This is what Mr Xmas’ gradual retreating from life has been down to. We’ve had big conversations over the last few days, and have been friends long enough for me to know that he occasionally suffers from bouts of depression. But the thing is that neither of us thought it would return… Not now that he had gotten his life to where he wanted, and bagged the girl he’d been in love with for years, surely ?

However, there’s no denying that after a gradual slow-down over the last couple of months, Mr Xmas is now stalled. Unable to make plans, withdrawing from existing ones… for crying out loud, even the idea of booking a train ticket currently sends him into a tail-spin!

On the one hand, it’s an immense relief to know that none of this is to do with me, that his love for me is intact and that leaving me is the very last thing on his mind.

On the other hand, fuuuuuuuck!!!

What am I supposed to do?

I am currently living with someone who essentially wants to be left alone, retreat inside a cave and stay there until he feels able to cope with life again. Err…, fair enough, but what about me, and the kids who have come to rely on him to be their rock too?… Am I supposed to just grin and bear it, wait until he emerges again? Is this what love and accepting someone wholly is all about?

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel for Mr Xmas, because what he’s going through is just awful, and I know he is crushed with the disappointment that despite all the work he’s been doing in therapy over the last few years, his depression has returned.

Now, having seeked medical advice, my opinion is that anti-depressants are the lifebuoy he needs… But he just wants to wait it out, as he has more or less always done and resents the pressure I am putting on him to resort to chemistry. After all, it’s his lfe, and why should I dictate what he should and shouldn’t do? When can you make someone take a lifebuoy they don’t want?

Meanwhile, Spring lavishes its usual flowery splendour, I have been given a promotion after six weeks on the job, and feel like celebrating, making plans, whooping… But can’t do it with the man I have undoubtedly grown to love. I could cry with frustration.

So, internet friends, have you ever lived with someone affected by depression, and if so do you have any coping tips? How did you limit the damage on your relationship? Where did you draw the lines?


5 thoughts on “Lifebuoy

  1. I have been there and it is not easy … not at all. It is something that no-one else can really advise on because only you know how much you love this person to stay with them.
    However, what I would say, from my experience living with someone who had chronic depression, is that i always had to be the strong one … always. So that image of having someone there being the rock. That is not the image I have of living with someone with depression. To me, it was the other way round.

    • Dear Elizabeth, so far, I have not really needed to be “the strong one”, so I certainly haven’t had to always be the strongone, and I have even come to rely on Mr Xmas to be my rock. Of course, I accept that my rock may wobble from time to time, but what I hadn’t grasped was that being depressed may in fact be his default setting, rather than the occasional blip.
      I sincerely hope not, because I find it exhausting, and miss the man he is when he’s fine… I guess the question boils down to: Is it possible to have a fulfilling, long-term relationship with a partner affected by chronic depression? Do you know of any examples? And if so, what made it possible?

      • Yes, I do know of one couple who had that situation and they are still together. They have been together for over thirty years. She suffers from depression. They have survived because he is the strong one and is able to support her, yet is also able to switch off to it. He has developed his own interests as well so that he is not overloaded by the situation.
        As for my situation, which I can speak from personal experience. I do not and did not suffer depression. He did. I was the strong one. Eventually I guess – after 37 years – he concluded that it was me that was making him unhappy! I do not think that was the case as he is still not happy. And he is unhappy about that.
        i feel for you because I did truly love him and yet there was this continual black cloud between us. I always felt there was that barrier there.

  2. I think this is very difficult. I am one of those annoying people who are normally cheery on any given day but I agree that dealing with depression is pretty difficult, or bloody awful and difficult, take your pick. With people who go a bit “Dark” I tend to give them space until the sun comes out again, but I know that is not always possible, and certainly not in your circumstances. I admire greatly that you can see the love through the difficulties , and I hope that sees you safely through this period

    • Definitely like treading through something dark and viscous, trying to not get sucked in.
      Thanks for your continued support Peter. Sunshine and friendships mean a lot these days. xx

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