My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost four years and he’s the love of my life. During high school, I was severely depressed and had awful anxiety. Luckily, I went to see a doctor and was prescribed meds that have helped me and I’m doing a lot better. The problem is that I’m starting to see the things that I was dealing with in my boyfriend. He’s lost all motivation, feels alone, and just has no passion for the things he once loved. I’ve talked to him about this and he agrees that he’s not his normal self, but he refuses to go see someone about it. I can’t force him to go to a doctor, which is what would help him the most. What should I do? I feel like there’s only so much listening and loving can do.
I’m sorry to hear that your boyfriend is going through this. Going through depression and anxiety yourself is incredibly tough, and it can feel almost as hard to watch someone you love go through it too. Seeing your partner become depressed and knowing you can’t do anything to take it away can leave you feeling hopeless and miserable, so I’m really sorry you have to go through this as well!
It sounds like right now, you’re doing the right thing – you’ve communicated your thoughts with him, you’ve suggested the correct treatment, and you’re there for him. You also know you can’t force him to do certain things, so to me, it sounds like your head and heart are in the right place. You’re right – there is, unfortunately, only so much listening and loving someone can do when it comes to something like depression and anxiety. This is something your boyfriend has to figure out on his own, and the best thing you can do is be supportive and stand by his side.
Of course, that’s not the only thing you can do. Continue suggesting therapy whenever it feels right. Talk about how much it helped you. Don’t push him into it, but don’t completely give up on the idea either – it might just take some time for him to come around to it. Try to push him into going out and doing things he likes. As you probably know, people with depression often feel no motivation to leave their home, when that’s something that might actually make them feel a little better.
You can also continue to be part of his support system. Listen to him when he needs to talk, cuddle with him when he’s feeling down, give him a little space when he needs alone time, be his cheerleader when he’s feeling good. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for someone. You can also try to figure out if this is stemming from a particular issue – and if it is, try to help him work it out.
If you feel like things are really getting out of hand, it might be something you want to discuss with his family or someone close to him. Don’t feel like you have to handle this all on your own, because you don’t. This might require more help than just your love and support, and it’s okay to go to someone else to ask for help. He might get annoyed about it at first, but one day he’ll realize you were just trying to help.
That said, please don’t forget about yourself. A lot of the time, the partner of someone who is depressed puts themselves second always. It’s great that you want to be there for your boyfriend, but your mental health is just as important as his. Make sure you are taking time to keep yourself happy and healthy. If this feels like too much, go back to therapy or ask for extra sessions. Do things that make you happy whenever you can. It might feel selfish to focus on yourself too, but it absolutely is not.
And remember – your boyfriend can always reach out for help anonymously. Here are some resources for him: he can contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, the NDMDA Depression Hotline at 1-800-826-3632, or Suicide Prevention Services at 1-630-482-9696.
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