drinking but about small things too. He chose to spend most of his time alone and our relationship basically faded. I tried to support him but it got to the point that I was in danger of becoming depressed myself. I made the difficult decision to leave a month ago and it’s been extremly hard, especially since he seems to think we can work it out and repeatedly asks for a second chance. The hard part is that he’s alreday had so many chances that I no longer believe he’s capable of change. The question you posed about what causes the breakup is something I ask myself almost everyday. I know that he is ill, but I’d spoken to him so many times about what I was feeling and how bad it was getting that I find it hard to accept he couldn’t make more of an effort. I’m now left with complex feelings of sadness that my relationship has ended, guilt for leaving, a sense of failure that I couldn’t do more and that awful conflict when he calls of wanting to believe his promises of change but finding it impossible to do so. There is so much help available to people with depression but what about those that have loved and lost them?

  16. john kells says:


    I am new to this and took a lot of courage to write about my problems

    I have been married a year to the love of my life, we had been dating for 7 years prior. 2 years before wedding she took an obsession with gym and lost weight and became very restricted with her eating like scanning barcodes etc on food, basically burning more off than eating, I caught onto this and thankfully this is now under control.

    The main issues are that she says she is “not in love with me anymore” she does not love me the way I love her. We met a councillor last week and she felt that she was depressed and very high anxiety, thankfully my wife is now attending one to one sessions starting next week and I hope this can rescue our marriage. I asked her does she want to split up after a year and throw everything away and she says no! But shows no desire to fight for our marriage, I know she does love me deep inside but I can only hope the councillor can get these feelings out of her, she says she does not want to move out or be without me. I think her head is just messed up and it’s a very fragile situation.

    My main concern is am I wasting my time on someone who does not want me. I don’t want to move on cause we are so good together and it’s difficult as her frame of mind is just not there at the minute. She is also unhappy towards her family espicalliy her mother as they always had a good solid bond between her, I just don’t know if it is her frame of mind that is affecting us all but mostly me and making me feel down.

    Thank you in advance for any help / replies

    • Vel C says:

      Hi John,
      My situation below is very similar to yours.
      It is so hard to hear that the one you love, is no longer in love with you.
      I don’t accept that though.
      Apparently depression makes you feel emotionless, therefore you cannot feel any emotions even love, just anger. I’ve read that a woman blames herself and a man blames his partner.
      The fact that she is angry with her mother shows that it is not just you. I would say stand by her, now is when she needs you the most.
      Best of luck and I hope someone else will comment on if the love returns once the depression goes. Well done for showing such strength.

      • Sally says:

        Hi i agree with Vel. I wasn’t married and my partner turned against me. I saw over a year he turned against a lot of things, came so restricted etc. Then it became me that he turned against. One night he told me by phone that he now longer loved me. That was the last we ever spoke of the 6 year relationship! I have seen him about and the relationship now is like we’re just people who have bumped into each other a couple of times. Not many people understand what this is like. My problem i guess is that i have had to let go. He’s decided to deal with this without me so as hard as it was i’ve let him. Obviously without being able to talk to him about what has happened i’ve been going crazy but i’ve been doing lots of healing myself. You have an opportunity to help but i really dont know whether other than letting your partner know you’re there you can do anything. What has helped me is focussing on myself. If you do decide to leave for your own well being you could ensure your partner knows you will be there for her as a friend but you need to ensure your own needs are met. Stay strong and remember that no matter what you do it is only your partner that can fix this. Just be kind and make sure you remember that you are your own best friend.

  17. Vel C says:

    Hi John,
    That is exactly my question, is it the partner or the depression which causes the breakup?
    My devoted partner of 7 years changed over night. He went from being attentive and loving to a cold irratible restless stranger who turned against me. He wasnt sleeping and he lost weight. He stopped talking to me for no reason and would not share anything with me. The opposite of the man he used to be.
    In the months leading up to this, he had been under awful pressure and stress.
    After a month of him shutting me out and being argumentative, he ended the relationship, saying the spark was gone and he needed space to sort out his head.
    Since then I have kept the lines of communication open, offering to stand by him but he pushes me away. He never contacts me first.
    He is seeing a therapist, but I am not sure if it is helping as I can’t see an improvement.
    I love him so much even though he had treated me very badly since this happened.
    Should I keep the door open, or is this his way of ending the relationship. Should I accept it is over and that he actually does not love me? Or will he want me back after he beats what I think is depression?

  18. DMP says:

    Hi John:

    Thanks for posting this. My story:

    I’m around 50. There’s a woman (the sister of a high school friend) who had a crush on me when I was in high school. She’s a year younger. We went out a couple of times back then–nothing serious, just flirtation, but there was attraction. Anyway, fast forward 30 years. I looked her up on the Web and emailed her just out of curiosity. Turns out she was in the process of leaving a loveless marriage of 5 years (no children). I was divorced for several years myself. We are live on opposite coasts. The emails turned serious, turned to phone calls, turned to plane flights, turned to intimacy.

    For 14 months we had what we both described, often, as the best relationship of our lives, called each other the loves of our lives, etc. etc. etc. We talked 3-4 times a day, every day. The first person we talked to in the morning, and the last person we talked to each night was one another. I traveled out to see her about 20 times over the year, so we saw each other a lot, too (given the distance).

    There has been, sporadically, some sign that she had emotional issues. When I left her, she would sometimes go through periods of unhappiness, which her therapist ascribed to some sort of abandonment issue. But we worked through those and then things would get very close again. In the entirety of 14 months, there probably wasn’t a single day we didn’t talk at least twice.

    Anyway, about a month and a half ago I had to travel to Europe for two weeks. We kept up with each other via a Skype-like service, but the time difference and the need for wireless access meant that we generally only talked once a day. Over this period, some stressful things were happening in her life (her mother wound up in the hospital for a serious operation, although she was ultimately OK, and she had to go down to the IRS to get a copy of her tax returns because her soon-to-be ex wouldn’t give it to her), and I could hear her getting more depressed/stressed as the days went by. Still, on the Tuesday before I was to return, we talked (twice) and she told me how I was the love of her life, how I made her life better than it had ever been, and how important it was that I was in her life. In addition, about a week earlier, she also sent me a document that she’d written for herself, trying to understand herself. In it, she talked about how she loved intimacy, but that after a while she sometimes ran from it for a while. She talked about how she had, in her life, had this tendency to lash out at those she loved and then had to apologize later. It was a long document, that she wrote for herself after one argument, that she was going to use to help steady herself. In retrospect, it seems like a road map to what was to happen soon.

    Anyway, on Tuesday she was telling me how much she loved me, just as she had for fourteen months. On Wednesday, we only talked briefly, as she was in the hospital with her mom when I could call. On Thursday, we didn’t talk at all because I couldn’t find a wireless signal to call her. This was the only day we didn’t talk at all. In retrospect, it might also be important to note that she called me repeatedly in two separate bursts–something that was unusual for her, as if she really needed/wanted to talk. When I finally got to a place I could call again, on Friday, she was inconsolable. She said “I can’t be what you want” and then, quickly, the conversation devolved into a one-sided screaming tirade on her part. One other thing, which might be significant, is that her first words to me when I called her were “What are you doing??!” As if I was doing something to her. In retrospect, I wonder if she was internalizing the fact that I hadn’t been able to answer her calls the previous day.

    The next day, Saturday, I returned to the US. I tried to call her and she wouldn’t answer. I tried several (5-6) times over the next several hours. No replies. Finally, on Sunday, she sent me an email. In the email she told me that “everything was too much”, that she, alternately, had very strong pro and anti feelings for me, that she didn’t know if she loved me, and that she wouldn’t be able to talk to me for “at least” 3 weeks. Also, she said not to call her and not to write her because she couldn’t handle it.

    As you can imagine, I was devastated. On Tuesday, I was (and had been for 14 months) the light of her life, her soul mate, the greatest person ever in her life, and her forever. On Saturday, she didn’t know if she loved me and wasn’t willing to communicate with me in any way.

    When she finally answered her phone on Monday (yes, I continued to try to contact her), she was extremely cold and distant. And she started saying things that were hurtful and assuredly not true. Suddenly all the things I did for her over the past year were described as “self serving”. When I said something else, she accused me of being a “liar”. She asserted I needed to look at myself, that she didn’t know why she felt what she felt but that that was it and that I needed to accept it. She quickly turned shrill and started screaming again. Oh, and one more thing: She had always loved how we communicated. This time, every time I started to talk she’d say “hurry up, you talk too much. I don’t have time for this.”

    And so it went. A few attempts to communication since that time weren’t all that much more successful. In the end her position is: I feel what I feel, I shouldn’t have told you I love you, you’re a terrific person, and good luck.

    I saw her in person once, about two weeks ago. I had a plane ticket I’d already bought, originally to visit her. I stayed with my parents instead. She agreed to meet with me. It was pleasant, but she was still cold and reserved. I told her how devastated I was, how I felt she’d pulled the rug out from under me, and how hurtful this felt. She said I needed to look at myself to understand why I’d feel that way. Everyone else I’ve described this situation to (including a therapist, who looked at the communications she sent me) says that there’s nothing wrong with how I’m feeling. I feel like anyone who had believed the other person loves them would feel.

    In the end, this seems like a story with a beginning and an end, but no middle. She loved me like crazy on Tuesday, and that was the same thing she’d said for more than a year. On Friday, with nothing having happened, she said she didn’t, and didn’t even want to communicate with the person who had been her best friend for over a year.

    One theory I’ve started to consider lately is whether, over the past 14 months, I’ve been her lifeline keeping her sane/steady. Retrospectively, I am wondering if she was always dancing around the edge of a emotional black hole. Since I was there so intimately, and so immediately, at any time, as many times as desired, for that year, I cannot help but fell that maybe I kept her sane. Then I went to Europe and I wasn’t able to fulfill that role in the same way. Maybe she needed me during that week before everything turned to hell, and the fact that she couldn’t get me to talk her down meant she fell into the hole.

    I feel horrible. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t talked to her in two weeks. Every day is torture: My best friend has died. Do I give her another week and then call her (the “at least three weeks” she asked for)? I wish I could talk some sense into her. My friends tell me that I can’t try to understand depression from my viewpoint. But that doesn’t help much. And I keep worrying that even if she does come out of depression, she’ll just find someone locally, who seems “convenient”. I wonder if she’ll ever allow herself to see me the way she did for the past year, or if she’s able to just convince herself it was all a lie. I couldn’t do that. But I couldn’t ever hurt someone the way she has hurt me, either.


    Thanks, Dave

  19. Shelly says:

    Hello Everyone,
    In my story im the depressed one.

    Please and thank you in advance for reading my post. I dated a man I grew up with for two years. We started a university together, we took up everything in college together. We were together all the time, he was my best friend. We fought a lot. My parents don’t like him but he was my everything. He was very demanding of me, not in terms of do this or that but wanted me to give things up like working so much, choose between spending time with my family on holidays or him. We had issues, mostly power struggles. But we were in our early twenties, both overly ambitious individuals. We never gave way to just console and comfort and understand. Fast forward. We broke up, I started dating someone else. Ex still wanted us to be together, found out i was with someone else. Hated me for two years. I went back to him after two years, we tried to just start where we left off, the love was real but we still never worked through the issues we caused each other. I was sad all the time from the relationship before going back my ex. Things happened in that relationship that left me severely scarred emotionally.

    I went back to my ex with this baggage. We loved each other madly but still couldn’t find a way to communicate what happened. I cried a lot and he was defensive because we both hadn’t identified my depression yet. We had a huge fight the night before my graduation and he never showed up. He was mad and thought it was acceptable not to show. Maybe he was justified who knows. I cried my whole graduation day because i didn’t think we were capable of being so malicious towards each other. Few days later I left him. Weeks later he wanted to get back, I was angry and pushed him away. Like usual. Months later started dating someone else. This man is wonderful; he’s kind, honest, sweet, understanding and takes unbelievable care of me. I’d never stopped thinking about my ex however, and my depression was coming back. I was having anxiety attack and still am. I broke up with my current to run back to my ex but driving there I had a panic attack and couldnt catch myself. I dont know if it is the thought of going back to my ex or losing my current. But I turned around after it passed and went home.

    My ex still wants to be with me and im still not over him. Ive tried to force myself to let the past go because the man in front of me is so wonderful. But he iss three years younger than me and the connection just isnt there. I’ve tried to convince myself it can grow and have worked at it. But the more I try with him the more it pushes me into thoughts of my ex. I have been crying and trying to make a decision but its honestly been killing me. I told my current guy we need to take a break because it’s not right to be with him and still think about my ex. I feel as though my ex deserves someone better and the man I’m with definitely deserves someone better. I haven’t told my ex I was seeing anyone, I think it would destroy him. I can’t decide where I want to be, the whole thing makes me despise myself for not being able to make a decision and stick with it. My current guy has put up with so much from me, crying and trying to break up but then missing him to much to let go. We get back together and then the cycle starts all over.

    This time he says he’ll wait for me. We were so strong our first few months together but then I ran into my ex at a university event and I started to crumble again. I loved my current guy so much and then my mind and heart went completely numb. I can’t feel anything towards him or my ex. Should I just let the wonderful man in my life go completely to find someone not nearly as damaged, is there hope?
    I dont know if any of this made sense but thanks for trying to read it.

  20. Dan N. says:

    Thanks for the great post. I came across it seeking guidance on a very particular issue, one I have not been able to find much information on.
    I am currently trying to save a relationship with a wonderful girl with whom I’ve been together for over 3 years now, she recently told me she was depressed I am not sure how to be there for her. I am not sure if all of my post is relevant to the topic of your post, but I feel I need to tell the whole story for you to understand what’s going on, or help me see something I’m not.

    A few months back, I noticed we’d been slowly drifting apart. I talked to her about it, and she told me that things were not the same, she was not very happy with how things between us were. I am a simple guy and I was happy just spending time with her, like having dinner and watching a movie together, but she wanted more exciting plans. Like an idiot, I made very little effort to make her happy in this respect, I failed to see that what made me happy had begun to seem boring to her.

    Nonetheless, things seemed to pick up little by little, which kept me blindsided to her underlying issues. A couple of weeks passed, and we began having arguments rather often, we drifted apart once again and didn’t talk much for a week or so. When I saw her again I told her we should talk about our relationship, which was obviously crumbling. After talking for a while, she reluctantly told me that she had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and that she felt she needed to deal with it on her own so that she did not depend on me when we weren’t together. At first, I reacted terribly, I was defensive and accused her of not appreciating how I felt for her and all the great times we’d spent together. I did not know how to react to her depression, and to me it seemed that making the decision to go our separate ways was probably the worst way for her to deal with that.

    We talked a lot that day, and decided to try and fix things by doing some of the things she felt we didn’t do anymore and talking clearly about issues. I was committed to changing, and I tried to make plans right away to take some outdoor trips, see some shows, going out for drinks, homemade dinners, movie dates… I was sure it would make her happy and we’d be back to being happy together as we had been for over 2 years.

    I was really sad to see her turn down pretty much anything I planned, I could not help but feel resentful that after 3 years together she didn’t try to fix things too. I confronted her after two weeks of getting turned down for plans, we still spent a couple of nights a week together, but it seemed she didn’t want to try to fix things. During this talk, she told me she had just grown indifferent to what happened with our relationship, because of her depression she just didn’t feel like she could care what happened. I was very confused, and upset that she said she didn’t care, I asked her if she thought we should break up. Her reasoning was that it would be easier to break up now that things were ‘bad’ rather than fixing them and then have things crash down again. I disagreed, but understood that if she wanted out, that was it. Again, I reacted very defensively, even though we broke up on ‘good terms’ and ‘mutually’…I stopped talking to her and seeking her.

    After some time alone, and a lot of thinking, I finally realized my stupid mistakes and knew I had to apologize to her. I asked to meet me, and I told her I was sorry for doing what I thought ought to make her happy, rather than what she told me she wanted. I apologized that she had to see our relationship fade, and for shutting her out after breaking up even though she was going through depression.

    We are now talking and hangout every once in a while, and I still see sparks of what we used to have. I’ve tried talking to her about us and what we can do. She tells me that I hurt her to the point that she became indifferent to feelings. To me it seems she blames me for her depression, although she has not said that to me. I have no idea what to do about this, I feel terrible. I wish I could make things better, but if she feels I’m the one responsible, then should I try to remove myself from her life? I realize I hurt her badly and have decided to do what’s best for her not matter how much it hurts me.

    • Matt says:

      Dan i have gone through a very similar situation not to long ago. I wont blabber on about it, but bottom line is you cannot blame yourself for her deppresion. She could have left at anytime, she could have gone out with friends or herself to do the things she wanted. It might be the deppresion that causes this sense of disconnected, indifferent behavior, but its her that’s not owning up to it (even though she knows she’s depressed.) One person should not have to take the fall for two.

  21. Jaliya says:

    Hi, all … :-)

    John, I might have already responded to this post — and bless you for asking the question; you have a way of enquiring into the most jarring questions with calm and merciful curiosity –

    I’ve lived with major depression since infancy … the respites have been a balm. One such balm occured during the first seven years of my marriage. The balm is gone and my marriage is dead … and yes, my variant on the human condition called ‘major depression’ is partially responsible. It was hell for my husband to lose me through my inability to be in relation.

    I believe that all illness occurs in, and expresses symptoms from, a primary location or system …and that major depression is centered in the brain, dysregulating our body’s moderating and sustaining systems and organs. ~ There is also that ineffable but real-as-our-bones presence of soul / mind / self (…). It is devastated as surely as the flesh of us is. ~ Depression, at its most grave, nullifies the functions in us that regulate, moderate, and sustain our mammalian imperative to be, and respond, in relation to others. For those who are in intimate relation with a person in depression to this depth, it’s like being cut away from all warmth, resonance, and bondedness — there remains only a terrible void that still looks like the one we love. It’s one of the worst kinds of hell … and no one is to blame.

    My husband left me. I came to realize, in the aftermath, that I’d left him first … through illness. Specifically, through major depression and complex post-traumatic stress. I was, in part, deranged of my ability to be in relation — my brain was that dysregulated — and it’s taking a long, long time for me to bring some flow back into my function, and some warmth again into my heart. Six years of unrelenting stress, loss, and illness seem to have taken something of my vitality permanently away, and I’m working like never before (and we know the *work* this entails) to sustain my ability and my *will* to be in relation.

    Richard Mollica (author of *Healing Invisible Wounds* ~ beautiful book) calls trauma “existential injury.” I agree that it is … and I believe that major depression is, too.

    I don’t blame either my husband or myself for our rupture in relation. We are both responsible for all that we did to one another … and there were many factors larger than he and I which were also operating to unravel the bond.

    I want a beloved in my life again … and I don’t know if I have the existential strength and stamina any more to attempt such a bond. I know I can love, and I do. I love with everything I’ve got, and some of that ‘everything’ has begun to break down — some of the functions and systems within my body. The ineffible in me, whatever it is, has never been more hale. I’ve never wanted to *live* like I do now … even with all the depletions that may be permanent. I guess this is one way of saying that I’m looking Death in the face … and it’s no longer an ugly sight. It’s an awareness that I can not turn away from … so I better get myself into right relation with it. After nearly five years of serious and embedded illness, I realize that it’s a sane and wise thing to do …

    … and ultimately, no one is to blame.

  22. monica says:

    Dear John, thanks so much for your very informative blog. I’ve been going through the end of my relationship with my childs father for one year now, with a lot of false reunions. Its just like one day he suddenly became a cold, uncaring stranger. I blamed myself in the beginning and only about 2 months ago he finally admitted to being depressed. He said he has felt depressed for about a year, exactly when he left me the first time. I could go on about the emotionally abusive behavior, the inappropriate flirting with other women, the blaming me for all his problems and all the problems in the relationship. What i really would Luke to know is how long can a severe bout of depression go on for? I miss him do much even though he is just a stranger now.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, monica -

      I’m sorry you have had to live through this. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how long depression can last. For some people, it never really goes away. As happened to me, you can come out of months of severe depression only to move into a lesser form of it in which you feel lackluster all the time. A major episode can last for years or for a few weeks. I read once that the average length was 8 months, but averages mean absolutely nothing for one person’s experience. If someone simply waits for an episode to end without doing anything to get better, it’s quite likely that it will return before long.


  23. saimathi says:

    i was totally depressed bcoz of my husband……day by day he is behaving like anything…..he is fighting with me for silly reasons for example when i didnt pick his call and when i slept while he is calling me…..for this silly reasons he had send divorce notice for me…in that he narrates whatever ha likes… that i threatened him and his parents and etc……u know onething both of we got love married….we came out from our houses and got married after a big problem… the meanwhile time he is having one wrong relationship wit another girl now i destroyed all that things
    he has apology for his mistake after that i forgive him but he is behaving very rude to me……what shall i do now……….my life going very unhappliy…..after my marriage only 5 months passed………….give me a good solution

  24. Claire says:


    I have never written on a forum before but now I can see how it helps so many people as our friends etc can not relate to us as they have not been through it.

    I met my amazing partner two and half years ago. Im 30 he is 43. He was high up in the army and is due to retire. He has two children to two vindictive exes which has scarred him. But when we met he convinced me this has not put him off having more children and how he longs to be a full time dad.

    He was working hard and so was i then we moved in together. He had the odd bout of anger where he would over react to a silly argument about tea or something. Whenever we would bicker i would notice that he would shut down and think we were over. The next day it would be like nothing had happened and he would apologise.

    For the last six months (since leaving the army) he has struggled to find work. I noticed he was down sometimes but other times he would seem great and optimistic so i would just carry on as normal.

    Recently two weeks ago I came home and we had a bicker and he went off on one again saying he’s had enough and his words were ‘by the way i don’t want a child as i don’t want to be paying CSA for the rest of my life’

    I thought he was being his usual flippant self and thought nothing of it. The next day i made a joke of it and he wasn’t laughing and reiterated this point so coldly over and over. I packed my things and walked out. I was so hurt. We’d always planned in the future we would have a child.
    Only a few weeks ago we talked about it happily.

    For the last two weeks i’ve had him being cold, telling me to stop acting like a child when im upset to him breaking down and saying he was just being cruel to be kind. THEN what i thought was maybe a break through he said ….I cry all the time, I feel like i need a shrink to get all this stuff out of my head. I feel like im going crazy, I don’t know whats going on. I’ve lost interest in everything then he broke down uncontrolably and put the phone down.

    Then we went cold again, are you sure you don’t want children ‘god no’ was his response. Now this all i get I don’t want children its that simple. There is nothing else going on.

    Then i go to pick up my things and he breaks down again saying i can’t get work, im not interested. I’ve binned everything. I don’t talk anyone anymore. I don’t leave the house. I don’t sleep.

    Then the next night hes in the put and won’t reply to me

    I just need somebodys opinion, is he depressed? is he blaming depression? should I help him? Why were we so happy last week then one bicker brings out all this? Is he scared because of past relationship failures? Im going crazy and im not getting any really answers. But on top of all of this he is adamant he still loves me.

    Help : (

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Claire -

      Depression fits what you describe, but he would have to get an evaluation from his doctor to see if that’s the case. He said he should see a shrink, and that would be a good thing if he’s feeling so desperate at times. Depression often begins in a deep sense of shame, especially in men. I’ve never been in the military, but whatever they do, men feel that their role in life is to take care of things, provide for loved ones, solve problems and generally stay in control, especially of their feelings. That must be all the more true for someone with a successful military career. I can imagine that retiring and adapting to family life, where feelings are everything, could put someone with this background into a crisis, especially if there’s no obvious line of work for him to fit into. The confusion about his feelings, the loss of interest in things, the on-again, off-again feelings for you, the anger, all these are familiar to me as aspects of depression that can push a relationship into crisis. But whether or not he would be diagnosed with depression, it sounds like he’s going through a personal crisis and seeing a therapist could be extremely helpful in working through whatever is going on inside him. You can encourage him to get some sort of counseling to sort things out. It’s not a good time to try to figure out if he “really” loves you or not since his feelings are going in so many directions. I hope he can get some counseling soon and that the two of you can get through this crisis.


    • Marie says:

      Hi Claire, From the sound of three marraiges and two vindictive exes, the problem has existed untreated for quite some time. You mentioned he has been in the military, so I have to ask if he has served in any war and might have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Often times in the military this happens to people who serve and as “stoic” as they try to be, hidded untreated trauma can take its toll on on anyone. The military can be hard on anyone, whether inside war or outside war. Also, the “suck it up, dont be a baby” thing can cause people who desperately need help to not get help. Oftentimes when they reach out in that environment to a friend or a leader, and are told that, it causes them to withdraw even more. I believe that the man who told you he loves you and wants to have children is the one who is the real man and is the vulnerable man, but he is also struggling with the wounded man who needs help. I dont believe you are crazy. I do believe he loves you. I also believe he needs people who believe in him and will stand with him if he gets help. But the key…he needs to get help…if not for your relationship…for the quality of the rest of his own life. Depression can be a lifeless tomb. I dont know how else to describe something like that. It is especially difficult if those you trust around you tell you to “suck it up and go home”, or “get over it”. All that does is create an environment that is unsafe to be who you are and to get the help you need. It is wonderful that you care and love. I would suggest to him that he get help. Talk to someone. Medication can help too. Having people around that genuinely see the best in you even when you are at your worst, helps to restore faith in mankind. I dont know what started this for him, but he made it through alot of years as a leader in the military. That in its self would tell me he has seen some things he might be struggling to cope with.

  25. Fred says:

    Hello all.

    I feel deeply for all of you going through this process with a depressed partner. I come from the opposite side – I was the depressed one.

    I started dating my girlfriend when I was 17 and she was 16. We were together off an on for the next 5 years – off because I would start feeling trapped, be extremely mean, and then want to escape. I never had any idea that the way I was feeling wasn’t normal. My mom had behaved in a similar way for my entire life, so it seemed like the way life was meant to be lived. She always treated the suggestion of seeing a therapist or taking medication as a sign of weakness.

    I should mention that I lived at home with my parents and commuted to college, and my gf did the same. We both had very controlling parents.

    We got engaged before the end of my senior year of college, and I planned to go to graduate school while she finished her undergraduate degree. The summer be3fore grad school I started getting nervous about having enough money to start out with a new life. When I started grad school, I found that I could read the same paragraph 5 times and still have no idea of what I had read. I felt like I was on a sinking ship, so the first thing I threw overboard was grad school – I quit after a month.

    I spent the next 4 months looking for a full-time job, but I didn’t have any luck. This was late in 2001, after 9/11 and in the midst of an economic downturn. When I couldn’t find a ft job, I felt like I’d never be able to provide my girlfriend with the life she deserved.

    In a moment of manic feelings we discussed the idea of the two of us moving across the country to be on our own away from our parents. She told her parents about this; their reaction was that I was trying to drag her down with me. She repeated this to me, which wasn’t great with the mood I was in.

    I started a relationship with a co-worker. I did not hide this from my girlfriend, but was up front with her. I told her that she no longer needed me and that my co-worker did. I also told her that I loved her but wasn’t in love with her.

    To cut this short, I broke up with her. When I finally snapped out of the depressive spell I had been in (about 4 months later), she had moved on and wanted nothing to do with me. Her parents threatened to call the police if I tried to contact her anymore. This was hard to take; at the very least I wanted to apologize for my behavior over the years and to explain that I was now on medication and seeing a therapist for depression. All those years of suffering, and my problem had a name!

    It’s now 10 years later. I’m in a relationship with a wonderful, loving woman. Through facebook, I know that my ex is married to the guy she started dating right after we broke up. I can go for months and not think about it, but when my seasonal depressions start, I beat myself up about it all over again.

  26. C says:

    I met my girlfriend at work over 2 years ago, she’s bi-polar (mostly depressed), but we were together for 1 1/2 years off and on. She left me in April about a month after her doctor doubled her dosage of Lexapro. It was all very surreal and pretty much out of the blue.

    My co-worker had killed himself in January and, admittedly, I mourned that loss in a very isolated way for a couple of months, we were also finishing school together so we weren’t seeing too much of one another until late April.

    I went home to see my family for Easter as they live several hours away. When I came back she admitted, over dinner, that she had been spending time with one of our co-workers outside of work, that they had been driving around late at night, and that she had been acting flirty toward him. I was shocked, and retaliated by saying I was acting flirty with my ex from back home (It wasn’t true, we’re just old friends and she’s seeing someone, but I stung out of hurt.) I instantly told her that she should stop spending time with him, that it was a bad idea given that we all work together. He lived down the street from her and it was much easier for him to just stop by.

    Over the course of the next six months things intensified. She didn’t stop spending time with him, but I noticed a pronounced personality change instead. She had started drinking more, driving faster, and spending time with a crowd she didn’t really enjoy, but liked their company. She stopped going to church entirely, and started spending time with him and his friends. By June she had started acting cold and distant from me, and protecting him. Every time I saw her I asked her what she was doing. She was, after all, going after a 25 year old guy who lives with his parents, drinks a lot, never had a relationship, and has absolutely no ambition whatsoever. This was the polar opposite of my (now) ex who is 37, attending grad school for accounting (though that’s not exactly her favorite thing), into seeing, doing, and experiencing life, independent, and doesn’t enjoy spending time with people who just mark time.

    I went into a tailspin this summer and came close to plotting out my death. I lost my lover, the one women I felt a real and fated connection with from the very start (we could say soul-mate), and my best friend. Last Friday, we went out to dinner. I’ve been having trouble not showing my emotions around her as I’m well aware of what’s going on under my nose. She admitted to me that she had started dating this guy, about two weeks ago, and was looking for the right time to tell me.

    She told me that I’m too cool for her, that I’m always doing things and making things, and that my friends are too interesting and would never accept her. She said that my head was all together, that I knew how to figure things out and she’s all messed up and confused. That she could never keep up with my life. That it’s overwhelming, smothering, and she doesn’t want to talk about feelings every time we see one another

    I told her that I’m not willing to be her friend if she’s going to decide to date my co-worker, who while might be fun at the moment, is a complete loser. She told me how she had abandonment issues from her parents that left her, and that she constantly struggles with gaining everyone’s acceptance, but once she has it she feels lost. We talked in circles for five hours that night. I’d like to think she opened up a bit. I’m wondering if my ex is simply giving me a variation of the “It’s not you, it’s me.” speech, but until this summer I’ve never known her to be a liar. I told her not to contact me anymore if she isn’t going to help herself and that she has a new boyfriend to console her now. She started crying.

    Her best friend and I are close, which, whether I like it or not gives me a behind the scenes look at everything. She spent the whole weekend crying and getting awkwardly consoled by her new guy who really isn’t emotionally attached. She asks if she should leave him, start going to counseling, and beg my forgiveness so we can be close again. She complains that he doesn’t do things for her or take her interesting places, but that’s what she wanted, right? Someone who isn’t emotionally demanding in any way.

    Are these signs of depression?

    My own personal theory is that her being bi-polar and only taking SSRIs without a mood stabilizer is making her rapidly cycle back and forth. Over the summer I saw her moods change between hyper, irritated, confused and occasionally baseline normal only lasting for a day or two. Now that it’s fall I see her switching to depressed. She wasn’t even aware that this thing was going to progress past friendship. I saw it coming in June.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, C -

      She sounds very confused about her feelings, and that’s to be expected given her condition. What you describe can be part of depression, but I’m assuming from what you say that she’s been diagnosed bipolar. Most bipolar folks experience a lot more depression than mania, and the swings could just be the way her condition expresses itself. If the medication has strange effects, she needs to report that to her doctor and make sure he has the full picture of what she’s going through. It sounds like she needs a more comprehensive approach to treatment than medication alone, and perhaps the best thing you could do would be to encourage her, either directly or through her friend, to get a consultation and guidance on the options for helping her. It would be hard to rely on what she says about her feelings, since they will continue to shift, and I’m sure she’ll feel a lot of emotional pain. So it’s probably not a good time to look for a resolution to your relationship with her. She may not have any clarity about any relationship until her condition has stabilized. I hope she can get more help soon.


  27. Anne says:

    Well since my revelation to my husband about my feelings towards him, it’s been a complete gong show in our house. We have spent many hours discussing feelings, his depression and how his behavior has affected me. We have not been emotionally connected for years, and I have pushed him away as well as felt pushed away. I wish he would’ve talked to me sooner about how he felt, and a diagnosis made earlier, and I feel it may not have come to this. I feel I can no longer communicate my feelings with him and think it’s because so many times they were dismissed. So now he wants to talk, and talk often. He says he needs the physical touch as well, which also has caused a problem. I understand what he is saying, and understand that he is trying to get me to rediscover deep feelings of love for him, but it was too much. All I asked was for there to be a half way point. I am no longer a person who needs/wants to make out, or hold hands everytime we are out together, or to cuddle for hours on the couch or falling asleep. All I got before was grabbing and squeezing when he was “in the mood”. As I said before, I was willing to go to counselling for myself to figure out how I feel. He was insisting I needed it, so I made the call. I have been to one session so far. Since then he keeps wanting answers as to how I feel and what I want, then it turns into a big fight. He admitted to his impatience last night after our date night, and realized he needed to give me time to figure things out and he needed to stop pressuring me. I keep telling him that it took years to get here and it won’t be fixed overnight, and he needs to have a little patience. Twice this week he has threatend to move out as he can’t take my indicision anymore. He has now decided that he will no longer initiate any contact between us until I have figured things out. I have incredible feelings of guilt for have even saying it, even when he asked me point blank if I still loved him. I feel now that any decision I make will be the wrong one, and if I do make any kind of contact it will make him feel hopefull and think it will all get better, but then he’ll ask again and then I will have kicked him down once more. What does one do in this situation? He wants me to be honest, but only wants to hear one answer. It feels as if he’s blaming me for his latest bout b/c I told him I didn’t feel I was in love with him anymore. He says he was better and then I told him this. The truth is that I felt he still wasn’t ready to get better as he only attended 7 sessions with a councellor, but would not revisit his meds situation. I felt that by not doing this, he was a time bomb waiting to go off. He has suffered for 10 yrs or more, and it may take many years of therapy for him to find a happy self again. What can I do at this point? Is there any advice on how to deal with it differently?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Anne -

      It sounds like communicating feelings about depression and the relationship is such a trigger that you might need to try in the presence of a good couples therapist. My wife and I learned a few basic methods for talking with a therapist’s help, and they have worked over many years. You need to agree on using a particular method and try when the atmosphere between you is not so tense. As you point out, he seems to want emotional support without hearing what you are really going through. You are probably both so wound up that a therapist seems the best way to start. The method we used is the one I described in a couple of posts and updated in the ebook. It’s based on the idea of breaking down the seemingly instantaneous volleying of accusations into all the steps the mind actually goes through. Starting with the perception – seeing an expression, hearing a tone of voice or certain words, etc – the mind has to interpret what that meant and then assumes an intent behind it, then forms an emotional response and finally pushes that out in behavior. The idea is to stop the process at the interpreting/ assumption stage to check out if the perception was correct, the assumption about what it meant, etc. So you ask questions rather than leap to conclusions. It takes the help of a therapist to get started with it – and that’s just one method. There are many, but I think a therapist’s help is important.


      • Anne says:

        Thank-you for responding. The plan is to go together to see a therapist as well as separate and I tried to communicate that we should maybe not discuss the biggest issue until we are able to get some coping strategies. I guess maybe I should have been more specific, in that I was wondering what I could do while I wait for the appointment in the meantime.

  28. Kelly says:

    My depressed husband turned around almost 3 weeks ago and told me he no longer loved me and wanted out of our marriage and that he had found a new woman who ‘helps him forget’ everything. He has now left me and our 9 month old baby to be with this new woman.

    From reading your webpage, it seems that his total personality change and all the other ‘symptoms’ he has shown point to depression, however how much am I expected to take and how long am I expected to wait?

    I can see that there are a large number of other ladies like myself who have suffered emotionally due to their partners being depressed and I have, with advice from my counsellor who I have started seeing to ensure I stay functional for my baby, started up a blog about my current situation as it helps get all my frustrations, anger, hurt etc out from inside. My blog is Forsaken Wife (click on my name above), should anyone be interested in sharing their experiences as I am finding it is helping me get through this terrible time just hearing from those who have been through or who are going through the same thing.

    I have found alot of strength from reading this site, John….Thank you.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Kelly -

      Your counselor sounds like a wise person. Writing through all the grief and turmoil can make a big difference. James Pennebaker’s Opening Up is a great guide on the way writing about emotions can strengthen your health overall. He also has some good principles to follow on how to write so that you move ahead rather than get stuck in the pain. I look forward to reading your blog.


  29. Mary says:

    Anne, I’m with you on the intimacy part. When your husband (my husband) is verbally abusive, sulky, catatonic or out of control, it’s nearly impossible to turn around show affection as if nothing’s happened. I know my husband has been diagnosed with depression (+ has anxiety and panic attacks) but his behavior mimics his own parents to a tee. It’s hard for me to sort out what is genetics and what is learned behavior. Since his cycles, verbiage, etc. are nearly identical to his parents’, I suspect that much of his behavior is learned. This is why I’ve seriously considered leaving so that our young child won’t repeat this behavior. My husband is combative and argumentative and doesn’t know how to let go without being insulting or angry; he can also be a bit delusional. I’m hoping that if I can get our young child out of this environment early enough, depression or not, he’ll learn healthier ways to deal with conflict. I think too many people put their spouse’s happiness before their children’s in these circumstances. Yes, your spouse may be ill but children deserve a stable, predictable environment.

  30. Anne says:

    My husband suffered from depression for many years, without really knowing what was going on. He was finally diagnosed and put on meds, but refused councelling, which didn’t result in much of a behavior change until I wanted a separation a year ago. Since then there was no change on his meds, which he’s been on for 3 years, and only 7 counelling sessions but an improvement in his behavior. But he was still in denial about his depression, and is only now truly dealing with it when I finally admitted to him that I didn’t think I was in love with him anymore. I have been beat down emotionally, been made to feel as if I could do nothing right, and how I don’t help the situation at all. I told him before that he would not have any happiness in his life until he was happy with himself and that meant working on his issues first. I never said I would not go for councelling, but that nothing would work unless he started working on himself. I have fought for our marriage and him for many years, but he wasn’t willing to fight. I have spend all these years worrying about his feelings, his well being and how not to make him upset, that I have had no one worry about me. He has blamed everyone and everything else for his depression and has said many hurtful things about me and my family. Yet here I am willing to stay to see what can happen for our future. I am going to be attending councelling for myself, and he has seen one as well. I will not make him any promises and can only give him right now. I don’t know if I can feel for him as I first did. I don’t know if I have it in me to deal with more episodes (which I know will come ). I forgive what he has said, but told him that many scars remain, and I think he may understand that now. I don’t think I can ever see him as the guy I married, and I am definately not the same woman he married. He is trying really hard to be a kind loving husband, but the truth is I just don’t want the intimacy that he wants. I don’t want to hold his hand, or cuddle with him, and I think that is just sad. I think that I spent so much time fighting for our marriage, and for him that I am done fighting. I am emotionally drained. But here I am giving one more try.

  31. Vernell says:


    My husband of 2 years has walked out on me and our 8 month old baby. He was diagnosed with depression back in December, 3 weeks before our son was born and seemed okay until 8 weeks ago when he came home from work one evening, drank yet another bottle of wine and told me he didnt think he loved me anymore before disappearing for the night. Since the baby was born, his drinking habits have become worrying.

    On his return he said he didnt know what was wrong, his feelings towards me had changed but he would try and rectify these and he went to the Dr the next day who changed his medication. For two weeks things were great, he said he did love me and wanted us to be a family. Two weeks later, after another alcohol filled afternoon, he says the same, he doesnt love me and needs to be on his own.

    I went to my mothers that night and the following day he came home saying he wanted to be a family and was sorry for what he was putting me through and he wanted to make things better. He went back to the dr’s and they gave him valium and put him on the sick for a few weeks. We had two fantastic weeks with the baby, going away and on day trips but then last week he hits rock bottom again.

    I came home from mother and baby group one day last week and he tells me he has to leave me as he has no feelings whatsoever for me and is fed up of playing happy families when he really is unhappy. I begged him and pleaded to give us a chance as I never signed up to be a single mother and of course, this has come out of the blue really. I was destroyed.

    He disappeared that night, said he had stayed with friends and returned the next day all happy saying he felt better after telling me that he wanted out and that we shoul dsell the house etc. He went out drinking that night and the following two – drinking himself into a stuper and not returning home and then telling me about it the following day when he would come home to change his clothes before leaving again.

    I spoke to his Dr on the 3rd day and was told that this behaviour was typical of someone with depression and that I should just try and be supportive, which I tried but by the 5th day, I had to ask hi mother for assistance as he was destroying himself and his relationship with me and our son who he had shown no interest in.

    Me and his mother felt we made a breakthrough when he broke down and said he had a problem and that he did want his family and meant it when he said he loved me. I told him he should sytay at his Mums until he felt better as he had previously said he needed space.

    Two days later, it was our anniversary and he took me for lunch and bought me flowers but said he still didnt know if he loved me then two days later he admitted to being with someone else and that she made him mhappier than me and that he no longer loved me. He said he had changed and his feelings towards me had changed from love to nothing at all. He said he now only saw me as the mother of his child and not as his wife.

    He is now staying between his mums and this girls house who I have found out is a drug user and suffers bi-polar. His mother is at her wits end with him as he is totally shirking his responsibilities, saying he cant afford to give me anything towards our son (though he has seen most days through out this, only if for 10 mins and wont be able to pay next months mortgage, yet he is drinking everynight, having take aways and even bought himself a new mobile phone and tablet!

    I dont know if this is the depression anymore as he told me that he feels better now that its all over between us or if this is just another symptom and I should still try and support him even if only because we have a young son. Since telling me about this girl, he appears happy and normal but he has doubled his meds from that day so I guess that could be the reason too.

    How should I be handling this, should I accept its over and move on with our son and let him sell the house etc or should I stick around and support him and hope that he can get through this. Also, what affect is this other girl having on him if she too is mentally ill with self harming tendancies along with her drug use.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Vernell -

      I’m sorry that you have to go through this – it must be hellish for you. No doubt his doctor is right, that he’s showing typical symptoms of depression, but that doesn’t justify his behavior. You can be supportive, but you can’t be an emotional punching bag. His alcohol abuse adds to the problem, and its effect is intensified by antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Terrible combination. Depression can definitely numb your feelings, and it seems to be especially common for men to jump to the conclusion that their marriages no longer work. They’re in the grip of depression but point to the relationship. When you can’t feel much, you tend to look for more intense experiences so that you can feel something. Alcohol, drugs, affairs are the common alternatives to dealing with depression in the comprehensive way I think it demands. It’s good that he sees a doctor and is willing to take medication, but he’s destroying the effect of the drugs with alcohol – and it’s very likely that he needs to do more than medication alone. But that’s up to him. You and his mother can only urge him to get more help for the depression and deal with his drinking problem. Anne Sheffield’s book, Depression Fallout, has a lot of good ideas from people who have been in your situation. I share her concern that someone abandoned by a depressed spouse needs to have good support of her own, and should also set boundaries on the kind of behavior she’s willing to tolerate from the partner. I hope you’ll put your own and your son’s well-being first.

      My very best to you –


      • Vernell says:

        Thanks John, any insight helps the pain at the moment. Ive had to turn my back and accept its over as I can not keep taking rejection from him and keep myself sane for our babys sake. Im just happy he is still making the effort to see our son everyday as he is the most important person in all this.

        I still live in hope he will one day get well and want to rebuild our family but I am beginning to think he wont have the front to do so after everything he has said and done this past fortnight. He is acting so out of character and I worry that I have more to be concerned about than the alcohol and the medication especially with this girls reputation.

        I guess its all down to time now, that and his own inner strength to fight this.

        Thank you

  32. ruby1 says:

    I have focused for 5 wks on the reasons and excuses for his behaviour, and all it has done is to throw me into despair – if not my own actual depression.
    Am exhausted emotionally and physically, and, it has got me nowhere…
    I have to turn this around, saw a saying today – “positive thoughts and actions are the enemy of sorrow

    Claire – look after yourself, read and understand BUT don’t become obsessed with finding, the ‘answer” the perfect thing to say etc… it isn’t here, because everyone is different.

    I’m going to tend my own wounds BEFORE I attempt to help him, (if he lets me?)
    I think that is going to take strength and time.


  33. Claire says:


    Could someone please help me, i haven’t been seeing my boyfriend for long but we got on so well and had loads in common. He was down about the death of his father a few months before we met, i tried to support him and was positive when he would make negative comments about himself. A couple of weeks back he stopped contacting me when we had been in touch every day. I called to see if he was ok he said he thought i’d be busy, he was nice and things were normal for the next few days.
    Then nothing for 4 days this time, i messaged him and he said he was really upset, said his brother had been placed on suicide watch and he was really down. I offered my support and was nice to him, he thanked me and said hes in a really bad place, he doesn’t eat, sleep and is drinking loads said he has no control. I told him i’m here for him for anything even if its just someone to talk to. That was the last i heard from him, i text him days later saying i am here for him and if he wants me to text, still no reply. It is a week since i sent that and so messaged last night i tried to sound light hearted told him about trivial things and asked how he was, still nothing. So then last night i text saying i just wanted to know hes ok and if he wants space then he should just tell me. I said that hes a good person and how much i care about him and hate knowing hes down……still nothing
    I don’t know if he just wants nothing more to do with me or it is his depression making him pull away, my friends say i should leave him alone and that hes selfish and doesn’t care about me. I stick up for him as i think they are wrong as they have never suffered with depression, but now i don’t know what to believe any more, or what to do for the best? Please can somebody help

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Claire -

      It could well be that the depression is so severe right now that your boyfriend can’t talk to you or communicate with you – especially in light of the painful situation with his brother as well as the death of his father. Being wrapped up in yourself and isolating from those closest to you is a common part of depression, and when that happens it’s risky to try to figure out what he’s “really” feeling about you. I know it’s painful – and it’s harsh treatment to shut you out completely – but there’s not much you can do except torment yourself with speculating about his silence. No one can tell you what he’s feeling or going through. He has to choose to get back in touch. I’m sorry that you have to live with this, but I think the only other thing you could do is to let him know that his silence is very hurtful to you. Being honest about your feelings with him, along with your expressions of support, isn’t going to worsen his depression – just as pretending to be light-hearted isn’t going to make him feel better. I hope he can get his head clear enough to let you something soon.


  34. Donna-1 says:

    “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
    Benjamin Franklin to John Hancock at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

    • Ruby1 says:

      Thanks to all,

      I have made some big decisions in the last cple of days, none of them particularly easy.

      Yes, I love him truly and deeply, I have to believe him in the things he’s said about his motives. Lot of people/friends trying to get me to hate, or look deeper, mainly I think for me to be able to move on. I’m the one who knows him best, and, I have to have faith in that.

      I really have bn so, so hurt that I was in danger of becoming ill, or messing up my job, or worse.

      I’ve stopped trying contact, yes I have to let him go, especially if it is depression, I can’t be responsible for making it worse for him. (i’m also getting out seeing mates, keeping busy,making myself eat and exercise, believing in him and seeing a counsellor – all frantic and false, but know it has to be done)

      I mostly hope he gets better, and secretly but with little hope, that he might come back into my life one day. Not ready to give up completely yet. Perhaps this is the way that can happen, rather than him learning to hate me for hanging on.I so hope I’m right and that he doesn’t think I’ve given up.

      I miss him so much, and wish i could turn the clock back but I can’t, so, I have to wish him well and love and hope he remembers me.

      Thanks for helping me, it’s hard as hell, but life is like that huh!!!!

      Richie, unless she tells you this is a problem for her, read my story and BELIEVE she loves you!!

      Good luck all …xxx

      • John Folk-Williams says:

        Hi, Ruby -

        I’m sorry things have worked out this way, but it sounds like you’ve made the right decision for you – and a courageous one. No one can predict what might happen with him since depression changes someone so deeply. If and when recovery becomes possible, he’ll have to put his life back together as best he can. It’s so important to keep yourself and your life in the best shape possible. I hope all the best for you.


        • Ruby1 says:



          I’m still reading, I actually thought I’d made my decision, and that I would no longer be “here” as although it’s helpful, I also find it heartbreaking to read.
          I have to be truthful-I’m still waiting and hoping, although no-one in my life can see or understand why.It actually scares the hell out of me, as I find that people/friends are beginning to walk away from me..or I’m getting defensive with them when they talk badly about him.
          I go through each day willing myself not to try and contact him, mowing lawns, walking the dog with tears streaming down my face.Trying to get through work.
          Everything I read or see says no contact if he doesn’t want it.
          I can’t work out if I’m crazy and torturing myself in this way, or if this is the right thing to do..but, I can’t do anything else.
          Guess time will tell, thankyou for your site, it is my only sanity!!

          I will try as you say to keep things in the best shape possible, but I miss my best friend, and fear he may never be that person again.

          Thankyou so much

  35. Donna-1 says:

    This kind of tug-of-war struggle with depression can become all-consuming. “Give my sanity back to me so I can repair relationships and make amends.” It tugs, I tug. It comes close to winning, I come close to losing…and vice versa. Meanwhile, the relationship with my partner is on the sidelines. Am I asking her to accept me as damaged goods? To forgive the many hard and fast impulsive rules I make when all we really have is blurred edges bleeding into each other. On the surface we face each other boldly and continentally — a collection of many states of being — we try to say what we really mean without being hurtful. And often pretend the harshness is erased by physical closeness, listening to each other breathe, wondering what should be said or left unsaid. But the presence of depression is definitely there. I recall T.S. Eliot’s line in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:” I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Donna -

      “Blurred edges bleeding into each other…” How well you capture the feeling of this struggle, its tension and pain. It’s essential to be able to allow the closeness to obscure the complicated pains of depression. There is a simpler truth in those moments that shows there remains much more in the relationship than the tensions over words and moods. Thanks for writing.


  36. Nicky says:

    Hi Sarah

    I’m sorry you are having such an awful time. I can empathize. I was told very similar things. I think the confusion is the hardest thing to deal with.

    I think the only way to cope is to do some things for yourself… Don’t allow yourself to become depressed… It’s easily done.

    I’ve given myself a time limit to be miserable and totally self indulgent in my grief… Then… It’s time to start sorting myself out. I’m lucky in that I have an amazing group of friends. I hadn’t realised how loved I was by so many people… They have all rallied around and are keeping me busy. It’s not what I feel like doing… But allowing myself to be cared for has been a great help. Please don’t sit on your own and think about this all the time. Its what I had been doing begore the troops got wind of what was going on… It won’t help and I’d been making myself ill.

    There are no answers.. If I had a magic wand, I’d be straight over to wherever you are and be waving it!

    Please look after yourself and know that somewhere, a friend called Nicky has you in her thoughts. xx

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Nicky,

      Thank you for your response. I’m sorry to you as well — it’s a horrible situation to be in.

      What bothers me is when I do talk to him, he doesn’t even sound like he wants to talk to me at all. He sounds like would rather be off the phone. But I know he is getting through his days with a fake smile pretending to be happy to everyone around him, but suffering on the inside. I don’t know, I’m lost.

      Right now, I have nothing distracting me, but this Wednesday I’ll be moving to PA to start graduate school. I’m hoping this will be a huge distraction because I’m exhausted from thinking about this all the time.

      I want to let go, not for him, but for my own health, I just don’t know how.

  37. Sarah says:

    Hi John,

    My boyfriend of 3.5 years recently broke up with me, about a month ago. We were in long distance relationship, but I am getting ready to move in 2 weeks to PA, about a 2 hour drive from him. I’m not moving for him, but for myself since I was accepted into graduate school there.

    When we first broke up, I believed it to be me and I recognized that the last 4 months of our relationship have been tough. I thought it had to do with the distance, because all of our fights over the years were mainly due to it. So when he broke up with me, I was devastated because we were a month away from finally being close to one another. It just didn’t make any sense to me — he’s upset about the distance but the distance is ending so soon. Yes we’d be 2 hours apart, but I live in CA and a 2 hour drive sure as hell beats a 5 hour plane ride any day of the week.

    Well I came to find out he really is suffering from depression. He doesn’t know if the we broke up because we were fighting a lot the last 4 months or because he’s been suffering from depression all along. The last 4 months have been hard because he began to distance himself from me and shut down on me — something he has never really done before. We’ve always had an open and honest relationship and communicate really well together. He has suffered from depression long before me, and there have been times in our relationship where he would be really down for a month or so but then snap out of it and admit he was depressed. And we did break up 8 months into our relationship because he was depressed. We got back together 2 weeks later and then things were great up until 4 months ago.

    Part of me thinks that since he is graduating from college, is still jobless, still lives at home, and won’t be too close to me that he felt he couldn’t control anything except ending us. At least that’s what I think, but I could be wrong. I’ve asked him how he doesn’t know that is was the depression all along and not us as a couple and he said he doesn’t know. He said he needs to figure this out on his own without me. It hurts so bad. I don’t know if I should give up hope and let him go or continue to hold onto hope that he may come back, which may never happen. In all honesty, no relationship is perfect, but we really did work well together. We have been compatible in pretty much every sense, so it’s hard for me to just let go of something that was so amazing.

    I don’t blame him for his depression, I know it is not something one asks for and it is something you live with pretty much all your life. It’s much like diabetes — you learn to live and survive with it. I love him with all my heart, but he tells me he doesn’t want me to wait for him. He wants to figure this out on his own. But I’m hurting. I hurt every single day because the person I am in love with is suffering and left me. It also doesn’t help that he is my first love. Everyone says time heals all, but our break up is far different than others. It’s not like we didn’t fit well. If we didn’t, I would admit it, but we worked so well together. I just don’t know what to do. Do I let him go? Do I try and move on with my life? Will things change once I am living closer in 2 weeks, or will it not be enough?

    I found a low cost therapy clinic close to him that I sent him the link to. I can’t force him to seek help, but I think if he wants to figure this out so badly, he will seek it. And I can’t help but wonder if after he gets help, will he be the same? Will he even want to be with me, or will he have realized that even though our relationship was strong, we can no longer work together because damage has been done? I just have so many questions. My heart truly is not ready to let go, but everyone keeps telling me I need to focus on myself and let him go.

    I want to add that it’s especially difficult for me because after 3.5 years, we had made so many promises to one another. We made commitments we would make this work. We knew how to make it work and were always so grateful that after 3.5 years of long distance, we were still going strong.

    I would appreciate any advice/help. I’m so lost.

    • Sarah says:

      Also, I’d like to add a few more things. I’m terrified I will never let go of him. He treated me like a queen. He did everything for me — we both did everything for each other. He was my everything. Maybe it’s because he is my first love, first boyfriend, first everything — but I’m afraid I will never find someone who got me the way he did, who will treat me the way he did.

      I’ve been told by a friend who did the same thing to her ex (left him go to work on herself) that I need to let him go and focus on myself. If I keep pushing him, he may never come back to me. I genuinely want to start the healing process. I flip flop everyday with wanting to let him go to wanting to wait for him. I know that I should focus on myself and let him go, but my heart is telling me not to. And I don’t know how. I do not know how to cope with this. I’m afraid that I’ll end up depressed over this, I’m afraid I’ll always feel like I lost the one for me, that no matter how many great relationships I may have, I will always compare them to him.

      I want to heal. I want to let go and let him focus on himself and focus on myself. But I honestly do not know how.

    • Sarah says:

      I have more to add. My ex and I spoke yesterday and these are a few of the things I’ve gathered from the conversation. I should note that he’s 24 and I’m 22.

      -He feels that his life sucks. He hates where he’s at, hates where he is going to be going, hates that he’s unhappy, and hates that he’s hurting me.

      -He doesn’t know if he was unhappy with us the last 4 months or it was depression all along, but he wants to figure it out on his own. But he admits that he was unhappy with everything in his life the last 4 months.

      -He said he will not go to therapy. He doesn’t think his problem is that bad and wants to do this all on his own. He technically just graduated yesterday and he said he’s going to use his free time to work on himself and figure out what he wants. He also said he’s going to stop drinking and smoking because he recognizes those are temporary fixes and do not solve his issues.

      -He doesn’t want to date anyone anytime soon. He thinks he’ll sabotage a relationship on purpose. But he said if someone comes along in my life, I should do whatever feels right. As for him, he doesn’t foresee himself dating anyone for a while.

      -He doesn’t want me to wait for him because he knows it’s hurting me. He said he cares a great deal for me and doesn’t want me to be in pain.

      -He’s okay with contact as long as we’re not talking about us, the breakup, or his depression.

      -He hasn’t told anyone else he is depressed and puts on a fake smile to get him through the day.

      -He’s not sure how long it will take him to figure everything out, but he “needs to find his resolution.”

      -He thinks that maybe in time if it’s right we can work out. He thinks there will be a period of no contact and that one day we’ll get back in touch, become friends again, and then maybe something will happen — only if it unfolds naturally.

      -He doesn’t know if me being close to him will be enough to bring him back. He hasn’t given anything much thought.

      I’m so lost. So unbelievably lost. I don’t know how to cope or let him go :/

      • John Folk-Williams says:

        Hi, Sarah -

        I’m sorry to hear about this, it’s such a terrible thing to have to live through. Being able to stay in touch with him might help, but he doesn’t want you to talk about the things that are most important to you, the things you can’t stop thinking and feeling so deeply about. Maybe the question isn’t a simple “do I let him go or not.” For one thing, you’ve suffered a shock, a deep loss, and it’s only natural to grieve about it, especially since this has been such a close relationship. How could you not feel lost when a prop of your life, the central person in your idea of the future, suddenly falls away. And while you’re going through that, he speaks from his depression, setting out rules for how you can relate to each other. One question is whether you want to live within the boundaries he sets or to set some of your own. I know that it’s easy to feel you have to walk on eggshells because of depression as well as the fear of driving him away if you do or say the wrong thing (wrong in his view), but that way of living will wind up costing you a lot. One problem with trying to stay with him under his terms is that he will almost certainly shift around in what he says. He is depressed, after all, and out of touch with his feelings, probably quite confused as well as hurting. It’s very common in that state to go back and forth about a close relationship, to say you’re back one day, then gone again the next. I think you should take care of your needs and let him know, in a supportive way, how his behavior affects you and what you can live with and what you can’t live with. I think that when you’re depressed, you’re running on empty, or on fear, or on desperation – most of the time you want to get away from everyone in your life, but sometimes you want to cling to them. I had to smile at his remark that he didn’t need therapy because it wasn’t that bad. Not at all – he just hates everything in his life and walks out on the best relationship he’s had – what’s bad about that!! That’s classic depression talk. He won’t figure it out on his own in a really healing way without the help of some form of therapy and guidance, but he’ll have to find that out in his own time. The depression may come to an end by itself – it often does – but it will come back. It’s important to set your own boundaries to keep from being driven by his depression, and ultimately pulled into it yourself. That’s the way I think of it, rather than as a question of letting him go or not.

        All my best to you –


        • Sarah says:

          Hi John,

          Thank you for your response. How long do you think this could take, as in the depression he’s in right now? Its been 4 months that he’s been unhappy and a month since we broke up, so 5 months in total. I don’t know, everyone says let him go and move on, but my heart doesn’t want to. And I do acknowledge he may snap out of it but never come back, which is heartbreaking.

          Is it normal for a depressed person to fill their time with lots of things to keep them busy? I think he’s hanging out with friends a lot to distract him, but he doesn’t think right now is the right time for us. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid I will never get over this.

          • John Folk-Williams says:

            Hi, Sarah -

            There just aren’t any rules about any of this. There are studies that say major depressive episodes average 8 months, but that sort of thing tells you nothing about your own situation. As I mentioned, it’s quite possible that this period of depression could come to an end by itself, but he’s quite likely to have a recurrence. I think the value of getting help is that you learn skills to make the whole thing more manageable and less disruptive of your life. It is common for depressed people to stay active on the surface, perhaps try to lose themselves in intense activity. Or they might choose to spend a lot of time with friends who make no emotional demands and just want to have a good time. And then there are those who want nothing but to lie in bed in a darkened room. I often snapped out of depression and became a responsive husband and father again, only to disappear before long in another depressive nightmare. That’s part of the damage to a relationship – can the basic trust survive or be restored? I’m afraid it is crazy-making to watch helplessly as your loved one goes off into this different life. That’s why I urge people to get their own help and support to help them get through it, whatever the outcome.


  38. Betsey says:

    My husband’s mother was bipolar. He drinks almost daily. He started playing poker online which I thought was harmless unroll he started to form attachments to dome of the other players. He ha an affair with one over the Internet. I confronted them and it ended but he has had numerous others. He is trying to decide between me and this other woman whom he has never met. I tried to point out that she might not even be real…he admits that he is confused and needs dome insight. He sees a professional tomorrow…..I think he is depressed and is trying to fill that blackness with cheap Internet thrills and booze…is it possible that with treatment I can have my husband of 20 years back?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Betsey -

      I would be very hopeful that treatment can make a huge difference, if he can really commit to it as a central part of ending his confusion and escapist behavior. I think you’re doing the right things by setting boundaries and confronting him in a supportive way. Bipolar and depression are quite different, but in either case it can happen that a deep depression can set in after the drinking, affairs and other “cover-up” behaviors stop. It’s very encouraging that he admits to a problem and is willing to see someone. That’s an enormous step forward.


  39. Ruby1 says:

    I’ve been reading the above with (may sound strange) relief, it’s the only place I’ve found anything that seems to relate.
    I’ve been with my partner for just over 2 years, and he moved out 2 days ago, so I guess raw emotional state is an understatement.
    I have been the main breadwinner from the start, and this has always sat badly with him, but he has been striving, working, doing everything to get back to the succesful man he has always previously been in his life. He has always given/paid his way (whatever you want to call it) whenever he has been able. I have held no resentment to him at all.
    From the beginning, on first meeting and then being in a relationship with him, I can truly say there is no better man out there for me. I love him with all my heart, we related, loved, laughed, even had the same weird way of looking at things. In every way possible he made me feel happy and loved.
    Things finally seemed to be on the rise for him, work was going well, and I know this and the money he saw as finally being able to contribute, were all helping his esteem as a man.
    Then about a month and a half ago, due to the crooked dealings of another he has been left saddled with a huge amount of money to find, or he will face bankruptcy, and after that will be struck off from his type of work. With a struggle I could find that money, and stop all this happening, but he WILL NOT even consider this option. We have talked about this over and over and he will not move from that stance.
    In brief, he has gone from this open loving man, to feeling trapped, can’t see beyond tomorrow, keeps saying he’s a failure, and that I am better off without him.
    Believe me I have tried to re-assure him that I don’t see him in this way, I have been calm, emotional, tearful…
    He says that 6 wks ago he could never have dreamt of leaving me, but now doesn’t even know if he loves me at all. In less than a wk he seemed to totally hit rock bottom, start drink driving, and all sorts of other irrational and totally out of character traits.
    I tried discussing depression with him (I’ve struggled with it since my early teens and I’m now in my mid forties – glad to say it’s been a good few yrs for me in what I suppose I feel as a sort of remission – always aware and maintain ways to keep it at bay) but he does not feel that this is what is happening with him. He just kept repeating, over and over that being with me makes his failure more acute, and, if he stayed he would end up making me hate him.
    Suffice to say, he moved out 2 days ago, and I am utterly devastated, and in total shock.
    I know he knows I love him with all my heart, he has agreed to stay locally for a wk for my benefit, although I don’t know where. All his belongings are in storage, and he has no plan of what to do next. He assures me that he has no plans on suicide – and I did at the time believe that, but, if he does estrange himself from everyone he knows, as he says he will – how long will that be true? He said he would keep his cell with him, and we agreed that I can text and that he will reply when he feels able. So far he has replied once, briefly and with none of his usual lovingness.
    Finally he did agree that should he ever want to come back, or even call I’ve sad he shouldn’t hesitate.

    So, although I see many simlarities, I may not have a problem to decide on – will I see/hear from him again.
    Is he depressed?
    Am I even on subject or wasting everyones time?

    If anyone can give me advice it would be so appreciated, I am so devastated by this, hard to think straight..I really do miss that loving man and it seems to have been an overnight transformation.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi Ruby1 -

      This is so painfully soon that it’s hard to tell what might happen. I can understand the sensitivity of your partner to trouble in business – men are socialized this way and especially prone to feeling like failures if they haven’t been able to provide the support they feel they should. It’s one of the pillar’s of male identity, after all, and it’s not the sort of thing you could help him out of by your assurances, as important as they are to say. But the intensity of the shame, the inability to feel what he has always felt for you and the conviction that he must become hateful to you do sound like depression. So does leaving and isolating himself. His sense of self-worth seems to rise and fall on the fortunes of his worklife, and I think a therapist would try to get him to see that those difficulties don’t define the whole of him. He might be amenable to seeing someone who specializes in helping with career issues. Lots of therapists and counselors focus on learning skills to be more successful in, say sports or business, but never mention problems like depression. They approach it as a practical problem of how to perform well under high stress. The methods may wind up being very similar to those of a therapist focusing explicitly on emotional problems or depression, but the context is completely different, avoiding the stigma of mental illness. If your partner is rejecting the idea of depression, this approach to getting help might make more sense. Since you haven’t lost touch with him completely, you might be able to get that message through in your obviously supportive and nonjudgmental way. Just a thought.

      All my best to you –


      • Ruby1 says:


        I thank you for your words.

        It’s now been just over a wk since he left, I have been texting and apart from the one reply I mentioned it’s like I’m throwing words into a bottomless pit. On Sunday (it’s now Saturday) my resolve broke and I rang him, he answered and we talked for a while before I disolved into tears. He talks of how things will be awkward for a while!!!!!!!! I don’t know what I expected but he sounded normal and resigned. He asked what my plans for the day were. I’m now kicking myself for not keeping it together but at least I know I didn’t throw accusations, or anger at him.
        Since then, I’ve tapered off to one text a day saying good morning, and from today, I think I have decided to stop even that..I’ve sent an email about self worth, non-judgement and my love and respect..I’ve told him that I’m trying to stand back and give him the space he so obviously wants. I didn’t say anything about your career help suggestion as my gut tells me he would react in the same dismissive way as he did to my suggestion of depression.
        I’m trying to keep busy, the dog is exhausted from the extra exercise, a few friends and colleagues are helping me the best they can, and I’ve got an appointment with a therapist on Tuesday morning just to talk things through.
        All the stuff I know will help at some point, but I am desolate.
        I worry about him, I fear the worst, and then I start to think we were just one big lie from the start, otherwise how could he just up and go with no looking back. He was clear minded enough to pack up, he wasn’t hesitating about coming back!! Then I remember how we were/what we were and I’m equally sure that he loves/loved me and all will be right. Insanity is on this road – for me!
        Two people have quoted the Jonathan Livingstone seagull thing to me, let him go and if it’s meant to be etc..and I know I have to go down that path at least for now, but honestly I am feeling very un-zen-like at present…

        Apologies for my rant, but it just feels better than the wallowing that I really want to do…

        Hope you enjoyed/are enjoying your break

        • Ruby1 says:

          Well here I am again, and I think I just blew everything.

          I was doing ok, then the last cple days I just collapsed with grief. Had time off work and yes started texting and trying to phone far too much.

          Then I sat down and put an email together telling him about my love for him, how I’d listened to what he’d said, suggesting that he just consider the thought of depression..and telling him that I’m here

          I texted to say please read it and got his 1st reply in 11 days. He has left his job, so, cant read the email ( i actually sent it to his private one) there is no hope for us and please stop.
          He wont answer me at all again. Have asked that he if only as a favour reads it but know now he has switched off totally it probably doesn’t matter if he ever does.

          I now apparently am single and have lost totally the most beautiful man I ever met.

          Does anyone think if I just leave him totally alone he will ever be in touch, still so desperate to hang onto some sort of hope.

          Will he read my email?

          • Rebecca says:

            I can only pray for you and your situation. I wish I had searched out sites like this when my ex bf of nearly two years picked up and left me. I am on the tail end of what you and so many others have written. I pray for the best and I am now preparing or trying to prepare for the worst. In my heart I want to tell you to fight everything in you. I did, and he now hates me. He was my best friend for over 25 years and we were the love of each others lives. But depression is worse than cancer. It can eat you alive but there is no death for relief. Your left with grief and painful memories of that beautiful man.

  40. Jesa says:

    I am completely desperate. I’ve been with my husband 4years, married for 2years. We have a one year old and a kid on the way. He threatens to divorce me about every 3months. Before we got married we had about 4breakups (all made by him). As well about every 3months, with a separation of a few weeks. He always blames me for the breakups (still to this day) when we fight and says he should’ve never come back every time he told me we are breaking up again. But he was always the one who came back. Just like the last two years he was the one not actually going through the divorce. He started graduate school right before I got pregnant and blames me for getting pregnant on purpose because I’m too lazy to work. I got pregnant by accident, I wanted to work, I did not study for years to then do nothing with it. A few months ago he decided it’s time for the next child, so that they are not too far apart. I am staying home with our baby because we agreed before we got married that it’s the better way for our children/family. But now whenever he gets the chance he says I don’t bring any money home and thus don’t have a say. I am from another country and have been moving around the us so he can do what he wants, for school, internships etc.. I’ve satisfies a lot to make this family work but all he says is that I’m lazy and don’t do anything right. He accuses me of the weirdest things, like hiding stuff from him that he then randomly finds in a place that he already looked at. Last night he blamed me for hiding my own phone to stress him out. I just don’t get him anymore. I got mad, went outside for a while to calm down and when I got back he asked where I was and when I didn’t tell him immediately he accused me of purposely making him jealous and physically attacked me and threw me on the floor and pulled me out of the room on my hair. I don’t know what to do anymore. He has a bad temper problem and I assume depression problems seeing that he has these angry phases regularly that then disappear out of nowhere and he wants me to forget everything.
    I’m scared of getting a divorce because I would really stand there with nothing but two kids and no father or work. But I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life in fear and stressed out.
    He has admitted to be depressed before but lately has been saying I’m the depressed one.
    Maybe I am at this point, I don’t know anymore.
    Maybe you have some insight.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jesa -

      It could be that depression is behind your husband’s actions, but that’s no excuse. What you are describing is classic abuse, control and manipulation, and it will drive you to a point where you have no confidence in your own judgment. If this were straight depression, I would urge you to at least define boundaries in his behavior about what is acceptable and what is not. I should think you would get depressed living in these circumstances where he makes all the decisions (where you live, when you have children, when he leaves and returns, what you can do with your life), leaving you feeling more trapped and helpless. He’s already gotten violent and that could well increase. It’s a dangerous situation for you and your children. Sorry to be blunt – but that’s what you’re describing here. You can read more about behavior like this in Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That? It would be good if you could get to a therapist who really understands the problem of abuse and will help you figure out what to do. Many therapists don’t have the right experience and will focus on your problems, as if this situation had more to do with you than with him. I understand the practical problems of trying to make it without your husband, but if he keeps making all the crucial life decisions you may only become more trapped and tightly, unbearably controlled by him. Yes, he needs help, but he has to wake up and get it. At this point, you need to look after yourself and get all the support and help you can.


  41. It's me.. says:

    After reading all these, I felt the need to post … My appologizes I’m advance if it’s long…

    Just before my husband and I married , he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia- I knew it was going to be a rough road ahead, but we both were optimistic, and knew we could get through it together…

    For the past year and a half he has been unable to work, and money has been tight- he is in extreme pain and discomfort and has been very challenging with doctors to the point of stopping his medication a few months ago. He has been sooo beyond angry, he’s pushed me, yelling right in my face, blamed me for the stresses in his life, threatened to leave, stormed out and went missing for days at a time, and all this often caused by something ridiculous and small … He’s refusing to see doctors ever again since a recent visit to the emergency room where his specialist and ER doc both said ge needs to see a psyciatrist as they think he’s depresssed- he absolutely refused and says “if everyone would just stop bothering him and etressong him out, he’d be just fine” he has cut everyone out of his life, his daughter (from previous relationship) his grandkids, his parents, doctors, and every one of his friends…

    His violent angry outburts have been more frequent and more violent- it’s as if the angry explodes and he cannot control his actions- he keeps saying he’s sick, and it’s not his fault… I’ve told him over and over I cannot continue life like this- whrn he gets this way the verbal abuse us too much, when all I try to do is help… He continues to yell and scream about “how nobody is helping him, nobody cares, nobody understands, and we’re all the same, and he can’t deal with idiots anymore”…

    He had another explosion, began trashing the apt- I called the police to come and help him calm down- I asked that he get help, and he refused again… He left that night, dropped off his cell phone at my work, and I heard through the grapevine he’s hopped a bus to go to his parents (who he hasn’t talked to in 7 months)…. He texted me goodbye, and that was it…

    I love him so much, but it’s soo hard to try and help someone who keeps begging for it, and refuses anything and everything that is offered… I’ve decided he cannot come home until he gets help- I won’t be able to handle him any other way…. It hurts to watch someone you love walk away… I don’t think he’ll ever talk to me again, I’m on the looping list of ppl he’s shut out in his life…

    Am I wrong and selfish to demand he get help?… I just can’t cry anymore…

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, It’s me -

      No, you’re not selfish or wrong to demand he get help. His rages sound terrifying – sometimes that extreme reaction can come from reactions to medications as well as from his underlying condition. If he gets violent again and police are involved, he could be confined against his will for observation. That would be far worse than getting help voluntarily. Many people have found a lot of relief from chronic pain and stress with programs of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Jon Kabat-Zinn was the pioneer in this field (one of his well known books is called Full Catastrophe Living), and he describes it as training rather than therapy. It’s about teaching people the skills they need to manage chronic pain and stress, and it has also proved helpful for depression and anger. Your husband might react better to the idea of learning skills rather than being treated as mentally ill. I would urge you to get your own support and counseling since these hellish experiences have taken a terrible toll on you as well.


  42. janie says:

    has anyone had to go through a depressed partner been violent towards them? if the depressed partner feels you havnt listened to them or supported them or taken their side on things, is it normal for them to be violent towards you because of this?

    • Nighthawk says:

      This is an interesting topic. Violence. Well if it has come to that, you should learn about boundaries you have set up before you will tolerate anything else and excuse yourself from the relationship whether it be temporarily or permanently. This is of course also includes emotional abuse as well, because that can be just as bad in the long term. Just ask many of these people why they are depressed or anxious.

      You can read my posts above and then John’s response. If your partner does not want to get the help that they need, you are choosing to exist in this situation. Did I love my wife? Of course. But I also made an immediate decision that my son needs at least one parent that is emotionally healthy. If you don’t have any kids now, well you might in the future and you might not be emotionally healthy even if you are not out of this current relationship. I’m not telling you what is going to happen in the future, but only trying to create scenarios that could happen from the environment you are currently living in. You might be knee deep in shit right now, but before you know it you could be swimming in it and no scuba mask can help you swim out of one of those messes so be careful.

      To update my situation….

      Her: No longer seeing a therapist (the time with her resident intern ended), still has panic attacks, drinking 8 nights a week, and just got back from a trip to see her mother (she might have one upped Jerry Sandusky) whom created so much havoc for her as a teenager that of course her brain needs rewired. Consequently, she’s been a real bitch to me upon her return, because it’s all my fault. Little does she know that I know better.

      Me: I’m surfing AGAIN, climbing AGAIN, backpacking AGAIN. And my skills of ignoring the Dark Side she presents have risen to massive levels. I’ve got to much to look forward to.

      So people, if your partner does not want to get help….”What can you do about it?”. I now know the only way I could have saved my marriage was to have joined her in her misery and had 100s of panic attacks with her. Is that what you want? I doubt it.

      • janie says:

        thank you for the reply, my ex partner left me because he attacked me,so he knew he did wrong but he some how still managed to blame me because i wasnt listening to him, in the 15 years he has suffered from depression and drank, he has been divorced twice,and he has 2 sons from his first wife that dont want to know him now, its very sad because he is such a loving man and i think he thought i was the one who could save him! i wish i could have been but i cant only he can do that. He doesnt want to talk to me now i have tried to support him even after he left but i still seemed to make things worse because i never say the right thing, i dont know what the right thing is to do in this situation, i am sure he still loves me and i love him, so i have to think do i wait for him till he is getting treatment and see if we can work through it or do i move on and leave him to suffer on his own?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, janie -

      There is nothing normal, nothing to justify violence toward your partner. Depressed people, especially when they drink a lot, can get enraged, abusive and violent – but the behavior is unacceptable and a powerful indicator that they need treatment. From your earlier comment about your partner, it sounds like you blame yourself for messing things up with him, at least some of the time. Please remember that his depression and behavior are not your fault – if he’s telling you that and generally blaming you, that is because he can’t deal with his own pain. This happens to a lot of people with depression because they feel things falling apart but don’t know how to explain it. Your partner seems to associate depression with being “mad” or crazy, but that’s not true. It’s a treatable condition with well-known symptoms, and hopefully he can accept that some day. Until he does and gets help, he’ll continue to feel the way he does now. But it’s not your fault, and I hope you can keep that in mind and think also about your boundaries and safety around him.


  43. janie says:

    i feel for you, my partner left me 10 weeks ago, he’s suffered with depression for 15 years iv been with him 18 month till he left, and me and the whole world is the cause of his problems, he went to therapy today, his first session, he said they told him it will be upto 12 months befor he gets another appointment? i cant talk to him cos all i get is all you do is ask questions, i did also think about recording him cos i got very desperate, i love him very much and want him to come back but i want him back, iv told him i will do wot i can to support him but then i get accused of calling him mad, and the devastating thing is he is such a loving man, he also drinks! alot! and when i tell him he is like 2 different people apparently its only me that thinks that cos none of his friends think that, hmm well his friends didnt live through it all, so please anyone is there any hope? i need advise on how to get him back and how to be there for him in a way that he needs cos i just seem to make things worse x thanks.

  44. hadenough says:

    My boyfriend is fine for 10 days to two weeks then descends into a depression. He’s a monster when he’s like it. He’s self-pitying, egocentric, the World revolves around him, he’s defensive, argumentative, swears, mumbles, slurs his words. I cannot stand him.

    Talking to him when he’s like it is like trying to discuss an alcohol problem with a drunk. Talking to him when he’s not in the depressive bout makes him depressed so I can’t do that. Next time it happens I want to record him and play it back to him so he can see what he’s really like. Foul!

    He says he takes his tablets (I don’t believe him), he’s been to a counsellor once but there’s never a second appointment (we have free healthcare here in the UK so it’s not money).

    I’ve been depressed in the past. I was in an abusive relationship. I got out and now I’m enjoying my life. I’m not willing to let his illness and his inability to deal with it drag me back down. Last night I snapped and told him to man-up. There’s nothing wrong with his life that isn’t under his control. He’s just fundamentally lazy and unwilling to make changes. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be judgemental of his depression because it’s chemical, not a choice he makes but he makes no attempt to improve himself, his life, or seek the help he needs.

    I’m not going to stick it out for much longer. If I get flamed for being a hard-faced £$*£ then so be it. My life is mine to enjoy and live to the full and I’m not going to live his depression vicariously. However, I’ll give it one more go if anyone can suggest a last ditch attempt that will make him see he needs therapy.

  45. Michelle says:

    I have posted my story on a different topic, but have been wondering if my ex is being himself now, or if his depression has a hold on him and is making him act the way he has been. Briefly, we broke up about 3 months ago because he suffers with depression and couldn’t give me what I needed. Since then we have been speaking once in awhile and have still seen each other due to my persistence. He doesn’t always respond to my texts or phone calls, but he always answers the door when I tell him I will be there.

    This is where the problem is for me. When we are together, at first it is like nothing has happened. We get along well, can talk, laugh, smile and we are comfortable together. We are still attracted to one another as well. We have spent the night together, sleeping together with nothing happening, have shared passionate kisses and other signs of affection and flirting. We can talk about the day to day events in our lives, can sit and watch a movie together and can have a pleasant dinner together.

    This lasts for awhile but then something inside of him snaps. He becomes a completely different man and his anger overrrides his happiness. He shuts down, becomes irritable and wants me to leave. He says things like “I’m not normal and can’t have a normal relationship.”, “I’m not happy and can’t make anyone else happy.” “I’m a horrible person because I’m closed off.” and he just straight out states that he is depressed and doesn’t want a relationship. Recently he said that he wants to be alone so he doesn’t get hurt, or end up hurting someone. And he isn’t ready… Last time I saw him he said he wants me to let go and that we will never happen. But when I asked him to tell me why he can only say it’s because of his depression. He says that he can’t deny that we do get along well, can laugh and have fun together. Yet, he doesn’t want me in his life. That he appreciates all that I do but he wants me to let go.

    I told him to just think about the fact that he has someone who has seen him at his worst when he hates himself, and is still willing to fight for him. That I get that there is more to this depression than just feeling sad because his dad died and he got divorced over a year ago. He started to get angry but I told him to just think about that. I told him that I am trying to learn as much as I can about depression and have changed my way of thinking as well in regards to a relationship. I learned from my mistakes in the relationship and he just said my apologies came too late.

    This is just so painful for me right now and I know I’m choosing to be unhappy. Maybe it would be easier to just walk away but I care too much now. I just don’t understand how he can be so nice, friendly and loving one minute and then just shut down and turn angry the next. I believe that we could have something wonderful if this anger and tension didn’t surface everytime we were together. It’s almost like he’s afraid of getting close to me again, and once he sees his walls are coming down, he pushes them back up and retreats behind them.

    We talked about meeting in a few weeks but I don’t know if that will happen. I feel that evey day we don’t talk or text, that he will be able to move that much further from me. And in a few weeks it will be even easier for him to shut out any feeling that he has left and to give into his depression and desire to be alone. I just don’t know what to do at this point.

    • hadenough says:

      sorry.. I posted my post (below) then saw yours, which is very similar except you obviously care for your bf and want to help him whereas I have had enough of my bf and want him to help himself.

      Sorry, I’m not qualified to offer help but I think only he can sort himself out if he wants to.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Michelle -

      The on-again-off-again pattern of behavior is one I know well from my own life with depression. It’s not as if he’s OK one minute, then not the next – it’s all part of a mood disorder, strange as it may seem. You don’t mention treatment, but if he doesn’t do much to get better, the combination of anger and depression won’t disappear by themselves. I wouldn’t say you’re choosing to be unhappy – it sounds like you have a lot to be unhappy about. You’re under a lot of stress and get too much anger and rejection from him not to feel hurt and pain. I hope you won’t blame yourself – you know his depression won’t get better or worse because of anything you say or do. It’s terrible to have to go through all this, but he has to work hard to get better. And it might help you to get your own support and perhaps counseling. Depression takes its toll on those who are close to those with this condition.

      All my best to you –


    • kiko says:

      You’re trying to force someone who doesn’t want a relationship (whether because of his depression is beside the point) to want one. That just wont work in the long term. It may in the short term which is why he lets you come over to visit but it hasn’t actually changed anything.

      If someone doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you I think you should respect their wishes even if you don’t understand or agree. Its not that he wants you out of his life completely, he just doesn’t want the kind of relationship you want. He doesn’t want or cannot handle that level of closeness that a typical committed intimate relationship requires. But he does seem to value your friendship or a less close relationship. How about meeting him where he is at, rather than trying to push him into something he does not want.

  46. Jim. says:

    I just broke up with my boyfriend this Saturday .He sufferrd from severe deppression after his ex left him and stole his money.He went throught cutting and i dont kow what else.he was on meds for the last three years i think but he stopped them last summer .his deppression was.coming back the last months .we didnt had the money for him to go to a psychiatriat again.But the last weeks were awfully bad i told him will find a way and he will go to a doctor.Im devastating ..we broke up cause of my family i came out to the last wendsday .it wend horrible wrong they locked me in the house (im 20 by the way) and the next day i left and went to find my boyfriend.we were in a long distance relationship with him since christmas and now i went to stay with him he told me to.get my things to his house.Im not living with my parents cause of college i was tired of lies and i decided to tell them the truth.Well my family was socked they didnt know were exactly i was and when they found my boyfriends name they hired some people to find everything about him and they did .they found his family and the house we were living my boyfriiend went to find his scared of something bad happening to them cause my family was threating our lives and then my fatmily came and took me from his house.The next day(Saturday) my boyfriend called me and said Were ovr.I kept thinking he did it to protect his family and himsel from my family.Things got better with my family and they calmed down we also talked with a psycologist with them .they got so angry cause they didnt know were i was.I havent talked with my boyfriend since saturday and i dont know if i will again :( i found his parents broke his cell phone and he lost his numbers.thought im sure he eill gone to facebook to comunicate with me if he wanted. his mother called and she will send my belongings from his house.Im starting to get severe depressed i would rather be dead .i havent slept over 3 hours for a week now.3 days now all im doing is crying and drinking so i dont fo anything bad to myself.How could he do ths to me?All this time he was afraid and told me mmillion mes not to ever live him.nitthat i ever would .he was afraid he was doing bad to me.and i got to the fact thats why ge left .i dont know im not well at all tommorow i will go see a psychiatrist home my boyfriend does too.I live in Greece by the way.

  47. Carmella says:

    Going through something similiar. Deciding at the moment if I can stay another minute as have had the silent treatment and distancing behaviour for over a week now. I dont feel loved, respected and have put up with a lot. My husband was diagnosed with depression over 10 years ago. I have stayed in the hope that something would change. It hasnt, in fact it has got worse. I have tried to see this as a result of an illness but then I also think people have to take responsibility for aspects of their behaviour and its impact on those around. My husband says that he doesnt know what is wrong with him, he believes he will never be content/happy, he is made like this and would be better off on his own. He has also stated that he doesnt know if our relationship is part of the problem or a symptom of what has happened as a result of depression. He cant or wont answer me when I ask, if he wants to be with me and he continually tells me that he doesnt know what he wants. He maintains that he is not capable of happiness or emotional connection with people. His feelings are all ‘muddled’. I am so fed up. I dont trust him as when I get close it lasts a period of time and then he is back to distance, and saying things that are real deal breakers. I dont know if I love him anymore and I am tired of al of this. There has to be an easier or better way of life or existence. Life is short and my own health and well being is beginning to suffer. We have one child aged 5 and I often think that I have two children i.e. my husband, to take care off. I worry about the impact on her and am fast coming to the conclusion that its better to be from a ‘broken home than living in one’. He is great with our daughter and has always put on a brave face around her. I am just so confused as on one level I am expected to show empathy and understanding, after all it is an illness and on the other side of the equation, its hard to understand and forgive the harsh words, sulking, distancing, self absorbtion, not knowing if they want to be with you or not etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Carmella -

      I hate to say it, but you remind me of my own behavior toward my wife for many years. She went through the same thing, not being able to trust the closeness when it happened because it didn’t last, getting generally exhausted. I think you’re right – it’s an illness, but people have to take responsibility for the damage they do to their families. It’s part of facing the reality of the illness – either you get serious about getting well, making it the center of your life, or you’ll drift along, leaving it to your partner to make any final decision. After all the time you’ve put in trying to make this work and dealing with his confusion about what he wants, you might try being clear with him about what you want, about the emotional impacts on you and your daughter and what your limits are. He needs to consult someone to get help, and being clear with him might be a way of pushing him to do it. If he chooses not to, you will have done what you can do. I believe it is time to put your health first.


  48. Nighthawk says:

    Hello Mel:

    Feel free to drop me a line at We share an extremely close correlation in this chapter in our lives.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Nighthawk-
      I wrote you a message. I read more on your situation and I do think there are a lot of similarities, although I am sorry to hear you are already married and living together (we did not reach that point). I related in the sense that my ex is someone who always compartmentalizes her life in order to avoid conflict and “please” others. Only during our break up did I learn that she had past trauma due to an abortion she had 5 years ago. This is something she could have told me in the past and something she’d skirted around. I would not have judged her for it, which made the secrecy even stranger.

      There were many, many other secrets that were uncovered while we were together. Some minor, most not effecting our relationship directly, but all things that most people would not hide from a partner. Most of these things were hidden from past partners also, but it was I who dug them out of her. When these secrets came up, I told her that it wasn’t the secrets themselves, but the act of secrecy. It seemed really sad that she didn’t feel she could fully be herself in a relationship.

      She is so used to hiding parts of herself. While she didn’t lie about anything that would directly affect my choice to be with her (a past abortion is much different than a curent affair or cheating, say), her persistent lying caused me to trust her less than I would have. It’s one thing to learn about a partner in a healthy slow and steady way, it’s another to have large secrets come up only because I grew suspicious and asked when they were avoided.

      I think there’s a sort of similarity in the fractured existence of our ex partners. This sort of thing can only be carried on for so long, I believe. It must take a lot to hide your life from the person you are closest to.

  49. Mel says:

    I’m so happy to stumble on this website and your article. This week I made the difficult decision to break things off with the woman who I thought I’d spend my life with. I can’t say I’ve had the 15 years that some of the folks on this board have had, but I am in my 30′s and have had lont term relationship (9 years) with a chronically depressed partner.

    This recent relationship was perfect for a year and a half without any doubts. Even once the honeymoon passed, I thought I had found the perfect mate–someone considerate, caring, and sharing similar goals to start a family and life together. At 34, these qualities are important to me, especially after leaving my 9 year relationship with a bipolar partner who refused to get help 4 years ago.

    To my dismay, in April, my current partner came back from a vacation and spiraled into self doubt and an abstract statement “i don’t know if you can give you what you want in a relationship, but i love you”. I was patient, agreed to take space so she could seek therapy and think and I could get some space from her process, which was rather selfish, pushing and pulling, and not at all considerate for my feelings…

    but after four weeks of her constantly breaking boundaries we’d made without regard to my feelings, i hit a breaking point. She did not want to break up because she is “not sure where she is at” and she acknowledges that our relationship was amazing before she hit this wall, but she also will not commit to working on the relationship until she works on herself. And she won’t guarantee me anything. She’s done passive things like agreeing to keep in touch over email/social networking, then deleting me out of the blue.

    All in all, this has brought up a whole lot of abandonement issues for me. On Monday night, I hit a point where I decided I couldn’t do this any longer. Space was not happening in a way I could tolerate. So, I broke up with her.

    I am still very unsure about the decision because obviously I want to be with her and love her very much, but this person she’s been the past month is not the person I knew. It is all very scary and confusing. I wonder if I’ve made the right decision.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Mel -

      It’s a terrible decision to have to make, but it’s a good thing to consider your own needs along with those of your ex. Many people just focus on the depressed partner and lose sight of themselves until they too begin to get depressed as well as emotionally hurt. I guess you’ve been through that. The tragedy of this is that the depressed friend doesn’t mean to hurt you, but you are hurt and can’t chalk that up, emotionally, as the side-effect of an illness. I think someone with depression needs to work with a partner to save the relationship even while struggling to get depression under control. In my experience, if you wait for recovery, that could take years or perhaps never be complete, and in the meantime the damage to the relationship is done.

      All my best to you as you try to sort through this. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to go about it or a model that works for everyone.


      • Mel says:

        John- Thanks for the support. This weekend has been terribly hard. I had a panic attack on the street on saturday. I don’t have them often, but do when situations of grief and loss trigger old abandonment issues for me. I live in a big, busy city, so this wasn’t pleasant or easy, but I got through it alright. I have great friends but have been out of work for a long time, so it is easy to catastrophise this loss.

        I have been feeling a lot of regret over my decision to break up because it’s not what i want in my heart of hearts. If I could have it my way, she’d be here in my bed and we’d be continuing our lovely, affectionate relationship as it existed two months ago. I told her just that when we broke up last week, but she says she is altogether paralyzed around having a “relationship” right now. Time and time again, she tells me it’s not me, that she loves me and that our relationship was great, and engages in processing and communicating with me, which makes it all hard for me to understand.

        I have not spoken to her since I broke things off Tuesday, but we have a plan to talk at the end of the month. I am keeping my boundaries solid because I literally can’t handle being swung around anymore. The panic attacks are enough for me to know this has gone too far. In a way, making a clear break feels most rational and practical because when we were “taking space” she was still calling me after every therapy session and telling me that her feelings were shifting. And I’m not talking small shifts–Two weeks ago we were intimate after three weeks of “space”, and she claimed that she felt better and hopeful that she’d work things out and be back in a month or sooner. The next week, after a few days of taking space and being out of touch aside from quick catch up emails, she told me she no longer wanted to keep in touch via “nice emails” because that felt “fake” when things are “bad” and that a month probably wouldn’t be enough time to work on herself. She also had deleted me off of social networking sites, even though we’d agreed that we were both okay staying connected on these. I felt like I was being broken up with, without being broken up with. When I told her this, she denied it.

        Her sharing her process of therapy and every shifting thought and emotion she had towards me started to dig me into a depression. It’s confusing to be in that position. My stance a month ago was that relationships takes work. I told her I was willing to stick with her while she went to therapy and be with her in the process. Instead of taking me up on this, she continuously suggested breaking up because it’s what’s “right” and she’d no longer hurt me if we broke up, but in the manner of the “boy who called wolf”, never sealing the deal. This became emotionally taxing. I told her breaking up would not stop the hurt or bury it away and it was a decision to take seriously, not just as a means to run away, or “feel free”, as she put it.

        Personally, I feel torn because I don’t know anything but this sort of relationship situation. I want to stick around because every woman i’ve been with has faced major depression like this and I am the type who sticks around through thick and thin. Both of my parents suffered major depression (my dad’s ending in his death when I was 13). Perhaps this is a situation i create to resolve my dad’s death, but I can tell you I did not see signs of depression with this partner. Perhaps this is normal and all couples go through this. I don’t know.

        I do know relationships take work and I am willing to put it in. But, what does one do when the other person is blatantly telling you they are not willing to put the work in? Yet meanwhile, this person is not leaving, they are just sticking around, dangling mixed messages in front of your face, giving you love and affection while telling you they are not in it with you for the long haul? Is this depression speaking, or do we hold this person responsible for not being considerate of how their “sharing their (ambivilent) feelings” is affecting us? This is the question I am grappling with. I would not stand being physically abused, but this sort of emotional taxing is so questionably abuse, it’s hard to draw a line.

        I could go on, but I will end this here. I feel for the others who responded on this site and am glad to have found solidarity and will visit more often.

  50. Nighthawk says:

    Thanks Jon-

    I guess to summarize the point of why I wrote this…it is what I came to realize and of course it did not immediately sink in. Is this with my situation only? Probably not, but in many situations…absolutely.

    The depression and situation ultimately needs to be battled by the couple. I have now come to see that the undiagnosed mate may have to give up the thought that it’s a 50/50 split and do more work than the person suffering from depression. Anybody who reads this, please keep this in mind.

    The road for these couples are often bumpy, extremely rolling, and of course unmapped. But together though the chances of staying together are much better if both are on the same page.


  51. Nighthawk says:

    Wow….this is a great article and possible the best to hit the target on my situation if it’s even possible. Since my wife’s fallout with me in early December where she approached me and told me she cannot be married anymore, it has been a roller coaster in more ways than one. Her depression I knew about. I also knew her meds were not and have not worked since the birth of our son. Heck…in October she was also feeling crappy because she was getting so frustrated with this fact that she tinkered with both the dosage and consumption timing of them. Her anxiety I knew about as I’ve seen dozens and dozens of panic attacks. Her battle with anorexia I witness in more ways than one every single day over the past 5 years and signals were magnifying of a major breakout. The thing I did not see coming was the past traumatic events that she revealed gradually over the next 30 days after that initial conversation. Were they bothering her? Well they were secrets that she claims she had never told anyone before so why then?

    I admit I knew very little about any of her problems in terms of what was involved with them. They were hers and she kept possession of them extremely tightly. Well after I was informed of the first traumatic event, I dove in to learn about everything. Local resources, research, consulted college professors, a weekly appointment with a therapist, talked to people I knew that had such problems and attendance at 6 support meetings for family members per month. Well since I have doneso, it is not wrong for me to say that feelings of darkness towards me have increased in forms of lashing out, passive aggressivness, etc. I have made some suggestions to her, but the simple thought of me learning about her problems has changed her even more.

    Over the course of the last 5.5 years, I have been suggesting she gets a new therapist, which she finally started about 7 weeks ago. The bad news is it’s only an intern (which I have a feeling she can manipulate) and her time with her is over in about 3 months so long term care is not even being considered. With that in mind, over the past time period I previously mentioned, she has had a therapist for only about 2 months and a support group for 6 weeks. What I’m saying is, this has been a slow train wreck that really picked up speed and unfortunately this has been her choice.

    Did I get sucked into this situation over the years? Yes…in some ways, but I will do so no more. Unfortunately our divorce will be filed within the next week or two of which I am of course getting blamed for everything. Are their exaggerations on her part?…oh yeah and I feel comfortable saying that.

    One might think that I am going nutz myself, but I’m not at all. I was but I gave that up for Lent. The education that is availabe on such topics is now so easy to get I have learned such situations can be to much for one man/woman to handle on their own. If I get divorced, there is absolutely nothing I could have done about it and hopefully other people can feel the same. These situations are extremely sad, yet potentially unavoidable.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Nighthawk -

      I”m sorry things have come to this pass, but it sounds like you’ve done all that you could do to inform – and support – yourself as well as her. She seems to have so many difficult conditions – which could all be related to earlier traumatic events. With so much going on it can be a fearful matter to seek the help you need, and I gather she has not tried to get adequate professional help – whatever the inner reasons may be that keep her from it. I know how frustrating it can be when you inform yourself and get a lot of ideas on what she can do, only to have her greet your efforts with resistance. She has to decide how to help herself, but she seems to be heading in the other direction, toward greater isolation.

      Thank you for sharing this difficult story.


  52. Alex says:

    I myself don’t know what to do right now about my relationship of three years. I suspect that he is depressed. One weekend he was asking me to look at engagement rings, the next weekend he was telling me that he felt numb, and the only emotion he could feel was anger. It sounded like depression to me, and I spent the next month trying to convince him that leaving a great thing like we had was not good for him, or us. He told me he never cared if he ever saw me again for as long as he lived. That is something he never ever would have said a month ago, he was so in love, so secure, and so sure of things. He has a stressful life, with a full time job, and going to school to get his masters degree, and being in a long term relationship, he told me the relationship is the one thing that he can control, so he wants out. He doesn’t want to feel needed anymore, he still loves me, and I still love him, but I don’t know what to do. I am so sure that this relationship is where I am supposed to be, and that even though he can’t feel it this very second, that it is where he wants to be as well. Do I walk away and never look back? Because I am scared that if he realizes being single is not a magic fix for this numbness and sadness, like he has made it out to be in his mind, then what does he do next? His goal is to cut out his friends, family, colleges, and spend his weekends alone at his parents house. I am scared for him, because I am his best friend even if I am no longer his girlfriend, and I need to know if I am supposed to let him go like he wants, or stick around even while he is pushing me away.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Alex -

      His behavior certainly sounds like classic depression, and I’m sorry you have to go through this. I agree that isolating himself, especially from the support of his most loving relationship, will likely make things much worse. The problem is there’s not a whole lot you can do. His response to you now is so shaped by depression that he may not be able to really hear what you’re saying and what you mean. You can reassure him of your love and let him know that you want to help, but he’s the one who has to deal with his depression. It’s always tempting to imagine that something you say can turn him around, but it doesn’t work that way. You’ll have to figure out how much of his pushing you away you can handle and let him know what your limits are. I think it’s usually best – for you and for him – to tell someone what you’re actually feeling – love, hurt, anger and all. I hope you can find a way through this without hurting yourself.


  53. CCD says:

    This was a very helpful article.

    My boyfriend and I just broke up because he’s going through a major depression episode . He said that he needs time to recover sometimes I feel like he blames me and sometimes he takes it back. I’m really confused because it seems like his feelings change a lot very often. When we first started going out, he was really nice and warm and all of a sudden he stopped calling and started dating other girls. Some months later we started dating again and after 3 months he proposed, I was a little shocked but happy and said yes. Just a day after he proposed he started feeling very anxious, and after that it was a rollercoaster of anxiety and depression for him, trying different meds and doctors and therapies.
    I myself have struggled with depression for many years and just recently was able to get off antidepressants after many months of bad withdrawal symptoms. Depression also runs in my family as my mom and brother also the same problem but in a much worse level. I guess it’s true that we tend to be attracted to what feels familiar. So I’m really confused, I don’t know if I should move on and try to look more consciously for a much more emotionally stable person who can help me when I have my own depressive episodes, or wait for ex-boyfriend to recover. I really love him a lot, we are both musicians and songwriters so we are very senstive and we tend to be much more dramatic and emotional than the majority of people. But right now I feel good with my life, my job, my dreams and my plans and am no longer taking AD’s. The only thing that makes me sad right now is the person I love is not happy with himself.

    I’m gonna try to back off I guess even if it’s hurtful. I’ve tried to help but he doesn’t let me.

    Thanks for this article.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, CCD -

      He does seem to be in a period of great instability, but it’s never easy to decide what’s best when you love someone. It sounds like he needs to do a lot of work to get better before he’ll be able to focus on you and the relationship. You’re doing so well that it would be hard to put a lot into a relationship with someone who’s so confused right now. I think putting your health and well-being first is a good thing to do.


  54. T. says:

    My boyfriend recently left me because I had been constantly having arguments with him over stupid things. Looking back, I was cruel, mean and controlling. I text him before telling him I was diagnosed with severe depression and he hasn’t responded. What can I do to get him back and prove I can change and be happy with him again? Thank you

    • Liz says:

      I am not a woman who suffers depression but is currently in a 5 year relationship with someone who has had severe bouts of depression. I don’t know if or how you can get him back but what I do know is that until my partner was able to focus on his illness and realize that his healing was/is contingent upon him working on it every day, there was no chance for “us” being together. It’s not because I didn’t want it…I loved him very much. It’s because depression stripped any emotional bond we could sustain. So I suggest that you work on getting yourself better…that is your focus and the rest will fall into place.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, T -

      You pose a pretty tough question. Telling him about your depression is a good first step, but when people are hurt they need time to get over it. I wouldn’t assume that your texting him about depression will make much difference unless he really understands what the illness can do to a person – how pervasive its effects are in how you think and feel – and also how you behave. I’d also be careful in trying to assure him that you’ll change since recovering from depression can be slow and full of reversals. It’s always a challenge to hold a relationship together when depression comes between two people.

      My very best to you — John

  55. Ann says:

    What I have read is what I feel. Depression is probably the most misunderstood illness there is. The pain on both sides is monumental. It is a disease that is contageous and unforgiving. Thank you for sharing, to all of you. You might have saved my sanity tonight. I am married to someone with depression. I have become depressed and suffer terrible anxiety. I now have severe trust issues. I know I will never be able to give him unconditional trust. He has damaged that. Twenty five years married, and I love him very much but depression has robbed us of something we had.I won’t give up and I look forward to my new insight into this very dangerous enemy. When all is said and done I must believe that our love will prevail and we can say we fought the monster together and won.

  56. Jaliya says:

    Such a complex question … and I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. Long illness and grave injury take us to places we never imagined going to … and we can feel so impotent in how to respond. My own marriage failed after 2.5 years of illness on my part, including major depression, CPTSD, and autimmune disease (which was diagnosed after he left). My husband left me while I was still ill — and was just beginning to arise from the worst of it. It has been a shattering experience for me … and, I am sure, for him.

    I realized that in a way, I left him first. Not by choice … but through, and by, illness. I myself was *taken* from the ability to be in intimate relation, and the loss for my husband was devastating. He then left me by choice. I have forgiven his need to leave … I have not yet forgiven how he chose to leave. I have had to forgive myself for being so ill, so dragged under, that I could not be a mate to him during a long, harrowing period. I still must forgive myself every day; it is one of my sacred rituals, and a reminder that nothing, ultimately, is any one person’s fault … What we choose and choose to do is always our *responsibility* … Major depression can destroy our ability to respond — to give a response, to be responsive. I know it was agonizing for my husband to live with someone who may as well have been a zombie. He’d known me as a vibrant, joyful person who *loved* to be in relation … and I knew him that way too.

    There are awful cognitive, volitional, and ethical injuries that come with major depression (as well as the very real neurological, immune, metabolic, and other bodily damage) … When I’m feeling most bold and blunt about how I’ve been injured by depression, I say, ‘I lost my ability to give a shit.’ There is a core *ability to be in relation* that depression (and other grave conditions) can nullify in a person … I lost my *sense* of relation … I lost the North Star of my heart, my *ability* to love.

    I have had to dig for my life out of the abyss, as we all have to when we have been ill / injured almost to the point of death. My husband had to do this too, in his way.

    I will mourn this loss for the rest of my life. He was my great love, my mate in joy. I’m rather a skeptic in how I think about things … and yet I had always sensed that there is a ‘one’ for each of us. My husband was my ‘one’, and I lost him … He lost me … We lost one another. Grave illness and injury, including major depression that I have lived with since infancy, killed our bond, our relation, our marriage. We also killed our bond; we, and our circumstances — all the larger powers and events that we could not predict or control — were also responsible — accountable — to the best of our abilities, for how we responded to those powers and events — for how we responded to them, and to each other.

    My beloved and I responded as best as we could, until we lost even that capacity. I lost it first; his went about 1.5 years later. It’s been said that depression is contagious — and I agree. Major depression, in any of its expressions, is a killer. Of relation, first of all. I broke; he broke; our bond broke.

    Now, 1.5 years since my husband left, I live with a close relation … and I am regaining my ability to be in relation … and restoring my capacity *for* relation. My situation and history are riddled with grave trauma — starting with a premature birth and my first three months passed in a late-1950s NICU. Those were the days when mothers were not allowed to bond, skin-to-skin, with their infants … this loss of primal relation — this natural continuance of the symbiotic bond that begins at gestation — is ruinous for both infant and mother.

    Long story short: I’ve always wondered if I was born without the capacity to love, to initiate relation, to feel with and for another being, to *want* to be in relation. I understand the injury now and my North Star is mercy — for all of us, because we are all broken-hearted in one way or another; we all lose one another, and are lost — we all eventually die. There is the most bittersweet relief in realizing how *deeply* we are in this life together …

    So I forgive … and forgive … and forgive. Daily. Hourly. I forgive me, first, for being alive — The injuries I live with are that deep, and I suspect that they’re that deep in everyone. The injuries, ultimately, are no one’s fault …

    Meanwhile, I am learning to live again, to love again, to be in responsive and responsible relation again. I am still very ill … and may be so for the rest of my life. I am forgiving myself for that as well … Every day now, to forgive is part of the work I do …

    The man who was my husband once said to me, about six months before I sensed him beginning to disengage from our bond,

    “To thine own self be merciful.”

    I send him this thought every day … and of all the ways he loved me, this directive is what remains in the end.

    I can’t adequately convey my regret … and my gratitude –

  57. Hi John

    It was very difficult for my fiance ( my then boyfriend) to deal with the depressed me until we went to a psychology counselling session togethr, and he also went a few times on his own, and understood that the “depressed me” wasn’t actually me, and it was the depression at play. As I got better though, I also acknowledged how the negative me dragged him down so much. However, this challenge has brought us closer, and we are now engaged and set to get married in May :)

    Noch Noch

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Noch Noch -

      It’s wonderful you two were able to see the role of depression together in counseling. And congratulations on your engagement. What you two have been through usually happens long after the wedding is past!


  58. Judy says:

    Great food for thought here. I think I would have to say that for me, our relationship contributed to my depression and then we weren’t handling the depression OR the relationship very well. And I’m not saying that my husband was doing anything bad, it was really just about all the assumptions we had about each other and our “role” expectations that never got discussed or communicated. I was so unaware of what I was doing, I was becoming angrier and angrier with him and blaming him for my feelings of oppression when all along, I was afraid to say anything to assert myself – heck, I didn’t even know what I wanted or what I thought. I had lived most of my life to that point just going along with what everyone else wanted because that’s what kept me safe as a child. But then I had my own children and I couldn’t keep “waiting” on people without feeling like I was going to crack.

    Anyway, it took a big crisis and his fear of my leaving to get into couples therapy. I’m not sure we would be together today if we hadn’t done that. For me, it was like having a safe place to be heard, where he HAD to listen to me, and I HAD to listen to him, as well. I was stunned by how many things we had never shared with each other, how many things HE was afraid to tell me. He could hear first-hand what I had to do to survive my childhood and then realize what his own issues were that he’d never dealt with. I felt terrible when I realized how much my depression had affected him and my sons, but I also needed him to acknowledge the ways he had hurt me in our relationship – and that had nothing to do with the depression itself, they were things said and done that might be the case with any couple – nothing’s perfect.

    A relationship is always a work in progress and I don’t think a lot of people realize that when they get involved with someone. It’s an adventure because we don’t know what’s going to happen in our lives to rock the boat or test our commitment, or maybe be a deal-breaker. I don’t watch Dr. Phil that often, but recently he said something that I totally agree with. If you’re going to split up, make sure you’ve done everything you can possibly think of to make it work so that if/when you walk away, there will be no regrets about whether or not you tried hard enough. Certainly, one partner can’t do all the work, nor can just one take all the blame, depression or not.

    Thanks for writing such thoughtful posts – you have such a knack for getting people to think about what’s really going on.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Judy -

      Thank you for all these insights. It’s wonderful to hear that couples therapy worked so well. For both of you to achieve that kind of honestly is remarkable and shows how strong the underlying commitment has been. It’s rare to be able to sustain it right through depression – whatever the ups and downs may have been.


  59. Karen says:

    This is such a complex subject. I have been on both sides — hurt by a parent and spouse who is experiencing depression, and causing damage in my relationships in my own episodes. Our first reaction is to blame, which adds even more damage.

    I sometimes compare this to a bad car accident where a whole family is riding in the car and everyone is injured. It could have been caused by a random other driver, a tire suddenly going flat, the driver being under the influence, or the driver being impaired by poor eyesight, and so on.

    The net result is that everyone is injured and must be treated and brought back to health. If the spouse is paralyzed and the driver needs surgery, a child loses a limb and another comes out without a scratch, it only matters what is next.

    If it is never acknowledged to the spouse or child that they were terribly injured, if the driver never acknowledges that he or she made a mistake, should not have been driving, or might have taken some action to prevent the accident, healing won’t go well and anger and blame will take root. The driver may be so overwhelmed with remorse or guilt that it is impossible to talk about it without help. Everyone needs to face the fact that something terrible happened and people were hurt.

    Then what? How will the family members be supported through their physical and psychological rehab? If necessary, how will the driver give up his or her license, or deal with an addiction? If not, how will the driver be prevented from putting the family in danger again? If there is anger, where and how should it be directed? How will forgiveness be enabled? What sources of help are available?

    Obviously it’s a process. If everyone can see that you might be behind the wheel when things go out of control, that there is only so much you can to to avoid as much damage as possible, you feel less self-hatred for how you lash out or avoid participating in family life. If you can say “these are symptoms happening. I know I’m hurting you as well as me and I’d doing my best to deal with it,” and if your family member can show they understand, but they will do what they have to do to stay safe, it becomes that outside force. Inside is a person you care about and honor.

    Sometimes things get better, sometimes not. There is damage and injury that must be reckoned with.

    It’s so difficult to separate a person from what goes on when something is wrong with their brain. There’s a better understanding of this than there has been in the past. I think that means a lot.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Thank you, Karen -

      That’s a powerful and helpful analogy. What I especially like about it is your picture of how everyone in the family is affected by a sudden change in life. Acknowledging your own part in it and trying with the rest of the family to face it and deal with the injury is so basic. Unfortunately, it’s rare for a family as a whole to recognize what’s happening, even as they try to fix their wounds by themselves.


  60. Lisa says:

    Hi John…
    Kind of a tough question to answer, which came first: the chicken or the egg? In my case, I wouldn’t say it was one or the other, but instead I would say it was his depression AND his handling of it throughout our marriage that caused the rift. You can’t have one without the other.

    The depression feeds the partner with the lack of a sense of self; it’s a constant cycle of self-defeating behaviors and moods. Over time, someone has to give, and if the depressed partner doesn’t give by acknowledging the problem and getting help, then that forces the other partner to make a difficult decision. Looking back, I know both of us have dealt with depression over the years, but I felt like I was managing and had purpose in my family. He had other problems that ran much deeper than mine.

    He’s never acknowledged depression’s role in his repeated affairs, withdrawal, emotionally abusive behavior and its effect on our nearly 20 year marriage. I think even to this day he doesn’t believe he’s living with depression. Did he love me? I don’t believe he knows what love is and is probably incapable of expressing that emotion. His lack of accountability, then lack of remorse for what he did to our family was finally what did me in and I told him to leave.

    It’s really sad and I’m trying to move on, but we have three kids, so I am still locked in this relationship, though, thankfully, he is at a distance. Today, I couldn’t even stop to talk to him as I dropped our daughter at his house — our divorce has been final for almost a year and I still can’t bear to be around him sometimes. It will get better, I know it will. Thanks for keeping this discussion going.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Lisa -

      I agree completely about the lack of a sense of self and the cycle of self-defeating behaviors. You have a deep insight into the problems – if only your husband had been able to see what was happening as clearly as you. You’ve had to deal with so much abusive behavior with the added trauma of divorce. It sounds like you’re working through it as well as anyone could, and I wish you my best for continued healing.


  61. Liz says:

    Hi John — It has been almost 2 years since my partner has suffered a severe bout of depression. We have managed to come out of it closer and stronger than ever. But, as you know, it was a struggle of a lifetime. A journey that I thought many times I was traveling alone because he wasn’t “present” in our relationship in so many ways (physically, emotionally). I wanted to give up and walk away knowing that while he may be saddened by my absence, it wasn’t enough to keep him invested in our relationship. What changed? I still don’t have the answer but I know that really good cognitive therapy, a great psychiatrist to monitor his meds and me never letting go. He knew he could come back to me and I wouldn’t hold him in judgement. Now the question you posed is a good one. I have gone over it so many times in my head and I truly think its a combination of both. For my partner, depression is a chronic condition that has yet to leave him. He has his good days but he also has days that are dark and hopeless. The difference is now he can move thru those days alot easier. Because of his illness, it directly reflects on his perception and experiences in life and he reacts/responds accordingly. No one is perfect. No relationship is perfect but you put depression in the middle of it and it’s very, very challenging to say the least. I think, in a way, I blamed depression for all of it b/c it was easier and more tangible for me. I could understand why he didn’t want to be with me because he was sick not because he didn’t love me. For me, his illness was my salvation. I hate admitting it but it’s true. If I allowed myself to think he didn’t really love me, I probably would have walked away and probably withered away as a result. Believing it was depression was my way of surviving. Strange isn’t it? I’m not sure how I will react if we go down that dark, endless road again. Today, we just make sure we are honest with our feelings and strong in our conviction to stay together.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Liz -

      You have it exactly – the struggle of a lifetime. I think both partners go through a hundred phases in trying to deal with it. As I mentioned in the post, it’s not an either/or problem. Both partners needs to recognize so much, and it’s all a painful and baffling shock. Dealing with depression alone is enormous, but then seeing what’s happened as a result and trying to restore a marriage while also healing inwardly can be too much to handle. At least, you can’t expect it to happen in any linear way – as you so well know. You offer the best prescription I know at the end – honest about feelings, strong in conviction to stay together.


  62. Evan says:

    Hi John, I don’t know if this will be helpful or just more confusing.

    Living with a depressed partner I think it is helpful to see the depression as something that is ‘outside’ the relationship and that we both work on. This is a kind of irresponsibility I suppose. But the purpose is to free us to both do what we can and not blame the other. To make depression like the other challenges we work on as a couple.

    This is what I have found. For others it will be very different.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Evan -

      I wouldn’t say it’s irresponsible to think of depression as an outside problem. Anything that works is good, especially if it draws you both into the process of healing.


  63. LMC says:

    Wow! This is my life as we speak. My husband has been gone for 3 months. I asked him to leave after months of him threatening to do so. He really could not make the decision. However, after he left (after all this is what he said we had to do) he keeps reminding me that I told him to go which is the blame game at its finest. Anyway, after reading your above post it has made me see things in a different light.

    He has depression! He hates to admit that, but it has its grip on him. I fail however when I try to support him through it. It does not matter what I say, it is perceived that I am trying to dictate to him.
    He gets agitated within 30 seconds of me talking to him! We’ve been married 23 years and he has had 5 major outbursts in our home. One resulted in him punching a light and breaking it. His response to that is that he might just be showing how mad he is about our relationship. He constantly wants to bring up the past which makes things worse. It is like we are playing a game. Who can score more points over the other? It is so unhealthy. He is so convincing that I start to believe him!
    Do not misunderstand, I have taken loads of responsibility for past episodes in our marriage that may have contributed to his low self esteem. Funny thing is I can voice my mistakes, but he can never voice his. After finding this amazing site I have a better understanding that it really is not him, but the depression that is clouding his thoughts!

    Therefore, after reading your post I would have to say that I think the depression has caused our breakup, but I agree that the person who has it must (in time) understand the damage they have caused. I could be wrong (I’ve never experienced one) but it’s like an intervention for an alcoholic. I remember someone telling me that the family expresses the hurt the alcoholic has caused and he/she has to sit and listen. I’m not saying that dumping on a depressed person is the way to go. In fact I would say to anyone dealing with this issue…DON’T EVER DO THAT!! Depressed people feel so low as it is. The last thing they need is their partner telling them how to snap out of it. Although for both partners to heal and learn to live with one another again they must both work toward that goal.
    At least I feel that is what I am going to need to be able to give of myself fully in the future! I believe this to be true because I think that the load my husband is carrying is beating him down. I think he does feel guilty everyday he just isn’t able to wrap his head around it and say with compassion that he is sorry! He is just not there yet unfortunately. I want my marriage to survive however!!! He has made no attempts to ask for a divorce. My therapist feels he will never ask for one because he really has no idea where he is at. I try everyday to believe this.

    Then voila!! I found your site! Thank heavens! Thank you for putting it all in perspective! It makes perfect sense to me! So today I am going to remember that depression is real and that it works in mysterious ways. I can’t fix him, but I sure can pray that when he is good and ready to want try again that I will have a better understanding of what he is going through!
    From the bottom of my heart….thank you!
    PS> Didn’t realize it was so long, so thanks for reading it! It is great therapy for me to write about it!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, LMC -

      I’m glad this post has helped give you some insight into your husband’s depression. What your therapist is saying could be true. It’s often the case that depressed partners will go back and forth on whether to go or stay, often waiting for the other partner to make a decision. I went through a period like that and really didn’t know my own mind. Fortunately, I came to see that I was confused and giving in to fantasy explanations as well as a lot of blaming. If you become aware that you have a problem with depression, then things become clearer. You’re right that he would need to figure this out and get treatment of some kind. That’s the starting point.

      It’s great you’re getting your own help and support. That’s really important.

      Thanks for telling your story here. It really helps.


    • lori says:

      Im so glad to find you all- Im loosing my mind! I had the magical marrage life that everyone dreams of for 15 years. then….My husbands clinical depression/ non responsive to medication, tms treatment,5 weeks 5days a week…did NOT WORK…. The man I adored, is not the man I am with. Im on 4 years now…we have a magical 11 year old- i donot want to leave- i want my husband back. this sucks!!!! any help and insight…welcomed. Im no longer with the magical man I married. he has help, I have help,good friends and family….I am a very out going possitive woman that does very uplifting work in my career. Im so sick of being the punching (mentally) bag…I want my very special man back…not happening. Any help from some one thats been there…THANK YOU!
      Live,love,laugh Lori

      • John Folk-Williams says:

        Hi, lori -

        I’ve been reading about the remarkable work you do to help others, so it’s especially distressing to hear what you’ve been going through in your marriage. I’ve had “treatment resistant depression” as your husband seems to, and I’ve been, I’m sorry to say, on the giving end of the mental and emotional punches. It sounds like your husband has worked only with the medical treatments with drugs and the TMS procedure. I never found those approaches to work because they – that is, the doctors prescribing them, encouraged me to play the role of passive patient, waiting for medicine to cure me. Depression has been a much different experience for me than cancer or severe arthritis. The attitude of getting active in your treatment is important in healing from any illness but I think it’s at the heart of recovery from depression. Once I decided to direct my own treatment – not doing it alone but always working with therapists and other providers – recovery really started. There was no one method that took care of all the symptoms but rather a series of things that helped in different ways – medication, psychotherapy looking into family history, cognitive therapy to focus on negative thinking, mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and learn to direct my attention away from the unpitying voice of depression – and many other things. So I wouldn’t give up hope about your husband getting better. The key, I believe, is his own decision to make getting better the top priority in his life. It really is up to him to take that leading role. There’s no magic about that attitude. The process of recovery is long and hard, but there are many more approaches to treatment and healing than the ones you mention.


        • Lori says:

          THANK YOU…wish you weel…
          I hear you…I love my husband so much…yes, I really had for 15 years “everyones dreammm” NOT perfect…but as close as on can get. I MISS HIM SOOOOO> THIS IS SO HARD!
          Thank you…encouragement helps….$ years, the last year too tough….
          less you! Thanks for your kind words, and most of all….HELP!
          Live,love,laugh Lori


  1. [...] of standing on your head is not going to save your marriage if he is depressed. I've recommended this man's blog in the past, as I think it gives a unique perspective on the role depression, particularly a [...]