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I really need help and don't know what to do. My boyfriend and I have been dating for eight months, I've never been happier with anyone and he's said the same about me/us. We were talking about getting married. Then completely out of the blue last week he started acting weird and distant and said we needed a break. He said he has been dealing with Depression for many years and can't handle a relationship right now. He won't see me, talk on the phone, email, nothing. I didn't believe him and thought there must be something he's not telling me, maybe he met someone new. Because for eight months we have been each other's world, and I can't imagine how he abruptly just won't see me at all. He told me he loves me and doesn't want to be with anyone else, but he can't be in a relationship until he is well. I don't know how he could just suddenly decide this. I am hurting more than I could ever imagine. I have a strong physical bond with this man as well -- if I even think of dating or letting another man touch me it makes me feel sick. I only want my boyfriend and I don't know what to do. He has cut himself off from me completely. All I can do is cry and wonder what it is about me that he doesn't love anymore. I can't sleep or eat and I'm having chest pains and hyperventilating at times and I can hardly think or talk. I have a lot of work to do for grad school and I can't focus at all. I really need help, I just feel like life is not worth living. I can't stand this pain. Everything I've been reading says it takes time, but I can't stand this feeling for another day.

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big hugs to you hun.

The biggest advice i can give you is to focus on whats best for you right now and that is grad school. As much as this is hurting you.. you have to think about your future - don't give up on your future over an unstable guy. You will regret it later in life.

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Broken, I am so sorry to hear that you are hurting so badly. It's great that you have come to enotalone where you will find many people with similar feelings and we will support you as much as we can; however, you are going through a lot right now and I'm wondering if in addition to getting support from enotalone, are you able to talk to a counselor at your college or perhaps to see your family doctor (to help deal with the anxiety that you are experiencing right now)?

 

I know you are hurting, and I know that when one is overwhelmed with the feeling of sadness and pain, necessities such as eating, sleeping etc. don't matter, but you do need to make sure you are eating and getting sleep too.

 

Do you have family/friends who you could talk to about this and get some support from as well?

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Coming to ENA and reading about others' heart breaking experiences helps me a great deal. Try that if you just absolutely can't do anything else. You will be encouraged, you will see the hope, etc..

 

There is not much you can do right now. For whatever reason, he has chosen to take this "break" and all you can do is wait and see. Meanwhile, do try your best to do whatever minimum you have to do to get by with your life and school.

 

It is truly debilitating. I am sure you feel absolutely lifeless.

But fight the urge to contact him. Let him make that move, meanwhile, you need to go on surviving.

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Thanks so much. I have so much work to do for school tonight but I can't focus at all so thought I'd seek some "emergency" help online. My family is not supportive (they tell me to "get over it") and my friends are supportive, but they just say, "He doesn't deserve you! Try to think positive!" and that's just impossible for me right now. I don't understand why this happened and it was so out of the blue... I'm just not ready for him to be out of my life. We normally talk all day long and have the most loving relationship... it's really driving me nuts wondering why he has done this. I feel like someone I love has died. He even removed me from his Facebook friends, which seems very unnecessarily cruel to me. The last time we talked he said he loves everything about me and he misses me but he and his therapist thought he shouldn't be in a relationship right now. He said he has talked a lot about me to his therapist, and his therapist likes me and thinks I'm good for him. So I just don't understand this. I want desperately to eat, sleep, feel like myself again. At least getting to talk to you online gives me a chance to talk about it with people who understand this pain.

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Coming to ENA and reading about others' heart breaking experiences helps me a great deal. Try that if you just absolutely can't do anything else. You will be encouraged, you will see the hope, etc..

 

There is not much you can do right now. For whatever reason, he has chosen to take this "break" and all you can do is wait and see. Meanwhile, do try your best to do whatever minimum you have to do to get by with your life and school.

 

It is truly debilitating. I am sure you feel absolutely lifeless.

But fight the urge to contact him. Let him make that move, meanwhile, you need to go on surviving.

Thanks to you, too, Lisa -- yes those are good words to describe this: lifeless, debilitating. I've never been through this before; in past breakups I was ready for the relationships to end when they did. This has come from out of nowhere when I was at the happiest of my life. But, you're right, I'll keep reading here on the site and just keep trying.

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definitely focus on yourself for now.

i know you probably cant get your mind off of your boyfriend,

but grad school is something that you need to accomplish, whether you're with him or not.

it's important to concentrate on you first & foremost.

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I feel your pain girl, hang in there! I've been dealing with the end to my 3 1/2 year relationship for over a week now. There are days where I have felt surprisingly OK...and days like today where I get really down. Although our choice to split was mutual and mostly initiated by me, I still miss him. He was my best friend. But, it was all the right reasons. Anyways, to help me get out of my funk I read an ENA article. It explains the 3 stages of dealing with a break up. This article helped me understand what exactly I am feeling right now and how normal it is. Times like this are lonely and it seems like we are the only ones who are going through it. Truth is, we aren't. The best part is, everyone who has gone through this turns out just fine.

 

 

Stay strong

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Broken,

 

I feel your pain too. It is really, really difficult but you can get through this. I know you are hurting really badly right now and it seems like the entire world is falling apart around you. But you will find the strength within you to get you through this.

 

I agree with the others that you should try your best to focus on you & school. You're in grad school and I'm sure your studies are very important to you. I know it is difficult but you have to try as hard as you can to not let this be a negative influence on your studies.

 

I don't know if this is really the best thing but when I'm really, really down I always think "well is my ex feeling *this* bad too?" and my answer is usually "probably not" and sometimes that helps me to say "okay you know what, I'm not going to let this affect everything else that is good in my life" (i.e. school, friends etc).

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I'm sorry to hear about your break-up. I can relate completely. I had been seeing her for about 4 months until she dumped me completely out of no where. I was the happiest I ever was and the relationship was going perfectly. It came as a total shock and I found myself deeply hurt by it. I too couldn't do anything but cry and wonder what happened? What went wrong? I couldn't think or do anything. I felt like my heart was going to explode. I had lost my voice for about 3 days. It was by far the most painful moment in my life. She was my world, and now she was gone.

 

Its been two weeks since and I still do struggle everyday. Trust me and have faith, it does get better slowly. Some days are better than others. It's easier said than done, but try not to focus on the "what ifs?" and take care of yourself. When you get so deeply connected to someone, they become a part of your everyday life. It takes time to adjust and move on. He has made his decision. Now you have to decide on how you want to move on. My advice is to avoid all contact. Keeping in contact only opens the wounds and keeps you from healing.

 

I feel for you. I can relate completely. My wounds are still very fresh but I see myself slowly adapting and moving on. You can too! Have faith and take care of yourself first and foremost.

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I'm really sorry that you're going through this, break ups are never easy. Since you mentioned your ex has depression, I wanted to recommend you visit link removed and read Anne Scheffield's book Depression Fallout. I went through a break up with a boyfriend who I'm fairly sure was depressed (undiagnosed) a few months ago, and that book, website, and message board really helped me, as dealing with a relationship and break up with someone who has depression can be a different beast entirely.

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Hi -- Yes, thanks so much... I've tried that too, realizing that he is not hurting like I am, and then it makes me angry for a while; when I'm angry it's easier. I did get my project done for grad school; one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, to focus on school right now. Who could ever imagine something could hurt so much? The only good news is I've lost some lbs. from not eating, haha.

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Hi, I'm so sorry for your loss, too, unwritten. Yeah, it hurts physically. My heart really hurts, just aching all the time. It would be one thing if we had argued a lot or had some other issues, but we didn't, and I really was expecting to spend the rest of my life with this man. He has contacted me a few times by email, and I'm not sure what to do about that. It seems like every time I stop frantically checking my email, and stop thinking about him a little, then he pops up again. But I just can't bring myself to tell him to stop all contact. I just couldn't stand that right now. Thank you for your message... I'm glad to know you're feeling better after two weeks. Right now two weeks sounds like about a millennium away from me... but I'm trying so hard to get through this.

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I'm really sorry that you're going through this, break ups are never easy. Since you mentioned your ex has depression, I wanted to recommend you visit link removed and read Anne Scheffield's book Depression Fallout. I went through a break up with a boyfriend who I'm fairly sure was depressed (undiagnosed) a few months ago, and that book, website, and message board really helped me, as dealing with a relationship and break up with someone who has depression can be a different beast entirely.

Hi Fionnuala -- Thanks for recommending that book and website; I'm going to look at it now. Yes, the depression thing is adding on a whole other dimension of confusion and pain for me. My boyfriend has said he loves me, doesn't want to be with anyone else, but that the deeper he falls in love with me the worse he feels about his depression and who he is as a person. He says he feels like he's lying to me about his true self. I promised him that I want to know the true him, and whatever problems he has we can work on them together, but he insists he needs to be alone for this "break." I don't know if he's telling me the truth, and if he is then I just don't understand it. Why would someone separate himself from someone he loves who makes him happy?

 

If you do have time to tell me anything about your experience with your ex's depression, I'd be really interested in hearing about it. Thanks again.

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Ugh, I just typed out my whole long winded story and then lost it. I'm gonna give the short and not-so-sweet version now, and if you want any more details or have any questions, feel free to ask.

 

Basically, my ex and I were together for about 9 months. I knew before we got together that his dad had died about a year earlier, but he seemed like he had dealt with it just fine, and didn't really talk about it a whole lot. As our relationship progressed, it became clear to me that he had actually never faced the grief from his father's death, or from his previous two relationships which had both ended badly, and I began to suspect that he was depressed.

 

I did some research and he fit a lot of the symptoms - got down a lot, became disinterested in sex (not all the time, but enough for me to get really insecure abotu how often he wasn't interested and how little he initiated after being very passionate in the beginning), weird sleeping patterns, difficulty making decisions, feelings of numbness, always getting sick and complaining of body aches that didn't seem to have any physical cause, etc. This all started only about a month or two in our relationship, but it got worse and worse. I would say for about a few months, he would go through these times at least every week or two where he would be distant and clearly not feeling like himself. When I would ask what was wrong, he would just say that he felt "weird," or that he hadn't been feeling very well, or that he didn't know, he just felt off.

 

It became a huge strain on our relationship. I was happy probably 80-90% of the time, but the rest of the time, I was frustrated that he was constantly down and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about it, hurt that (I felt) he was constantly rejecting me for sex, angry with him for the fact that we couldn't seem to be "normal" all the time instead of just most of the time. We got in fights a lot because of this. I felt neglected and like he wasn't interested in me anymore. He insisted that it was nothing to do with me, that he loved me and was interested in my, he just had a hard time connecting with me emotionally and physically when he was in his "moods." I remember one argument where I told him I felt like he didn't have any passion for me anymore and he responded that he didn't feel like he had any passion for anything anymore. It breaks my heart everytime I think about it, even now. I believed he loved me, and I loved him, so I stuck it out, but I thought about breaking up with him a lot and tried to a couple of times but it never lasted more than a day. I didn't really want to break up with him, because he was otherwise really amazing and I was usually happy, but I often felt like I didn't know what else to do. He'd keep promising to get better and he would for a while, but it never stuck. I just wasn't quite sure what was going on, I just knew something wasn't quite right.

 

I finally told him I thought he was depressed and he didn't deny it, but said, "Well I'm not gonna take drugs or something." I told him I didn't necessarily think he needed that (pretty sure his is more situational than clinical), but that I really thought he should get some help and talk to a therapist. I even looked up a therapist who charged as little as $20 on a sliding scale so that he could afford it. He insisted he could deal with it himself. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and tried not to push it and let him see if he could get out of himself. He always would do better for a couple of weeks and then ended up back at the same place.

 

Finally after a big blow up after my birthday dinner because he had been distant with me all night and I was angry about it (fun birthday!) we reached a turning point. He was finally able to start articulating his feelings and facing up to the things that were causing his down times. Things got better, but we still had a hard time, because while the bad times were getting farther apart, they weren't stopping. It was like a slap in the face to me everytime I thought things were good and we were getting close and comfortable again and suddenly one day he would be so disconnected or I would try to initiate intimacy with him and end up humiliated by the way he would either act like he didn't know what I was doing or brush me off. I knew he wasn't trying to hurt me, intimacy was just really difficult for him in these times, and instead of just saying something, he preferred not to face it. Once I tried to kiss him and he literally flinched. From what I've read, this kind of thing is pretty common for people with depression, but it still hurt a lot.

 

It's hard because I knew he loved me, I never really doubted it. He told me all the time, and he showed me in a lot of ways, but then there were things that should have been easy (like phsyical and emotional intimacy) that often times I'd feel like I had to fight for or just didn't get at all. And I felt extremely guilty for even getting upset, because I knew that I should just be understanding. I asked him to let me know when he was feeling down, because I never picked up on it until I'd already been hurt by it, and I figured if he just told me then I would know and we could avoid these problems. But he never did, because he always hoped he would snap out of it before it became a problem. He never did.

 

Anyway, after my birthday it did get better. These things still happened, but not as much, and he seemed to really be dealing. I thought maybe he was right and he just needed time and space to deal and he'd be fine. Then I went away to grad school in another country in August. We had discussed breaking up instead of doing the long distance thing, but I left it up to him 'cause I didn't want to pressure him, and he decided he wanted to stay together. The month before I left was the best we'd had since the first couple of months of the relationship. He was so much like his old self, we didn't really have any fights at all, and we were both so happy. I thought the worst of it was behind us.

 

After I left he started getting distant again. When we'd talk on the phone he didn't seem that excited to talk to me, and when I'd mention it, he'd insist that he was. I'd ask if he was doing okay, he'd say he was fine. He just got really weird. We started fighting again because of it. He finally admitted that he'd been having trouble again since I'd left. He'd been feeling really lonely and sad and hadn't want to tell me.

 

One month after I'd left we got into an argument over something related to me feeling like he was pulling away from me and I said, "maybe we should just break up." He suggested just taking a break, but I told him that if we were going to do the long distance thing I wanted to do it all the way or not do it at all. So he said he wanted to break up. He told me that he felt like he couldn't handle a relationship, he couldn't be what I needed, and he needed to be alone to deal with all of his issues. I freaked and tried to push him not to break up, insisting that we could do it and I could help him deal with things. But he repeated that he really couldn't handle a relationship and needed to do it alone. He said he felt numb and like he couldn't feel anything most of the time.

 

We talked the next few days after that, and decided to reevaluate things in a month. He later decided he didn't want to do that, because he didn't feel like he was in love with me anymore. Which, coming from someone who has just told you he can't feel anything, is kind of like, "Uhhhh...really? How could you possibly know that?" "I love you but I'm not in love with you" and "I love you but not enough" are actually really common break up lines from people with depression, often times because they ARE numb and since they don't feel what they used to feel for you, they conclude it must be because it's you they don't want to be with anymore. Sometimes that's the case, a lot of times it isn't.

 

So yeah, that's basically my story. Not so short after all. haha. There were a lot of little things I left out, so if there's anything else you'd like to know about let me know.

 

Regarding your question about about why your bf would want to get rid of someone who made him happy, a lot of times that has to do with guilt. I know that was an issue with my ex. He said a very similar thing to me once to what your boyfriend said, that he felt like who I thought he was wasn't really who he was.

 

A lot of times they feel inadequate because of their problems, or like they can't be an equal partner to you. Mine also felt guilty that I was so hurt by his inability to be affectionate with me. I know I didn't help that. If I could do it over again, knowing what I know now, I would approach it soooo much differently.

 

It IS difficult for someone who isn't emotionally healthy to really be capable of sustaining a healthy relationship. However, as long as he gets help and stays on top of it, it is definitely doable. The problem is he has to believe that for himself and be willing to try. You can be supportive, but he has to choose it for himself.

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Also, I recommend Depression Fallout (the website and the book) not only because it'll help you to understand depression more, but because it will help you to understand the affect of depression on the loved ones of someone with depression, which is just as important for someone in your position. I didn't find that site until after my break up and I so wish I had found it before. I would have understood MYSELF and my reactions a lot better and thereforee been able to deal with the situation better. I'm not sure the outcome would have been entirely different, but it would have helped me a lot. I really became someone I didn't like at all at times during that relationship, and when I learned about the stages of depression fallout, I understood why. I got stuck in the resentment and anger and as a result became someone not so pleasant to be around myself. I think if you are ever to have a relationship with someone with depression, it's really important to understand these stages, and how to deal with them.

 

In terms of dealing with your break up, the depression aspect does make it more confusing, but your reaction should mostly be the same. You have to focus on YOU. You can't change him. You can't even help him really. If he asks for your support, you can give it, but he has to deal with his issues on his own. You can't do it for him. That was the hardest thing for me to understand. I was always trying to figure out ways to fix it, but I couldn't. I could fix me and my responses and how I let if affect me, but I couldn't fix him.

 

You're lucky in that it sounds like you guys had a mostly good relationship up until now, and he at least still loves you. I think it's much easier with someone who's already been diagnosed (well, maybe not easier, but less tumultuous). But he still doesn't want to be with you right now, and as hard as that is, you just have to accept it and let him be. If he has space and time to deal and really sort things out, he may come back, but you can't count on it and you need to be sure that you are a strong enough person to handle it and evaluate the situation if he does.

 

I'm SO sorry you're going through this and I really hope things work out for the best for you whatever the outcome. Best of luck to you!

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Hi, Fionnuala -- I had typed you a long reply last night and when I submitted it, it disappeared! Grr! So... well anyway I wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about your experience with your ex. Some of it sounds so like my experience that it’s eerie. My bf was also dealing with the death of a parent, his mother. He and she had unresolved issues that he didn’t get to discuss with her before she died. I know he has a lot of very deep pain there, and other issues with his family. Also, our problems really started while I was away in January for a grad school residency. My bf kept in constant contact with me while I was away at school, via emails, phone, texting. He kept asking me if he was bothering me by contacting me so much, and I said of course not. And we talked about how anxious we were to see each other when I got home. But, when I did get home, he told me he had the flu and couldn’t see me. After a week and a half, his flu was better but he said he was feeling very bad, very down. We finally made plans to see a movie -- but he asked me to meet him at a theatre, not at his house (which seemed weird to me in the first place) -- and there was construction on my way to the theater, the exit I needed was blocked off, so I called him to tell him I was lost and late and he just said he was going into the movie without me. I called him again in about a half hour, still stuck in traffic, etc., and his cell phone was turned off. I was so hurt and angry that he didn’t just wait for me, try to see a later show, or even seem concerned that I was lost in a strange neighborhood at night. I didn’t talk to him until the next day, and when I did he was very distant; when I expressed hurt and disappointment, he said he needed to take a break from our relationship, and that’s when all this started. I am baffled and totally devastated. We talked a couple of times after that, and he insists that he can’t be in a relationship right now, because the more he falls in love with me the worse he feels about himself. He feels he is lying to himself and to me about who he is.

 

But now that I read your email... I notice so many warning signs that I had missed. We had such a great physical relationship, that I hardly noticed this at the time, but now that you’ve mentioned it I remembered there were times that he said he was feeling depressed and just not up for sex on certain occasions. Also, he did have a lot of pain, physical pain, that he complained about, aches, etc. And VERY weird sleeping patterns. He would stay up for like two nights in a row, and then sleep for 15 hours straight. Not all the time, just maybe once every couple of months he would go through this. But, like you, I was very happy like 90% of the time. That’s what makes this so much harder now.

 

Yes my bf has said he still loves me, but I certainly don’t feel that love, I just feel lost and alone and abandoned. But talking to people on these websites at least helps me to understand his illness a little better. I did go onto the Depression Fallout website, like you suggested, and one person gave me a really good explanation of some things my bf has done.

 

I’m so sorry you have gone through your experience, too, but I am really thankful for your help. Mind if I ask, do you ever see your ex now?

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I’m so sorry you have gone through your experience, too, but I am really thankful for your help. Mind if I ask, do you ever see your ex now?

 

No, we're not talking anymore, at least not right now. He started seeing someone else about three weeks after we broke up, and I couldn't deal. It's kind of a pattern for him to jump from one relationship to the next, usually not that quickly, but it doesn't really surprise me. I was kind of the first person who really made him face reality, and I don't think he could handle it. I do think he intended to deal when he initially broke up with me, because he had been getting so much better and recognizing and articulating his feelings, but when it came down to it he couldn't really do it. He keeps putting band aids on the huge gaping hole he has in his heart instead of really fixing it. It's not unusual for men in these situations to do that either. They can ignore their emptiness during the honeymoon period, so they jump into a new relationship and conclude that it was the last girl who was the problem and not their depression, until reality hits with her too, and he just does it all over again. It's sad really.

 

I think you and your boyfriend have a major advantage over us though in that he actually openly recognizes and admits his problem, which is a HUGE deal. Dealing with an undiagnosed depressed person is different because often times, neither partner understands what's going on until it's too late. Because of that, it can do a lot of damage to the relationship, which it doesn't sound like quite happened to you. I know it doesn't seem much better, since either way you ended up alone and broken hearted, but at least he knows WHY and he isn't blaming you. That's a good sign, and it means you have fewer hurdles to overcome should he decide to come back to the relationship.

 

I would really suggest that you do what you would do after any break up: work on yourself, allow yourself to grieve, work on becoming really happy on your own. And in addition, learn as much about depression and depression fallout as you can. Even if this is the end of the line for you guys, I think it will still help you a lot to at least understand what happened, which I know was major for me. I know it can be so confusing, it kind of turns things completely upside down. And definitely keep going to the depression fallout message board. A lot of women and men there have been dealing with this stuff for YEARS and they have so much knowledge it's ridiculous. I will warn you though (if you didn't already notice) it can be kind of depressing (haha, no pun intended), because this sort of thing does ruin a lot of relationships. Sometimes even marriages that were happy for years end up falling apart in large part because of depression. It's really sad.

 

I also want to emphasise how important focusing on yourself is, ESPECIALLY if you guys were to get back together. Being with someone with depression can be really unstable and the only way to survive, I think, is to be really stable, secure, and happy in yourself. It's almost more important than in a relationship with a healthy person, because you never know when that person isn't going to be able to be supportive of you like someone else would. That was my other major mistake in my relationship, I think. I got so overcome by what he was dealing with that I lost my own sense of self and it made things MUCH worse. You can't depend on someone who struggles to even keep himself happy and operating normally.

 

Are you guys still talking now? How are you feeling about it? I hate that someone else is dealing with this, but I was actually super excited when I read your first post and I knew exactly what to say. I'm glad that I can help someone whose experiencing it.

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Are you guys still talking now? How are you feeling about it? I hate that someone else is dealing with this, but I was actually super excited when I read your first post and I knew exactly what to say. I'm glad that I can help someone whose experiencing it.

 

Hi -- That is brutal I can’t believe your ex started seeing someone after 3 weeks. I’m not sure if I could handle that. I don’t know how you got through all that. But yes I totally agree about the “honeymoon stage” and that whole terrible cycle. The first maybe 3 months we were dating there wasn’t really much mention of depression at all, in fact, maybe none. He also decided to go off his antidepressants during the second month we were dating; I thought it was a mistake at the time but he felt so happy and good that he wanted to do it. Then he did start to have dark moods and talk about his past, etc. and talking about his depression. I’m not sure if he went back on his meds; I had told him he needed to be back on them and that he should be talking to his doctor about it, and he said he would. I’m not really sure now if he was telling me the whole story about all that.

 

Yes, on the one hand it’s a good thing that my bf acknowledges his illness, but it’s making things incredibly hard for me. I still feel like I’m “his girl” and I am so focused on him and his illness and learning about it and trying to understand it, etc. I really don’t want to be with anyone else, don’t want another guy touching me, all that. I keep wondering when he’ll be “better” and it puts me in such a state of limbo. If it were a normal breakup or if he’d at least say he knows he never wants to be with me, it would hurt like hell but at least it would make me move on in a different direction, away from him. I know I need to be working on and concentrating on myself right now, but it’s so hard especially with this “wondering” thing. He has contacted me a few times, which adds to my confusion. He says he’s calling to “check up” on me, and then he goes on to talk about how great his day was, etc. (he’s a professor and I guess he really likes his students this semester) -- it hurts me so much, because all I can think is, “Ok you seem really happy now that I’m out of your life.” And I’m hurting so much, but I don’t feel like I’m allowed to tell him about my own pain and hurt, because of his depression. I mean, I’m not eating or sleeping and I feel sick all day long, when I wake up in the morning I just feel like I’m waking up to a nightmare. But then I have to keep my mouth shut and listen to him talk about what a great day he had. I guess I should just not answer the phone if he calls, but at this point I am so desperate for contact with him that it feels impossible not to. I just feel so weak right now, ugh, so disappointed in myself.

 

You’re right, that depression fallout website helps, but it is so, well, depressing! And discouraging. It also makes me want to ask my bf if we can just try again, now that I know what I know about his illness. But I know I can’t do that. Talking with you and some others on these sites is helping me, I really, really appreciate it. My own friends out here in the “real” world just try to cheer me up and that makes me feel even worse.

 

How long ago did you and your ex break up? You seem to be so healthy and ok now. I wish I had a time machine so I could zoom myself ahead and get to that point. This pain right now is almost unbearable.

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We broke up about five months ago now. It's nice to hear I seem healthy and okay, cause even now I don't feel healthy or okay a lot of the time! ha. A lot of the feelings you're describing are EXACTLY what I felt after we broke up. When I started learning more about depression and fallout (which I really wish I had done BEFORE the break up, but I was in a major state of confusion and didn't do much more research after I presented my initial suspicions to him), I just wanted to call him and say, "Okay, I figured it all out, let's try again!" But obviously it doesn't really work that way. And I remember saying all the time to people, "This would be so much easier if it was just like a normal break up." When depression is involved, it really is a lot more confusing, because things don't necessarily follow a logical pattern. Granted, break ups don't always seem logical to the dumpee anyway, but when you add the extra layer of someone who struggles so deeply with their emotions in the first place, it is a lot more confusing. And it's so hard not to get stuck in, "But if he would only deal with it, then we could be together!" I also distinctly remember feeling like I was waking up to a nightmare. For a while I used to go to sleep literally hoping that when I woke up, I would find my life back how it was "supposed to be."

 

It's so hard to feel so out of control. I know especially in my situation, I felt that when he was in his depression, I was the one fighting for things and holding it together. I was the one trying to figure out better ways for us to deal with it, since he seemed unable to take any action to deal with things. He would never verbalize his needs to me on his own, so I had to do a lot of work in saying, "okay, would it help if we did this? Will this make it easier for you? Can you tell me when you're feeling down, so I know what to expect when I see you?" And even when we found stuff that he said would work, he wouldn't pursue it. Like he felt he needed more space, so we decided to make a conscious effort to choose a couple of nights a week where we didn't see each other, but I would have to be the one to be like, "Okay, when would you want to be alone this week? Are you sure that's good, would that night be better? Do you need more than that?" Because he wouldn't tell me otherwise. So when he ended it, it was really, really hard for me to get out of that mindset and to let go and say, "Okay, if this is what you need, then go for it."

 

I know it's really hard to cut off contact. It always is when you really care about someone, and almost more so when you know they're going through something difficult. I remember feeling the same way. In some ways, it made it easier when I found out he was with someone else, because it made me so mad and hurt that I decided I couldn't be there for him anymore. I had said I wanted to be his friend and support him in figuring things out, but when I talked to him and he had suddenly basically decided that "we just weren't right for each other, that's why we broke up," and he had dealt with everything (sorry, but you don't deal with that much baggage in 3 weeks) and things in his life were so much better now and everything was going great, and basically that maybe I was the problem, I had to cut him off for my own sanity. It's impossible to support someone who isn't doing the work for himself. Even then, though, I felt guilty. Like he needed someone who was willing to be brutally honest with him, and help him face reality, and I was just ditching him and being selfish. But you have to do what's best for you.

 

And I know, it's so hard and hurtful to hear that he seems happier now you're gone, but you have to remember that a lot of times that does happen, because the stress of a relationship can be so big for someone with depression, and things like work are a lot easier to deal with than an intimate relationship with someone he cares about. It doesn't mean he doesn't love you or that you made his life worse or anything, it just means that he isn't capable of doing what needs to be done to be in a mutually supportive and loving relationship. At least not right now. I would suggest that maybe you don't take his calls for a while, at least until you can deal with it better. I know it's hard, but it's really important to set boundaries. That's what I had to do. It's great to be supportive and a friend to someone who needs it, even if you aren't getting what you want out of it, but I couldn't do it when it was killing me inside. You have to do what's best for you. I know it's hard, but you have to do it. You have to let him deal with his issues and focus on yourself, or his issues can destroy you.

 

If you can see a counselor, I would HIGHLY recommend it. This kind of thing does a number on the emotions and self worth. Really make sure you take care of yourself. It's good to learn about his illness, because it'll help you a lot, but don't let yourself get too focused on him. He has to deal with him, you need to take care of you. I know it's hard when you feel like it isn't even worth it anymore. It's totally normal, so don't feel like you're weak or anything. But just force yourself to eat even if you don't feel like it.

 

Anyway, sorry I'm so wordy and sorry if I give you a lot of information about my experience you don't need. I just know that for me, it was really helpful to hear other people's experiences in detail, 'cause it made me feel less alone and less like I was taking crazy pills or something. Also, have you tried explaining to your friends about depression and the things you've learned about its affects on relationships? Maybe if they understood better, they wouldn't give you the generic, "He's a jerk, you deserve better!" thing. I know that helped with my family members. Of course they're still protective and didn't like seeing me hurt like that, but when they understood it better, they were more able to see it from my perspective and understand that there was more to it than that.

 

And trust me, you will get better. I am doing a lot better now, but it took me a long, long time to get here. And I still go through days where I feel awful and cry a lot and wish things had been different. I totally get wanting to fast forward through it, I felt that way a lot. And I felt really embarrassed at how weak I'd gotten and how long it took me to cope, but I think that's pretty normal. It's hard to let go when you feel like there's an outside force that ruined everything (and depression really can feel like some third party wedging its way into the relationship).

 

In the end, it has made me stronger. I developed a lot of issues I had to deal with, but it taught me a lot about myself and my own insecurities and struggles, which is always a good thing I guess. It's kind of good it happened. I don't know if I ever would have realized what was going on with us and how I should have dealt with things or any of that if he hadn't broken up with me. And I still have a lot of love for him. I pray for him every day, because I don't know what else I can possibly do, and he's a strong guy, I have faith one day he'll finally wake up and pull through it. Sadly he may just have to hit rock bottom first. It sounds like your ex is doing all the right things though, so hopefully his journey will be a lot shorter and less painful for the both of you.

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We broke up about five months ago now. It's nice to hear I seem healthy and okay, cause even now I don't feel healthy or okay a lot of the time! ha. A lot of the feelings you're describing are EXACTLY what I felt after we broke up. When I started learning more about depression and fallout (which I really wish I had done BEFORE the break up, but I was in a major state of confusion and didn't do much more research after I presented my initial suspicions to him), I just wanted to call him and say, "Okay, I figured it all out, let's try again!" But obviously it doesn't really work that way.

 

 

Thanks again for your help; your story helps me to know I’m not totally insane because the details are so similar. Like you, I keep wishing I had learned everything I know now about depression BEFORE we broke up, but I guess so often (like 85-90% of the time) he seemed fine and normal so I just thought he’d be better soon and any of his quirks would just go away. I was so happy and in love that I didn’t realize what we were headed toward. But now I realize I did what you did -- I mean, we would have plans to get together and I’d arrange my schedule around those plans, and then he would cancel at the last minute because he’d had a “rough day” or “really bad night.” I’d miss out on doing things with friends because I thought I’d be seeing him, and then he would often cancel on me. I didn’t realize how often he did this until now. Because at the time he always said to me, “Even when we’re not together, I’m thinking about you and loving you, this has nothing to do with you or us...” etc., etc. So I trusted him and didn’t see those red flags. And I’d always ask him how I could help, what could I do, what did he need, etc. Never realizing that I was disrespecting myself and ignoring my own needs by doing this.

 

Today I’m just incredibly disillusioned though and I feel like I’m taking a step back. Yesterday I was doing better; I went out to an art museum with my friend and had brunch and a really nice day and I was feeling stronger and better. Then I checked my phone and noticed my ex had called twice. I knew I should not call him back but I couldn’t stand it so I did. And he said he was checking up on me but then he said some very weird and, I think, cruel stuff. We met each other in grad school, and we are in the same program, so he started talking about our public relationship when we are at the residencies together -- basically he was saying he didn’t want me to make a scene or do anything inappropriate that might embarrass him at the next residency! And he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with us, but I hope we can at least get along.” So I started like seething with rage inside, but I tried to keep control. And he said, “You just need to be really careful of me right now” -- implying that he is in such a delicate emotional state. I said, “This is the only reason you called me? To make sure I’m not going to embarrass you at school??” And he kept saying no he really had called to check up on me. So I barely could talk to him for the rest of the conversation. This makes me feel like he has never known me, to think I’d do something inappropriate like that, or even jeopardize my own standing in the program. I’m very professional and mature and I’d never consider airing any of our problems in public. And right now I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of him, and he tells me I need to be careful of him now? Also, his comment about “I hope we can at least get along” makes me see clearly that his idea to take a “break” really means he has no intention of ever trying for a relationship with me again. So, today, I’m very angry, and amazed at his selfish behavior. Yes, he has depression, but does that mean he’s allowed to hurt any of us “healthy” people out here just because we are supposedly equipped to handle it better? I am angry and then at the same time incredibly distraught again, because I just don’t get again how we got to this point. I feel kind of like I am starting from scratch, so confused and just totally sad. I have got to make a vow and stick to it not to talk to him again, or I’ll never be able to get out of this hole.

 

And, yes, after today I feel like you are right I should talk with a counselor or something. I’ve never done that before, and never really believed in it, but I’m starting to really feel like my health is suffering over this and I’m heading down a bad path.

 

You are such a kind person to actually be able to pray for your ex after what he put you through. I hope I can someday get to that point. Please don’t apologize for being “wordy” it really does help me to hear as many details of your experience as you are willing to tell. I’m sure it’s hard to talk about it again. But I’ve always been the kind of person who has to feel the pain, not ignore it, before I can move forward. I believe you that I will eventually get better, it’s just so hard to see that right now. I know, he’s focusing on himself, so I need to focus on myself, and I’m trying so hard...

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Thanks again for your help; your story helps me to know I’m not totally insane because the details are so similar.

 

No problem. I'm sorry you're going through this. It's hell and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I'm glad I'm able to help. I kind of feel like one of the only good things that comes out of life's crappy situations is being able to use what you learn to help others going through the same thing. And I SO know the "am I crazy?" feeling, so I'm glad to be able to help alleviate it for someone else.

 

And he said he was checking up on me but then he said some very weird and, I think, cruel stuff. We met each other in grad school, and we are in the same program, so he started talking about our public relationship when we are at the residencies together -- basically he was saying he didn’t want me to make a scene or do anything inappropriate that might embarrass him at the next residency! And he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with us, but I hope we can at least get along.” So I started like seething with rage inside, but I tried to keep control. And he said, “You just need to be really careful of me right now” -- implying that he is in such a delicate emotional state. I said, “This is the only reason you called me? To make sure I’m not going to embarrass you at school??” And he kept saying no he really had called to check up on me. So I barely could talk to him for the rest of the conversation. This makes me feel like he has never known me, to think I’d do something inappropriate like that, or even jeopardize my own standing in the program. I’m very professional and mature and I’d never consider airing any of our problems in public. And right now I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of him, and he tells me I need to be careful of him now? Also, his comment about “I hope we can at least get along” makes me see clearly that his idea to take a “break” really means he has no intention of ever trying for a relationship with me again. So, today, I’m very angry, and amazed at his selfish behavior. Yes, he has depression, but does that mean he’s allowed to hurt any of us “healthy” people out here just because we are supposedly equipped to handle it better? I am angry and then at the same time incredibly distraught again, because I just don’t get again how we got to this point.

 

Oh my god, I do not blame you for being upset about that conversation. I found it infuriating just reading it! He is being completely selfish and not even considering how you might be feeling, which isn't completely surprising, but still not okay. This is why it's so important to set your boundaries, especially with someone like this. The "you need to be careful with me right now" comment especially is infuriating. Everything does not revolve around him! Your feelings matter too! He can't do whatever he wants and expect it not to effect you! I know, it's so appalling to realize that he doesn't realize this. I don't want to make excuses for him, because depressed or not he is responsible for his actions and if he has made the choice to "take a break" with you, he needs to respect that he is not the only person who's hurting, but I think a lot of times when a person is in the middle of a depression, they really don't realize that other people have feelings too, or at least don't think aboutit. They see everyone else as stable and happy in contrast to their dismal emotional state. But that is ridiculous and unfair and it is absolutely not okay for him to treat you that way. And no, depression is not an excuse for him to hurt you because you can handle it better. He is not respecting you, and that is not okay. He's probably not even thinking about that, he probably is too dense (sorry, can't think of a better word) to even realize he's doing that. Which is why you have to step up and either stop taking his calls (I know it's so hard to do, I'm not trying to reprimand you or make you feel bad about it, but it really would be best for your right now) and/or straight up tell him that you understand he's going through a hard time, but that this is not easy for you either and at least for now, you need space from him. When my ex and I first broke up I told him that he could call me if he really needed someone to talk to, but that I otherwise needed time to figure out how to deal. So maybe if you still have a hard time just cutting him off completely for awhile, you could at least tell him something similar?

 

A mutual friend of mine told me a while after the break up, "You can put him first and put him first and put him first, but eventually you're going to start getting mad that he never puts you first. He never even thinks about you." Which I think is a totally perfect description of what those of us who have had depressed SO's experience. I mean, I'm not saying that they never put us first, or that we're perfect and they're horrible, but depression sometimes makes it hard for people to deal with anyone but themselves on an intimate level. Which is why it's so important right now to make sure you put YOU first, because he won't.

 

And, yes, after today I feel like you are right I should talk with a counselor or something. I’ve never done that before, and never really believed in it, but I’m starting to really feel like my health is suffering over this and I’m heading down a bad path.

 

Yeah I never did it before my breakup either, but I was in a really, really bad place and I needed help, so I got it. Sometimes it just helps to have an unbiased person to talk to who can give you good tips on how to deal with your emotions. And if you feel like your health is suffering, you need to do something.

 

You are such a kind person to actually be able to pray for your ex after what he put you through. I hope I can someday get to that point. Please don’t apologize for being “wordy” it really does help me to hear as many details of your experience as you are willing to tell. I’m sure it’s hard to talk about it again. But I’ve always been the kind of person who has to feel the pain, not ignore it, before I can move forward. I believe you that I will eventually get better, it’s just so hard to see that right now. I know, he’s focusing on himself, so I need to focus on myself, and I’m trying so hard...

 

Trust me, I went through a lot of not feeling or acting too kind towards him. I said a lot of horrible things to him in the worst of times, all of which I regret. It's normal to be angry, sad, resentful, etc. You'll get past it. I'm not going to say there aren't still times where I feel a little resentful, but I've mostly completely forgiven him and myself. I mean, I wasn't perfect either, there were a lot of things I could have done differently that might have changed things and I didn't always treat him the way I should have. And really, for me, the realization that in the end his choices are hurting him at least as much as they are hurting me helped to renew my compassion and empathy for him. Just remind yourself that he isn't trying to hurt you. He's trying to stop hurting himself, and his methods may not make any sense (they often don't).

 

I don't know if you feel this, but it was really hard for me to both not blame him too much and not cut him too much slack, you know? You don't want to give him a pass to do whatever and disregard your feelings just because he's depressed, but at the same time, patience and understanding are key, as is realizing that they aren't doing what they do to hurt you. It's hard, but eventually I found the balance and I think you will too.

 

And it's GOOD that you feel your emotions before you move on from them! I wish I had let myself do that more. I spent a lot of time feeling bad about my feelings and trying to force myself past them and things, and it wasn't until I just accepted them and let myself feel them that I finally was able to start moving past it.

 

And actually, at this point, it's not that hard for me to talk about it anymore. The pain has faded enough that I can just sort of be like, "yeah, this is what happened. It sucks, but what can ya do?" Most of the time anyway. I think I've only really even gotten that way in the past couple of weeks. And again, I'm really glad to be able to help you.

 

I hope things get better for you, feel free to keep posting here with questions or just to vent or whatever.

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