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The first thing I always like to do when trying to understand or figure something out is to go to my friends for advice.  And since I have been on dailykos for close to 5 years now (WOW!) I consider so many of you good friends (new and old), so I am seeking your advice now.

More below...

After being married to a mean-spirited angry man for almost 2 decades,  I have finally met someone new....yes, angrybird has a new boyfriend!  Well, not totally new, we have been seeing each other for a few months now.
Let me tell you, he's everything my ex wasn't.  He's sweet, laid-back, affectionate, and caring.  

However, he suffers from depression.  I didn't know much about depression until I started searching for info on it on the internet.  I know some of my fellow kossacks also suffer from this life-altering condition, so I'd like to know from you or anyone who loves someone with depression, how I can help him?
From what I have found on-line, it sounds like I should listen to him when he's feeling down and just be supportive.  I also read that I should encourage him to take walks and go out and try to have some fun.
I have also seen a lot of sites listing things I shouldn't do, like telling him to "snap out of it" (I would never say that anyway), or being unnaturally cheerful and telling silly jokes (I wouldn't do that one either).
A girlfriend of mine also suffers from depression and what she said to me was that it can be difficult for people to love and understand people who have depression.  She said (and I have experienced her doing this) depressed people often push their loved ones away, when what they really need is for their loved ones to be there for them.

Obviously my relationship with this man is still developing, but sometimes it's hard for me to distinguish between what actions are depression related and what ones are him just being a guy.

Please share any advice you might have because this man really means a lot to me.

Originally posted to angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:32 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Shit! I did it again! (41+ / 0-)

    I forgot about the automatic tip jar!  I guess you can tell I haven't written a diary in quite a while.
    Please share anything you think might help me guys are the best!

    "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

    by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:34:07 PM PDT

  •  I am a rather depressed person myself. (24+ / 0-)

    I have little advice, but I will relate something my close ones tell me often:  "You may be convinced that you are not a good person, but everyone close to you--and your actions--say otherwise.  Still, you are entitled to your opinion."

    Songs at da web site! I was average long before it was popular.

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:37:30 PM PDT

  •  I am no expert for sure (22+ / 0-)

    but one thing I do when I want to help a friend with similar issues is, I ask for their help with something. Helping someone can make one feel useful and needed. I think the things you wrote about support and encouragement are right on. Congratulations on your new relationship and best of luck in the future.

    Let's go back to E Pluribus Unum

    by hazzcon on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:37:37 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like good advice. (12+ / 0-)

    Don't take it personally and don't feel like you have to fix things for him.

    He'll just need space to work things out sometimes.

    by Bush Bites on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:37:41 PM PDT

  •  I wish I had answers for you (18+ / 0-)

    I also wish my last ex-girlfriend had asked such questions.  I suffer from depression, so I can identify with your issues.  It will be difficult at times, but it sounds like you're looking at it the right way, and it also sounds like you've found yourself a good guy.  Are there any support groups in your area?  Someone there might be able to help you out.
    One thing I can say - many times the depressed person will try to isolate themselves and shut others out.  Be gentle, but persistent in your approach.  You may be able to spot him slipping into depression before he even knows it's happening.  Does he get help for his depression?  Is he taking medication for it?  I wish I had some sage advice, but all I can do is wish you both well.

    (-9.25, -6.62) (BWIU #22) Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both -- Benjamin Franklin

    by trs on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:40:16 PM PDT

  •  Hi Sweetie, (19+ / 0-)

    I'm so happy for you regarding your new love, but very, very sorry to read of his battle with this crippling disorder.

    Here's my experience with it, angrybird.

    My best to you both.  Take it from someone who's been in it for the long haul, it's not easy for those who experience it and it's not easy for the loved ones of those who do.


    "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

    by Dreaming of Better Days on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:41:19 PM PDT

  •  I'm gonna get yelled at for this... (12+ / 0-)

    but having been on the other side of this conversation not all that long ago, the last thing I would do is to come out and suggest that he see a psychiatrist. It sends the message that you think he's crazy and that what he's feeling is not valid. I ended two friendships last year during The Trouble (you know what I'm talking about) because people insisted I was mentally ill.

    A year and a half later, I'm fine...sort of.

    •  Advising a depressed person to not seek (6+ / 0-)

      professional help is irresponsible. I am an expert on suicide and I am here to tell you that untreated depression can end up with someone dead.  What are you willing to risk to avoid having someone irritated with you?

      It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

      by Otteray Scribe on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:56:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not quite what he said. (7+ / 0-)

        Telling someone to not come right out and suggest a shrink is not the same as telling someone to say not to go to a shrink.

        Ideally, the afflicted person needs to be the one to decide to get help.  Things you decide upon yourself are more likely to happen and be effective than those others push on you.

        Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:04:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I should have phrased it somewhat differeently (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angrybird, kurt, Man Oh Man, trs

          You are correct that the suggestion was to not advise seeking help, not against seeking help. It is still not good advice and could have some serious negative consequences. Persons who are depressed are often unmotivated to do much of anything, amotivation being a symptom of depression.  A gentle push is required more often than not. There is danger in silence, especially if the depressed person might be having suicidal ideation.

          Fortunately, the diarist's loved one is getting help, so that is now a non-issue.

          It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

          by Otteray Scribe on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:31:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No! (8+ / 0-)

          Things you decide upon yourself are more likely to happen and be effective than those others push on you.

          This is not true for the majority of people suffering from depression.  Deciding to do something is hard enough but then having the resolve and energy to carry it through is harder still.  Peer pressure (applied correctly) can be grace.

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:12:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No yelling from me, (8+ / 0-)


      Sometimes a psychiatrist is needed, but I definitely understand the reservations here.

      My thoughts are, seeking the help of a therapist, counselor, psychologist may be a more therapeutic route to take.  Just to have someone learned in this area to kick things around with.  If medication is needed, a trained psychologist worth their salt would most likely suggest seeing a psychiatrist.

      I wouldn't trade my psychologist for the world.  It took me 16 years to find one I connected with enough to confide in, but she's helped me more than I can ever express.

      "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

      by Dreaming of Better Days on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:59:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am so glad to hear from you.... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bwren, PerfectStormer, sand805, Man Oh Man, trs

      ... and I have missed you.
      Anyway, yes, I know what situation to which you were referring....but, I didnt' know about people telling you to seek help...
      As for my new beau, he does see a therapist, but I'm not sure how often though?  Or how long he's been going?  I guess I should ask.

      "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

      by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:02:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not about sadness. (29+ / 0-)

    It's more like a constant burden of dread that is tough to shake.

    What does he say about it? You need to have a discussion about it with him before he suffers a bout of depression. He's the expert on his depression, so he should be able to tell you what, if anything, he might expect from you.

    The worst thing you can do is try to "cheer him up" because, as I said, it's not sadness.

    My wife's husband suffers from depression, and she's gotten very good at staying calm, quiet, but gently encouraging her husband to accomplish one thing at a time: Take a shower. Eat some soup. Go for a walk. Call your brother.

    It's not easy. Don't feel guilty if you find it's too much for you.

  •  Depression is sometimes hard to understand (21+ / 0-)

    if one has never experienced it. Advice to cheer up or snap out of it not only does not help, but can make things worse.  

    The good news is that most depression can be treated very well. About 85% of depressed persons respond quite well to antidepressant medication.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of different antidepressants. There are a number of chemical pathways that these medications affect. Give the wrong antidepressant and it can make the depression worse or have no effect.  Also, medication looks for the therapeutic window.  Not enough medication and it has no effect.  Too much and either the excess will be excreted as waste, or worse, you might get toxic. This is why you need antidepressant medication prescribed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with prescription privileges.  Most such meds are prescribed by family doctors or other specialists. Family doctors would not do neurosurgery, but feel qualified to give medications that can have profound effects on the central nervous system.  Also, some psychiatrists are little more than prescription writing machines, preferring to write scripts rather than actually spend time talking to the patient.

    Living with an untreated depressed person can be like living with an alcoholic. It affects everyone in the family.  Depression is one of the most easily diagnosed and treated of all the emotional disorders.  On the other hand, it can be the most disruptive to daily living and sometimes ends in suicide.  If you loved one is not getting treatment, please help them to do so.

    Also, ignore those who advocate against taking proper medication in favor of vitamins and other homeopathic remedies.  The consequences of acting irresponsibly with depression can be horrendous.

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:45:41 PM PDT

    •  Proper medication is important, however don't (16+ / 0-)

      ignore good nutrition and exercise. Those help enormously. One of my main problems is I can't get the needed exercise any more due to an injury.

      Until this last injury I never had a problem with depression and didn't understand what it was like. I've learned.

      To Angrybird, don't let him push you away. My own relationship died because I sank into myself and wouldn't let her in, and instead of pushing, she backed off. It isn't easy but being there for him is a great therapy. Cook him some good healthy meals and don't let him withdraw when he tries. If you don't fight to stay involved it just reinforces our feelings of worthlessness and we withdraw more and so on. Glad to hear he's in therapy and on medication. It really does help. If you can get him out of the house to walk the dog or throw a frisbee or anything, exercise helps.  n

      Good luck on a tough battle. He may be worth the fight a lot of us are but it can get rough for you. Don't let his attempts to withdraw upset your self worth. Trust me it won't be you he's withdrawing from, it's his own self image. He won't feel worthy of you. Also keep in mind many anti depressants effect libido also so if that happens, it's not you it's the medication.

      •  Thank you so much for this comment (6+ / 0-)

        buddabelly, I think I will try the tough-love approach but with gentleness of course.
        I wish you well buddabelly, and I hope you're doing better.

        "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

        by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:14:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct (8+ / 0-)

        Good treatment is more than medication.  Cognitive behavioral therapy, massage therapy, exercise, proper nutrition and avoiding stress and negative triggers are all helpful.  The one dietary supplement I do recommend is EPA fish oil. Specifically, the oil that is super-distilled from deep water fish caught in the north Atlantic. EPA is a component of Omega-3 fish oil. Research being done by some of the major medical schools is showing real promise in promoting a sense of well being in addition to the cardiac benefits that were already known.  The distillation not only concentrates the oil but removes mercury, PCB and other pollutants found in fish.

        It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

        by Otteray Scribe on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:23:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The most helpful thing for me (18+ / 0-)

    (other than medication (it took many years to find the right combo)) is Cognitive Therapy. Lots of info on the Net and in books, but the basic idea is this: when Demon Depression says "You're a failure; you're worthless", you fight back by contradicting it: "I am not worthless; I succeed at many things (make a list; it helps to write sometimes).

    Recognize the negative self-talk as untrue distortions that need to be fought against.

    Of course, the depressed person needs to do most of the work, but you can help by listening for "demon thoughts" and disputing them.

  •  Don't ask a lot of questions...... (9+ / 0-)

    As a someone with chronic mild depression I must tell you that you are most likely the light in his life and he IS NOT looking to you for a cure.  He probably does not even want you to bring it up.  Most people are reticent even to bring up mental issues and are certainly not looking for a significant other to be the care giver.  It makes them feel weak.  You are probably helping the most just by being there.

    Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

    by DawnoftheRedSun on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:47:48 PM PDT

  •  There is often no logic to depression (10+ / 0-)

    clinical depression that is, this has nothing to do with sadness as a rule.

    It has to be stabilised and treated, however the depressed person must make the first move in getting help. Its this self awareness that will enable treatment to be effective.

    Then see how it goes.

    Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican. - Lisa Simpson

    by LaFeminista on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:48:24 PM PDT

  •  From personal experience on both sides, (7+ / 0-)

    I'm going to be frank. He must commit to staving it off with whatever works for him. Set up a regular daily or weekly schedule, exercise, stay on top of life's less pleasant duties, give time to his community (because getting outside of one's depressed self and doing for others is very important), etc... whatever works. He has to make the effort to take care of himself and you should not be a martyr.

  •  Several things have changed my life completely: (9+ / 0-)
    1. Fish oil (one big teaspoon of Nordic Naturals every 2-3 days)
    1. Vitamin B complex (1 50 mg tablet every 2-3 days)
    1. Vitamin D. The last has made a HUGE difference in mood. I mean, unbelievable. Taking 400 iU a day.

    Have him try these things. Stay on it. The results could be really positive.

  •  As a pretty much continually depressed guy... (16+ / 0-)

    the last thing I want to do is 'talk about it'.

    What keeps me from getting completely overwhelmed is simply doing things.  Anything I can do and see results from.

    Exercise together.  Garden together.  Whatever you can do that gets him to just not hide away in a room and stay glued to a tv or computer.

    Some days, even just doing the dishes manually is a triumph.

    Oh, and sex is always good too ;)

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 05:59:34 PM PDT

  •  Dear angrybird (6+ / 0-)

    I have been depressive and getting past it is difficult, but it takes internal motivation to make things different. If there is self destructive behavior, there is a need for help, imho, that is usually beyond the capacity of family or friends to remedy.

    If this person is truly depressive, see that he gets help. Cessation of depression happens over time, and when he feels better he may or may not thank you if you have forced him to change. Also, relationships formed by a person when in despair may not have the same attraction to the same person when healthy. As in, you helped but now you are yesterday and you remind me of how unhappy I was.

    My advice is pretty useless, but here it is: You can't take this on by yourself. Find out if he wants help, get him some and then see what happens.  Just my two cents.

    Yes we did, yes we will. President Obama

    by marketgeek on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:03:17 PM PDT

  •  has he been clinically diagnosed? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren, angrybird, kurt, Man Oh Man, trs

    depression needs to be treated.

    meds and exercise have really helped me.

  •  Unfortunately, (6+ / 0-)

    speaking as someone who spent a lot of life depressed, there's nothing you can do.

    Your partner will have to, on his own, realize which parts of life are worth celebrating, and which parts to ignore.

    Probably not very helpful to someone who just wants to help, but in my case anyway, those were the facts.

    Good luck, and many blessings.

    Everything you do is a balloon.

    by Maori on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:06:41 PM PDT

  •  Living with a depressive. (10+ / 0-)

    Lots of depressives make super partners. Thinking less of themselves they often have more time and energy to think more about others. At the same time you have to accept the common limitation that your depressive partner may not be able to join you always in fun activities.  Some depressives use depression to control others. They want their need to be taken care of to dominate everything.  
         Beware of any one size fits all kind of thinking. What counts is your love and closeness.

  •  I'm married to some one with depression... (22+ / 0-)

    It's not at all easy, sometimes, but it's always worth it.

    The toughest thing about it is that it sort of upset a lot of the normal social rules on how we deal with other people's emotions. If we see some one is upset, we assume there's a reason. We wonder if the reason is us. We try to figure out what the reason is. We wonder if we can fix it. If there isn't a reason, we might think the person is being irrational, or even a jerk.

    Loving a person with depression means that when you deal with them, you're going to always have to check each of those impulses against the depression. If I had one piece of advice, it's "don't take it personally". It's hard, sometimes, not too: my wife had her longest and deepest bout of depression starting right after we were married--when the person you just married is pretty much perpetually unhappy, it's really hard not to feel like it's your fault.

    And you have to make peace with the idea that you're not going to fix it. That's not to say you can't help, but no matter how awesome a girlfriend/wife/whatever you are, you're not going to make him not depressed. I think the biggest help I provide to my wife is by being there, and engaging her, breaking up the endless feedback loop of negative thoughts. It's pretty pointless to do this by pointing out how irrational they are (logically, she knows the thoughts are irrational, but that doesn't make them any less real), it's much more effective to just distract--find activities, have a conversation about a common interest, get them out of the house. (Getting my wife out of the house is the single most effective bit of treatment I know--but when she's deeply depressed it's next to impossible).

    The other important piece of advice I have is to make sure you have your own support network that you can rely on. When you are forced to be the strong one constantly for days or months on end, it wears you down, and when your usual source of support is the person wearing you down, you need some one else you can trust to go to.

    Anyway, like I said--it's not easy, and don't fool yourself into think it will be. But at least in my case, being married to the most amazing woman I have ever met is easily worth the price. And before I leave on a negative note, though, let me say that it's not an all the time problem, at least in our case, and that modern medications have made a big difference (they're not perfect, they don't work for every one, and none of them work indefinitely, so we have to do this constant dance of adjusting and changing medications as they continually lose effectiveness). Most of the time she's just fine. And when she's not, we deal with it and eventually  we come out on the other side.

  •  good results (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren, angrybird, Man Oh Man, freedapeople

    homeopathic preparation called aurum met - I gave my husband 1m potency - he brightened within days and went out and found a job after 6 months of dragging around the house.   Not bad for someone almost 60 years old.

    It still continues to give him support even 9 months later

    Find a good homeopath and maybe this will be the remedy for him too.  And every body is an individual

  •  I don't know that it's that much different.. (7+ / 0-)

    than how any relationship develops. I started seeing a shrink, a therapist, and taking medication in 1992, and married 3 years later. I still see a shrink, a therapist, and take medication. I don't think I could separate myself from my broken parts. It's the package. My husband I think learned about me, at the same time I was learning about it's been a kind of joint journey through mental illness gobbley-gook. He knows when I forget to take my medication, and knows when something's up before I do. I guess like everything, there is no fix-it rule. We're all unique.

  •  The best thing to do (12+ / 0-)

    is exactly what you're doing: getting information, doing research, asking questions of people who've been there and done that. Too many people just make assumptions based on myths, misunderstandings and bad info.

    Be proud of yourself for even asking. That in and of itself is a profound act of love. And best wishes to you both.

  •  My Bwren suffers from the same. (15+ / 0-)

    We've been together almost 15 years. Sometimes it can be very hard, but you say that your sweetie is "sweet, laid-back, affectionate, and caring". Remember that. Celebrate it in some way every day. If you go forward with this relationship it will be because of those attributes.

    Then remember that his depression is not your fault, even when you start thinking that it is. It's not, and you aren't in any way responsible for making it better. He is. You can help by reminding him of the things that make you and others love him. You can help by understanding his up and down cycles, to remind him when he's in a down place that he's always come out of it, and that you'll be still be there when he goes back to the dark place. You can ask him to tell you how you can help, but you have to be prepared for him to push you away.

    Most importantly, you need to develop your own safe place; your friends, your activities, your independent life. You'll need that place when it seems that there is nothing you can do to help him. You may need to ask him to take a little vacation. You may need a place away from your home where you can go on short notice for a night or two of R&R.

    Good luck. I can't imagine a life without my sweet Mr Bwren, even when he's impossible to be around. He spoils me rotten. I try to do the same for him.

  •  The Noonday Demon (18+ / 0-)

    As someone with clinical depression, I would say that you are on the right track, and from what you've written, so is he.  You say that he takes antidepressant medication and goes to therapy.  If he has clinical depression, both of those things are essential.  Clinical depression is a condition that may be likened to diabetes or lupus.  It is treatable but not curable.  It will not go away, but it can be managed quite successfully using a combination of medication, talk therapy, and other strategies.

    It's important to recall that clinical depression is not just a mood disorder.  It is a physical disease that results from an imbalance or insufficiency of certain chemicals in the brain.  The condition is very poorly understood, as are the medications used to treat it.  We know antidepressants work, but we're not really sure why they work.

    When people ask me what depression is like, I try to explain it metaphorically.  My metaphor is that it's like being inside a dark box.  There is a bright, shining world outside the box, but when you are depressed, you cannot see it.  All you can see are the walls of the box you're in.  Only when the depression lifts does the box open.  Depression can also be viewed as a lens that distorts our view of the world.  The bottom line is that it interferes with our perception and makes things look completely hopeless.

    If you're looking for helpful information about this condition, Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon is an absolute must-read.  The book won Solomon the National Book Award for nonfiction some years back.  Solomon, who suffers from very severe clinical depression, writes about his own experience, the experience of others, treatments, causes, and much else.  In my view, the book is indispensable.  

    As for additional things you might suggest to help him, your man may benefit from exercising, if he doesn't exercise now.  It's been shown to have positive effects in people with chronic, clinical depression.  

    Finally, a bit of personal advice.  Always try to remember that you cannot solve this problem for him.  I know that it can be difficult to feel powerless when he's in a deep funk, but for myself I find that it's not helpful when people try to be "helpful" and offer "solutions" to what's ailing me.  At those times you must remember that just being there is enough.  Letting him know you're sticking by him and involving him in your life are probably the best things you can do.

  •  Good news/Bad news (13+ / 0-)

    The good news: you like him, he's not a schmuck & he's on meds/sees a therapist.

    The bad news? You can't fix him. Actually, that's good news. It's not your fault that he's depressed.

    I've had a 296.33 diagnosis for years...about 2/3 of my life (I'm in my 40s). Major depressive disorder, recurrent, severe, w/o psychotic features. My depression ruined relationships because it wasn't treated effectively in the pre-Prozac era.

    Things that have helped immensely:

    1. Medication, taken at roughly the same time every day.
    1. CBT, learning to stop the negative thoughts; it took a few years but eventually became pretty automatic and helped me to not only deal with depression but recognize the early warning signs of an episode.
    1. Not getting pushed away. Depression is an ugly, ugly illness. It takes patience, kindness, caring, and a kind of loving neutrality.

    When I've fallen down the rabbit hole, I find that a kind of concerned negligence is what I want from my friends/family. I want to know they're around and love me but I don't want them asking how I am or trying to fix me. The only time that I want/need them to suggest or encourage (or drag me to) therapy is when I'm so dysfunctional I can't get there on my own and it's, uh, life threatening if you know what I mean. It's paradoxical.

    I don't mean leave him alone, but there's a kind of  balance between caring enough and too's a great thing that he talks about it. In your place, I would ask him (you'll have to phrase this to suit him and not sound pushy or judgmental or whatever) what the signs are when he's entering a depressive episode. Are there sensations or behaviours that he recognizes? And what would he like you to do when he's in an episode or entering one? You'd have to ask when he's more up than not, but I found that telling my friends/family that I have depression, and sharing with them the signs of an onset (so that I don't always have to tell them, they can spot it too) and roughly how long the episodes last, has been helpful in maintaining relationships.

    I feel for both of you. If there was one thing I could change in my life, it would be to not have this--a wish I would happily share with everyone. It changed, and changes, everything. Whatever the core is in him that you care for, you will need to keep it in your sights. He's always there, even in the depression, though it can be a powerful and horrible cloak.

    I wish you and him the very best of luck, love, and stamina.

    Why is it so hot, and what am I doing in this hand basket?

    by Kirsten on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:16:08 PM PDT

  •  I am in the middle of a deep deep depression (15+ / 0-)

    Just please be as understanding as possible and do not take anything personally(as hard as that is).  Eating right, walking(especially if the sun is shining), maybe finding activities that help him get out of his head for a short while(crossword puzzle, movie, games).  If this is something he goes through periodically(I, for example am bipolar and just go through depressive phases) then finding a way to help him ride it out and remembering that it is just something he will go through sometimes is your best bet.
     Good luck and I will be thinking of you.  I am riding out this cycle and babying myself and forcing myself to walk and look at birds.  

    That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

    by stevie avebury on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:29:36 PM PDT

  •  My lover was depressed (7+ / 0-)

    and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. I didn't know much about depression then, but know I know a lot of people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. They don't admit to depression, they just don't feel good or right.

    So it's great yr guy is seeing a professional. Before you can help him, it's a good idea to be very aware of your own feelings.

    It's very hard to know where to draw the line between being a loving friend and lover, and being co-dependent. The "joke" is that when a co-dependent person dies, someone else's life passes in front of his/her eyes. That's a joke, but the meaning is pretty clear.

    If his depression becomes the focus of yr relationship, that's probably not good for you. If you have to go out of your way most of the time, or walk on egg shells most of the time, that's not good for you.

    If his depression changes your life, that's not good.

    Note that is way different from a new love relationship changing your life. That is good.

    So you have to be able to discern the difference there.

    My two cents. Best of luck to you and him.

    "If religion is the opiate of the masses, then fundamentalism is the amphetamine." Miz Vittitow

    by MillieNeon on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:34:27 PM PDT

  •  I have close friends who suffer from it. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, kurt, Man Oh Man, trs

    First of all, make sure he's seeing a good doctor and has good, appropriate meds, and that he takes them.  If the meds stop working or produce unwanted side effects, make sure he changes them.

    Be prepared for brief periods--a few days, perhaps a week or two, from time to time--when he'll seem to withdraw completely.  Don't take it personally.  It won't be about you.  Depressed people just need to be completely alone sometimes.  He'll be back again, eventually.

    "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

    by keikekaze on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:38:10 PM PDT

  •  Is he receiving treatment for it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, trs

    Has it been definitively diagnosed?

    There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? -Robert F. Kennedy

    by JSCram3254 on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:55:21 PM PDT

    •  Remind me to read the comments first. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angrybird, trs

      Anyway, it's very important that you get an idea of what can specifically trigger things for him as well.  I was engaged to a wonderful woman who had a combination of depression and social anxiety, so I tried my best to know what would set her off most.  Basically, just talk as much as you can.  And if he's ignoring you while watching tv, you can assume that's just him being a guy.  ;-)

      There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? -Robert F. Kennedy

      by JSCram3254 on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:57:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In My Experience There Doesn't Seem to Be Much (6+ / 0-)

    meaning in "being there" for a depressed person, in the way that being there for a sad or grieving person helps.

    Depression isn't so much an excess of sadness, pain or anger, it's a shortage of happiness, engagement and joy.

    Every second, probably several times every second, our bodies are bombarded with sensations that are pleasant and unpleasant, we have memories that are pleasant and unpleasant, and we're constantly in emotional flux in sorting these things out and assessing them.

    In depression, the positive emotions are subdued, so the person experiences life as sadder, more frustrating, less appealing. If you got up some morning and everything was colored this way for you, pretty fast you'd shift to being more passive and defensive, reducing interaction, focused on avoiding frustration rather than diving into new problems and challenges.

    Since the positive side is, well, depressed, it really doesn't make much difference whether you force yourself to try to cheer up, or someone comes and reaches in to you. There's just less there to come out. They may be able to distract you momentarily but they really can't lift spirits that have no "up" to go to.

    In the long term the most important way to "be there" for a depressed person is to make sure they're being professionally cared for as needed.

    Stress intolerance is a big part you can help with. When something frustrates or saddens them and they are prone to spiral down more than the rest of us might, you may be able to help them work it out, help them keep from feeding on it and going so low.

    This is tricky though; the person has to know they've got this side of the problem, and be intellectually open to being told that an emotion they feel is reasonable might be amplified because of the illness.

    I had low blood sugar for years which caused brief bouts of depression and mental unclarity as I'd crash. Despite years of daily experience with it, it was almost impossible for me to appreciate from the inside, and all those years my wife had to nudge me to snack with more diplomacy than anyone should've had to exercise.

    Best wishes for you. This is a difficult journey in life, and don't neglect your own needs for support that may include clergy or some treatment yourself.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 06:59:33 PM PDT

  •  Echoing the rest (6+ / 0-)

    Don't take it personally. It's his depression, not yours and it's not your responsibility. My uncle, my dad and I all go through 'moods' as they are called around here, that include hiding under the bed (me!), sulking on the couch (my uncle) and obsessively looking for things to 'fix' (that would be dad).

    I live alone and my cats don't mind me hiding under the bed, as long as I invite them along, but when I had roommates, my 'moods' drove them up the wall, if you will forgive me for saying so. My friends wanted to 'fix' me, they thought they could interfere, get between me and the demons in my mind.

    It doesn't work that way, as my aunt has learned to her sorrow. She is another who thinks she can 'fix' what is wrong with my uncle and when she (inevitably) fails, she gets upset, rants and raves and just makes the whole situation worse. She feels bad, my uncle feels bad, everyone is pissed and not talking, etc etc. Their house reminds me a lot of having roommates.

    My mom has the best system that I've seen. She ignores us. :) Seriously. She doesn't lean over our shoulders, she doesn't push or pry and only rolls her eyes when Dad goes strolling through the house with a tape measure. She comes along just often enough to remind us that she is around, but not so much that we start feeling hemmed in.

    Of course, all depressives are different, but being ignored and left to our fight our own demons works for us. I know it's hard when it's someone you love, but - to be brutally honest - fighting depression isn't a team event. It's the ultimate singles event, if fighting with your own mind can be considered single. :)

  •  Watch out for nuances... (7+ / 0-)

    Depression is a very broad term, and not all types react the same way.

    I was diagnosed with chronic depression but therapy was ineffective and antidepressants simply made me worse. My latest specialist has now told me that instead of, or on top of, depression, I have something called Reward Deficiency Syndrome, a brain malfunction that prevents me from feeling satisfaction at ordinary accomplishments and so removes the incentive to accomplish anything. Apparently, the part of my brain that registers happiness and satisfaction at baking a good cake, winning a scholarship, building a bookcase, buying a new car, taking a vacation, and so on, simply does not function.

    Lots of flavors of depression, is my message. I thought I'd put in my two bits since several people have, and very rightly, suggested lifting depression by getting things done. It doesn't work for absolutely everyone.

    On s'engage, et puis, on voit. (Napoleon)

    by sagesource on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:14:25 PM PDT

  •  My advice, since you ask for it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, VelvetElvis

    Is to go here

    1. DBT self Help
    1. Learn what Marsha Linehan has to teach.
    1. Get your friend in to see a DBT certified therapist and into group therapy.
    1. Go with him and talk to his therapist.
    1. Profit!

    People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage

    by MnplsLiberal on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:35:57 PM PDT

  •  ummmm, I know you mean well, you can't "help" him (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, labradog, angrybird, kurt

    and it is sort of asking for a co-dependent relationship to start out thinking from that place. If you don't know what a co-dependent relationship is, PLEASE take a deep breath and read up on it.

    Depression is something I am very familiar with on several fronts from friends and family.

    All I can say is, if you want my advice, don't jump in with both feet at once, instead take a lot of time working on building stages of intimacy and knowledge to see if this person is able to be self-sufficient and can self-maintain emotional stability. Wanting to be with someone is one thing, needing to be with someone is something else. Depression is a mental illness, and you should consider it as part of that whole person and your relationship with that person.

    The best way I have heard depression described is "going around wearing glasses that turn everything gray, and with big lead weights on your legs and arms." It flattens and slows and deadens and sucks energy and motivation.

    Medication help some people a lot and others not so much. Getting the correct medication and handling side effects can be a delicate process. Usually both mediation and some talk therapy are necessary; exercise often helps a lot, and diet modification can be very helpful. There is accumulating evidence that depression is genetically influenced.

  •  One of the most useful things I learned... (9+ / 0-)

    ... when I was first diagnosed with clinical depression was that the basic cause of the condition was a lack of certain brain chemicals that I needed to function well.  I came to think of it as a sort of "brain diabetes."

    Someone who's clinically depressed, for instance, can't imagine a happier time because the substances in the brain needed to create even a memory of happiness are in too short a supply to do that.

    That's why being told to cheer up is useless.  

    That's why being questioned about what's got you down is dismal.  

    That's why you don't want to do things you used to love.

    That's why you retreat from people who know the real you and keep trying to get you to be that person -- you can't give them what they, and you, want.  You don't have the brain chemicals to do it.

    You have no energy.  You hate yourself.  You see no hope for anything getting better.  Those three things twist and curl and combine and slither through every bit of life, distorting and dimming everything.  

    You may not be able to do the things you're usually good at - for me, writing and photography both vanish as though I'd never been able to do them at all, too bad about having to earn a living.  I even have trouble reading.  If you don't know why that kind of thing's happening, it's beyond terrifying.  It's as though you've died but have to keep pulling on clothes and shuffling around among the living while the stink of your rotting mind makes you want to scream until your dead, heavy bones splinter into fragments.

    The great thing you told us here is that your guy's getting treatment.  The meds/talking therapy combo's the most effective in study after study.  Plus, once he's through this, he'll know the signs of any recurrence and he'll know to get help before it gets so bad again.  

    That's been the huge thing for me -- I don't let myself sink down, don't try to drink my way out of it, don't hide from the problem until I'm in real trouble.  I just deal with it because now I know what the problem's called and who can help.  

    It's not just my rotten, loser, weak character or the worthless, pathetic life I've chosen, et morose cetera.  It's a MEDICAL condition that can be treated, and I'm the one who's responsible for seeking treatment.  I do have some power over it - yay.  

    Low maintenance friends are a wonderful thing when you're depressed.  They don't try to feed off your nearly nonexistent energy.  They don't try to take control of your life.  They don't mind if you ask to have a rain check or a short evening or can't remember what you were just trying to say.  They like you enough to wait for your chemicals to rebalance and they respect you for enduring and recovering.  Sounds like you, doesn't it?


    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:45:04 PM PDT

  •  For starters you might try... (5+ / 0-)

    distinguish between what actions are depression related and what ones are him just being a guy.

    ...not to equate his gender with emotional illness.

    I know this is a bit OT, but it jumped out at me. Y'know how women often dislike it when aspects of being female are treated like a pathology? Guys are the same way. I believe this will help with the relationship with any guy, depressed or not.

    In the meantime, just try to get to know him better. Learn what the positive motivators are in his life; show him what yours are, too. At this early stage (a few months), unless you are acting as a mental health professional, don't be so involved in

    how I can help him?

    Think more, perhaps, about how you can know him.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:48:59 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, as a guy, I don't know why, angrybird, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angrybird, kurt

      you are equating the two. I just don't. I would suggest you explore what you think being a guy is and what you think acting depressed is. If you mean noncommunicative, withdrawn, sullen, yes some guys are that way because they never learned how to interact differently. But many of us guys have learned how not to be that way or have never been that way.

      About depression. There all different kinds of depression. There are depressions reasonably controlled by meds and/or talk therapy and/or self care such as making sure one does the things that keeps one up like being in nature, exercise, chilling out to music etc. There are depressions that are much more problematic and life interrupting and difficult. So I'd ask him more about his depression issues as you get to know him, don't over confront him about it, but be interested and not afraid to know. Then when you know more about his condition, you can educate yourself about it more.

      I've had a bipolar girlfriend, a couple bipolar close friends, and a disthymic close friend. They are all very different in how their depressions manifest and the extent it affects them, and how easily or difficult it is to manage their conditions. But I will say after these experiences I would rather not have anyone close to me who has depression issues because I find life hard enough without dealing with that.

      Good luck to you.

      •  Again I didn't mean anything.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, doinaheckuvanutjob

        negative.  I am simply trying to find out if his pulling away is because of the depression, or if it's because he's not wanting to talk about us and our relationship.  I am over 40 and have had enough relationships with men to know that many of them pull away if you start wanting to talk "relationship" etc...I hope this explains what it was that I was trying to say, again, I didn't mean anything negative, it's just that men and women are different when it comes to relationships, and I am trying to understand him.

        "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

        by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 09:03:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am not meaning anything... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      negative about trying to figure out what actions are related to his depression and what aren't.  What I mean is most men that I have known and had relationships with don't like to talk about the relationship or pull away if you do I am not sure why he is pulling away sometimes...I hope that makes sense, it's the best I can explain it.

      "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

      by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 08:59:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe a specific example will help... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, kurt, BardoOne

        to try and explain what it was I was trying to say.
        Example: The first time my new beau pushed me away or maybe he was pulling away from me...I'm not sure which?...was about 2 months ago.  I was at his house and he was making me dinner (he's a great cook) and he told me he had to cancel our plans for the next day because he had to watch his kids.  I told him I understood, but I couldn't hide my disappointment that I wasn't going to be seeing him and he saw that.  He then looked very distraught and told me that maybe I would be better off with someone who didn't have kids.  I guess you would of had to of seen how he looked and acted when he said that, but he seemed so filled with anxiety.
        Anyway, the next day I called him and told him that I was upset that he wanted me to find someone else and I asked if it was something about me that made say that.  He said, no, it was him and not me.  Now, according to my friend with depression and from the things I have read online and from some of the comments in this diary, people with depression will pull away if they feel inadequate.  But, because we have all heard the line "it's not you, it's me" before, I wasn't totally sure why he said that....  I hope that makes sense...I'm not always the best at writing what it is I am trying to say, but again, I didn't mean anything negative.  I love men, especially the one I am writing about.  
        I guess it boils down to this: it's hard enough trying to understand the opposite sex, but when you add depression to it, it just gets that much harder.

        "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

        by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 09:57:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To a seriously depressed person, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          taking care of the kids for the day might be a worthwhile accomplishment, a positive step, a reason to feel not-so-worthless.

          That makes two wins in a row: Saturday, I cook dinner and entertain a new friend (the biggest thing I've done in awhile - I am so excited); Sunday, take care of my kids!  If only I can get a little momentum going to do the next right thing on Monday, there may be hope for me yet!

          Ummm, wait... Sunday I'll have to either break my promise to my kids or stand up my fascinating new friend.  My kids are already convinced that my promises are empty, but I'm really trying to turn over a new leaf with them.  I have let down so many people in the past, and now it is starting again: a new person has come into my life to be let down like the others.  I would really like to please her, but there are times when I can barely even climb out of bed in the morning and dress myself, let alone sustain a relationship.  I could as easily fly to the moon, as make a big new commitment and actually bring it off.

          What would happen if you said something like... "That's so great that you're spending time with your kids this weekend.  They'll be all grown before you know it.  Hey, I'm not doing anything Sunday... Want some company?  We could take the kids for a picnic... I could make sandwiches!"

  •  Don't listen to internet advice;) (0+ / 0-)

    He's not a condition, he's a person.

    Individuals respond differently to depression so generic advice isn't going to help you very much. Many of the comments here are very nice and supportive...that's good...but a relationship is built on communication between individuals.

    We are third parties.

    You might consider getting therapy for yourself after the Hell you went through. You might get better advice from a professional than from this support group. Given that you came here for advice, group therapy might help you restore your sense of self after years of trouble.

    But don't take my advice. I don't know you.

    look for my DK Greenroots diary series Wednesday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 07:58:03 PM PDT

    •  Ummmm.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't really know what to make of your comment, but all I was really seeking from this diary was some understanding of depression, and tying to find out things that may make this man I love feel somewhat better.  Love was my only motivation, nothing more.  And many of the comments have been very helpful, and I greatly appreciate them.

      "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

      by angrybird on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 10:11:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Marring a Werewolf (6+ / 0-)

    I love him very much. I fell crazy in love with him after a year, and the more I get to know him, the more I love him. Unfortunately, He is a werewolf. I bled buckets for 8 years to keep us afloat/alive/with bills paid.

    The cycle:  He starts getting quiet, everything I say (What do you want for dinner) is answered with venom. He hates me suddenly.  It took FOREVER for me to figure out if he had a legit complaint, or if it was the cycle starting.  As it progresses, it gets pretty clear that this has nothing to do with me. His eyes GO BLACK. I might as well be talking to a crocodile.  

    And then I can't take it anymore; I attack him.  Mind, I've tried to wait it out, for weeks, didn't work.)  I'd scream and cry and throw things.  We'd hit each other!  Us!  And then we would cry our guts out. And then, magically, he'd come back.

    The day after, I'm still shell shocked, and he's merrily chatting about the credit card bill or some nonsense, meanwhile, I'm wondering if we are still together, as I had mentally packed my stuff and was on my way back to my mommy, again.

    A month later, the cycle repeats.  THE LAST TIME he dropped out, he didn't come back. Nothing I could do.  He was fucking gone from his eyes, and I didn't exist either.    

    The clinical word for what was going on is "suicidal ideation." He was considering the various ways one could off one's self.  

    One hair away from having his whole family come and drag his ass to a hospital; he went to see a shrink.    

    I can't believe it.  I can't fucking believe it. It worked, some little effing pill has managed to make my great love be himself non-stop for a year now.  The drug is Lamotrigine. He tried 4 others, and this one worked. A drug. A little funny drug that screws with your electronics saved his and my life.  

    I have so much freedom now; I can finally think about what kind of person I want to be when I grow up (I'm 30.)  I don't think we are in the clear, we won't be, ever. Ok. We learned some stuff.    

    We are, after 8 years, finally getting married.

    I should say: it's not your job to rescue anyone from depression. Really, you can't.  But no one can do it by themselves either.

    •  Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ms scarlett leadpipe, Leftcandid

      I don't think we are in the clear, we won't be, ever.

      Even apart and beyond the proximal topic here, everyone should have those words tattooed backwards on their forehead.

      Roll'em around in your head, and visualize them above your eyebrows, in the mirror, every time you brush your teeth or comb your hair.

      I don't think we are in the clear, we won't be, ever.


      I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

      by labradog on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 08:13:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I help run a mental illness support site (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, marina, kurt

    tell him to check it out

    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

    by VelvetElvis on Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 08:21:39 PM PDT

  •  As your relationship progresses (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, buddabelly, kurt

    you may find it helpful to talk with others who are close with him about ways they have found to be with him through the darkness. His friends and family members who have been through an episode of depression with him can share their perspectives.

    The most important thing is to talk with him about your feelings, not just about his. Don't shy away or dance around things because you're worried about making things worse. Part of depression is a pattern of negative thinking about yourself, and that pattern gets fueled in the absence of information. So do share your feelings, because tiptoeing around him can just make things worse.

    I wish you both all the best.

  •  From personal experience, one needs an (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    excellent psychiatrist AND psycho therapist.
    They need to communicate with each other also.
    Diet is very important: Some foods may cause reactions that may exacerbate depression, like sugar, caffeine, spicy foods etc. Also, many over the counter meds like Tylenol PM may cause depression on their own. Also, prescription drugs for sleep like Lunesta may cause depression. Good sleep is critically important to help with depression. Daily exercise helps. Staying well hydrated helps too. Meditation with proper breathing is also helpful. Anxiety is often associated with depression, so keeping away from stressful situations is helpful. Recognizing that many famous people had serious depression, like Abe Lincoln, is comforting, and reading good biographies may help.

    Angrybird, the best approach you might take is to offer encouragement that THERE IS A CURE AND HE WILL RETURN TO NORMAL!!!! It's just finding the correct combination of meds, positive and confident attitude and avoiding situations that have a negative effect on emotional well being. You can help him by making sure he feels your total support and committment. GOOD LUCK

  •  I don't know much about relationships (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angrybird, Ekaterin

    but I think he's lucky to have someone who truly cares the way you do. Make sure he knows it. During my darkest times, part of what kept me alive was my family's love.

    Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82

    I rebuke myself when under stress - The Lord/King Crimson

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 01:16:15 AM PDT

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