I’ve been dating a lovely man for several months. It’s a long-distance relationship with regular contact.
I’m developing a career, raising teenagers, and have a full plate. I’ve told him that I love the relationship but I’m currently at the top of my game.
He’s prone to bouts of pretty severe depression. I love him; this isn’t a deal- breaker for me.
However, he’s doing nothing to get help, and I appear to be his only emotional support.
I’m finding this draining while I’m juggling all my other demands. I “want” to be there for him, but can’t be on call for him 24/7 just because he’s depressed and I’m comfortable/familiar.
I’ve voiced my support of his getting help locally but he has all kinds of reasons why he can’t do this.
Is there any hope for this relationship? I hate giving up on someone I care deeply about, but I’m starting to feel more like his therapist/crisis counsellor than his girlfriend.
Feeling Bogged Down
Proceed carefully, or you’ll either break the relationship off in a moment of feeling emotional overload, or you’ll get drawn into his lows to the point of exhaustion.
Be clear: If he doesn’t seek professional help, you can’t be his back-up plan for venting.
“Severe depression,” if that’s an accurate description of his bouts, is a mental health disorder that calls for diagnosis and treatment, which may involve medication and therapy.
Say that you’d be doing him a disservice (and yourself too) if he doesn’t get proactive about managing depression. It’s affecting the relationship, not only him.
Don’t let the long-distance situation and your busy life have you thinking this will “work out” at some point without his addressing his own mental health.
Our friend, in his 40's, comes from a very religious family who feel faith will save anyone from their problems.
He’s let alcohol and drugs consume him: he now has no car, had to move back home with his parents, is very close to losing his job, and is divorced.
He keeps saying he’s fine but hasn’t come home sometimes, with family and friends unable to find him.
He’s driven by where his next drink is coming from. He needs rehab desperately but his close friends don't know how to approach his parents who feel God will take care of it.
They’re afraid that coming down hard will push him away.
He has two children who only have limited visits with him, but that doesn't motivate him to change or get help.
His friends see only two results if he continues this path: jail or death. How can we help him?
This is an even more difficult instance of wanting to convince an adult of something that isn’t even being acknowledged.
He’s an addict, and rehabilitation requires him to acknowledge that and want to change.
His parents may not have a chance to rely on religious faith if he’s as close as you suggest to jail or death.
Tell the parents this, and see what rehab is available and what it involves. Even if interested, they may not be able to get him to go.
Some people have used “interventions” with an addicted person. These may involve a trained interventionist using a strategy to get the person to a locale where family and friends are present and state how the person’s behaviour is affecting them and their relationships negatively.
You can look into how these are handled and their rates of success towards accepting rehab.
FEEDBACK Regarding the brutal ex-husband showing up at his ex-wife’s family functions (Feb. 10):
Reader – “I believe he still wants power over his ex-wife, getting satisfaction from knowing she’s uncomfortable.
“I also believe his adult children still seek acceptance from him. If the wife doesn’t want him there, she should hold the family function at her own home and exclude him.
“When the children experience a function without him they’ll finally feel peace without the bully being present.”
Ellie – The ex-wife’s marital past was of terrible abuse to her and her children. Once divorced, he “spoiled” the children, so their attitudes are complicated. The daughter’s hostile to her mother.
The writer had recently detailed some of the abuse to her relatives and adult children, which created more problems, even 23 years after her divorce.
She has decisions to make about attending or missing future family events (many are not at her house).
Tip of the day:
A severely depressed partner needs professional help beyond emotional support.