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A Wonderful Man

Question:

I have recently fell in love with a wonderful man. He is kind and good hearted. I suffer from depression however and he does not. In fact he is so normal it astounds me. While I am undergoing treatement-medication and councelling-I still struggle with bad bouts of the blues. I recently moved and started a new job leaving many friends and supports systems behind including councelling. A recent attack worried him deeply and I now am trying to help him understand what is going on and how to deal with this. I worry that someone who has not struggled with depression will not be able to handle this world of mine.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

While it isn’t necessary (or particularly wise) to reveal one’s flaws and failings in the very early stages of a relationship, it is increasingly important to do so as a relationship matures – insomuch as those flaws and failings will impact your partner. It is a very expectable thing and a sign of caring that someone who cares about you would be worried deeply for your welfare having seen you in a depressed state. But I appreciate also that understanding that you become depressive at times could become a red flag for anyone evaluating whether or not he wants to spend a lifetime with you. The thing is – depression is a fairly treatable condition these days – and while you may struggle at times, it is reasonable to think that you can be a good partner to this man. Your ability to be a good partner is contingent on how well you manage your own treatment, however. Your being new in town and recently having lost your familiar supports including friends and your therapist is a strain on your health. You’ll need to work on replacing these supports as you are able, recognizing that it always takes time to adjust to a new place. For your best shot at a healthy life you’ll need to seek out treatments such as medication, and hopefully also an active scientifically proven form of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy for depression (CBT). Conventional therapies can tend to be supportive in nature, which is fine and helpful, but unable to teach you the coping skills that can help you to better manage your internal struggle with depression. CBT is designed to teach you these important tools. Treatment is what you can give yourself – but for your boyfriend, I’m recommending education. Have a heart to heart with your man and lay out for him what you deal with as best you can. Point him to sites on the Internet or books about depression that can help him grasp the nature of the problem. Things are less scarey when you know more about them. In the end, he’ll have to make his own decisions about whether or not your depression is something he can handle. However, the more you can show him (and yourself) that you know how to help yourself (by seeking out the proper types of help and working at them dilligently), the better your life will be regardless of whether he hangs around or not. Good luck to you.

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