How Can I Support Him Through Depression?

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Hey Wendy,

My partner has had a shitty 2019, and we’re only getting started. So far, he’s been made redundant, got a new job but was fired within a month, and his father went into the hospital, and it doesn’t look good.

He admits he’s depressed but won’t get help. He thinks it’s a waste of time.

I’m trying to be understanding and supportive, but I feel that I’m at my limit. He has a go at me over minor things, is constantly pissed off and complains about everything. I do all the cooking and cleaning.

I’ve bitten my tongue so many times but I’m starting to feel frustrated and resentful, and I know it’s not his fault so I feel like an arsehole. But he acts like every single thing is my fault. I need help. I feel at breaking point as I’m so miserable.

Caroline A. – Leeds, England


Hey Caroline,

Wow – that sounds like a lot. I’m so sorry!

I’ve got some good news and bad news for you.

The good news is this too shall pass. The one constant in life is that things change.

The bad news? You’re going to have to step in and deal with how he’s treating you.

Terrible things happen to good people.

Good people don’t get to take their frustrations/anxieties/depression out on others.

Regardless of his circumstances, his feelings are his, and he’s responsible for wrangling them. So, this kinda gets you off the hook when it comes to taking measures to restore him to “I’m good.” You can’t fix him.

He doesn’t want to go to therapy, you say. Cool, he doesn’t have to go. He’s the boss of his own well-being. While you can offer up new ideas, you can’t make him, fix him, or carry the pain for him – it’s his and his alone.

And… in managing his feelings, he has to work out not being a jackass to you. You aren’t the sponge who absorbs all his negative mess while he works it out. So, kindly but firmly lay down the law. Try some version of, “I know you are dealing with a lot right now. I’m here with you. Here’s the thing: If you want me to stay by your side, you need to knock it off with the jabs, meanness and making me your punching bag. I’m not going to put up with it. If you can’t figure out where the negativity is going to go, revisit the idea of therapy, but you aren’t going to process your anger and grief through me.”

After that, together, you two can work out a signal that you can flash if/when that type of behavior starts to peek through conversation so he can curb his own bad behavior. But let’s be honest: We know when we’re being an asshole, so the signal should only be good for a handful of times in the beginning.

I hope you two make it through this time relatively unscathed.

Good luck!