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Potentially Suicidal Boyfriend

Question:

I have a question that concerns my boyfriend. He is depressed. But his depression doesn’t show around me. My best friend told me that he has depression and once in his life he tried to commit suicide.. And suicide is a really hard subject for me to talk about (I lost a friend from suicide) and the last thing I want is my boyfriend to feel that is the only way out! He doesn’t like to talk about it.. I mean, I will ask him what is wrong and he will be like nothing. And thanks to my friend I know what is wrong with him. I am scared to lose him in more ways than a “break up.” I want him to be happy and know that I care about him.. I don’t know how to do that. When I ask him what is wrong and he says nothing and I just drop it because I don’t want to be a controlling, nosey, annoying little girlfriend. But this depression concern about him keeps me up all night just worrying about him.. Wondering if he is okay. I really love him and I will do anything to help him. I did all this depression research and taught myself somewhat what some of the thoughts he might be having so I can sort of understand what he is going through. Because he doesn’t tell me anything about it! So I feel like I am so helpless and unable to help him in his problems because I am unable to understand what he is going through because he seems to not want me to know.. Like it will make me sad or hate him. And yes I would get upset, but that is just because he is upset about it! But I could never HATE him.. And he seems not to believe that. I have gone on and on. Basically, I am really concerned and I want to help him through it or even out of it, because he is apart of my life and I would give anything for him to be better!

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Answer:

Your concerns about being a “controlling nosey annoying little girlfriend” are unfounded. If you care about this man then confront him and tell him that you have been led to believe that he is seriously depressed by a trusted source, that you are worried about him, and that you need him to talk to you about it because you are so worried and want to know how to help him. Emphasizing how worried you are about him when you speak with him may encourage him to talk to you more openly. If he says to you that you can best help him by leaving him alone, don’t believe him. Part of the illness of depression is that people want to withdraw from others and be isolated. However, withdrawal and isolation (physical or emotional) is not good for the depressed person at all. If he absolutely refuses to talk to you about what he is going through, then you have learned something about how intimate this man is willing to be with you that may help you to know if he is someone you want to be in a long term committed relationship with. Good luck.

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