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comebackkid's avatar

Please help me understand my fiance's anxiety and depression?

Asked by comebackkid (74points) August 13th, 2014

Hi, I’m Adriana. :) I’m new here, I got tired of the stupid people on Yahoo Answers and found this site instead. My question pertains to my fiance, Robert, and his anxiety and depression. I am 22 years old, and Robert is 24. He moved to the US from Sweden when he was 19, and we met at college and immediately hit it off. I moved in with him about a year and a half ago, and we just got engaged in July. :) He is kind and understanding and he always makes me laugh. Now that he is done with college, he’s a graphic designer and works from home a lot. I’m a dance teacher, and I still am taking a couple of classes. We do lots of fun things together; we take art classes together and we go to the gym together almost every night. Usually, he loves all of this; he likes going out with friends, etc. But he also suffers a lot from depression and anxiety. He sees a therapist, but he doesn’t take medication. He has tried dozens of them and he says he doesn’t like the way they make him feel. I don’t blame him.

But he’ll have these periods of time (usually like 4 days to a week long) where he won’t even want to leave the house because his anxiety gets so bad. Not once have I been annoyed by this, or felt it put a strain on our relationship. I love him, and I understand what he is going through. His sister died like 5 years ago and I know it still causes some problems for him. He is also very self conscious about his accent (It is quite a thick accent and he mispronounces some words every now and then) and worries that people will think he’s stupid. But anyway, none of this has ever put any strain on our relationship. He never lashes out or takes it out on me. I understand when he goes off by himself for a few hours or doesn’t want to have sex because he “feels numb inside.” I don’t push him or annoy him. But I worry about him.

It breaks my heart when he’s in one of these ruts, even if it only happens like once a month. I don’t know what to do for him or how to help. What can I do for him in this situation? I feel helpless sometimes.

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15 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

You are doing exactly what can be done, you are there for him. Love him and be reassuring and patient when he is in his depressed state.

And when he is not, that is when you can talk to him about how you feel. The reason to talk to him is so that he knows what his not taking medication does to you. And maybe you can ask if you can talk to his therapist, maybe even have a three way conversation, so that you can express your concern in a “safe” environment with his therapist hearing it.

And, you can talk to a therapist also. It is not an easy position for you to be in, and you deserve to have someone to talk to about it other than him.

jca's avatar

You have been going out for 5 years and moved in with him a year and a half ago. In that time, in the 5 years, do you know for a fact that he “has tried dozens of medications” or is that what he told you?

comebackkid's avatar

@jca I know that he has tried multiple medications in the past. I have seen him try at least eight or nine different medications since I have been with him and none have seemed to help. They sort of turn him into a zombie so I understand what he is saying.

jca's avatar

There are many different medications and there are also many different doses that one could take.

It’s wonderful that you are tolerant and supportive. However, you are a young girl who is in this relationship with this guy who takes no medication and therefore, falls into these moods once a month where he feels numb inside, withdraws, doesn’t want to have sex for 4 days to a week. So for about ¼ of your time together, this is what you have.

You are powerless but to watch this person’s deterioration and then hopefully, his reemergence into his “regular” self. It’s great that you are supportive and tolerant but I am wondering if you have low self esteem.

He may not lash out at you or take it out on you, but if it breaks your heart, worries you, causes you anxiety, it is putting a strain on your relationship.

I like @zenvelo‘s idea of you going for therapy yourself.

comebackkid's avatar

@jca I understand what you are saying. It makes sense. I meant purely in the sense that there are never any arguments, heated discussions, what have you, between the two of us. It is difficult to see him like this at times, yes, but I am a homebody, and 9/10s of the time, he is still wanting to spend time with me at home, even if he doesn’t want to go out. I have never felt that there was a distance between us, though. His depression doesn’t get in the way of our relationship, you know what I mean? He always shows affection. But he seems sad, less energetic, and worries about nearly everything. I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain.

jca's avatar

@comebackkid: All I can say is that you are more tolerant than a lot of people would be at your age.

longgone's avatar

^ More tolerant than a lot of people, period…

JLeslie's avatar

I believe anxiety often comes from feeling out of control, and more importantly from avoiding the things that we are afraid of. I think anticipatory fear is the worst, and when we avoid things the anticipation lasts longer. Worrying about an accent might mean he worries about it any time he needs to interact with people. Is he rehearsing in his mind or out loud how to say things? Being obsessed about It? Is he a perfectionist?

Depression I think often comes from loneliness, although it sounds like you two have a very nice relationship.

Also, why did he come to America? Was he running from anything in his home life? It would not be unusual for anxiety and depression to get sort of wired from childhood, although not necessarily. Also, I do believe people can rewire sometimes.

Is his therapist actually helping? Can you ask him what is making him depressed and anxious, does he have an explanation for it?

comebackkid's avatar

@JLeslie When he is around me or our friends, he isn’t afraid to pronounce a word wrong or to say “What’s that word again?” But he does worry about it in public. I can hear it in his voice when we go out to eat or something that he is nervous about mispronouncing something or forgetting a word.

He came to America because he had his heart set on a college in the US, and he thought there would be more opportunities here. I don’t really think he was running from anything, at least not knowingly. He had a good home life, until his sister died but I don’t think that was his motivation for leaving. Though I do think it contributed a lot to his anxiety.

JLeslie's avatar

His sister died? That is pretty traumatic. I bet some of his depression and anxiety is tied to that event.

comebackkid's avatar

@JLeslie She did. About five years ago. She had cancer and didn’t make it. I know that is part of the reason that he struggles. When I was 16, I lost my stepmother to cancer, so I know that it is a struggle, but I deal with things differently than he does. I have some social anxiety but never felt that I needed to be medicated. It is very minor now and doesn’t hold me back from anything, really, but his occasionally just takes over for a few days until he gets control over it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You have to be his ‘sunny’ day when he sees only rain. Kind of help him count his blessings.

LornaLove's avatar

Medication does make a person feel strange at first. Has he tried to stick with one longer to then not feel the side effects? It can be a case of trial and error, in that he might find one that does not turn him into a zombie. Anxiety is so difficult, there are drugs that can be used in cases of an emergency (meaning not longer term).

Has he been properly assessed, he could be bipolar for example. (He sounds a bit like me). That is why I ask.

Can he join support groups? This might help you lesson the burden. I say burden generally as I know to you he is not. Depression is not easy and I am lucky my SO sticks by my side. He accepts that there are good days and really crappy days. Get some support for you too, as in a way you are now his carer. You need time out and support and care in order to help you deal with this.

When we are depressed we feel negatively about how people perceive us. (The accent and all that). So perhaps talk to him and say that his perception might not be correct and that instead he is being very hard on himself. He probably does feel out of culture and away from home, so is expressing it that way.

When we love someone and we try and help them and it seems not to work, we do feel helpless. Take life day by day and look for the rainbows. No ones life is smooth runnings. Small things can help, like changing diet, going for a walk, talking it out, feeling loved and accepted no matter how we are, supplements, like vitamin B for example. Or even try holistic healing methods. I wish you both the best.

comebackkid's avatar

@LornaLove He has tried to ride it out through the side effects of the meds and he still says that he doesn’t like them. He says he feels like a zombie. Some of the medication has made him so tired that he could barely keep his eyes open. For a month, he slept most of the day and he would be so tired that he would slur his words together to the point that I thought he was drunk.

Though the support groups are a really good idea. I never even thought about that, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it way earlier! I have never looked into it but I will definitely start so thank you for the suggestion. Though I’m not sure how he will feel speaking in front of a group of people that he doesn’t know at all.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Look if a person has a broken leg one would not expect that they could run.
And just because one cannot “see” the depression & ‘anxiety’ does not make it different.
Assist him when you can and try ‘not too” take over too much of things for him that he can do for himself..otherwise you are setting him up to feel inadequate and small.
Try not to become an enabler to him..let him do things himself that he is able to do.
Thank him for times that he has assisted you or supported you in any way.
Boost his confidence.
Since he is self conscious of his Language…have him consider teaching others his native language in classes. That way he should feel pround instead of selfconscious.
He just has not found his niche in life yet..and perhaps his knowing two languages will come in handy for him in the future.
He is far ahead of most people in that he knows two languages already!
If someone knocks him down for his speech (language)..come back with ” well how many languages do you know?”
or someting more diplomatic preferably.

He is probably feeling ashamed or something so try not too ‘baby’ him.
He will not always be like this and one day soon he will become more confident of his abilities and continue on.
Regarding his sisters death: perhaps he needs to talk about it with someone?

Perhaps he could look at it as not that his sister is gone, but be glad that he had known her for the short time that she was on this earth?
He needs closure in regards to his sister perhaps?
Then create a memento of her ( see self publish books) he could make a photo book, poems. anything to imortalize her if need be.
He could feel powerless in knowing what to do in her memory or not?
Gently ask him?
Also do you have a pet?
That may help him to transfer his feelings in a safe way.he may like taking care of a pet that depends on him and gives unconditional love back?

If not, he could work part time ( or volunteer) to a Humane Society , to get him involved in others and causes instead of spending too much time on his problems 24 hrs a day.
Just some practical suggestions that may work or may not be right for him.

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