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Loving Someone with Depression (mentalhealth.org.uk)
502 points by victorbojica 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 282 comments



My own major debilating depression was such that I couldn't get out of bed other than to use the toilet. Worse than that I could see no reason to get out of bed and didn't care to get out of bed. Taking a shower and getting dressed was out of the question. I knew the strain I was causing in my family, but since I didn't feel anything, I couldn't feel enough empathy for them to do anything about it. I knew I used to love them, but that seemed a long time ago and there was no hope of ever feeling again. I thought about suicide often, but my inability to get motivated prevented me from carrying it out. I once had a bounce of energy so I started planning to kill myself and the weird thing was, that I felt the happiest I had ever felt in my life. It was such a feeling of peace and joy that it would soon be over.

Fortunately for me, my family would not tolerate me in this condition and forced to me to get out of bed and dragged me to doctors and checked me into mental health units until we found the right doctor who perscribed the right medication that worked. Turns out typical anti-depressants don't work on me because I am bipolar and was experiencing bipolar depression.

It's been three years of recovery now and I am very happy. I take my quatiepine every night and get the sleep I need so I don't relaspe into mania and then depression.

My family is not sophisticated about mental illness. They would rather not think about it. But the one thing they did is to refuse to let me remain in that state and forced me to take action.


Hey, you are not alone with BP and there is a really great BP discord server. We have real support groups running two times a day. I encourage everyone with BP to join it. https://discord.gg/rbipolar2


Anyone who reads this who also knows a community for Borderline people, I'd appreciate it! I'm one of the few Borderline people I know who sought out therapy (most actively reject it, choosing to believe the lies our mind tells us that our problems are the problems of others) and seeking a community of those so afflicted also in recovery.


That'd be really helpful. I hope there is one.


Great, I'll check it out.


thanks for sharing that


I have a question regarding crippling depression. When I hit the wall, I never got fully bed ridden, I was able to force myself out (also the fact that my heart couldn't operate well when horizontal gave me another reason). I had to mentally plan, calculate and monitor every move (moving one finger, grabbing a spoon) sluggishly. But at times my brain just ..shut. I would collapse on a table.. not due to fatigue or pain, not like fainting or narcolepsia, it was something else, like neurological surrendering because there was no notion of aim anymore. Has it happened to you that way ? or anyone else ? It's long gone but still I'm unsurprisingly curious.


Yes, I've experienced that while locked up in the psyche ward. My brain just shut down. I would stare at the food at the end of my fork for what seemed like 10's of minutes. I didn't care. I knew I was in a safe place so I just went with it. It feels like the biochemical equivalent of a dead battery. They gave me a drug cocktail (I don't know what) that restored me to normal function.

Part of my motivation of writing my original comment was because I realized that the author of the article made a mistake. I'm not blaming the author because I've made the same mistake and I've seen it made often. I never really thought about it much. The mistake is trying to explain depression in terms the non-depressed family could understand. He even used that common metaphor of being in a dark tunnel. Everyone can relate to being in a dark tunnel, right? That's the problem. Then they think of terms that they can relate to and are more tempted to blame the depressed person for not just "getting up" like they've done when they were in a dark tunnel.

It occurred to me without really being conscious of it that the correct way to describe depression is in terms they do not understand. That way they'd see depression correctly, as something really abnormal and serious. I wanted to show that the depressed person was incapable of thinking in any way helpful for others or themselves. I wanted them to see it like you might see a man sitting on the tracks when a train is approaching and not only refusing to move, but seeming disinterested in it and almost content to die. It's shocking but it's true. It's so far out of the normal band, unlike the dark tunnel. Family are not powerless and should get into action. Push that man off the track!


I wasn't even staring void, I actually folded on the table. Biochemical dead battery is close, because it's really snappy like an on/off switch, but in my case it was also above the somatic layer. The idea in my mind just before was that "there's no more path to follow, no more things in the list, sorry... closing".


I had something like that during my worst depressive episode. I just collapsed on the table during work because I couldn't make myself do anything, including sitting.


Thank you for sharing. That takes a lot of courage, and it is very helpful to hear a story like this with a positive outcome.


> helpful to hear a story like this with a positive outcome

That's why I shared, because it's important for family and sufferers know that people do recover. I don't share under my real name, although I would like to, because some people are really frightened and prejudiced against bipolar people. Maybe from a bad experience. Not all bipolars get psychotic and think they're Jesus who can fly.


> Not all bipolars get psychotic and think they're Jesus who can fly.

Every once in a while a local paper somewhere runs an article about someone running down the street naked claiming they were Jesus. Dollars to doughnuts it's an undiagnosed bipolar patient having a psychotic episode. The flying is probably from Reefer Madness, I believe, but you were undoubtedly speaking in hyperbole to sarcastically feign sympathy for some idiot for irrationally fearing a bipolar patient like they were equivalent to the absurdly exaggerated pot-crazed teenager diving through a window to their death because they were so stoned they believed they were a chicken and could fly.


I just remembered an Onion post from a long ago that speaks to what I'm saying. People can and should do something even if the depressed person says to go away and leave them alone. Nobody wants to be rude or be a bother, but sometimes it's an emergency situation and people should give themselves permission to act.

Parents Of Suicide Victim Saw It Coming A Mile Away

https://www.theonion.com/parents-of-suicide-victim-saw-it-co...


How do you manage the side-effects (especially weight gain) from quatiepine? My best wishes to you.


I’m on quetiapine, but don’t have weight gain.

I do have issues with my balance and motor control. If I get dehydrated, my blood sugar gets low, or I get too tired, I can lose the ability to drive. Not drive safely. Drive at all.

As a precaution, I always have extra food, water, and medication with me all the time. I plan trips so I don’t get into problems. And I have friends who will drive me home. Which I did have one do early in my treatment because I didn’t know all this yet.

My psychiatrist has me on additional medication twice a day to help with both motor control and muscle pain. Works pretty well.

I’ve learned that feeling one strand of muscle being tight in my arms or chest is a warning I’m getting dehydrated. At that point, I have about half an hour before I’ll start having problems.

Note: If you’re worried about my ability to drive. It’s not an issue. The symptoms are very obvious to me and it about an hour to get that bad. Anyone who is diabetic deals with the same kind of issues.


I think you'll be alright because you are very aware of your condition. That's really how I am too. I'm always checking in with myself like that song in The Big Lebowski - "The condition of my condition is good." There's aways Uber.

After I wrote my comment I thought of something weird. California sent me a tax bill every month. Every month I would ignore it and every month it would go up due to fines. Finally California siezed my bank account and cleaned it out, all $13,000, leaving me destitute. What I thought was weird was my reaction. I didn't care. I was watching it happen like watching a fly walk across the cieling - with complete indifference. So here's something else family can do - ask to see the bills.


I'm lucky I only need a low dose (50 mg) but you're right, the weight gain is a drag. At least I have the energy now to excercise, so I have normal problems, thank god.


You must be bp2 and take it more for sedation because the anti psychotic effect only manifests on higher doses.


I've been diagnosed both bp1 and bp2 by different doctors. You're right, I use it mostly for sleep. Being able to sleep has been a godsend.


Did you always know it was bipolar depression? If not, what eventually made you realize it was bipolar depression and not major depression?


I started having my suspicions after I read what I consider the best book about the bipolar experience called "The Loony Bin Trip" by the late Kate Millet. She got more manic than I but eventually I got more depressed than she. Interviews with psychiatrists are where it was diagnosed. It's helpful before those interviews to think back about periods of childhood when you felt really disconnected and out of it and then the times you had long periods of a really good mood. Then relay those experiences to the pdoc honestly and let them tell you what they think. It's important not to tell them what you think they want to hear or bend the truth so you get a "trendy" diagnosis. Even if you think you're story is boring and you feel you have to punch it up, resist that urge. Just tell them like it is and they might surprise you with a correct diagnosis that you never heard of or never expected. You can't get treated right until you get honest, and this includes about drug and alcohol consumption.


Not op, but I lived with a bipolar patient and had a relative who was schizoaffective, bipolar subtype. It's pretty common for bipolar patients to be misdiagnosed as having depression because mania or hypomania "feels good" and they don't seek treatment until they crash into a depressive episode. Or sometimes the mania just emerges later in life, as the course of the illness can vary and develop over the years, so maybe in the earlier phase it is more mistakable for unipolar depression. Lastly, antidepressants can trigger a manic episode in bipolar patients.


I see a lot of people talking about their bipolar diagnosis that has no or very little manic component. Why call it bipolar then? It's just cyclical major depression.


Because it's not just cyclical major depression (and there's no "just" to major depression either, but that's another rant). The diagnostic criteria for bipolar is that you have had at least one extended episode of mania or hypomania alongside a depressive episode, so you're not going to have the diagnosis unless you've been manic or hypomanic at some point. Although it may not be a major or dominant part of someone's presentation, mania or hypomania is nevertheless there and it effects what treatments are appropriate. Certain SSRI's may trigger off hypomania or mania in a bipolar patient, or simply be utterly ineffective, whereas in someone with cyclical major depression their response would be different. I'm bipolar II and spend roughly 1/4 to 1/3rd of my life meeting the criteria for major depression but very rarely have hypomanic episodes, and this was the case even before I was on lithium. Indeed I've gone for years in between major hypomanic episodes. But hoo boy! When they hit there is no mistaking them.

The other thing is that unlike with depression where you have to squint really hard to see much of an effect from most treatments, there are reasonably effective treatments for mania and hypomania, including good old lithium. So if you're being treated, while you might still suffer from regular bouts of depression, you'll likely have much reduced or even eliminated hypomanic or manic symptoms. So it's not unusual to see manic depressives who are treated showing very few manic symptoms for years on end.


It seems very dangerous to diagnose as such. Perhaps someone gets depressed every three months near end of quarter when their hours get cut?

Once someone demonstrably has issues with mania, yes, sure, I understand wanting to prevent it, but in a lot of cases I see very little separation from actual mania and "I felt good one day" (which if someone were depressed may feel very weird).

There's also strong arguments that one or two manic or hypomanic episodes are not enough evidence for a bipolar diagnosis.


> Perhaps someone gets depressed every three months near end of quarter when their hours get cut?

As someone who's been clinically depressed, your examples seem contrived to me. Are they based on any specific evidence, and if so, would you please share with the group?


Just a small thing, I believe you don't need a depressive episode for a bipolar I diagnosis. For bipolar 2 I think yes.


There are different forms of Bipolar the most publicly known form is BP1 with Psychosis or what people call the manic component. People with BP2 (they never get really manic or get psychosis) have episodes that are called Hypomania which are debilitating for some even more than manic episodes. Here is a nice chart at how these hypomania episodes feel. https://imgur.com/a/9d0MrnD


I find it quite hard to not feel like I've lived or felt many of the symptoms on the second column.

Yet, when I searched for help the diagnosis seemed rushed and I decided not to take lithium. Years later after much therapy a new psi prescribed me an SSRI. It did wonders to my anxiety and subsided the thoughts of taking my life. But the main motivational problems persist.

Now I'm convinced to stop taking them because they make me kinda numb. It's like I miss crying or taking some issues as serious and important.

Then a question arises: just from taking SSRIs these two years and not going nuts, does that prove I'm not bipolar?


You don't have to go nuts to be bipolar. If you are not going manic I would look to see if you had self destructive tendencies in your past like quitting a job on a whim, getting erratic with your friends over nothing etc. If you have them combined with some of the other symptoms of the chart I would speak with a pdoc. Here is a great video describing the differences https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7vf5HJxaQ


No, SSRI work well in a number of BP2 cases.

Apparently yours do not quite work well enough, since you seem to be describing aboulia, which is a depression symptom.


The diagnoses is most of the time not that easy. I was diagnosed really early with 16 after a suicide attempt with 13. I was diagnosed with MDD and ADHD at the time and the SSRI and amphetamines stimmed me right into my first manic episode with psychosis. If you are BP 1 and have psychosis while in a manic episode the diagnosis comes pretty fast. If you are BP 2 the diagnosis can be a lot harder because most of the time when people come out of a depressive episode they just feel "normal" before spiraling and getting erratic when in hypomania.


One of the differentials is that SSRIs generally send you into a manic or even psychotic state rather than a “baseline”.


Depression can also manifest in different ways. One way is anger, frustration, and anxiety. My wife’s depression was like this. She would come home from work, find one thing wrong with our apartment - there were dirty dishes in the sink, the clothes hadn’t been folded - and get angry with me for not having taken care of it.

The fact that I had cooked dinner and mopped the floors didn’t count.

She was angry with me probably 33-50% of the time. For about a year I tried to get out ahead of all the chores. But that’s impossible. Finally I realized that this wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t a bad partner. This was something in her head.

I could actually watch in real time as her own brain gaslit her. I’d pay her a compliment — “that dress looks nice” — and see a perceptible lag as her brain figured out how to turn it into an insult — “your other dresses aren’t nice.”

Eventually she recognized something was wrong and got help, but it took a couple of years. She is a completely different person now.

If you are the partner of a depressed person, your primary responsibility is to yourself. You have to stay sane. THEN, if you can, you can support and help your partner. But if you lose your own mental health you’re pretty much done.


My wife does this too. Granted, I’m diagnosed with ADHD, but when it comes to chores I’m kind of battle-hardened and quite diligent. I found trying to get ahead of chores very demoralizing and exhausting.

My wife hasn’t found a solution yet. She will sleep in until 11 on a weekend and get out of bed only to get upset with what hasn’t yet been done. She does very little with herself outside of work.

Like your wife, any compliment is actually an insult. That sort of dynamic definitely complicates kindling or maintaining romance.

I remind myself that it’s worse for her than it is for me. I’m also grateful for the challenges it has presented because in many ways, it has made me a better person.

I do wish she was happier. For her sake and for our kid’s sakes. Life isn’t always happy though, and it all takes work. Relationships take work. With the right framing and patience these things can be worked through.

Your last point about maintaining your own mental health really is key, though. I’ve crossed that line several times and essentially developed my own depression. It’s very dangerous.

I’ve found it very helpful to reflect on what I contribute, how hard I’m working towards my duties as a partner, and how my actions meet my intentions and so on. When I can honestly tell myself I’m doing well, just about the best I can manage, I let things slide. If it’s all I can do and it isn’t good enough for someone else, I’ll still reward myself for my efforts and let the depressive ire slide off my back. Most importantly though I’ll recognize my own efforts and make sure I don’t allow myself to be pulled into thinking it isn’t good enough.


Hmm, one of my past girlfriends (we had a very long term relationship) was like this. I left her.

I think I did the right thing when I read through all the comments in this thread.


The whole "I need to do better because I have ADHD" thing sounds like a narrative she uses to gaslight you into being her slave.

All the focus in your post is on your duties, not on hers.

I obviously don't know your relationship from the inside, but I experienced similar and it was relief to get away from it.


You might be onto something. I know my friends and family hate to watch it, and my gut feelings often contradict my eventual actions. I know there are unhealthy elements at play, and I'm guilty of perpetuating some of it. These relationships aren't one sided.

I think a major complication is that she's somewhat manic in that she has highs and lows. Her lows are extremely low. When she's higher though, she can be very pleasant, kind, good to her family, etc.

I find it very difficult to nail down who she is on that spectrum, or where she might eventually land between those states, and how I can judge her or my decisions based on how things fluctuate so much.

The word gaslighting is absolutely accurate, though. She does this a lot and I wish she didn't. I'm vulnerable to it because I tend to blame myself and hesitate to engage in confrontation when I'm uncertain of myself.


Whatever your faults, and I'm sure you have some, gaslighting is abuse and you shouldn't put up with it.

If you don't have kids, you should leave her. People's characters don't usually change or improve.


We do have kids. If we didn't, I suspect I would have moved on my now. Perhaps she would have too.

There's an interesting set of perspectives around this type of problem in psychology. Whether you look at popular moderns like Alain de Botton, Jordan Peterson, ancient philosophers, religion, etc. there is a recurring theme that commitment to a person matters, and without it, things kind of fall apart.

I find this interesting and compelling. I don't expect life to be easy, and I think welcoming and anticipating challenges is very healthy. This sort of problem does straddle boundaries that I find difficult to define, though. At which point is enough enough? When do we decide the commitment is no longer warranted? How "easy" should a relationship be? If I leave, will I be foolish for seeking anything different?

Not to drag this on - I find the topic very fascinating for both personal and more general reasons. This is a problem I believe a lot of us face. If I can't sove it for myself, I'd be happy to understand it better if only to serve my friends or children eventually.

> People's characters don't usually change or improve.

I wish you were wrong, but this does seem to generally be true. There are exceptions of course, but it seems inadvisable to ever hope for it to happen. It takes incredible work, and it's work that a lot of people don't have the knowledge or tools to understand or work with. Personal growth is perhaps one of the greater challenges in life.

Anyway, thanks for the discourse. I appreciate the advice. I should make apoint to look out for myself more when I sense gaslighting is occurring.


Good luck to you.


Every piece of this rings so true to my own experience. My wife suffers clinical depression. It has been no joke the biggest challenge of my entire life.

When it is under control, life is great. When it's not, it's not. We've been through many meds and doctors and therapists.

We're in a decently stable place right now, but there's always a fear in the back of my mind "but for how long". Her previous meds worked for years and then just... Stopped. There was also the "fun" 6 months where she decided she didn't need then anymore - spoilers, she did.

We're currently quarantining because we both caught COVID over Christmas. We've both been sick for a solid week at this point and the cracks are kind of showing.

All this is to say you're not alone, and there are others. Hold in there.

Addendum: I’ve looked for like online support for people in this sort of relationship and come up largely short. I looked at BetterHelp but couldn’t really justify the cost. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear it.


I have a relative, who, every three or four years, decided that this time her bipolar disorder really was cured! And so she’d stop taking her medication and feel really, really good for a few months. And then the inevitable crash happened and she spent a few months in hospital.

The last time was different though. In her seventies, her body couldn’t take the strain again. And now she’s in a long term care facility for dementia, probably for the rest of her life — fortunately close for her husband. Moral of the story: if you want to go off your meds, make sure a doctor is keeping an eye on you. No matter how good the good times feel.


Mania affects judgement, sometimes severely. Bipolar people go off their meds because they think things will be better without them. Doctors put them on meds in the first place. I don’t think the advice of “just follow the plan” is going to work.

It took me years to get to real stability and meds still suck. The only reason I haven’t gone off my meds is I’m both high-functioning and very used to managing chronic medical problems. I know how to work with my Psychiatrist to manage my own medical care and decide what is and isn’t acceptable to me.


> Moral of the story: if you want to go off your meds, make sure a doctor is keeping an eye on you. No matter how good the good times feel.

It might just not work with bipolar. If bipolar person go manic, then reckless behavior, overconfidence, and unlimited optimism may beat any moral of this kind.


> online support for people in this sort of relationship

For sociological reasons that bear discussion, there is very little support for men in this situation. You may need to depend heavily on strong, close friends and family members. There is rarely a village to support a modern marriage.

Do not isolate yourself.

A relationship can be good or bad or some kind of stable compromise. When things go sour, one has to take a hard look at the risk to oneself in trying to personally support another person whom the psychiatric field may or may not be able to help. Then there is also the sunken cost of marriage, with home, children, and economic risks.

If I may offer a final personal observation... by the time you feel you are hurt by the situation, you have been hurting for a long time and worse than you realised.

Sincere best wishes to you!


Going to take a different, probably controversial perspective on this. (But this is my pseudo anon account so whatever;)

I had a similar thing happen with my long time girlfriend, 5+ years. She had a rough childhood and covid measures eventually made her suicidal as we graduated college. Eventually she got treatment, and is doing better (yay!).

This is all great other than the meds have now evened her out too much. She’s a totally different person and antidepressants have some side effects that have effected us.

Even if the meds are good for you, and they probably are, it was difficult to adjust to a whole new person after so long. I could even see either the side effects or who she is now ending our relationship.

We’re working on it, but i think in part the meds messed with our dynamic.


To affirm you experience, the meds can most certainly have the effects you are witnessing. There’s a few gems of the stories told in Dopamine Nation including of the author that touch on this topic about antidepressants and the side effects. It’s worth having her dose and medication examined much closer by the right professional in your country (I’m in the US and know the system best here). If you need any help navigating, I’m pretty easy to get in touch with and happy to help point you and/or your partner in the right direction along with any supplemental information that may help.


> have some side effects that have effected us.

I assume part of this is the typical effect that she now has almost no libido


To be fair, depression has enough of an effect on libido on its own


Including the effect of lifting it up to unhealthy levels.


Wow, I went trough exactly the same thing. Even the examples were eerily similar: a couple dirty dishes on the sink would turn into an argument. A minor positive comment was an insult that would totally ruin her day.

I'm surprised by how many people go trough the same. This seems to be more widespread that one would assume.


I commend you on getting through that with her. What you describe sounds exactly like a subset of the behavior my ex-wife demonstrated, but she refused to acknowledge that she needed help and it ended in a very bad divorce. Takes a lot of mutual strength to work through all of that together.


I went through the exact same thing, except with a girlfriend not a wife. 100% agree that it’s important to keep your own mental health strong before you can help them. But that is exceptionally hard when they are trying to bring you down to their state at every opportunity.


They are not "trying to bring you down to their state" just as much as a person on a wheelchair is not trying to make you go around slowly.


I think this is a "misery loves company" sort of thing. When you're depressed you don't want people to try to help you be happier, and you don't really want to be happier in a deep sense - you want them to be depressed with you so you feel less alone. I think the fair analogy here would be someone in a wheelchair trying to get other people to use wheelchairs so they have someone to share the difficulty with.


That's a pretty bad take, in my opinion. Having spent the majority of my life in one level of depression or another, I don't say negative things and have a generally negative outlook because I want to drag other people down, it's just how everything looks to me[0]. You trying to cheer me up sounds to me like a salesman bullshitting me[1]. I know people don't like this, which is one reason I generally avoid other people when I'm at my worst. Seriously, if I'm avoiding you and you don't want to deal with negativity just leave me alone already. Don't ask about my day and get pissy because I tell you the (very negative) truth, unless you're just exchanging pleasantries and are ok with me straight up lying to you.

[0] There's an argument to be made for depressive realism that would say I'm pointing out how things really are, but I'm not going to make it because there's also thousands of years of philosophy that makes a compelling argument for reality not being so easy to pin down anyway.

[1] It occurs to me that the seemingly increasing rate of depression in a lot of developed nations may be due, like almost all of society's ills, to advertising. Advertising confronts us constantly trying to get us to do things we don't want to do, namely spending money on shit we don't need, and so we develop a defense mechanism. That mechanism takes the form of a contrarian inner voice that argues against the bullshit advertisement telling you you'll be happy if only you buy whatever it is it is selling, but the contrarian voice doesn't have an off switch and recognizes all the little sales pitches of every day life as a threat too.


Maybe I'm implying too much intentionality but that's not how I meant it. I'm not trying to say anyone truly _wants_ it to happen - just that it happens one way or another, whether subconsciously or as a second-order effect of something else.

I think we're in agreement that a depressed person generally doesn't want to be cheered up and won't be receptive to it, so you can be positive as much as you want and it won't do much.

I've been on both sides of this, and as the depressed person it seems most helpful to remember that I need to put in the extra effort to try to be positive especially when I don't want to. And as the partner it's helpful to remember that you need to create some separation so you don't get too pulled in and then are unable to help in any way.


This narrative is provably false and harmful (and insulting) to people with any mental illness.

Psychologist has been fighting such social stigmas for decades.


Do you have a source? This is coming from how I feel when depressed so at least for me it is definitely not false. But that's just anecdotal and I don't have any studies to back it up. Just on intuition I have a hard time believing a depressed person would rather be surrounded by happy people they won't be able to relate to, then they would to have someone to share and talk about the bad feelings they're both experiencing.

I'd also add that (again maybe just for me) it's a way more helpful way to view it. It helps me recognize when I need to just go through the motions of being positive until I can get back to doing it naturally. It usually feels a lot better in the moment to focus on the negatives but somewhere in my head I know that's not going to help me.


This rings true.

> But if you lose your own mental health you’re pretty much done.

Happened to me. I started the relationship with zeal and willingness to help. I wished to make a difference, yet it can be incredibly taxing one one's emotions. You can very much be affected yourself.


I am in the same situation, for for word.

> But if you lose your own mental health you’re pretty much done.

I sometimes feel I am at the edge of this then somehow I do some work I am happy with, see a friend, ride a bike or go for a swim and I am back from the edge. The gas-lighting is sometimes so surreal I am speechless.


If you are the partner of a depressed person, your primary responsibility is to yourself. You have to stay sane. THEN, if you can, you can support and help your partner. But if you lose your own mental health you’re pretty much done.

This paragraph reminded me of the advice given regarding oxygen masks on planes. If you can't breathe, you're of no use to anyone, so sort out your own mask before helping others, etc. The fact they have to keep reminding us of this, though, is perhaps a demonstration that this doesn't come naturally to many.


God this sounds like my life right now. I’m glad your wife got help. How did you keep positive and healthy? And how did your wife come to see the problem?


In our particular case - she was a horse girl and earned a veterinary degree. When she started seeing our wonderful collie as a burden, she finally realized something was seriously wrong.

That understates what happened. She started wishing the dog would just go die.

That finally brought home to her that her thinking had dramatically changed and that it wasn't just situational, e.g. it wasn't that I was lazy. This is incredibly specific to our situation and I'm sure it doesn't help anyone else.

But the takeaway for us was that she had a come-to-Jesus moment that made her realize this was her problem, and she needed outside help. She did not realize she had clinical depression until that moment.

It helped that I was in graduate school and had a very supportive set of people around me. They valued me and let me know it.

As stated elsewhere on this thread - there aren't a lot of support options available for men in this situation.


> And how did your wife come to see the problem?

Making someone "see the problem" is missing the point entirely. Firstly because often, people with depression are fully aware of how they are treating people. They simply can't help it.

Your role as a partner is to love and support them. You also, however, need to prioritize your own mental health and happiness. There is an extremely common relationship 'trap,' one I've lived through. You are in a relationship that is causing you personal distress and unhappiness -- but your love of the other person makes you feel trapped. You can see how much they are struggling, and can't bear to hurt them -- often because you are afraid of what may happen if you leave.

When you love someone with a debilitating illness, mental or otherwise, you need to decide whether you can accept the other person as they are. If you can, then you have to do that, and choose to stay with the person precisely as they are -- while having and enforcing healthy boundaries. If you cannot -- and often times there are extremely good and valid reasons why you cannot -- then you owe it to both of you to discuss this and potentially end the relationship. Sometimes such a conversation can be the spark of change for the other person, but often times it isn't, and that's okay. Staying in a relationship that is making you miserable is doing no one any benefit.

It's a supreme challenge with depression, but you cannot allow the depression your partner experiences to affect your own emotional health. The best tool for this is something called "loving detachment." I'd recommend you read about it, and about the concept of co-dependency in general(*). It was a life saver for me.

The worst relationship mistake you can make (after the obvious choices like affairs or so on) is being in a relationship with a mirage. Too many people have a false ideal of their partner -- their partner after they've been "cured" or "fixed" or "realized the problem" or "got clean" or whatever. You cannot have "you must change" as a condition of the relationship. Either the person will change or they won't, but staying in a relationship where you expect the other person will change is controlling and damaging. Are you in love with the person? Or with a made-up vision of the person you have in your head? Remember that love is unconditional.

The best thing I did in my relationship was spend a year (I'm not exaggerating) thinking about the realities of the situation, the options I had, the way my life could end up whether I stayed or leaved, and so on. It was an extremely difficult time and required the help of therapists, both personally and as a couple. In order to do this properly you need to admit divorce as a possible end -- and I don't mean the empty threats of divorce many of us make. For instance, the hardest session I ever had was when my personal therapist pushed me to walk through a concrete plan for leaving. Where would I go? Who would I tell? How would we split up our possessions? And so on. Making the possibility real is extremely important. In order to not feel trapped, you need to fully believe that leaving is an option.

In the end, the decision I made for myself was that I could accept my wife as she was. Almost immediately my mental wellbeing improved drastically. I no longer felt trapped. My wife's depression did not magically become cured, but I learned how to detach from it and be a good partner while protecting my own health.

In the years since, my improved wellbeing and happiness has slowly but surely helped turn the relationship around. Her depression is still not cured, but now I know how to be a good partner for her, which has in fact helped her to a large degree. She now trusts me as someone she can turn to for help, rather than viewing me as someone who was taking her mental health personally (which I was definitely doing). In the end, this is thing most spouses don't want to realize -- it's you that has to change, not your partner with depression, whether that means leaving the relationship because it can't and won't work, or learning to love them as they are.

(*) It can be really easy for spouses to take suggestions like this personally. I know I did. Being called co-dependent by the couples therapist felt like a full scale assault. How dare he say that I'M the one with a problem!! Doesn't he know what I've BEEN through?? What I was missing is that he was telling me that to help me. Learning about co-dependency -- and how to overcome it -- was the most liberating thing I've ever felt.


> The best tool for this is something called "loving detachment." I'd recommend you read about it, and about the concept of co-dependency in general

Do you have any resources that you'd care to recommend? I've found it challenging to find good resources. I find recommendations like the one in this article, "just listen", to be profoundly unhelpful.


This is the best comment in the thread. So many people are in love with "the person when they aren't depressed." But that isn't the whole person. Depression is not something "happening" to a person, it is part of them (I say this as someone with depression and general anxiety disorder). That's not to say I don't work to improve my lot. I take medication, meditate, etc. But it is always there. It always will be. Thankfully, I have a loving partner who understands that. It's not always easy on her, of course, but she knows that it is part of who I am.


Similar experience here. Though my ex was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder on top of the clinical depression. Regular psychologist and psychiatrist visits and a scary amount of meds to take each day.

I've got a lot of empathy for people in relationships like this. It's not easy and even though there's help and medication, it still ends up being an up hill battle.

I myself have been struggling with Dysthymia since my teenage years so you can imagine how fun that experience was with her.

I tried everything with her to change her outlook on certain things, find ways to distract her mind, finding coping mechanism etc. Nothing worked, though I think she might not have wanted to get better in a sense. Having 5+ hour long arguments every day about things that weren't logical finally broke me. My Dysthymia turned into full on depression. For months I'd tell her that I'm going to bed praying I wouldn't wake up - hoping that she'd find better ways for managing things... I just eventually tapped out and had to leave.

So yeah, I have loads of empathy for people in similar situations. Just remember that you can leave. If you've done all you've could, no one will blame you. Some people just aren't meant to be in relationships or need a lot of help before getting into one.


This and all the comments with similar experiences really just put a negative light on marriage.


Marriage is spending your life with someone else. Life has it's good and bad, just like marriage. You can decide for yourself what you are willing to do deal with and what you aren't, but "marriage" isn't the issue.


...to a mentally ill person.

Marriage means you share your spouse's life and well-being. Often for better, sometimes for worse.


My mother has often said that “a parent is only ever as happy as their least happy child”. I think the same sentiment holds true for marriages.


I'm surprised to see so many other commenters in this same situation. Thanks for posting this, and I hope things work out for the best


(Before anything: sorry if that nessage comes accross as insensitive, this is not the purpose. More on this at the end)

Your situation sounds like the textbook description of depression as caused by "mental distortions" from proponents of CBT. Did your wife consult a CBT practitioner, and did this help?

I am in no way trying to say I know the solution to your (past) problems, but CBT is sometimes described in a bit too enthusiastic terms by its proponents, and your story sounds like an opportunity to get anecdotal evidence on how much it might actually work in practice. In particular TEAM-CBT proponents claim to be able to cure depression in a session (and then continue to accompany the person through the innevitable relapses). I love their very data-oriented approach, but find it too good to be 100% true.


I have recently read through the book, "Feeling Good" by David Burns, which is regarded as one of the better books on CBT.

It helped me a lot, in particular in dealing with thoughts something like what the OP's partner apparently had. It has great strategies for first recognizing, and then dealing with such thoughts. They're not "just feel better" ideas, they're specific things to do which help.

Highly recommended.


I read it as well, and also listened to his podcast (which is where I learned about "TEAM-CBT", his supposedly highly effective new approach). The concepts and arguments in the book (and podcast) make total sense to me, but the _way_ it is presented is sounds more like snake-oil marketing than science, which is why I am interested in learning about its effectiveness on severe forms of depression from independent sources.


Yeah, I understand that feeling. I guess I sort of viewed it as a nerd just way too excited about something they think is cool...


So was she diagnosed with depression or what? Main part is missing from the anecdote.


Yes. Eventually. SSRIs saved our marriage.


A major point is that a diagnosis is often missing from the anecdote because there is not one. The main part is the depression.


Without a diagnosis, it wouldn't be clear that such irritability and being confrontational/angry is the result of depression and not something else.


I think the overarching message with this post is right on whenever you are talking to someone who is struggling: listen, love, and don't judge. A hug is much better than a suggestion on how the family member can "fix" themselves.

I also want to put a plug in for dogs. I have struggled with depression on and off in my life, and two years ago I adopted a dog I saw being abused in the street. She was just a little puppy, and I absolutely did not want anything to do with raising a dog at the time, but I felt I had no choice. I picked her up and took her home.

Since then I have not been able to sleep past 7am in the morning without these two little eyes staring me down. But it is wonderful. She gives me relentless love every day, and she gave my life a really healthy structure it desperately needed. We go on walks three times a day looking for her doggy friends. I spent a lot more time in nature, because she doesn't give a damn for computers or video games. I know even some people look down on me for how much I love my dog, but they have no idea what I was like before. This dog saved my ass.

Now it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to just lie in bed, and that is a great thing, not a bad thing.


Just want to say that dogs are not a magical panacea. I've seen them make life worse for depressed people (many dogs have behavioral problems that a depressed person is not equipped to deal with). If you're on the fence about taking on the responsibility of pet ownership, I'd lean towards the side of not getting one.

Some of the problems I've seen with people who've adopted dogs:

1) One dog got scared by a loud firework and now runs home from walks at any sudden sound, and won't even go out at all in many conditions, leading to great stress.

2) One dog has separation anxiety and shits everywhere if left alone too long.

3) One dog owner is depressed and doesn't walk her little dog, instead relying on wee wee pads, but the dog ignores them so the apartment is disgusting.

4) One has to wear a muzzle and chain harness on every walk and only the husband can walk him, since he goes berserk if he sees other dogs.

Etc. And all except number 3 above are people who are good with dogs, did everything you're supposed to do, consulted with trainers, etc. Look at the Biden's dog, Hunter - all the money in the world for training, a patient family and they couldn't fix his issues.

And then there's people out there who blame the owner/blame the victim when a dog makes the owner's life worse. "You must be just doing something wrong."

So again, if you're depressed, you might get lucky with a dog, but don't blame yourself if you have to rehome it.


Unfortunately going through a situation with a dog now which has led me deep into depression again. My dog which I adopted 4 months ago has resource guarding issues which has caused him to bite me and my roommates multiple times, and has unfortunately led to an ultimatum from my roommates which I got yesterday that its either me or the dog.

I have tried for months working with the dog and spent thousands on training and tools to try and train him out of his resource guarding issues with no success. It looks like I have very little choice except to have him go back to the rescue I got him from, as moving is out of the question with how much housing costs in my area (I live in a house a good friend owns and I'm paying under market rates right now), let alone even if I moved out I would have difficulty finding any roommates who would tolerate a dog which bites.

The dog has been a great companion and I love him, but having to let him go has made me feel absolutely horrible, and I feel the worst I have in years now.


You're making the only and right choice. If the shelter or anyone else guilts you about it, fuck them.


Thank you. I'm happy to say though that the rescue I got him from was understanding, and he is now at the same foster home he was at before I adopted him. They assured me they will find him a good home. It still really stings, but I can at least rest assured he is in good hands


For these reasons, I recommend cats for those who can't deal with a dog's needs. Cats give no less love than a dog, and much easier to maintain and keep happy.

Cats aren't perfect for someone who's not home for a long portion of the day, or who likes going out too much, though I Assume someone with depression doesn't go out much to begin with.


Small polite correction:

Hunter Biden is one of Joe Biden's sons from his first wife.

The German Shepherds are named Major and Champ.


Thanks, too late to edit but appreciated!


Hilarious. I was so confused at why anyone would name a dog after someone in the family.

I was already running through my head a scenario like on King of the Hill where Hank Hill's father, Cotton, decides to name his newborn son Hank and refers to him as "Good Hank".


Dogs are amazing. I found mine on the street too, though she would wait for me to get up before she came over to play, she never woke me up. Now she's an old lady with hearing problems, but she's still amazing and super smart.

https://youtu.be/COIVkkHxNR0


Don’t have much to add but that’s an adorable dog.


Thank you! She really is.


I ‘borrowed’ my friends dog when I was going through some darker times in my life during a burnout. We went for long walks every day for a few weeks and feel that it helped out tremendously. Without that forced structure I would have prolonged my suffering, probably starring at the ceiling ruminating on the same thoughts all day long. It worked for me, it worked out for the dog and it worked out for my friends whose time and attention was largely taken by their child. Likewise, my mother was forced to adopt a dog in a similar fashion as you, she wasn’t eager to get a dog but in hindsight she’s benefitted greatly from it, phisically and emotionally.


I like down on people who look down on animal lovers.

The love you get from animals (dogs, cats, etc...) is pure. These creatures are incapable of malice and wrong, and their desires are simple.

Accordingly, Animals (and children) are the only creatures to which I can give unconditional love.


Having helped a person through a severe depressive episode that lasted many months, I have to say there is a lot more to it than this article suggests. Sometimes I had to talk and not listen, because I needed my partner to eat for the first time that day, or needed to coerce them to keep their doctor or therapy appointments because if they didn't, they would rapidly end up disconnected from any professional care.

I found that their disposition came in waves and would be worse for a few days and better for a few days, and during those better days we could work together on damage control from all the bedridden days, and discuss different treatment options to pursue. But even during the worst days, I still needed to get them to eat, or stop them from wandering off in the middle of the night, or get them to call back their panicked family member. It was hard work.


Thank you for pointing this out! I really appreciate people talking and being open about this topic and discussions/threads like these. But with this topic, generalization in general is pretty hard. With mental illnesses there are so much individual conditions, personal history/socialization, charachter etc. playing into it, that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this.

Coping with depression and similar with others is a very individual task and just like you said, different situations and characters call for dealing with it very specifically.


The biggest respect for your hard work (as well for the person that you helped, of course). This article kind of suggested that it contains advice for the people that provide care, but it still misses their personal perspective and what they can do to care for themselves. It is often also especially hard to find advice for people who become caregivers in a relationship that is not inherited / biological but rather voluntary.

I hope you had a good network of people to support you during that time, as well.


Yeah sorry. I’m not going to just listen. A lot of the time you need to push them to take the next step because they are STUCK.

Go exercise, eat some healthy food, take your damn meds, try new meds, try ketamine if suicidal, try psilocybin if treatment resistant.

But coddling depression just drags it out longer and digs the spiral deeper. Yes, it is a disease which means it needs to be treated.


Glad to see this, as someone who has almost only been with people with depression, this article was a very aggressive "You're not doing enough, you're doing it wrong, you're not trying hard enough, you should be doing better" which is hypocritical. The post did not come from a place of compassion or support, but entitlement. This article doesn't understand how hard it is to listen to hours, days, months, years of a person you care about constantly speaking of ending their life. "Just Listen" may be good advice for the first 50 hours or so, but after that is absolutely not a productive suggestion.

All of those with depression who I have been with do a combination of:

- Sleep small amounts of absurd hours

- Eat junk foods

- Spend all their time on video games, YouTube, TV shows, social media

- No exercise

- Take substances such as caffeine or other recreational drugs

And it is indeed coddling that has gotten them to this point. The general response may be "It is so easy for you to say and do", but it really isn't easy for anyone.

With an increase in people who either identify as or are diagnosed with depression, they have continued to claw at other aspects to blame, and it's now shifting to blaming "loved ones" for "failing" them.


This honestly just sounds like you dislike modern society and have serious misgivings about what mental illness does to people. Your list of behaviors illustrates this:

- Sleep small amounts of absurd hours A small amount of research will let you know this isn't necessarily a sign of depression, even if you witness it in others. Many folks sleep entirely too much instead. Not only that, but this is easily something other life things do: Having an infant, for example, or working long hours at a stressful job or having a health issue. Heck, if you only see them once a month, a woman's hormone cycle could do this.

- Eat junk foods Sometimes, but that's because depression robs folks of energy and motivation. Junk food is better than nothing at all. But more to the point, it is really common for normal folks to eat junk food. Just have a busy schedule or live in the Midwest.

- Spend all their time on video games, YouTube, TV shows, social media This isn't a sign of depression because it is normal in society. Signs point to such folks spending the time differently.

- No exercise So, basically normal. Exercise isn't a cure-all, and not everyone can afford things like safe areas outdoors nor proper shoes.

- Take substances such as caffeine or other recreational drugs Coffee sells really well, as does tea. I'm awfully sure that this isn't a sign of depression. I'll add that loads of folks take recreational drugs - most popularly, pot/hash and alcohol - that aren't mentally ill.

It doesn't matter if it isn't easy for you: Depression makes those things more difficult. No one said it was easy.


What you've highlighted isn't incorrect, but we'd be missing the forest for the trees if we were just to only focus on each individual aspect of depression.

Exercise is required to be a human. Walking 10,000 steps each day is a good rule of thumb, it doesn't require proper shoes, or any equipment. Many people will get there just through their day-to-day activities. If that's unachievable, there are games like Ring Fit which are very accommodating.

Sleep is required to be a human. 7-8 hours a day. It doesn't need to be all at once, but it is so important not to devalue those restorative hours.

Food is required to be a human. Our gut biome is instrumental to cognitive well-being; our brain requires Omega-3 fatty acids which can not be produced within our body, and important vitamins such as D, B-12, iron, etc. are often not available in many processed foods (which is why many are becoming fortified!)

Lacking in all the above is co-emergent depression, as well as a recipe for systemic health issues.


I can't believe you're trying to justify and normalize that entire list. It literally means you ignore every basic function of your body, and consequently your mind.

It's a zombie lifestyle. Exercise isn't a cure-all because reasons and people have no shoes. What!?


They are normal, though. It doesn't mean folks are ignoring everything, it means they are normal. And honestly, I could argue about the abnormality of exercise since our ancestors weren't spending daily time running for the sake of running. The comment about shoes was displaying that folks have different sorts of battles to get these things done - more offering an alternative to the status you gave folks that do these things.

If you don't like it, don't do it. It doesn't make other's lifestyle less normal.


I'm assuming we're referring to the parent comment which lists a combination of these behaviors, as well as doing each into the extremes.

Barely sleeping and only eating junkfood. Spending time only on games.

Surely you understand that exercise is an invention to compensate for our passive lifestyles that require far less physical activity? Does this really have to be explained?


> Glad to see this, as someone who has almost only been with people with depression

I would gently suggest you spend some time thinking about this. What makes you seek out relationships with depressed people?

I say this because I was in a similar life situation. Examining the question I just asked you very deeply helped me to a place of significant improvement for my own wellbeing.

> it's now shifting to blaming "loved ones" for "failing" them.

I didn't get this from the article at all. I think you are feeling some defensiveness, which is normal, but still.

> This article doesn't understand how hard it is to listen to hours, days, months, years of a person you care about constantly speaking of ending their life.

That's because -- as difficult as this is to accept -- in these situations the right thing to do is to leave the relationship.

I would (again, gently) suggest you research codependency. Doing so would be for your own health and happiness. I know when a therapist first called me codependent it felt like an aggressive attack; I took it extremely personally. I hope you don't feel the same. Just trying to help a fellow HNer.


> - Eat junk foods

Isn’t that a side effect of lazyness?

> - Spend all their time on video games, YouTube, TV shows, social media

And loneliness?

> - Take substances such as caffeine or other recreational drugs

Doesn’t everyone drink caffeine? Asking seriously. I am depressed but I believe computer addiction sucks my liveliness, fortunately with programming instead of gaming, so I was able to make a career out of it, but it’s been the bane of my life. I prefer caffeine because it bumps my mood and I can still do sports, as opposed to meds which cut my libido and break my will to do sports and make me want to eat fat (so basically cuts my manliness), but could caffeine be the cause of anything and do most people do without?

After 39 years old, I just conclude people hate people who work and invent values to break our life (preferring some people to others, celebrating other people’s deeds (meanwhile I’ve donated thousands to charities, in hours and money, who cares?), now locking us down with covid psychosis, it sounds very fun to them), I’m done trying to better myself, ideology of favouring the weakest turns into hating the “rich” and plain bullying. If the world didn’t revolve around making our life difficult, people like me wouldn’t spend our life at work and they wouldn’t be able to fund their awful “social” (social but not me) projects. The economy of the nation revolves on stable bullying.


I enjoy the coffee experience. Fitness people seem to enjoy the euphoria of Gyms and exercise. So that whole thing seems out of left field for me.

BUT, we generally need to eat a lot better, exercise more, spend less time on TV for the sake of wasting time..

But i can't generalize it all. There are lots of computer games that exercise the mind, relieve stress, offer creativity like nothing before. Minecraft is that for me - from the music to the expressiveness and the simple joy of playing.

I watch a lot of youtube videos on making music, improving my coding/development skills and history... so its not like i'm just wasting my time there.. but i have to do it in the right doses and not ignore my family/day to day life

so it's all about balance

and its so hard to balance when you work 40 hours a week, have a family, have kids and have dependencies that playing a game for 3 hours on friday is nothing compared to the rest of it.

And that's what causes the depression/burnout i see...


I’m one of the happiest, most fit people I know and I do not drink caffeine because it consistently affected my sleep.


Blaming people suffering from mental illness for not finding the energy to exercise, sleep and eat healthy and socialize.

Your whole post is an example of failing them.


Going through a pretty rough time mentally and I just came here to say that I concur. My sleep's out of whack, have been eating too much junk since mid-December, too much consumption and no creation, avoidance of work, the stress of piled up work and still not doing anything about it, haven't regularly exercised since 2-3 months now, daily caffeine intake.

Everything feeds into everything. It has become a vicious cycle. I'm trying to break out of it but somehow I fail everyday. Commenting in hopes of moving the needle by re-iterating it to myself.


I know exactly how you feel and have been there. It's important to adjust your thinking from "I need to break out of it and I keep failing" to celebrating the individual moments you succeed. One day at a time, as it were. Don't think "I need to start exercising regularly" just do something, go for a walk, lift weights, etc. Don't worry if you are going to do it tomorrow or the next day. You did it today. Good habits aren't things that "start" they occur because you just did something today, and you happened to do it the next, etc. until you just do it because it's a habit now.

I know it's hard, and I have to remind myself of the same things all the time. But I'm successful when I get out of my head and start acting.


It is a fine balance. Sometimes you'll need to push someone, but sometimes that push will make them feel worse while not actually changing anything.

What I've learned is that there are no general easy solutions on how to deal with someone that is depressed. Even when someone says "X worked for me", you might find that it only worked because other things they did brought them to a stage where they were ready to accept X and it could work for them.

The only real advice I can give is that sometimes you'll need to listen, other you'll need to push, sometimes you'll need to listen and wait before you can push, or viceversa. But you'll never really know when to do each or how to do them. Try to get them to a therapist (this can be hard already) that knows what to do and if they need medication, but other than that just be attentive and compassionate. There's no magic solution.


Stop recommending psilocybin if you're not a doctor


self diagnosis casues a lot of our issues in modern society and its sadly turning into a popular thing to do - especially for young women.


[Deleted this as it was obviously unnecessary]


Multiple friends and family members are currently successfully managing their depression. Prior to that multiple weren't able to manage their depression and killed themselves. I had a close friend thank me on her birthday for suggesting ketamine - she said she probably wouldn't be alive without me making her aware of it.


A bit surprised no one's broached this question: At what point is it OK to leave your depressed partner?

I know someone who left his depressed spouse of over 25 years. He loved her and tried to make it work, but eventually chose happiness for himself, for the second half of his life. He left her alone and essentially friendless.

No easy answers there.


I did this. It was, by far, the hardest decision of my life.

Years later I still silently feel guilty beyond anything and wonder deeply if it was the right choice. The reaction of my friends, parents and colleagues was something along the lines of "at last!" as they only saw me as a martyr who always "compromised" and put up with large costs, financially, emotionally, and with no reward other than being yelled at a lot; sleeping on the sofa every night. I felt very, very bad about leaving, but I just could not cope and wondered what would happen for the rest of my life either.

As far as I can tell, my departure promoted her to re evaluate her life, and explore other hobbies and activities. I chose to believe that this has been a net force for good for both parties. I just wish someone would tell me that I did the right thing, and am not a monstrous human, failing a partner in their hour (well, decade) of need.


A relationship is a two party deal. If one party isn't holding up his/her half, for whatever reason, including mental illness, and isn't taking steps to improve, there isn't much to be done. One person alone can't make a relationship work.


As far as I can tell, you tried as much as you could and failed. If you don’t take care of yourself, you now have two people in trouble.

In my book, you did the right thing. (I’m bipolar, if that helps.)


> failing a partner in their hour (well, decade) of need

Genuine question here. What do you mean when you talk about "failing a partner"? It seems like everyone in this type of relationship hesitates to leave because they think they'll damage the other person.

It doesn't sound from what you've written that your partner was doing so well when you were with them. Have you considered that maybe part of the depression was caused by their relationship with you? (Obviously I'm not saying that is the case, but reading your post, you seem to be of the opinion that your relationship was a good thing for your ex-partner.)


"As far as I can tell, my departure promoted her to re evaluate her life, and explore other hobbies and activities. I chose to believe that this has been a net force for good for both parties. "

That has been my experience too when I left my partner.


It sounds like you did the right thing


You did the right thing, as the apparently unanimous consent of every you know indicates.


You did the right thing.


FWIW: I'm genuinely confused that you believe she was better off because you left, yet you feel like a monster and crave some kind of outside validation.


I thought having multiple conflicting emotions/beliefs/desires was like 99% of the human experience and the source of almost all art, philosophy, etc. (I'm being somewhat hyperbolic)


I'm not confused at someone being conflicted about a past action, especially a very hard decision. It also seems rational to hope that any negative consequences were minimal.


I'm an internet stranger. I know nothing of their life but what they have said here and me patting them on the head is unlikely to be of any help.

But sometimes reflecting back to someone what they just said about their own life is helpful for them.

Perhaps not in this case, given the downvotes and pile on of replies.

Anytime you try to help, it risks going sideways. I'm prone to trying anyway.

Chalk it up to longstanding bad habit (insert wry smile).


Easy to come across the wrong way online where if you said the same thing in person with tone and emphasis it may be ok.

I’ve fallen for that trap a few times and so now I even delete comments before posting as if I think “maybe my intent wont come across correctly here”.

I think the problem with the comment (the one starting FWIW) is it comes off a bit sarcastic even if you didn’t mean that.


It's certainly not sarcasm.


Reflecting back might sometimes be useful, but your particular phrasing came across as condemnation. The implication, to my reading, was judgemental: you thought they were appropriately feeling guilty but seeking outside encouragement to reject that feeling. If you're going to try your hand at prodding someone to self reflection, a more encouraging tone may be more useful. Otherwise you risk wounding someone who, in this case, is already struggling with something.


you thought they were appropriately feeling guilty but seeking outside encouragement to reject that feeling.

No, that's not remotely my intent at all.

Most people raise children on either a guilt model or shame model. I raised mine on the basis of enlightened self interest.

Understandably, many people read in accusations of guilt where none exist. They've been trained that way.

I'm only replying in hopes it provides some clarification for the person I originally replied to. I care not at all what others think of me or my motives etc. But I sincerely wish that their takeaway is "You don't need outside validation if you can see with your own eyes that it was for the best." and not "Here is some random internet stranger just adding to your pain because the world is an awful place full of awful people."

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try to clarify that detail.


>No, that's not remotely my intent at all.

Glad to hear that.

>Most people raise children on either a guilt model or shame model. I raised mine on the basis of enlightened self interest.

Glad to hear that too

Understandably, many people read in accusations of guilt where none exist. They've been trained that way.

Could you elaborate on that training? If that's what I'm doing, I'd like to understand the mechanism by which I came to that habit.


It's a set of default mental models that a person gets inculcated with early in life and repeatedly reinforced over many years. There's no quick and dirty cure.

If you want to sort out how you may be projecting guilt (or projecting guilting behavior) onto other people and how that came to be, you might start a journal.

On HN, the guidelines ask that we assume good faith and take a charitable reading. If you work at that, it's a good exercise in how to sort out who is actually bringing their baggage to the conversation and when it is you, yourself, bringing the baggage.

A good rule of thumb is to observe patterns of behavior. Consider the history of the person speaking whom you seek to judge and consider your own patterns.

I sometimes downvote something on HN and then wonder if it's me, if I really have enough info to judge the comment or if I'm being lazy and reactive without adequate info to properly judge it. If I think "I don't really know that they are behaving badly like I think they are. I'm kind of leaping to conclusions here." I will reverse the downvote.

I usually am trying to understand a comment as best I can from their point of view while respecting myself and why I see it that way. Sometimes it's just not worth hashing out.

There isn't enough time in the day to really understand every random internet stranger, their life story, their personal history, their culture. Sometimes it's better to just drop it as the least worst answer I have in an imperfect world and an imperfect life with a limited amount of time on this earth.

There are people who spend years in therapy tracking down the defects in their own patterns of thought. It's not something that typically gets fixed in a "once and done" fashion.

Though sometimes it does get fixed that way. Sometimes just having the right thing said does make a person go "I did not know that about myself (or about how life works)." And they are permanently changed for the better without a lot of drama.

I feel like this is probably what people mean when they speak of seeking enlightenment -- that magical aha! moment that doesn't hurt and makes everything better forever.

Best of luck in your journey.


When somebody says "I choose to believe ___", it means they are not actually convinced of that thing (i.e. that it is hopeful/wishful thinking).

For what it's worth, GP, I think you did the right thing too.


Not GP, but when you really WANT to believe something and are aware of that fact, it can be hard to separate out whether that thing is actually true or if you've just subconsciously convinced yourself it is.


Most of your posts on HN amount to guilting people and accusing them of things, mixed with heavy doses of self-validation. (Earlier today you were starving in a street because of capitalism, no?) So the idea that someone could feel both guilt and relief at the same time shouldn't be foreign territory.


I left a partner who has OCD and probably some other issues that cause massive mood swings and make her do a lot of irrational things. I tried for years to help and be understanding. It never really got better, never ending ending, often self-made problems kept coming and it reached a point where I felt either we go both down or I have to leave. So I left. I feel guilty to some degree but it was also clear that I couldn't help. The interesting part is that me leaving her seems to have woken her up and she has a much better attitude now.

This makes me wonder if putting people with mental problems into a new situation away from family can break some of the negative patterns. My sister used to live with my parents for many years, barely left the home besides for work and in general just hated life. Then she went to a six month stationery treatment and you could see with very visit how she did better. Now she has her own place and an OK life . Maybe family or partners can prolong mental problems? Even if they want to help it's possible they are also contributing to the problem.


As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for decades, huge crises like a partner leaving or getting fired (both due to depression and anxiety) have always forced me to get better at handling my issues. I totally am of the opinion that family, friends, and partners can all be huge enablers of really awful behaviors that feed or even cause mental illness. Not only that, it's not their job to make the sick person better. They can't. Only the person with the issues can learn to address them.

That said, I've also seriously contemplated suicide in all these times of crisis, and I'm guessing a certain percentage of people in this type of situation won't make it through. Whether it's ethical to force them to deal with an even more awful reality in hopes that they'll become stronger is questionable, but I believe it's sometimes necessary, because many people with depression/anxiety don't really live anyway.

I'm personally glad that not everyone tolerated my unhealthy lifestyle and outlook on life, otherwise I'd still be living with my parents without a job and without having seen anything other than the inside of my bedroom.


Kafka's The Metamorphosis explores this a bit. The protag, before the story starts, is relied upon by his mom, dad and sister for everything. Once he becomes a bug they become self sufficient again.


If you consider selling your daughter off for marriage self sufficiency sure.


At the time that was the ideal outcome, a young woman from that time and place would consider it a disaster if they weren't married by age 25.


I’m a left spouse. My mental health was (and is) poor and I didn’t do enough to help myself.

I fully acknowledge why I was left and I’m trying to be better.


There isn’t a right answer here. At some point, you have to take care of yourself. My extended family spent far too many years helping my bipolar uncle.


I'd say: it is okay to leave your depressed partner as long as they're not suicidal at the moment.

Staying just for their sake will be worse in the long run.

I have bipolar depression.


Dido wrote the song "Quiet Times" about this topic..

"Now I miss you,

Now I want you,

But I can't have you,

Even when you're here"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOd-rz8lDXQ&list=PLhMrEC5L8T...


Wow, that's a great song. Thanks for sharing that.


I think it is also very difficult to decide when enough is enough for the partner. Someone close to me went through this, and there comes a point where you have to be honest and ask yourself: "Do I want to live like this for another 5-10 years?", "Do I want my children to learn that this is the normal?". Or, is it time to look ahead, find a partner that adds energy to your and your children's life. Love can be strong but is it worth everything? What are you teaching your children when you stay, what do you offer them when you leave? Is leaving too much selfishness or are you just suffering with 3 instead of 1?

I wonder how people with depression think about this? Do they themselves at some point think: "Please, go on without me?" Sure, they do when they want to commit suicide, that is their rationale, but can you also say: Go on, be happy while I work this out on my own? Or is the tunnel too dark? Are you really alone in there?

The people I know parted ways but I feel that the depressed partner never forgave the other party, and I do get that feeling (after all, they promised "for better or for worse" in front of their entire family). Meanwhile most people I know are seeing the healthy partner blossom, and their child now having a positive environment again. No more hiding of knives, no more strangers over the floor taking mommy away. No more going to grandma in the middle of the night.

Those are extremely difficult questions and they arouse a lot of guilt in partners and I feel that it is often overlooked. When is enough, enough?


These are indeed though questions. In one hand we care for and have a responsibility for our partner, we wish them well, we try hard to help lift them up, to get them the adequate care they need. On the other hand how could we have known beforehand that this was how the relationship was going to be? How much are we willing to sacrifice for trying to improve things? The more time the couple spends together, the harder it will be to part ways.

In the end I believe the answers to these questions will vary a lot depending on each specific situation, there's no "right" answer. Sometimes you will want to stick to it, and you'll be able to overcome these challenges together. Other times you might not be so luck. All in all if you decide to part ways do so peacefully and respectfully to your partner, and if possible check on him/her every once in a while if that's not too harsh for you.


As someone who is bipolar, this hits the nail firmly on the head. Having to deal with people is just exhausting on top of everything else.

All people need to do is listen and don’t try to fix things. But people want to fix things. If I don’t let them fix things, I’m the asshole. If they can’t fix things, it’s my job to absolve their guilt, or I’m the asshole.

If I’m having suicidal thoughts, I’ve learned just say I’m “good” or “a bit tired” and change the topic. I don’t need people getting freaked out over every day problems I deal with.

No one can do anything to help that isn’t already being done. I have a psychiatrist, medication, and multiple safety plans. I don’t need more help. What I need is understanding and no expectations.


I'm glad you've got everything taken care of, but I think part of the problem is that not everyone does. Some people don't need any more help, but some people do. Hard to tell from the outside.


It is hard to tell and most people don’t know what to look for. And I don’t expect them to.

The problem is people do whatever they think will help instead of listening.


Something that's helped me in this situation is to explicitly tell people "I'm only looking for someone to listen please don't suggest anything to help". Otherwise as you said people want to help, and generally if someone is telling you an issue they are looking for a solution.

It can feel weird sometimes, but I think you get way better outcomes when the person knows how you want them to respond. Then you don't have to worry about not letting them fix things or absolving guilt if they can't. If you don't expect them to know then that's a perfect reason to tell them, and you can be super nice about it and say something like "Hey I really appreciate you trying to help but the thing that will help me most right now is just listening and not suggesting anything".

Edit: sorry in advance for the suggestion if it isn't what you're looking for haha, just sharing what's worked well for me


This is basically what I do with friends in private. Works well. :)

The problem I run into outside of controlled situations is the same one I have with my dairy allergy. I can’t eat the food at most social events. This either makes people uncomfortable or they feel sorry for me. Then they expect me to make them feel better about my allergy.

Adjust for any number of things.

Anyone with ADHD ends up getting asked “have you tried writing a todo list” no matter how hard they try to avoid it.


It's a good article, but articles like these are usually at the level of "depression is a real thing." Which is obviously true, but here are some things that mental health experts probably won't (or can't) tell you. A depressed partner might not be able to give or receive love. The giving love part is understandable, but the not receiving love part is tricky. Your partner might feel that you don't love them, and might be angry or resentful that you aren't loving them, even though you are. They might think if you loved them their depression would end. Your partner might feel so bad about themselves that they don't feel they deserve love, and that by loving them you're just stressing them out the way it feels when people want you to eat when you're not hungry. Your partner might see a therapist, and because of the nature of therapy, might be nudged into blaming you for all their woes. Finally, there's the possibility that you're the reason your partner is depressed. You might be a huge disappointment, but they feel too guilty to leave you, and feel trapped and helpless by the situation. Your partner might have imagined their life would have been very different and is so frustrated that they just shut down. Your partner might feel that the love you give isn't worth anything because it's coming from a loser. Probably the best thing you can do is make a good life and hope your joy will spark something in them.


> Your partner might see a therapist, and because of the nature of therapy, might be nudged into blaming you for all their woes.

What about the possibility that the depressed person might have suddenly stopped seeking help from their therapist/ stopped taking their medication? That seems important to mention in your list-- IIRC at least the latter is actually a symptom of some types of depression.


This is so fucking desperate. This whole thing is so fucking fucked up. Somebody I love has been in depression for almost a year. I tried everything, including this suggested "stay with them in the dark until they are better, oh wait that time could never come, but you do stay there with them nevertheless". Thanks for the "advice". That's what I've been doing. It's draining and it's killing me. Burning out through such experience is a matter of months, unless you are fully well, physically and mentally happy and stable yourself w/ a lot of overage to give. Surprise - most people are not. The article doesn't mention that at all. Doesn't answer the question where the hell can we find the resource and support to sustain ourselves while also being in the somebody else's darkness. Doesn't even mention that as a fundamental question. And for many of us the situation of "can't leave my beloved one, can't live with them in the darkness" will result in a endless cycle of two depressed people locked up in the cave of mutual drowning. I'm still here and I'm not gonna go.


What you're going through sounds painful. Depression is perhaps contagious. I hope you are doing the best you can to take care of your own mental health. It could otherwise result in a negative feedback loop.

Also, please think about seeing a therapist. It might help to talk to someone who can understand what you are dealing with.


I couldn't agree more, the article is hopelessly naive and assumes that the partner simply has an unlimited amount of (mental) energy and patience to try and handle somebody with a mental illness. And worse, you're not "allowed" to actually help, you should leave them in the dark and absorb their negativity.

The fact that this negativity reflects on yourself seems to be of no interest to the author.


exactly


I suffer from depression and oscillate between days of high productivity and days of listlessness. I am a fairly decent programmer who has cracked FAANG interviews and got PIPed out of one in the past mostly due to my depression . I now work at a job which pays me well but is nowhere close to FAANG levels and I am fine with that because I need a job that allows me the 1-2 days in two weeks where I can barely do anything . My spouse has had to deal with all this and also my outbursts and lying on the couch doing nothing . I recognize how patient she has been and tried to help me. I tend to get critical of her and blame her. I have finally started seeing a therapist and know I am in the wrong . But it feels very hard to fight the bad feelings which has been worse since the death of a parent during Covid and another aging parent while I am stuck in another country unable to travel.


I’ve know people to read or listen to Feeling Good in similar circumstances and find relief. Given that you are already seeing a therapist, this may help accelerate that transition from surviving to thriving. It’s a journey taken one step at a time, sometimes forward and sometimes backward. Being kind to yourself and giving yourself lots of time to go beyond the surviving state gives one the best chance. I wish you all the best in the journey.


Hi, I'm pretty much in the same situation. I have bursts of high productivity and then periods where I cant get out of bed.

It's not bipolar because it's not random, there are things that trigger the change.

I also had offers from FAANG but I purposely did not take it because I know myself and I know that these companies are not forgiving.

I did something much more risky and moved to an ecommerce firm in Europe. I thought this company would be forgiving and the competition would be less. Boy was I wrong, people are competent here and I was already given a warning.

I had one of my triggers and now I'm extremely tired all the time and cannot get out of bed. My mind is working at 30 percent and all the work I have done in last 4 months have been because of short 1-2 hours of productivity bursts.

It gets sooo stressful to work, but I try really hard just to avoid an embarassing pip and avoid losing my visa. My family back at home depends on my money.

I keep contemplating going back home but I cannot make up my mind.

Any advice will be appreciated.


> It's not bipolar because it's not random, there are things that trigger the change.

I am not a mental health professional, and neither are you. Perhaps you can use the opportunity that you have right now, living in Europe, to access free public health services, and seek professional advice.


Immigrating alone to a previously unknown country is very hard. I did it with my spouse and we struggled a lot.

I also had to stay in my job for 5+ years to keep my visa, I am just out of it now. I also struggle with on-off work ethic. Mostly depends on how interesting the work is (after 6 years it often is not.)

The best advice I have is to find ways to entertain yourself (in ways that make you grow, OR NOT) aside from the job. Looks like you’re thinking about it A LOT, for understandable reasons.


Seek out a therapist. Do a once-a-week session. It will help you a lot. There are also online systems that are more group based, where you run through sessions but have guides online that can help - i found those great for me to help find ways to cope with things - not as being depressed but avoiding depression in everything else that is going on. (I have a bi polar kid who attempted suicide)

I'm in tech, been in similar shoes. Besides therapy, I found going for walks to be exactly what I needed. Don't do ANYTHING but walk.

After you get a few walks, don't bring music but instead listen to an audio book of a book that you have been itching to read/finish. Take as LONG as you need to finish it - it's not a race. But sooner or later, you may find yourself walking more to listen to that audio book and you may find your spirits lifted when you stop to pause and live in the moment on the walk.

Walking can also change you from those doldrum times of floating in and out of work to busting out productivity a lot more - because it gives you the freedom and headspace to have clarity.

Whatever you do, don't fall into the "manage it all" trap. Humans and our brains are complex systems, we have to give them space to work. Buying shit to track your day, track everything, graph everything, be extremely detail oriented just adds anxiety into the mix. Give yourself room and space.

Listen to music that feeds that room and space. I've grown to love to mess with synthesizers because the sound is full of space and dimensions and movement even if it's stupid simple and you can get it all growly and fun - but warm

being a tech guy i see so many people burn out more because they buy a smart watch to track stuff and smart phone to track stuff and they try and journal everything and review everything - but that becomes more work and distracts you from the headspace we all desperately need.

as for going home, I'd start with a visit (when safe to do so). If found out that home is what i make of it and living where my family lived wasnt home anymore and there was nothing wrong with that - but i absolutely love visiting my family whenever I can and that was the hard thing with holidays this year - not doing that again. I had a potential covid exposure and my dad is mid 70s so i didn't want to risk being the one to spread it.


Sounds like your partner has been good to you as you said you recognize it. After that you said you tend to be critical or blame her.

I hope you show her the appreciation to make it good :) For you both :)


I’ve been depressed for 6 or 7 years. I’m 23 now. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to end.

I’ve been in a challenging episode for the past few weeks. I have been fortunate to be able to take a week and a half off work. I thought it would be relaxing, but all I’ve done is lay in bed.

My girlfriend lives with me, and I feel so guilty and embarrassed. I wouldn’t want to be with me.

I don’t think my problems are ever going away. It’s been years, and every aspect of my life is way better than when this all started. Except my mental health. I still feel just as shitty as I did 6 years ago.

I’ve started to look at life like a party that I reluctantly agreed to attend. I’m at the party, and I’m having a bad time. I just want to go home.

My vacation is over and I’ll be signing on to work in about 14 hours. I don’t think I’ll get much done. I’ve been thinking about checking myself into a hospital, but I’ve been there and didn’t find it very effective.

Loving someone with depression is depressing. I’m sorry to all of you loving people like me.

(posted on a throwaway because it’s too embarrassing to associate with my main, and I’ve actually had online comments like this used against me in the past)


Hey there...

As someone who is now in their mid 30's, but whos depression started in their early 20s, let me beg you - do not wait to get treatment.

It won't go away, and it will take years from you. Don't let it take what should be some of the best years of your life. If you don't approach depression as a disease that needs treatment, then you will resist doing anything about it and it will silently suck the joy out of existing.

Whatever you can do to preserve a positive outlook and a happy disposition I believe you SHOULD do. If you aren't enjoying your life then you are effectively not living. You're young enough now that you have the ability to dramatically reduce the damage that depression can do to your life, and trust me it can do serious damage.


Hey, thanks for your response. It’s heartening to see someone who cares for the well-being of strangers.

Not to be even more of a downer, but… I feel like I’m running out of options. I’ve tried Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, and Remeron, prescribed by 3 different doctors. I’ve seen 6 different therapists. I’m extremely privileged to say that I’m currently seeing a Stanford PhD out-of-network weekly.

I’ve heavily experimented with psychedelics, and while they’ve given me a much greater appreciation for arts and humanities as well as a curiosity about this universe, they haven’t made me want to be alive. I’ve experimented with ketamine recreationally, too.

I don’t know what to do. Nothing helps. I’m thinking of trying TMS, but I’m really skeptical of that.

Part of me wonders if I have what your sibling commenter describes as “congruent depression” — depression which is expected given the circumstances of one’s life. There is one aspect of my life which is lacking: social connection. I feel lonely, but it’s hard to tell if this is the cause of my depression. Even if it is, I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t really like talking to people — I’m very introverted and also talking to people makes me very anxious. It’s even more difficult because of Covid.

Your comment really hits close to home. I’m not living. There is no joy. And I can see, very slowly, the damage which is being done.

Thanks again for your response.


Tune me out if this doesn't resonate with you, but what you're describing, does it feel like it could have a spiritual component? Is it a sense of total, overwhelming hopelessness, but a rational one, based on existence as you can understand it?

I spent a long time in a state like that, with suicidality and all. In retrospect it was a total "poverty of spirit", and I had to accept a drastically different understanding of myself and existence altogether to move past it. But it was necessary for me to experience it to do that, and I can truly say I am changed for the better. All this is a roundabout way to say, that accepting the idea of total depravity, and realizing that the all-encompassing hopelessness that springs from that state of being is completely valid, was surprisingly helpful to me, at least. I still had to find hope somewhere else (or in someone else to be specific), but doing so did help in a way medicine didn't (for me).


Actually, yes, it does feel like it could have a spiritual component. As a child I was a reluctant Christian. I’ve described myself as an atheist starting when I was 11 or so. Since experimenting with psychedelics, I now describe myself as an agnostic. I have a sense that there is some greater entity out there, but I have zero confidence that it resembles any human god.

I attended a Christian church service a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in over a decade. It was an odd feeling. On one hand, I felt a bit like I was in a cult meeting and I was totally disillusioned. On the other hand, after talking with people there, many of them seemed to describe a “void” in their life which was filled by religion. I can feel a void like that in myself. Maybe this is the “poverty of spirit” you describe? Still, while I agree with many Christian teachings, I don’t think anybody could convert me into a believer.

I feel the all-encompassing hopelessness; the nihilism. Nothing matters. There might be consequences of my death, but ultimately those consequences don’t matter.

If I thought anything mattered, maybe I would think I matter.

I am very curious to hear more about your experience. I have to admit I’m having trouble understanding your solution.


Coming from a similar background as you (reluctant Catholic kid, now agnostic, seeking greater social connection), after attending a couple Quaker services over the years I've been strongly considering going regularly (alas, Covid).

The service is very unlike other Christian rites. There is no priest, and anyone can speak. I remember long stretches of silence in contemplation, punctuated with a thoughtful couple sentences here and there from someone more spiritual than me.

Importantly, it's also my understanding many Quaker meetings openly accept atheists and agnostics, among a diversity of beliefs. See https://nontheistfriends.org/


I was a very outspoken atheist myself for many years, an officer in my college's chapter of the secular student alliance back in the early 2010's. I was raised going to a mainline church sometimes, but it didn't do anything for me. I never had a grudge against Christianity or anything, but I grouped Jesus and God in with Santa at some point as a teenager and never really thought further about it.

So I didn't think I could be converted either. I thought "Good without God" was how I could live, and things would eventually work out if I could just tune my environment or my brain chemistry accordingly. But I eventually found myself backed into a corner when I realized I had no way to reconcile meaning, joy, or goodness with myself or life as I could understand it. I wasn't good at all, if I was honest with myself. I felt exactly as you described, without value in a world that had no value.

There's a lot to be said to tell the whole story, but to be anticlimactic, my solution was indeed Jesus. Considering his words, his claims, his promises, and daring to believe they applied to me, that's how I found hope, and a reason to live life as though I do have some value. How I got to that point from atheist, that required a long process of addressing a number of assumptions and biases before choosing to believe. The whole "church" part came after, and was more of the icing on the cake.

BTW, if you're curious at all, here's what I was reading tonight that actually got me thinking on the topic of "poverty of spirit" and what it means to Christianity in particular (starts at section I.1 - https://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.v.xxi.html )

I gotta go to bed, but if you wanna chat more or hear the whole story sometime let me know. I can email that address you posted in the other comment. Wishing you the best.


What helped me with regard to that was reading the first three pages of "The myth of Sisyphus" by Albert Camus. I never even read the book further than that.


Did you turn to organized religion? I find that I don't really believe in anything enough (not just religion) to be a spiritual person. How did you develop a spiritual component?


Yeah, I did put my hope in Jesus and turn to Christianity. I didn't consider myself spiritual either beforehand. I never did psychedelics or believed in anything supernatural, or believed in some higher power or meaning before I made the decision to believe in Jesus' claims. It was a decision based on evaluating the state of my own self, and evaluating Jesus and his words.

Though to give some background, even when I was an avowed atheist, moral relativism was something I could never abide. I always felt strongly that as intelligent beings, there was truth and objectively better ways of existing to be found. The book "The beginning of infinty" helped me justify that rationally, and also made me realize how incredibly powerful, rare, and valuable intelligence is as a force in the universe. From there, CS Lewis' "Abolition of Man" got me onto the idea of natural Law, and the "Gospel of Thomas" got me thinking on the timeless, and somewhat subversive nature of the truths that Jesus taught. I looked many places, but found Jesus' teachings to be uniquely valuable to understanding the state of myself own soul. From there, it was a matter of choosing to believe him on the harder stuff (CS Lewis' Trilemma came into play there). The feeling of belief did not precede the decision to believe, which surprised me, but is apparently not uncommon.

I'm glad I did though, and my spirituality (which I only developed afterward) has become really essential to my life and hugely positive for my wellbeing. The organized religion aspect is more of a support system and framework to practice it in, but quite helpful nonetheless.


Thanks for the response! Might be something I need to explore at some point since I'm struggling with overall purpose for life.


For sure! I know I dropped a couple of book recs in the comment above, but if you ever want more, or just to talk/ask questions feel free to reach out. My email is my HN username at gmail.


> Part of me wonders if I have what your sibling commenter describes as “congruent depression” — depression which is expected given the circumstances of one’s life.

I have a similar issue. It's a chicken/egg question. Is depression causing the struggles I'm going through, or are the struggles causing depression?

I've done a lot of self exploration recently through a bunch of different therapists and have been diagnosed with ADHD. My original theory after learning this was that the ADHD caused my depression, especially because I noticed that during periods when I wasn't depressed, I still had issues with executive function.

However really inconsistent results from ADHD medication make me question my theory. Maybe the depression is so pervasive that even when I'm not feeling depressed, the habits and thought patterns that I'm so accustomed to stifle me even though I'm no longer in the depression cloud. Maybe heavy internet/gaming/porn use for 20 years combined with a lack of good habits has just created an addiction to stimulation and set me up for failure in general. Maybe the asocial digital lifestyle I lead is just completely against my nature and I need to go be a high school teacher instead of a software engineer (but I think a high income is too important in the US for a comfortable life). Maybe I just need to start believing in God and let Jesus take the wheel.

> I’m not living. There is no joy. And I can see, very slowly, the damage which is being done.

I've heard multiple times that people with untreated ADHD have shorter life spans due to increased risk of suicide and stress-related health problems (I assume this applies to all mental disorders). The problem is that all mental health disorders are on a spectrum and that no one solution can fit everyone. I don't really have a solution for myself, and I wouldn't be surprised if I die "early".

Speaking of TMS, a new depression treatment out of stanford has come out recently that sounds similar (i don't really know the details of either): https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2021/10/depression-tr...


>Maybe heavy internet/gaming/porn use for 20 years combined with a lack of good habits has just created an addiction to stimulation and set me up for failure in general.

This is something I wonder too. Could I have trained myself into this state? Is this a learned behavior? Has years of laziness and gratification seeking created a state where effort is no longer an option?

> Maybe I just need to start believing in God and let Jesus take the wheel.

I've been told this works really well. I have a weird feeling it might even work for me, if I could somehow get myself to buy into the whole organized religion thing. Maybe if Elon started a Church of the Simulation I could get on board, haha.

The potential link to ADHD is interesting. At times I've wondered if I have ADHD. I certainly relate to many of the symptoms. I actually was diagnosed and prescribed Ritalin, but I have to admit that I was drug seeking at that time so not really sure the diagnosis holds water.

>Speaking of TMS, a new depression treatment out of stanford has come out recently that sounds similar

Funny you mention this, I was reading about it on HN a few days ago. It gave me hope. I actually emailed the group asking to be a part of a future study.


>This is something I wonder too. Could I have trained myself into this state? Is this a learned behavior? Has years of laziness and gratification seeking created a state where effort is no longer an option?

That's what I think about myself, and medicine won't magically undo the years of instant gratification. I read atomic habits (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits) and am trying to integrate good habits/clear out some worse ones in addition to medication/therapy. It's fucking hard to make new habits.


It really does pain me to know that anyone, including yourself, suffers with depression. It's an illness which I would not wish onto even my worst enemy, because of how cruel it really is. You are living life, but you are not truly alive. Depression kills you day by day.

I'm sorry that none of the treatments have worked for you. I can understand how that leaves you feeling very little hope. It may provide some comfort to know however, that it is often a problem of finding the one treatment that works. It's a crude science of essentially trial and error, but there should still be some hope that you can find some combination of medication and therapy that will help. Don't give up on your search. It's a matter of life and death.

The social aspect very well could be a major factor for you. Given you have tried so many medications, that does lead one to wonder if it's not some chemical imbalance but rather a deep void left by a feeling of disconnectedness from social circles. In that case, you owe it to yourself to work on this.

Work on becoming more social. Just like learning to ride a bike, or learning geometry, you can learn to be more social. Do it for your mental health. I fully understand how it feels to hear the words "work" as someone with depression. It's the great conundrum of the disease - you have no energy, no willpower, no drive, nothing. Giving advice to "work on yourself" is well, bad advice frankly. But that's where therapy, and medication, can give you the little "boost" that you need to start putting in the work to your personal life where it's needed most.

How to be social is about finding your community, your people.


Your empathy warms my heart. I appreciate the advice. It’s valid, and it makes a ton of sense to frame it in terms of “life and death”. It’s interesting, I was recently talking with my therapist about “my people” and commented on how I feel like I don’t have any people; that I don’t belong anywhere. You’re right that I owe it to myself to improve this part of my life. (You’re also right that I recoil at the thought of “work”, haha)

I hope you won’t think I’m a creep for this: I clicked on your profile and noticed you left a comment on the Stanford SAINT trials that were posted here a few days ago. I remember reading your comment and the thread it spawned. That post was actually what put TMS on my mind. (I also emailed the group asking to be a part of future studies.)

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been dealing with this much longer than I have. I read about those who have been suffering for decades and it always makes me feel a strange combination of empathy and astonishment. From that earlier thread, it sounds like we have some similar experiences. I too lack the “kick” to do basic tasks. I have so many questions. Is this something you still deal with? Have you found some treatment that works? How have you kept going after 20 years? A question I’ve been grappling with: how does one distinguish between “depression” and “laziness”?

Btw, since this thread is getting long, I thought I would drop an email in case you (or some other reader) were interested in chatting later: hackernewsthrowaway@fastmail.com


You've tried many things, and I have two suggestions that may help, social connections and yoga. You can do both together at some yoga studios with events like the kiirtaan singing as well as the exercise classes. ps Yoga rather than other exercises as it regulates hormones and organs as well as other benefits of exercise.

And regular yoga brings feelings of joy, adds delicious juiciness to life.


Join a gym, martial arts gym etc.


You said something that I have experienced as well:

> I don’t think my problems are ever going away. It’s been years, and every aspect of my life is way better than when this all started. Except my mental health. I still feel just as shitty as I did 6 years ago.

I became very aware that my mental health was in very bad shape about 6 years ago. Ever since then I have been on a journey to try and understand why, because, as you stated, every aspect of my life (for the most part), expect my mental health, was better than when I became very aware of the problems.

I don't know if this will apply to you, but, on the chance that it does or that it applies to someone else, I wanted to share some articles and videos that helped me better understand what I have been going through:

1. http://www.ocdspecialists.com/real-event-ocd/

2. That same website has a handful of other articles I found helpful: http://www.ocdspecialists.com/blog/

3. Therapist Answers: "What is Congruent Depression?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDhqTf5eJH4

Take care everyone.


Thanks for sharing your experience and these resources. I read/watched each of them.

The OCD ones were especially interesting — I actually clicked around to some of the other articles on that site. I relate very much to the “obsessive” bits, but not so much to the “compulsion”. I spend a stupid amount of time thinking of past events, worrying about my mental health, and rehearsing imaginary conversations. I also obsess heavily about aspects of my girlfriend’s past, and this is something that has been observed by my therapist. I don’t know that I would qualify as OCD, though.

Congruent depression is something I wonder about a lot, although I haven’t heard it described in those terms before. I most often think about it in the context of Johann Hari’s TED Talk [1]. If I have congruent depression, it’s because I’m lonely. At the same time, I have no desire to hang out with people. This problem has really been exacerbated by Covid since I’ve been working remotely. I used to get “enough” social interaction from being in the office, but now I haven’t seen any of my coworkers in nearly 2 years.

Thanks again for sharing. Would love to hear more of your thoughts if anything else comes to mind.

[1]: https://youtube.com/watch?v=MB5IX-np5fE


Just before my marriage, I knew my wife had depression. Now we have been together for more than 12 years.

She has never recovered from depression thoroughly, so I have accepted this is a lifelong situation. I agree with the point "when they talk, listen." Because in my experience, the talk will become an argument finally. And that will hurt everyone in this family. So let's listen.

My sincere advice is to think twice when you love someone with depression. It will be very hard.

1. As the partner, you will be in a dilemma. You can not force them to see the doctors or take the medicines, as it's irrespective. And you are not willing to do nothing, you want to help. 2. Sometimes it's a competition. Either you will help your partner out or your partner will destroy you. You might feel the only one you can help is yourself.

So think twice. If you still decide to move on, you need to find out a way to take care of yourself. So that you can stay on this hard journey.


> Sometimes it's a competition. Either you will help your partner out or your partner will destroy you.

I read this from after following a few links from a post the other day, and it was a real eye-opener regarding this very feeling.

1. http://www.issendai.com/psychology/sick-systems.html

2. http://www.issendai.com/psychology/sick-systems-whittling-yo...


Thanks for sharing. This is good.


My wife has something close to borderline personality disorder with the primary feature of fear of abandonment (she was abandoned as a child).

As you can imagine, this has been stressful. Culminating in her attempting suicide when I had to go to work one morning.

Luckily after three tries, the fourth therapist did the trick. He specialized in treating emotional regulation disorders with DBT therapy. My wife can now function in life, its incredible. People who interact with her now wouldn't recognize her from 3 years ago.


DBT is what saved my kids life too


I feel that this author falls for the exact same mistake with their intended audience that they accuse them of doing.

From the wording I thought it would be an article on identifying and empathising with the less-visible curse of depression, that of being a carer. Instead it was just advice, intended to help not the carer, but the advice giver, to feel better that they've actively tried to 'fix' the problem.


Living with someone with depression can be taxing on your own well-being, especially without a support group. Being supportive, always saying the right thing, etc. You absolutely need to find time for yourself. In my case, exploring new adventures on my own, always with an open invitation, sparked hope & excitement in my partner.


I lacked a support group or understanding from my family and peers to talk about what I was going through as a partner of a depressed person.

This was sort of helpful to know I wasn’t alone.

https://reddit.com/r/depression_partners


Listening is everything. Turn off the problem solver part of your brain and just experience their emotions and listen. Ask questions based on what they have said, try not to assume or think 2 steps ahead.

Going through different medications with your partner is rough too. The side effects suck, and some medicine doesnt help or makes things worse. Trintellix helped my partner, after 2 or 3 others failed medications. Those were a tough few months.

My recent 2 cents for partners, try taking a personality test on behalf of your partner. The results, may give you some better understanding of them... Especially if they are reserved and unwilling to open up and whatnot.

I've done this recently and I'm quite surprised by the accuracy of a lot of the content that I read about different personality types. For some in my family, reading descriptions of their personalities has been comically accurate. Maybe reading about their personalities just helps me to think more objectively and clearly about their own emotions, rather than getting it all mixed up in my own emotions.

You can search like "INTJ unhappiness" and read up on their perspective.

Maybe this all sounds dumb to you, but just give it at shot. At the least it'll be kind of fun to take the test on their behalf and see what the results are like.


Just want to add that I think these are useful to get general ideas of what different personality traits there are, but there's little to no science backing the Meyers-Briggs assessment. These type of tests can be nice framework for a starting point, but you should never rely on them to predict how someone will act in the future more than you would astrology.

https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/does-the-myers-b... For background - the test was created by a mother-daughter team who were authors but with no background in psychology. They were inspired to create the test, but they couldn't convince any psychologists it was legitimate so they instead sold it to businesses as a way to assess employee strengths and weaknesses.

https://allthatsinteresting.com/myers-briggs-test

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/myers-briggs-personality-test... > As Emre explains, the test has become part of our neoliberal discourse about making yourself into a commodity, selling your personality, loving what you do > It seems their ideas about personality and gender made them blind to structural problems so that they saw gender inequality as an individual problem.

Kinda unrelated to this discussion, but there's also this darker side to all these personality tests where they encourage people to fit into a certain role because it benefits a company and not because it's who they really are.


I suppose the situation is that your partner is INTJ and almost apathic to living in the now and focused on the future?

Can i ask what improved the situation ?


I'm so sorry, my partner was actually INFJ. I just put a random one there.

My INFJ issues were related to perfectionism.

We went to therapy together, and it helped.. would reccomend. Therapy is a great safe place to ask them "dumb" questions about their behavior and thoughts.

If you're not at that point yet, keep researching about their brand of unhappiness and see if any suggestions come up.


My father dated somebody who was manic depressive and his life was a living hell but he wouldn't leave because he worried what might happen to her. I was living at his house after the service while in college and it was as if he himself were bipolar. She would treat him like shit so he would be sad/upset and difficult to be around. He would have a free schedule so we would plan a day and then he would get a call that she "needs" him so he would immediately leave. Then she'd kick him out and in two days "need" him again.

Having depression or being bipolar doesn't give you the right to treat other humans like trash.


Indeed. I dated someone who gaslighted me like this, treated me poorly and then held the specter of suicide over my head to keep me in line. Messed me up, let me tell you.

It can be really difficult to see when you've crossed the invisible threshold between supporting someone you love who is in pain and being an enabler who is participating in your own abuse.

I don't particularly like to talk about this, but for anyone who needs to hear it:

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being hurt by someone you care about, and you can't get them to stop - do whatever it takes to leave, immediately. Destroy your phone if you have to. For me, I couldn't think clearly and make good decisions through the fog that they and I had erected. If they hurt themselves after you leave - that is not on you, it never was. You're in a burning building. Get out with your life.

If you have friends and you see concerning behavior - don't stop telling them that it isn't okay. Remind them them that they deserve to be respected. Remind them that their mental health matters, too.

ETA:

I worry I came off as an ablest here, so I'd like to elaborate a little bit.

I don't believe depression makes people behave this way. I believe narcissism is what makes people behave this way. Virtually everyone I know has struggled with depression at some point in there life, and to my knowledge, only 2 of them have behaved this way towards anybody.

While one cannot allow themselves to be hurt like this, these people are of course in great pain and deserve empathy and respect.

The advice in the article is great. What has helped me manage my own depression is accepting there is no solution, in the sense that nothing will permanently fix it and make it go away forever, and the strategies that work today won't work forever. But there is a lot that can be done. I've seen such amazing results in friends when they found the right therapist, right medication, whatever worked for them. It's incredible and life affirming, but it's also slow and subtle and hard and painful. So slow and subtle they might not notice it themselves.

I've found the best way I can help is to be there for them consistently, and, when they're feeling lost, remind them of past conversations we've had and how far they've come. Ultimately you can only help yourself. But sometimes a friend can hold onto a nugget of your own wisdom, and give it back to you later.


I have been living with a bipolar/depressed spouse for the past ten years. About once every three or four years we have a major episode (often a depressive abyss immediately following a manic period). I feel deeply for anyone suffering this or similar diseases…but I’m also tired of articles like this one at this point. It feels like they all come at me from this perspective of what I need to do for my spouse while they completely ignore the insane burdens that I’m faced with every day. (I’m not interested in being told how I can help anymore, because the truth is that I can’t help; I can wait until time or adjusting meds makes the condition manageable again.)

It’s *hard* to “just listen” without judging when your spouse can barely get out of bed or shower; when they don’t clean up after themselves in the bathroom, kitchen, or other shared areas; and they abandon or abdicate their part of any shared responsibilities in the family. I felt like any attempt that I made to pick up the slack just created room for them to retreat even more into their depression—and at times like that it feels like the stress and frustration is killing me.

So to all the spouses, family, and friends who support bipolar or depressed folks: I see you. I feel what you feel—love, frustration, guilt, anger, resentment, and hope. You don’t owe anyone else anything, and it’s OK if you can’t do everything on your own.


I don't think "just listening" is even an acknowledged treatment of depression. So they say nothing works, you can't tell them to do anything because their brain is just broken, but supposedly "just listening" works? I'd say the article is simply unfounded bullshit.


There was a time when I was caring for my spouse when I kind of wished I would have a heart attack that would hospitalize me but not kill me, so I wouldn't have to carry the burden for a bit. I don't know what I would have done if we didn't luck into finding a therapist who specialized in her problems.


This is not constructive advice. It is a heck of a lot more complicated than this is making it out to be. You wouldn't leave your loved one with a broken leg until the "found their own way" to the doctor.


A broken leg is sometimes a bad metaphor.

Sure, you'd take them to the doctor for a broken leg, and help them as they get better. I'd leave someone that didn't do this.

But if the person refused to go to the doctor, what do you do then? How do you assess if they are bad enough to try to force them into hospitalisation if they aren't obviously a danger to anyone? What if the broken leg winds up causing abusive behavior (on repeated occasions) - do you stay? If their leg doesn't heal correctly and you have to care for them, can you handle the stress? What happens if you find out you aren't a good caregiver and it makes you hate your life?

I know these examples seem extreme, but it is closer to what folks sometimes deal with when their loved one has a mental illness.


Right- you would give them a lift or call them an ambulance!


There is some good points in here, but the advice about not trying to drag someone out of the tunnel is off.

Ive been very depressed and had very depressed friends. Getting then outside, on walks, with friends, and doing the things they like again is very useful. Even it it doesn't do anything that day going through the motions is useful. Depressed people don't feel like doing anything they'll have to do things they don't want to or they'll never leave the bed.


Are there any kind of financial support programs for people with depression?

I feel like I'm stuck in this trap where I am not healthy enough to endure full time employment, but I don't have enough income to pay for treatment.

I expect there might be government services available, but I'm dubious of their efficacy.

What I'd love is some sort of grant program where the goal is to help intelligent semi-effective people improve themselves by healing their depression.


There are programs, non-profits, and alternative treatments depending on the country/region/state/city. If you are able to send US text messages for free to/from the US, you can use X2AI’s chatbot for free by texting “YC” to (650) 825-9634. It will at least get you access to CBT coaching, which has shown to help. Medication (once one finds the right one for themselves) helps many, but here is a good TED talk on approaches without medication: https://youtu.be/drv3BP0Fdi8

Disclosure: I know the founder.


Depending on how much money you make, you should be able to get a subsidized marketplace health are plan (Obamacare). If you are single and make around $25k a year, your premiums would be near $0 in most states. And they have full mental health coverage.


When I read these comments and see so many fellow HNers are in are in relationships with depressed partners it makes me wonder what’s going on. My ex wife was severely depressed for over a decade and so is my new partner of a couple years. I know leaving my ex was the right thing to do but now I’m back in a pretty similar situation. Having a partner who won’t get out of bed til after noon, won’t exercise, and eats only junk will drag you down no matter how hard you personally work on your own health.


People cope differently. I know i gravitate towards doing more things (and used to buy more things) and i felt like "doing" was better than "not doing" but both were unhealthy sides of the same coin.

I used to joke "man, if only there was a few months where i could sit at home and finish all the things i wanted to do" and 2 years into covid being at home i haven't done any of that shit i realized my extreme desire to stay busy and occupied was no different than my partners desire to not feel like do anything - i just "coped" differently.

Once we got over that, we could realize what each other were doing and not feel like it was poisoning the relationship. My wife now gives me space and I give her space but we meet in the middle a lot more and things have gotten better.

We practice the relaionship bits with intention now and that helps too.


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