You Asked: I Need Support for my Depression

Dear Sugar--

I have spent my entire life battling bouts of depression. About a month ago a series of events have led me into a serious funk that is affecting me physically and emotionally. I'm suffering from insomnia and feel completely disconnected from everyone I know and love, especially my boyfriend who I've been with for almost 3 years.


I don't know what to do about our relationship. I feel awkward and distant around him now. I have almost no sexual urges, and I'm starting to avoid him. Unfortunately this is how I feel with everyone around me (minus the whole sexuality bit), so I can't figure out if I've simply fallen out of love, or if this is my depression taking hold of what I've held most dear. I haven't communicated my current situation with him because previous discussions have left me disappointed when he wasn't there for me the way he said he would be. I know I can't depend on him for a successful recovery, but he's promised support and then avoided the subject completely.

I know I need to talk to him... but now I'm wondering if I should suggest a break while I try and regain control of my life. I don't know if I have the emotional energy to be the girlfriend he deserves to have. I'm 21 and he's turning 24 in a few days. I don't want to hold him back when we're both so young. We've been very serious up to this point - so I'm not sure if I should give him the opportunity to support me during this time or chance losing him completely by asking him for space. I just feel like he deserves better.

--Depressed and Unsupported Debra

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Dear Depressed and Unsupported Debra--

It makes me sad when you say that your boyfriend "deserves better." It sounds like you're being way too hard on yourself, which may be part of the reason you are depressed. Having depression isn't some personality flaw - it's a condition that you have no control of, and it's not something that just goes away on its own. From what you've told me, I can only think that your iffy feelings about your boyfriend are a symptom of your condition, rather than how you actually feel.

I'm not sure if you are seeing a therapist or not, but talking through your problems with an unbiased person will really help you. A therapist can help ask the right questions and make insightful comments that will get you thinking about how you can start feeling better about yourself. I agree that it's not your boyfriend's "job" to help you recover, but he should be there to offer you support when you need it (especially when he says he will). Your depression has an effect on him too, so he shouldn't have to be supporting you all on his own. He might not know how to give you what you need, so it may be helpful for him to see a therapist too, possibly with you.

3 years is a long time to be with someone, so I'm sure your connection is a strong one. Communication is the key for keeping your relationship alive. I would definitely have a talk with him about how you're feeling. Have him be honest about his feelings and you can communicate your concerns and needs too. Maybe you both can come up with ways that will help you heal, so you can get back to loving him the way you want.

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