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Dealing with Depression/Anxiety, depression...help me understand

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QUESTION: Hello Johnny, I am in a predicament . I have been seeing this beautiful, special woman for 3 months. I really like her, but there are some "issues" with her. Since the beginning of our relationship, I have know about her depression and anxiety. I acknowledge that I cannot fix her issues, but I have made it clear that I want to be there for her. All I ask of her is that she share her feelings, and talk to me when she has her episodes of anxiety/depression. She tells me that I need to be patient with her, as she is used to dealing with these issues alone. But she does acknowledge the fact that I am now in her life and want to take a roll in her recovery. Like I said, I do not/cannot fix her issues, but to be there for her during her tough times. I told her I will be patient, however, I do not want to be pushed away. I do not want to be distanced from her during her tough times, or episodes.

This is where things get muddied. Despite me not wanting to be distanced/pushed away, it seems to be happening. I am struggling with how to deal with this. She insists on being alone during these episodes, and I want to give her her space, but I also don't want to sit on the sidelines. I do not understand how anxiety and depression effect people, so maybe this is just how it is supposed to be? I feel like I'm on her rollercoaster, and while I don't mind, I want to be there in her life. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please, ask me questions if I failed to omit anything.

Thank you, Jared C.

ANSWER: Hello Jared; 3 months is not a very long time in the full scope of things- especially when factoring in her very special situation.
In fact the best you can do for her is to be...as Bruce Lee once put it..."like water" ... move when pushed and come when pulled.
She needs to know that she can trust you to respect her moods, her feelings, and not try to force her in any way.
Just so you understand what you may be getting into, this may, and I mean may, never change...she may heal, she may not, and it's something that you have to be prepared for.
One thing to keep in mind is, when she pushes you away, it got nothing to do with being personal, nothing to do with love or not love, it just is, she just needs space when she needs space.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Johnny, thank you for a very fast reply. OK, so I have to back off when she feels this way. OK. I'm thinking that I made an error with her on telling her I want to be involved. But, when will, if there ever will be, a time when I can once again ask that I be included? Is the answer " never"? I want to be there for her, but it also hurts me to sit and watch while she struggles alone. I cannot imagine the hell she is going through.

I appreciate how you say that when she pushes me away, it has nothing to do with me. But I struggle with how I feel about it regardless. I guess its something I need to come to terms with. Also, I am prepared to deal with this long term, but I am also scared of what the future looks like. I want a normal relationship, but am I expecting too much? How best can I provide support?

ANSWER: Jared; I won't say "never" since there have been many many cases when people come back from depression and a whole bunch of other issues, but I'll tell you this, you will not get a "normal" relationship until she heals completely. And if her condition is chronic, then you'll never have a normal relationship with her.
That being said, if you just adjust your expectations a bit, a good relationship is totally within your grasp.
I think right now you have to sit down and be honest with your self.
Ask your self:
If this is the way she'll be forever, can you deal with it.
If the answer is yes, then continue with that in mind.
If the answer is no, or even "I don't know," then you probably should stop before it's too hurtful for both of you.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Johnny, I want to thank you for your advice, and more importantly, your time. You have given me a lot, ALOT to think about. Your last paragraph, asking whether or not I can deal with this long term? Well, I think, that if I cared for her, but didn't think I loved her, I would turn tail and run for the hills. But, I can honestly say, that, I do love her, and, yes, I can say without a doubt, I can and am more than willing to deal with this long term, and perhaps forever.

So, I guess, how do I deal with how to progress? I know this relationship is very very young. I want her to feel confident in me, and to also know I will be there for her, in thick and thin times. You have shown me that I need to give her the space she asks for. So, where do I go from here?

Once again, thank you Johnny.

Jared C.

Answer
Jared; Treat her with patient, treat her with care, treat her with respect- above all, respect.
Respect means you acknowledge her conditions, talk to her about them, when she is not depressed, when she's having the up-swing, talk to her about what she think she wants you to do during her down times.
It can be something simple like...
"Hey, I am a bit confused about your feeling on something, can you help me out? You see...some times when you're in a blue mood, you seem to want me to leave you alone, but I worry for you, and not sure if that's really what you want or just depression talking, so what ya think? If you think that's what you really wish, then I'll respect that, I won't push any more, but I need you to do me a favor...when you need someone, need me, you must promise to let me know..."

...
Or any varietion of that.

Dealing with Depression

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Johnny St. Tai

Expertise

It is okay to feel down and out once every so often, as long as you know to reach out for the hands that will pull you back up. I can answer questions about self esteem improvement, relationship with others, depression, and sexuality. I will/cannot give medical advice without an actual examination of the person and his/her medical history, so for those issues, best to find a local specialist/doctor to be safe.

Experience

Ten years of professional and volunteer counseling, and volunteering for the Crisis Center. Born of a conflict-laiden family, I've walked through violance, addiction, abuse, and more. I survived, scarred but still strong, and I will do my best to help others do the same.

Organizations
Richmond Chimo Crisis Center

Education/Credentials
Interpersonal/Social Relation Specialist, University of British Colombia Socialwork, 2005.

Past/Present Clients
over 500.

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