Relationships in Crisis

The Surviving Depression Together Ebook Is Now Available

I’m pleased to announce that the first Storied Mind ebook is now available. Surviving Depression Together contains new versions of more than 20 posts on relationships published here over the past five years as well as completely new content and material previously published only in the newsletter. It has all been edited and organized into a smoothly flowing reading experience. Here is an excerpt from the introduction: “I’ve been married […]

Does the Partner or Depression Cause the Breakup?

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 […]

11 Relationship Traps of Depression

Depression sets relationship traps for both partners. Everything can change quickly between two people, and it’s crucial to be able to spot these changes as soon as possible. Here are 11 signs of the illness that seem perfectly designed to undo the bonds of closeness. Humor, talking and doing things together, sharing special moments – they’re all gone. In their place are avoidance, anger, blame and isolation. Two Sides of […]

How to Work Together to Save Your Relationship from Depression

Relationships can break down quickly under the impact of depression. While many depressed partners decide to leave for good, I think it’s more common for two people to stay together and try to tough it out. If that’s the situation you’re in, you need more than hope to make a go of it and eventually restore the relationship. As my wife and I discovered, one of the first things you […]

10 Ways to Help Yourself When Your Partner Is Depressed

When depression takes over your partner, you’re likely to go through an emotional waterboarding, a torture you have to escape. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, helpless to do anything. You take the brunt of the punishing anger or indifference that is all your partner can give you. The relationship that means the most to you feels like it’s breaking fast. What can you do to keep yourself together? There are […]

Trying to Heal after the Final Break with Your Depressed Partner

Depressed partners walk out and leave behind a lot of emotional wreckage. Whether the ending is explosive, grieving or compassionate, its impact is life-changing. As the abandoned partner, you have to put your life back together, and it can take years to do it. There are a lot of obstacles to get around, however, before you can start. One of the worst can happen if your partner makes you responsible […]

How Can You Communicate After Your Depressed Partner Leaves?

It’s the worst scenario of life with depressed partners. They leave, shutting out a lot of love and support because of the illness. If you’ve been abandoned in this way, the first thing you’re likely to try is to get in touch. You need to say you still care and want to help in any way you can. They may refuse all contact or send an answer full of anger […]

Is Your Partner’s Depression Changing You?

Over and over, I find stories online about the transformation of a loving partner, most often a man, into a depressed stranger. I know what that’s about because I have been that stranger. I went through a period of withdrawing emotionally from my wife and blaming her and just about everything else for my problems. I filled my mind with fantasies about escaping to a different life as the answer […]

26 Responses to “Relationships in Crisis”

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  1. Diane says:

    I’m 22, my boyfriend is 24, and we’ve been together for 3.5 years. I’ve always suffered from depression and anxiety which he has been very supportive of, but has had his own bouts in the past. This time… it’s pretty severe. I was going through a big depressive rut shortly after we moved in together, and didn’t realize that he was also suffering. It all blew-up when he said he wanted to break up, but this was soon retracted by his statement that he “wants to work things out” – at first, a lot of the blame was put on me for neglecting the relationship, but now it’s come out that he’s suffering quite a bit himself. He says he feels like a failure over not having graduated by now, his weight gain, not having a job, etc. I moved out, so that we could “take a break”, and re-evaluate the relationship… But I don’t know how to help at all. He says he doesn’t love me anymore, but I feel like that’s the depression talking, because he’s continually said he wants to make it work since then. I just think he’s incapable of it right now, and our relationship needs to be put on the back burner. Others who don’t know us as a couple think it’s hopeless, but I just don’t think so. I feel like it would be a shame to say I love him, and then abandon him in his time of need just because of something he probably isn’t sure he does or doesn’t feel anymore (love for me).

  2. Melissa says:

    Glad I found this site. Here’s my situation: I’ve been dating a guy that I have known basically my whole life and we are from the same small town/area. Our families have also been friends since our grandparents’ were young. He just turned 43 last week, I will be 38. I have liked him since I was 15 but we never dated back then due to our 5 year age difference and then I moved away, but I always thought about him and wondered what he was doing and wished that we had gotten together. Now I am back living in the area and we reconnected last fall with each other and started dating. Everything was going great until around Christmas when he found out the company he was working for was closing their doors and he was going to lose his job after the new year. In addition to that, he and his family were all really missing his father (who had died a year prior to that). He and his father were best friends. Anyway, my boyfriend started distancing himself from me a little (before he called me 3+ times a day and we saw each other everyday). After all this bad stuff happened, we still talked to each other every day or so (he called me) and we would see each other about once a week (his idea to see each other). One day he would be very sweet like before, then the next he would become very distant, almost like shutting down. He started sleeping a lot and his family and friends were also getting worried about him, but he still talked to them but started avoiding me. His sister-in-law and him never talk about personal issues, but a few weeks ago she was upset with him for not talking to me for a few days (she had been listening to me be sad about it). She actually told him personally that she hopes “he knows that he has someone very special in his life and that he better remember that I am very good for him”. He replied to her something like “I know she is, but doesn’t anyone realize what I’m going through right now in my life?! I don’t have a good job, my house is messed up and I need to fix it, I feel like I can’t give her what she needs, and I want more for her than that”. Anyway, I have talked to him some since that conversation when he told her that. But then 3 weeks ago, he completely stopped calling me. I called him, left him voicemail messages, he hasn’t returned my calls. I then wrote a letter after about a week of him not replying to me that basically said that he is hurting me by not talking to me, that I know he has been going through a lot of bad stuff lately but that I am here for him and want him, not a job or whatever else he may have or don’t have. I told him that I love him but that I need to step back from him and his life and while I can’t promise that I won’t find anyone else in the future, for now I am here for him if he wants to talk or try again. I haven’t heard back from him. I have talked to his family and friends and they say that he won’t talk to them about it at all, and they also swear to me that there is no one else in the picture. His mother told me that he hasn’t really said anything to her about it, except that she does know that people have told him that I am crazy about him and love him, and she suspects that he may have gotten scared and feels like he’s not worthy of me right now and because its an ego/pride thing, he can’t verbalize that to me because that makes him look weaker. Anyway, I am devastated because I truly love him. I feel like he is the love of my life, I have always wanted to be with him and now that we got together, I feel like it has been snatched away. I have decided that since I have said my piece to him, the ball is now in his court and I can’t stop my life for him. However I also feel like someday he may come back to me. I’ve talked to many different people and they say that for men especially, the loss of a job is devastating and on top of the loss of his father, he probably became very depressed. I know about depression (I deal with it myself) but I’ve also heard that depression in men is even harder sometimes to see because they are normally not open with their emotions and completely shut off. Also that they sometimes push away relationship because they can only handle their problems. Am I being stupid for feeling this way (that he may come back to me and that he and I could still have a chance)? Fortunately, he never was or has been abusive to me or blames me for anything…he just is avoiding me. I need advice and encouragement I guess. Is there a chance for he and I still? I hope so…I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone…

  3. tamara says:

    Thank you for your web site, it has truly changed my life.

    The person I am writing about is not my boyfriend nor husband, but I am his closest friend – his only friend who is clearly close and the only one who knows what he’s faced with. I function – or have functioned until depression – like his partner for a long time.

    One day, he said he loved me. I was happy. A week later, his depression set in and he blames me for how awful he feels. I was trying to help him see that he might need some help and support for what seemed like some depression symptoms (that had been going on a long, long time), and it made him feel like “oh wow, she’s right I am depressed” and BOOM! He is absolutely TEXTBOOK in his depression symptoms and how he is acting toward me (per this site and others).

    He’s pushed me away, and the only times he talks to me, he eventually berates me. Misunderstands everything I say and turns it into me being the source of his problems. He has decided to move away. I would love to say that physically moving won’t make you happy when you haven’t dealt with the root cause of your unhappiness. But I am refraining from making any reference that even comes CLOSE to referencing depression – because he says I cause it when I talk about it. He “feels fine” until I talk about it and remind him that something is going on.

    He seems to not want to lose me and hate me at the same time. I needed to read all these stories and how this is a common way to treat the person closest to you when you are depressed. He is basically in denial about dealing with it – and maybe believes I am the ONLY cause of it? However, he says things like how he’s not optimistic about anything, nothing makes him happy, he sits alone in the dark just thinking and enjoys that more than any person or thing right now … I know I cannot fix him or make him feel better, but will he ever see that this IS depression? And it isn’t just me who brings it on?

    And … will he ever know what he did to me? Without me continuing to bring it up, and ask him how I could be so close to him and he could push me so far away, will he ever recognize what he lost in me, and us? Do depressed people realize or will he forever blame me?

    I am so so so very sad and worried. REALLY worried. But I am also growing to a place of peace after the content you’ve provided. Thank you, John.

    • tamara says:

      To be clear, I will miss him terribly and be destroyed if he leaves… But if he’s ok, if he finds a path that legitimately makes him happy, I want that for him. I want him to be ok. It is more important than anything. If it means he leaves me, he leaves me. So long as he is ok.

      Already a hole is left in my heart, so large that I’m not sure it will ever be filled again. I believe I will be ok, but I will always have a him-shaped hole in my heart. Always. But I’m willing to have it if he’s ok.

      It would be nice if he didn’t think I caused the whole thing, too. But I’ll let that go, if he can just be ok…

  4. Nicola says:

    Dear John,

    I came across your site today as I was searching for more answers again regarding my boyfriend of nearly 3 years and I feel that talking to a man who will understand makes me feel better. Rick and I met 3 years ago (Jan. 10/10) when he contacted me on a dating site. We didn’t really start being a couple until late March although he called me daily and kept company with each other for those months and then he declared that he had fallen for me and could we be together. In the meantime he had stopped working and was telling me about his depression and anxiety and how he had started his anxiety in 1995 and had struggled with it since then and wasn’t able to work (but is a unionized longshoreman and always has his job to go back to) and had been broken up with twice by his ex-girlfriend because she couldn’t handle his not working and being depressed etc. As I suffer from depression myself (not as severely as his) I understood and because I cared and loved him I stood by him no matter what. We were a “couple” for several months and then he told me he couldn’t be there for me and didn’t love me anymore and said some very mean things while continuing to call me daily etc. He said he wanted to date and see what else was out there and said he met someone and really liked her etc. (it would later turn out that he had lied to me) and it crushed me. Then a couple of months, 6-8 weeks maybe he came over unexpectedly and said he was sorry and could we still be together? We were together again because I loved him and wanted him to be happy. (There are way more details to all this, I am trying to condense). We spent time together again although he still wasn’t working because of his severe depression and I loved him unconditionally, understood him, hoped and prayed for him etc. Then Dec. 2010 here it comes again, not remembering exactly what led up to this episode, he again pushed me away, said mean things, said he had met someone else and she was Italian (as is he) and younger (I’m 8.5 years older than Rick, never an issue between us BTW) and she wants to have children (he never wanted children and was nearing 40 and didn’t think he was daddy material because of his illness and it was too late for him etc.) and that he was happy to know her, even gave her a name (turns out the name he always liked for girls!) didn’t love me and didn’t want to be with me anymore etc. still continuing to call me. Here comes Jan./Feb. 2011 and he’s back to say he’s sorry and wants me again, he made up everything again about meeting someone, like a love sick fool, I took him back. We’re once again happy, loving each other, can’t get enough of each other even though he’s low mood all the time etc. I didn’t mind because I loved him with no conditions and we enjoyed a loving, healthy intimate life too although he had problems sometimes with lack of libido and always ejaculated too soon etc., but it was ok because we loved each other. Then late early May 2011, he checked himself into the local emerg. because he couldn’t cope with his depression any longer and was having thoughts of death and the medication he was on wasn’t doing it for him. I was so desperately sad for him and visited him daily in emerg. while he waited to be admitted into a psychiatric unit. After many days they finally found a bed for him outside of our city and I was with him the morning the transfer ambulance came to take him there and I wept as he climbed in, I was beside myself for him, I felt like a piece of me was going with him and I wasn’t sure when I would see him again. True to his word, he called me once he got there (I was told that he was going to receive excellent care and treatment there) and continued talking to me daily but texted me that he needed to be alone and didn’t want me to wait for him and that I should move on, again I am devastated and heartbroken at being told to go away again. After he had been there a week or so he asked me if I wanted to drive out to visit him, up to an one drive for me, and I did and continued to several times a week for the 2 months he was there for. He received 10 shock treatments and was put on a “cocktail” of medications and seemed to be doing well. We spent a long weekend together out there at a local motel and it was joyful to be together again just us instead of sitting on the unit or hospital lobby holding hands and watching hockey finals. We made love all weekend and just enjoyed our time together but he didn’t love me then because if I would say it to him (and I always meant it) he would say “sorry, I didn’t hear you”. I brought him home a couple of times for day trips so he could do some business etc. and met his mum twice for the first times then and haven’t met her since because he for some reason didn’t bring me over to meet the family or any of his friends and took him back to hospital. After the long weekend, he seemed to be loving me again and was telling patients and staff in the wing about me etc. I brought him home in mid July 2011 to his mother’s house where he still lives and he called me etc. never once thanked me for sticking by him or bringing him home, nothing. A couple of days after he came home, he said things had changed and he didn’t want to be in a relationship any longer , needed time to think and sort his life out, told me to move on etc. Here comes, August 2011, back he comes, and back together we are, in love again, spending tons of time together again, he tried to go back to work also and I think he lasted 6 weeks and stopped working again because he wasn’t well enough and returned too soon, no duh! He went to men’s depression/anxiety support groups almost every night, saw a mental health guy at the local hospital’s mental health department. He is taking so many meds, it’s disturbing! He’s on Lithium, Seroquel, Effexor, Abilify, Remeron and Immovane for sleeping and has taken it for years to sleep, he is diagnosed with Major Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Distemia (low mood). Our love continues on as well as it can when one’s as depressed as he is. We have part of Christmas Day together and had a lovely, romantic dinner together on New Year’s eve and then met friends at the Casino, just a really great time all around. Then comes end of January 2012, his elderly mother who was just about to turn 82 (who also has depression and severe lymphadema of her legs and heart trouble) loses her balance and falls and fractures her left clavicle and then is hospitalised until May 2012 in which time Rick is beside himself with worry that she may pass away, visits her most days etc. During that time, I didn’t see as much of him as he was always busy and didn’t want to leave his 59 year old spinster sister alone in their house because she has a seizure disorder which is un-medicated and he worries about her. So now we’re getting into June 2012 and he has another episode and is mean to me again, wants to sort his feelings out, needs to be alone, isolating himself etc. Late July 2012, once again he comes back, wants to be together, never wanted to be apart, never wanted me to walk away from him, didn’t mean the things he said etc. He had returned to work again at the beginning of April as the Alaska cruise ships were here and he loves that longshore work and he again at the end of June stopped working again and still remains off work today. We spent my 50th birthday together on August 5, it was a surprise (small) dinner party for me, we took some beautiful pictures together and it was just a really great party for me! We carry on with our love, spent more time apart than together (this had been the case since Feb 2012) and then early Dec. 12 he doesn’t see me for a week because he had to be home overseeing the plumber fixing the household heating system etc. and then he had a bad flu for weeks, told me he couldn’t “come over right now, too much going, sorry and I need to get better however long it takes” , I said”K, leave you be. Bye for now”. He says “Bye for now, hope you understand”. I panicked and don’t even remember driving over to his mother’s house 16 kms away and dropped a bag of his toiletries that he had here, (he brought them back here) sent many dramatic texts (I am guilty of these texts a lot I’ m afraid) and lost my mind. Next day I apologised and apologised for my behaviour, and continued to for days and he wasn’t responding in anyway for many days. I tried a new approach on Dec.3 with texts, tried to be funny (he always thought I was funny) and finally he texts me and says “I’m ok, busy, need some time alone, let you know tomorrow the results”. I sent him a few loving, supportive texts letting him know I am always here for him. He messed up his appt with the surgeon and now had to go to his family Dr in the morning for the results. He called me the following morning after not calling for days and told me the results and asked him if he felt like coming over later and he “no, not feeling up to it”. Fine, on I carry, next day, we talk on the phone and suggest we see “Skyfall” as we planned weeks ago. Friday, he’s all lovey dovey again on the phone, can’t wait to come over to see me, ( In all this BTW, he had found a lump on his left clavicle and went to the Dr. about it and ended up with a chest x-ray (it was clear) and an ultra sound of his neck (it too was clear) and then had a biopsy performed on November 27, received the results Dec. 5 and it came back Thyroid cancer. Of course I told him that he would never be alone during his treatment etc. and then had a CT scan on Dec. 21 and that’s all I can tell you for now. Thank God it’s highly treatable and not life threatening.) as its now been 4 weeks since we saw each other but continued to talk many times a day in the interim and he’s over at my place waiting for me while I’m finishing my work for the week, we flew into each other’s arms and didn’t want to let go, and we made love etc. and went out for dinner. He didn’t stay over but returned on Saturday in the afternoon and tried to go see the movie but it was sold out, so we come back home, go to bed, Sunday he goes home again to help him mum and sister and then he came back and we did see the movie that night and he spent the night. We didn’t see each other again until Dec.14 at which time he stayed here all weekend until dinnertime Sunday and I haven’t seen him since. He’s busy doing stuff for everyone all week and calls me almost daily and tells me he’s worried about a woman friend he knows over 10 years because she hasn’t responded to his phone calls and texts. Tells me that evening (Fri. Dec. 21) that he’s busy during this time and won’t likely see me until Sunday (Dec. 23) I’m not happy as I miss him so much (all the time) as he’s having the CT scan on 21st and then has to go to the grocery store for his sister and then do a bit of shopping with early Christmas money from his mum and then going out with the boys from high school days for a few Christmas drinks on Sat. night (and BTW he rarely drinks). Next afternoon, I texted him not to fret about his friend, it’s out of his hands. He tried to call me 3 -4 times on Saturday, I didn’t answer as I was sulking. On Sunday evening I got this “I’ll be busy for the holidays. Please make alternate plans as mom is not well” , I’ m beyond hurt, he said he wouldn’t leave me alone Christmas day as my family were away this year, and that we would spend it together. I’m so upset, I’m crying like a baby, spent Christmas eve and Christmas evening with friends we were both invited to. I haven’t heard from him now since December 22 I refrain from calling or texting (killed me not to ) and today I sent him a loving text asking him if he wanted a life filled with love. etc. or a life growing old alone, lonely, unloved etc. and this is what I get “I don’t feel the love anymore, take care, move on”. I ask why, he says “Its not you, it’s me, I’m not in love with you (I’ve heard this before of course), I’m staying single”. A few more texts from me and “Take care, I’m talking to someone else, sorry”. another “take care”, “Texting isn’t going to change how I feel, I’ve met someone, take care”. So, that’s it, haven’t heard a thing since, I’m devastated beyond belief, I’m crying most of the day, my friends are loving and supportive and remind me that he’s mentally ill and has cancer etc. and here I write to you, I should have seen this coming again. To be told suddenly again that I’m no longer loved is beyond the pain I feel. I have loved him unconditionally, wanted to be with him forever, thought he was the one, told me I was his one and talked about marriage down the road, going back to work and taking care of me because I’ve been there for him always, talked often about living together but stuff keeps getting in the way, made plans, had dreams, he often told me everything would ok in the end as he was going to get well, loved my kids who don’t live with me, told me often he loved me, it goes on and I have written an epic novel, but I need to! I am once again baffled by his behaviour and the mean things he said, believe that he said them to stop me from bothering him. No woman in their right mind (and I can’t be in mine) would be interested in him with his mental illnesses, cancer, no money, is in serious debt to me also and a loan, lives at home with his mother and much older sister and only left home at 34 and moved back after his ex GF kicked him to the curb twice, they were together about 2 years on/off and he was obsessed with her until about the end of 2010 after having been apart for a year when we met. Yet I loved him thru everything, never judged him, didn’t worry about his medications, forgave him when he took money from me without asking and repaid it, took my debit card nearly 3 weeks ago while I was sleeping and replaced it the same day. He and I have IBS and he soiled the bed a couple of times, yet I never judged him, and this is how he sends me away again. He isolates himself and doesn’t speak to anyone when he’s in this phase. I could write pages more, but its no use, I just am trying to understand why he has these episodes. Please write me back and help me understand John. I thank you very much in advance. NICOLA

    • Richard says:

      Hi Nicola, I just read your post and I have spent the last twentyone months living almost exactly the same life you have been living. Your post mirrors my experience so closely it’s scary. I have been seeing a women for twentyone months and she behaves exactly the same way as your boyfriend has. We’re together spending amazing time together, text numerous times a day, click so well. Then every few weeks to a few months she texts saying she can’t be with me for numerous reasons and then I like you text and text and text looking for answers, become heartbroken and derpessed. Few weeks later she returns and things go back to normal. We so rarely fight, so comfortable together, great talks, very loving and intense sex life, then once again, she bails. This has been so hard on me. I love her immensely and she can never say it back. She professes how much she cares for me and thanks me for sticking by even though she’s so up and down at times. Now she is away on vacation with family for three weeks and before she left, she said she needs time to get well, isn’t doing well emotionally and isn’t as ready as me for a relationship. It’s baffling and heartbraking and has me walking on eggshells. She says she’s sure of me, but isn’t sure of herself. Not sure what she means? I told her I would wait for her and understand that she needs to get better. She is in therapy and I think she has gone back on antidepressents. You and I are so supportive and loving and give so much of ourselves but we keep getting hurt in return.

  5. Shelley G says:

    I will start with my husband. We have been together for 10 years and married 8 years. He is my 3rdmarriage partner and I am his first.

    He left our family 8 ½ weeks ago. He has been out of work for 3 years, which seemed to lead him to become depressed.. Yet, I believe he has suffered on and off with depression possibly his whole life. He is the love of my life. I have 5 children that he became step dad to, yet he took them on and love them as his own.

    He is a care giver. This man has helped me through some serious things in my life….one being panic disorder, which was 6 years of torture. I did work on and off in the dental field during these 6 years, yet was bedridden the rest of the day, after returning home.

    He has said he worshipped me. That statement scared me to be honest, but it was just a word at the time. He has been the most mild and laid back man I have ever met. The strong silent type. He has no friends. He had one from college that he spoke to every so often. His activities included just all of us doing things together.

    I am the opposite .. yet with the panic it restricted me severely. I did get through that and was on the Discovery show and got hooked up with the best Dr’s etc.. I had also gained a lot of weight. Now that I am feeling better, I have been able to lose 70 lbs and I feel motivated about life .. I think my husband got lost in it all. His depression symptoms have come on gradually. I was got so frustrated and the stress was to much at times and I just did not have any idea how to “help” him so I was mean I yelled and I would call him names etc .. then on the other hand I would love him up and try so hard to not do those things to trigger him. I would include him in my running and exercise routines and then hiking etc .. He just got lost in me and what I did.

    3 years ago, he had an emotional or mental break of some sort and moved out of the house. We went to counseling for that episode. He was scared to death of me and I was mostly bed ridden and 235lbs I mean I could hardly move. He would shake uncontrollably when he was with me but he would stay with me 4 nights out of the week, then return to his apartment. Also, he would lock himself in the closet a lot and I would cry and cry out to him and lay out side the closet confused and in pain for him. He returned permanently abouat a month later and we moved to a different house. He would not come back to that house. From that moment on he was different. Yet that is when I started my healing. I then got a super great job and working 50hrs a week, making good money. I felt good and I looked good. But I was loosing him, my love.

    He blames his problems on me. He feels I was mean to him. He said I make him want to take his life. He has said it over and over again. It destroyed me! He then picked one afternoon after a stupid fight. My back was out I could hardly walk. He switched into another person totally. I said something that he felt was *mean* and it changed him. He threw things around the kitchen, food on the floor and walls. I knew something was about to happen but not totally what. He packed up and left. Later, I learned he called his parents that he hardly spoke to all of these years. They rented him a car and he drove across a few states to their home. He said he did not love me right then, via email. He will not speak with me on the phone and hasnt for over 2 months. The content of these emails are strange. He says how dark he is and he feels nothing. These have been very dark twisted emails. He loves poetry and is a wonderful poet….but similar to Shakespea, I could hardly understand them. He keeps saying I was mean and I made him want to take his life over and over again. These words were like knives in my heart in my soul ,I feel pain all over my body. I feel so confused, there is no closure. He went from loving me to not loving me in record time.

    I have tried to call him. This makes him soooo mad and I have emailed back and forth. He is not the man I married. It was like my husband had died. He called himself fragile and I am unsure what in the world to do. I ache and worry for this man. I am getting therapeutic help for myself because this has taken me to my knees. He will not talk to our kids nor me at all. He sends only 1 email a day, most days or it will go days and I hear nothing. His parents condone this and I am pretty sure they blame me for his downfall. They have shown that they do not like me very much. So I do not speak to them. I have been so scared. I noticed he has updated his website. He is a graphic designer and seems to be getting into some social media. I feel even though there is pain in getting a divorce, this may be my only option to find happiness again. He doesnt want one. He has lost all love for me, yet he said he will never take off his wedding ring, nor seek another partner. Lately, he has said If I want a divorce, I should just go ahead and do it. But he will not. I am lost without him. He is my person.

  6. Shelley G says:

    I am start with my husband left our family 8 ½ weeks ago. He has been out of work for 3 years. Yet, I believe he has suffered on and off with depression possibly his whole life. He has a pattern starting in his teen years wanting to take his life and check himself into a hospital for not quite a year. We have been together for 10years and married 8years. He is my 3rd marriage and I am his first. Yet, he is the love of my life. I have 5 children that he took on and loved as his own. He is a care giver this man has helped me through some serious things in my life 1 being panic disorder 6 years of torture. I did work on and off in the dental field yet was bed ridden the rest of the day. He has said he worshipped me. That kind of scared me a bit honestly but it was just a word at the time. He has been the most mild and laid back man I have ever met. A strong silent type. He really has no friends. He did have 1 that he spoke to every so often. He really only would do things with me or the kids. I am the opposite .. yet with the panic it enclosed me a lot. I did get through that and was on the Discovery show and got hooked up with the best Dr’s etc.. I had also gained weight of course etc.. Now that I am feeling better lost 70 lbs and feel motivated about life .. I think my husband got lost in it all. As the years went by and his lack of motivation and then loosing his job it was gradual .. I was got so frustrated and the stress was to much at times and I just did not have any idea how to “help” him so I was mean I yelled and I would call him names etc .. then on the other hand I would love him up and try so hard to not do those things and try and include him in my running and exercise routines and then hiking etc .. He just got lost in me and what I did. He had 3 years ago had like a mental break of some sort and moved out and we did go to consoling for that, He was scared to death of me and I was mostly bed ridden and 235lbs I mean I hardly moved. He would shake uncontrollably when he was with me but he would stay with me 4 nights out of the week.Also, he would lock himself in the closet a lot and I would cry and cry and lay out side the closet confused and in pain for him. He returned a month later and we moved to a different house he would not come back to that house. From that moment on he different. Yet that is when I started my healing. I then got a super great job and working 50hrs a week etc .. I felt good and I looked good. But I was loosing him my love. He blames this all on me because I was mean to him he said I make him want to take his life he has said it over and over. It destroyed me! He then picked one afternoon after a stupid fight my back was out I could hardly walk. He switched into another person totally in a blink his face changed he threw things I tried to even with my back out it was crazy and I was cry HARD! I knew something was about to happen but not totally what. He packed up and left he called his parents that he hardsly spoke to but 3 times a year maybe for the last ten years and said he did not love me right then and left. I guess she gave him money he rented a car packed it up while I was at work and drove to Vegas from Portland Oregon where we live and I have only had emails from him. Saying how dark he is and he feels nothing . NOTHING they where very dark twisted emails as he is a poet and I could hardly understand then. But when he kept saying I was mean and I made him want to take his life over and over it was and is like knives in my heart in my soul I feel pain all over my body .. the confusion no closure he went from loving me to not in 2.5 secs. I am a awful writer and hope this makes sense. I have tried to call his gets soooo mad and I have emailed back and forth and he is just not there he is a totally different man. It was like my husband had died. He called himself fragile and I am unsure what the world to do I ache and worry for this man. I am getting help myself because this has taken me to my knees. He will not even talk to kids nor me at all no phone at all and only 1 email a day most days or it will go days and I hear nothing. His parents condone this and I pretty sure they blame me as well they do not like me very much at all. So I do not speak to them. I had been so scared. I do see that he has updated his website he is a graphic designer and seems to be getting into some social media .. so the pain is even more so .. so I try and not look for this anymore. He seems to have lost all love for me yet he said he will never take off his ring and very have another partner?!?! He said If I want a divorce I should just go ahead and do it. But he will not. I am lost with out him. He is my person.

  7. glyn says:


    my ex-girlfriend of 4 years (ex for about a month) is on antidepressants and has been for about 12 months – she has been on them before but stopped when she thought she was ok. After a break up a year ago, I took her to the doctors who put her on a course of anti-depressants which she is still on but are clearly not working. I’ve read quite a bit on this site and others to try and get some understanding. She has alot of the symptons and strange behaviour of depression but will not accept she has a problem. She believes my concerns are just an excuse in my mind to get back with her and she is fine and I should just accept the fact that she doesn’t love me anymore.

    She is definately not fine . One of her closest friends has recently ended their friendship because she feels she can’t deal with her strange, immature, sometimes unreasonable thoughts and ideas, anymore. She’s 37 by the way, I’m older 49 which has not been a problem apart from in her thoughts sometimes.

    She has many issues in her life that cause her stress, mostly a result of her own actions which she somehow can’t see. Believe me, I have been more than supportive and helpful, emotionally and financially, always lovingly there. I am not the type of person to walk away thinking good riddance, I love her and just want the loving person and best friend, back. She seems to have blanked me out of her mind and life most of the time. We work together 3 days a week and she turns up seemingly happy as larry, as if nothings wrong. Of course this is a front – I’ve seen her do it so many times.

    What can I do to make her realise she has problems and needs help? I’m becoming depressed about the situation. She occupies my mind most of the time. I worry how she will be coping without me looking out for her and not being there for her. We are still in contact outside of work and have had long conversations but quite often end with me getting very frustrated because of her constant deflecting or avoidance.

    This has been going on for a month now and she seems clear we are over. Should i just walk away. We have separate homes but until a month ago I was almost living with her and her 2 kids.
    I’ve made it clear to her that I’m still there for her should she need me.

  8. chris says:

    dear john, my partner of 4 years lost her mum suddenly 16 months ago. it was a huge shock but my p
    partner battled on putting on a brave face when she had to . she has been up and down ever since .
    after coming back from a lovley holiday 8 weeks ago she started treating me different, 1 week after we returned she just changed the way she spoke to me snapping at me for no reason,even on the phone being cold and miserable. 3 weeks later before i came back from working away she said we needed a break,only for a week,that week turned to 2 then 4. she still came to see me once a week for an hour.
    her doctor told her 4 weeks ago she was suffering depression and put her on medication,saying it will take 4 to 6 weeks to work . the day before the 4 weeks was up (last thursday ) she txt me to say she didnt want to be with me anymore. no reason just a txt.shes been very down lately but this came out of the blue . we allways had a loving relationship, we were planning our future together only a few months ago . now i havent contacted her but was going to after a week or two. ive been finding out about depression over the past few days and didnt realise how it changes people.. i still love her with all my heart, but shes a different person ,very cold towards me..if her love for me was dead i would move on but, if its her illness thats doing this i would support her as long as it took. should i contact her ,as the last txt she sent said she wont change her mind. can i help her get better,id love to if she would let me… chris

  9. 19to11 says:


    I write this letter, not as a person with GD/hyper, but as a spouse who has experienced the traumatic affects of the disease and after reading many articles here, I also realize that my boyfriend was also severely depressed. My boyfriend of 7 years was just diagnosed with GD/hyper feb 2012, ultimately leaving us only 4 months later. For alittle history, he has lived with my daughter and I for the last 6 years, buying our home 4 years ago. I noticed changes with him about 2 years ago, he started losing weight, insomnia, anxiety.. etc. He was always had anxiety and I knew something wasn’t right but as a guy (don’t take this personal) he didn’t feel the need to see a docotor. Even his Mother recognized something was drastically wrong with him, at one point she thought he was “dying.” As time progressed, symptoms got worse. I urged him to see a doc, but since we were still young of age, I guess we never thought something so serious was happening.
    Physically he couldn’t gain or maintain any weight. His body was breaking down, had to have a full knee replacement which ultimately failed so after. He complained about body temperature, always hot and at night slept so restlessly, flipping and moving so much he would keep me up and honestly i thought he had restless leg syndrome. At night his breathing was all over the place, long gasps interrupted by short ones, and snoring (which he never did before). However, most of the time he slept on the couch, since he was up most of the night.His hands shook and his heart rate was rapid most of the time. He was very irritable and stressed most of the time. He went from having a smile to always looking pissed. I also noticed that he really became distant to me and verbally hard on my daughter.
    For over 2 years, I would have to ask for a hug from him. It seemed like he would give me a kiss out of routine, or to avoid me trying to get one. As far as my daughter, the poor girl couldn’t do anything right for him. He was always yelling at her, I worried that this was really going to affect her development, but tried to keep the peace and work with him to keep our home somewhat balanced. Of course it killed me inside, towards the end I was always walking on eggshells, worried that I would do something, or worse, that my daughter would do something to trigger his anger. If we had a fight, it would be days before we would speak, only ending because I would approach him. He would always tell me I was doing something wrong and that I need to change things. I accepted his opinions as to keep an open mind and told him I would work on it, but never once did he ever apologize or feel that there was anything he had to do to help.
    I was always the wrong one, no matter what I said or did, it was wrong. He never helped me with any household projects that I started, in fact, he would make terrible comments about them. Not to ramble on about this, but I wanted to share part my life story because it has helped me understand that I’m not alone in this. I’m asking for help, because i never realized how traumatic this has been on me, the emotion and psychological affects are hard to handle at times. I wanted to keep our family together, I thought he would change, I loved and still do love him. I understand he has experienced many physical and mental changes because of the disease, and all I wanted to do was help him and support him, but not overwhelm him. Ultimately it was too much for him to handle. He left us, almost out of the blue, without a second guess. Unfortunately, he had many, many severe symptoms, at one point his doctor wanted to send him to the ER because he thought my boyfriend was about to have a heart attack. If anyone knows where I could get some help, start my own healing process for myself and my daughter, I would be most grateful.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, 19to11 -

      You’ve been under such huge stress for so long and so focused on your boyfriend that I think you’re wise to be looking for help for yourself and your daughter. You could start with a family doctor for advice on restoring your health, and I would also suggest seeing a therapist or counselor to help you understand what you’ve been through and how to heal for the future. I can’t tell how old your daughter is, but you could consider seeing a counselor together since you have shared so much and taken a great deal of abuse. As to where to get help – any doctor can refer you to other services. Or you can check online to locate sources of help and local support groups. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website ( is a good place to start. There are also online directories for locating therapists – like this one at GoodTherapy.Org ( There might also be a community or county mental health clinic that can identify local sources of help where you live. I hope you can find the help you need soon.


  10. Mia says:

    Hi John, first and foremost all the information has really helped me feel that I’m not alone in the world so I thank you for that. My situation is a little different as I am the one who has had a few issues in my relationship. I have been with my now ex boyfriend for 5 and a half years and he has recently come to the decision that he no longer wants any hassle in his life and wants a fresh start away from me. We had an amazing relationship for the first few years but in the past 2 years my mum has been very ill and this has had a knock on effect on me because I still live at home with her. I have had to listen to her on a daily basis say that she doesn’t want to live anymore and wants to die and as a result I have become very very low. I became numb to my boyfriend and didn’t know how to be a girlfriend anymore. I have never been cruel but I have pushed him away by not being affectionate or reassuring him how much he means to me and that I am in it for the long run. I have not wanted to go on holiday with him or spend one on one time with him and he has stood by me throughout because he always said I would come out the other side. The person I have been isn’t me and I am still the same person he fell in love with, I just lost myself because of all the trauma I was going through. Anyway as I have started to come through the darkness he no longer ‘sees me in the same way’ and doesn’t want be in his life anymore. This has come completely out of the blue but at the end of the day I guess he has learned to live without the real me now. I am so lost though – I want him to try with me to get back on track because I know we could be amazing again. I have been trying to fight for him but I also have pride and also realise I may be pushing him away. Do you have any advise on how to approach this? We have no commitments together, I just want to make it up to him for being absent and I want a fresh start but with him. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Mia -

      I know how hard this is since it took so long to restore my relationship with my wife after many crises with depression. When you feel fully recovered, it’s natural to want everything to get back to normal, but your partner has been through a lot and probably lost trust in the relationship. I wrote a couple of posts on restoring trust and the role of forgiveness that might be helpful – I also rewrote them for my ebook, Surviving Depression Together. The process my wife and I went through was all about changes in my behavior and was helped a lot by couples therapy. In a sense every supportive partner of a depressed person becomes a care-giver, and that can be a difficult role to sustain over time. You want to help but can’t see that what you do is making any difference. You feel helpless – some get their own depression. It takes a lot of time to rebuild trust, and unfortunately sometimes the partner doesn’t stay to let that work unfold over time. I think you should not have an expectation that he would rush back just because you say and believe that everything will be fine. If he’s open to seeing you, it might help to look honestly at the realities of where things are right now from his point of view as well as your own. Whatever the answer might be, it will be something new found in the moment by moment here and now, not in promises of the future or a re-creation of the past.


  11. nancy says:

    I have been married for 15 years and have struggled with having children and financially. We were lucky enough to eventually do well financially and have a baby girl who is 10 months now. It seemed to be all going well, we stayed apart due to our jobs and since 2008 were trying stay close together but he still was travelling due to his job overseas. few months back he mentioned that he wanted to leave and that he was having an affair. He was very mean to me verbally and passed few remarks that was not him, the man I knew and married. He had been showing some signs of fatigue and depression, like picking a fight with his mother….not being proactive with our baby but i thought that it was just stress. Before this he would talk about the baby and our move to a different place and what we should do in summer, during holidays…..his mother has depression / bipolar. his maternal uncle had severe depression and commited suicide and his grandfather had Alzeihmers. He was convinced by his brother to see a psychiatrist which he did, he went to him alone so we know what he told us which is that he has mild depression and he doesn/t need any medication. he has been going to the therapist for talk therapy in the same clinic. I am so confused, scared and anxious due to his behavior. He is not acting himself, his brother, sister in law and myself we all feel this is not him. we are the only ones who he has told that he wants out. He has no money but he says he is planning to open a restaurant with a friend of his overseas. please help and tell me what should I do.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Nancy -

      It’s good that his brother and sister-in-law understand what’s going on and have some influence with him. It could well be that if he only went to a therapist at the urging of his brother that he understated what he’s going through – or perhaps really isn’t aware of depression to begin with. Strange as it may seem, that often happens. If he suddenly feels nothing for you and wants to start over again with a new business, have affairs, etc. that’s often a sign that he seeks the stimulation of the new because his ability to feel at all is greatly reduced. It would be good if you could get him to try couples therapy, provided you could find someone sensitive to the problems depression adds to a relationship. If he doesn’t want to communicate with you very much, perhaps his brother could keep helping him learn more about depression and the many ways it affects one’s life. If he’s up for it, his brother can be quite important in helping him look into his behavior more closely and take full advantage of treatment opportunities. It is encouraging that your husband is continuing to see the therapist. It seems that there isn’t much you can do directly to influence him other than assure him of your support. That’s one of the agonizing things about this – that you are fairly powerless.Taking care of your own emotional health is important and one of the things you do have some control over.

      All my best –


  12. Taylor says:

    Dear john, i am 21 years old and have been in a relationship with my 21 year old boyfriend for just over 2 years. When i started dating him i knew of his personal struggles with depression and drug abuse. Having come from a loving supportive family i struggled to think of how someone could be so down on themself. We had a wonderful relationship nevertheless, we were best friends and lovers and never fought or argued. I supported him through everything and he was always so attentative and loving. Unfortunately things went downhill after he experienced a bout of severe depression and threatened suicide numerous times. He turned to drugs as an escape, mainly ecstacy and cocaine. He refused counselling or meds and my once ray of sunshine became a monster of a dark cloud. He broke up with me cos he was sick of “dragging me down” and although shocked, i tried to move on and let him sort his issues out himself. My ray of sunshine came back in my life exclaiming he loved me and needed me. Things were good again until exactly a year later. He lost his job, his income and his car and once again fell into a deep depression. He told me he wanted “space to sort his head out” and it was exactly reminiscant of the previous time he did this. I initiated no contact knowing in my heart that hel come back. He texted, called, and came to see me exclaiming “i miss u so much i dont know what im doing i dont want to be alive” i gave him all my love and support for him to tell me “i dont know what i want. I cant be with you, i dont want to drag you down with me. Youre too good for me you deserve better. Youre an angel and angels dont deserve to be with devils” All my dreams and hopes came crashing down. Our talks of marriage and our future together shattered. Things got worse. I had him admit 2 days ago that during our “break” hed been sleeping with a 17 year old mum. I am so lost. I feel sick. How can my adorable boy turn into this person, this monster? I loved him so much and i dont know what to do. Please give me some direction :(

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Taylor -

      It’s terribly sad to hear about a young man so confused and self-destructive as well as hurtful to those who love him most. Depression by itself is bad enough but coupled with drug abuse it becomes that much harder to deal with. It’s tragic that your friend refuses counseling and medication, or any type of treatment, in favor of escaping into drugs. He could well come back from this current episode seemingly fine, but he’ll probably go through it all over again before too long if he doesn’t make a commitment to get help and make recovery the central goal of his life. As painful as it is for you, I doubt there is anything you could do to help him if he doesn’t make the decision on his own. I would hope that you could get some counseling of your own to help see you through this crisis. Depression often spreads from one partner to another – there are even studies that describe a relationship with a depressed partner as a risk factor for getting depression. Taking care of yourself should be primary for you. I wish you well and am sorry that you have to live through such a painful time.


  13. lana harwood says:

    I have one with both my son and my daughter…..a broken relationship.

  14. Jocelyn says:

    Dear John: I hope the medication begins to work. I returned to work and I am barely showing up, totally detached, not getting anything done. Thank God my assistant is carrying on; the two weeks I took off helped little. Now I am back to work and I am not well. Might have to consider the long term medical leave after all. I am sitting in my office, barely alive, just here, tired, totally exhausted with very little life left in me. God, I hate feeling this way.

  15. Jocelyn says:

    Dear John: thank you; only two days taking the medication and I feel a little better; perhaps it is my mind playing games on me. Things seemed to be getting better with my husband but he is not responding to me intimate affection; for some reason, the fact that he is talking to me kindly and we are able to have a dialogue and not argue, makes me feel closer to her emotionally and sexually. He says that he can’t deal with the inconsitentcy of my past ( the five weeks I rejected him over the summer) when I felt he was not listening and being kind to me. He says he doesn’t have the emotional feelings he once had for me and prefers to keep sexual intimacy out of my recovery plan. He says that he can’t risk losing his mental sanity and get sick himself. He has to protect himself. His theory is that we concentrate on getting myself better, let the medication help, the theraphy and exercise, going back to work. I really feel that he is waiting until I reach some equilibrim to leave the marriage completely. Now that I am on medication, my brain is a little slower and clearer and I am not as anxious and scared. I am taking Fluoxetine and Clonazepam. Suicidal thoughts have subsided too. Thank God. And thank you for providing this life saving source of love, inspiration and strength.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jocelyn -

      I’m glad to hear that things are improving – both medication and therapy take time to work fully so I hope you don’t get discouraged if their effects falter now and then. You have some difficult life decisions to make, and I hope you’ll get help as you consider the possible courses of action you can take.


  16. Jocelyn says:

    Dear John: Thank you. I am not sure how I am going to make it through this or if I am going to make it all, but thank you so much for the few moments of courage and strength your website and your story have given me.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jocelyn -

      I’ve been admiring the courage, honesty and insight of the several comments you have recently posted. I believe you are doing all the right things, especially with therapy added to the other activities. It must be terribly hard to live with an unsympathetic partner, and therapy should give you the support you need as well as ideas for handling his blaming tactics. You’re so right that he has his issues and can’t define your reality, but I suspect you’ll need ongoing help to keep your inner balance if he keeps on this way. It’s great that you’ve found a good therapist on your first try. Many of us haven’t been so fortunate.

      Your description of writing captures exactly the sort of help I’ve gotten from using it as a therapeutic tool. You’ve covered all the bases for guiding yourself to recovery. I wish you well in finding a different job if the present one is too stressful. You already have enough stress in your home life, and anything you can do to reduce other sources of stress is good for overall health.

      I’m so glad you’ve been finding this blog helpful. Please keep visiting and let me know if there is anything in particular that I might be able to help with.


  17. Jocelyn says:

    Dear John: I am 46; dealing with menopause, a stressful job I hate, a marriage in the rocks, and although always a little depressed throughout my life, totally depressed these last two years. Part of my depression is caused by how my husband talks to me, how he relates to me… let me give you an example…he tells me I need to find something therapeutic to help me deal with stress at work, the hard times.

    Just like him: he has had swimming for over 30 years. Agree. He adds that it can’t be writing poetry because I have tried that before; it can’t be something nebulous, it has to be something I can commit to… I start to get upset and defensive and explain to him that although I agree with him, the additional stuff about what the “thing” can be or not upset me. Why the conditions? The judgment, the qualifiers? He gets upset and says that I can’t receive the “message” because I dislike the “messenger.” This is how we communicate since I started fighting back, talking back for the last two years or so. He is 62, just retired as a high school Social Studies teacher; I am a high school principal.

    I feel dehumanized, verbally and emotionally abuse, but he says it’s the job, the inability to make up my mind about an administrative job (I have changed six times during our 1o years together). He hated teaching and he did it for 20 YEARS! Good for him; he believes I should do three more years in administration to complete 25 years and be able to collect a full pension at 55 and then do something else). I might be dead by then. He says he is tired, that our relationship has always been about making my life better; that I don’t appreciate him and cut him no slack, that he is my punching bag, that he wants the wife he had before I let this last job destroy our marriage.

    When I ask him to go to counseling, he says that I am the one with the problem, that I am the one who doesn’t know herself, that he is tired of always focusing on me and now the focus must he on him since I don’t appreciate anything he has done or him, anyway. I am barely keeping up with work; procrastinating like never before. Have all the symptoms of serious depression, so afraid to lose it all but I know in my heart that the way things are at home are not helping and are contributing to my depression.

    My husband refuses to admit or ever accept my complaints and concerns. He says that I just don’t want to accept his opinions about things. He acts like he knows better about everything, like I can’t do anything right, that I am a terrible, confused person, who is not able to just fight though the tough times, that I suffer from excessive pride, that if he had not come into my life, I would have ended up destitute after my divorce ( I had lots of debt when we first met and our union and financial expertise did help me); he says I owe him and that I am ungrateful, that I don’t appreciate him.

    When I call him on his words, his tone, his body language towards me, he says he doesn’t mean it; that it is my imagination; that I am making it up. There is a part of me that sees my critical, cold mom in the ways he treats me. And I truly hate that. In my teens, my mom’s criticisms and lack of affection almost drove me to kill myself. I ask him if he loves me, if he wants to stay in the marriage; he says, “I have no place to go and I hate moving; you would have to buy me out. And, “I wish all you had to say would make up feel better about yourself. I have been there for you in the worst period of your adult like and I did so because I thought someone who loved the Lord as much as you deserved i.e. guess I was wrong.”

    This is typical. I am going crazier by the minute. Yes, I am indecisive, have changed jobs often, don’t know myself or what I want, but God, I have kept trying. My husband says he is tired, that everyone has a limit and he arrived at his. I can see how being married to me can be exhausting, but it hurts to hear that I destroyed our marriage all on my own, that I live in a fantasy world, that … I am starting counseling next week, thinking about taking a short medical leave (2-3) months to find a less stressful job and decide if I should leave the marriage.

    I already feel like a failure but I feel even worst married to someone who is tired of me, who doesn’t like anything about me, except to have sex, which when I don’t want to have due to feeling hurt about the things he says, my husband interprets as punishment and rejection. The way my husband treats me worsens the depression and pushes me into a hole of low self-esteem, hatred, insecurities and fear of failure. I am paralyzed, emotionally, mentally, psychologically. Most of me believe what he says about me: he is 62, he works out every day, he has a Law degree; he is intelligent; he has helped and been a good husband and step father to my now 20 year old daughter.

    He made me a list of all the things he has done for me; he says I forget and need to be reminded. He doesn’t drink, gamble, cheat, does drugs or drinks, no porno ( well, except one night I caught him watching it on the Internet; he said that since it looked like we were breaking up, he had decide to start doing whatever he wanted to do). He stopped watching porno when we got together, so he says. I feel so insecure, so unsure, so confused.

    I think about killing myself daily because at the end, my entire husband says about me is true and if so, that makes me a pretty bad person. Why can’t I be happy with myself? What do I want in life? Why can I just shut up, open my legs, my grateful, and agree with him? He saved my life, after all, didn’t he? I should be kissing the earth he walks on, forgive all things, and just deal with my stressful job rather than look for another one, don’t bring my stress home, be strong and fight the world so I don’t fight at home?

    I feel weak, sad, lost, confused, scared, like nothing, scared to fail after 22 years of employment, a PhD, books published, a house we shared…I am sitting here feeling like an insecure, lonely, incompetent, loveless child and I hate the fact that this is how I felt as a depressed child, and I am 46, and I am right back to how I felt back then. Nothing has filled the void: someone I respect and admire, an authoritative figure, puts me down ( then my mom- now, my husband) and I believe it like it is the truth, and drown in self-pity, self-hatred, and add my weak voice to theirs in total agreement. If I were truly worthy of love and acceptance, they would love me and accept. Since they don’t, I am not.

    I have been fighting against that demon all my life, and now it reappears in this marriage, in his voice, his mannerisms, and harshness, coldness, chastened in every way. How could I do this to myself? Always needing rescue, not been able to take care of my finances, not being able to depend on my own, so fragile, so weak, what the world sees and who I am are not the same. I am crumbling, the mask if coming off and I am so afraid to finally fail completely and accept in defeat that in fact, I am not worthy of anyone’s love, I am not really competent, that I am not fit to live or make it in this world. That without him, I will probably die. And in my heart, I almost believe it.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jocelyn -

      I need to say up front that I’m not a therapist, just someone with a long lifetime of dealing with depression – and since starting this blog years ago, I’ve heard from dozens of women in exactly your situation. Don’t rely on what I say – please do get help to deal with all this.

      I’m glad you’re starting to see a counselor to help sort things out. First, I hope you can stop blaming yourself, tearing yourself down and imagining you’re the one who’s messing things up! You’re not. It doesn’t matter what the past has been with your husband. Right now he is being abusive – blaming everything on you is a sign of his own problems that he can’t seem to deal with. He’s also manipulating and intimidating you into accepting his version of the story, though you seem to know that his judgments are completely unfair. A classic result of living in an atmosphere like this is doubting your own judgment and believing there must be something to what he says. At your worst moments of deep depression, you can’t feel that you have any self-esteem or worth – and believe that everything you do is wrong. But it’s not. You’re also accomplished, smart, successful and have every right to expect sympathy and warmth from your partner. He seems to have no feeling or even interest left in the marriage – judging from his words and actions toward you.

      I hope you can hold on while getting help and begin to see that your needs have to be met as well as his. A high-stress job only intensifies depression and undermines your health in many ways. It’s a good thing to take time to think about whether you should keep that job. As I found, my job was killing me, and when I left it was like a vast burden was lifted off me. It’s also important to figure out if you’ll stay in this marriage.

      Just one note about working with a counselor or therapist. You need one who can help you deal with an abusive situation. Many will simply want you to look at your own problems and that approach can reinforce the belief that you’re the one who’s at fault. Not true. A counselor familiar with situations understands the dynamics that while you have to deal with depression and the stress of your job, you also have an abusive husband who is adding mightily to your suffering.

      Remember I’m not a therapist, and I apologize for being so blunt about this. I am simply concerned that you find a way out of this emotional torture and get your life and self-esteem back.

      My best to you — John

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