Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ask Dr. Seth

Dr. Seth,

My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years, and it’s been kind of a difficult relationship. I love him and think that he’s the one for me, but he struggles with severe depression. For a while, he was getting help and taking medication. He got better for a while, and things in our relationship became steady again. The problem is that now he has stopped his therapy and recently went off his medication. His depression is back and I’m feeling like our relationship is in a downward spiral. Is there something that I should do?

Karen, 34


Dear Karen,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re overwhelmed by what’s going on with your boyfriend. Mental illness is incredibly difficult for loved ones to contend with, and depression is no exception. The reality is that a functional relationship requires that each member of the couple be a healthy 50% of that union. If one member of the couple is hanging on by a thread, he or she is not emotionally available to meet his or her partner’s needs.

What you must do is focus on your own needs and ask yourself if those needs are getting met by your boyfriend. It’s true that you can make efforts to ensure the best for your boyfriend, but ultimately you can’t do his breathing for him. In this situation, I would consider having a talk with him and explaining what you need him to do in order for you to feel positive about the prospects for the relationship to continue.

It sounds like you’re tolerant of your boyfriend’s depression as long as he is managing it in a responsible manner. Now is the best time to sit down and have a serious talk with your boyfriend so that you can decide together how to proceed from here.

Dr. Seth

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