Forums Home

Lived Experience Forum

Acceptance, connection, support. Share the journey.

Safe, anonymous discussion for people living with complex mental health issues, moderated 24/7 by mental health professionals.

Read the community guidelines
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Something’s not right

New Contributor

Partner doesn’t understand depression.

Hey, my partner of 9 months is starting to get bogged down by my depression. I take ownership of my problems and am careful to not dump everything on him, recently when I have dark days I avoid seeing him because i don't want to weigh him down.


I can now see it's taking a toll on him, he takes it personally that sometimes I don't want to go out or feel down. He says he can't help but take it personally and thinks he's not enough to make me happy. He's said a couple of times 'everyone has problems'. Like he dismisses that i'm dealing with depression.

I'm getting frustrated by his lack of understanding, and I now withdraw even more and am less inclined to tell him if I feel low because I feel he sees it as an attack on him or thinks it's something he should be able to fix?
I honestly now feel it's not fair on him to carry on a relationship as it's obviously hurting him me not being emotionally available right now.


I love him to bits, i'm just prioritising getting better and working through my problems. 


Re: Partner doesn’t understand depression.

@BlondeBipolar   I'm sorry you're having a rough time and that it's impacting on your partner and relationship. It's very difficult for both of you. I can relate. I would encourage you to consider that neither of you are at fault here. Dealing with MI is hard for both the sufferer, their partner and the relationship. It's not a poor reflection on either of you, or the relationship. It's just a reality MI can throw at us. It's also something that can be overcome.


Thankfully in my case (I have MDD and anxiety), with time, experience of each other, and an improved mutual understanding of each others' issues, worries and perspectives, things have improved enormously. There were some pretty rough bumps along the way, and still are, but we're actually better for it all now than we were before. I hope eventually you find the same thing.


We both felt almost exactly as you described. It's tough. Almost like there's this third party (the MI) in the relationship - trying to sabotage it. In case it helps, here's a few things that might be worth a try. If they don't resonate, please ignore them!


Thinking or / treating the MI as a variable that is present, but that neither of you are responsible for fully controlling or fixing. Your partner could be the most wonderful and brilliant person on the planet (perhaps he is!!) - but it would still be unreasonable to think that he should be enough, or be able, to "fix" you, or make your MI go away. It just doesn't work that way (would be great if it did!!). However, while neither of you can't "fix" it, you might both be able to help each other reduce it's impact (on you, him, and your relationship). This might include accepting there are parts of the MI neither of you can control.


Both as the sufferer and the partner, accepting that the MI (and it's impact) is no one's fault or failure, can be a very difficult idea to embrace. But if you can, it can really help.


For us this allowed us to let go some of the angst that can arise - by sometimes shrugging our shoulders and thinking "oh well, this stinks, but we can't fix it or change it, so we'll try to just ride with it". We tried not to blame ourselves or each other for the stinky stuff. If we had to blame something, we blamed the MI. For us, blaming each other (which is so easy to do - especially when something rubbish is going on!!) only ever made the stinky stuff worse. 


We also found that sometimes, resisting or fighting the stinky stuff actually made it worse. Whereas accepting it diffused it a bit (or at least didn’t blow it up into something more).


This doesn’t mean giving up or letting the MI have free reign. It means doing what you reasonably can to look after yourself and manage your MI, but not beating yourselves up for the bits that aren't so manageable. Rather, trying to offer each other support and understanding for those bits - as best you can. [Even doing this a little bit, or occasionally, made a big difference for us. And thankfully (because I suck at emotional communication and vulnerability) it gets easier with practice].


It can also mean giving each other permission to do what you might need to in order to cope with a particular situation or feeling. Trying to remember that looking after yourselves individually is not necessarily selfish, but can actually be in the best interests of the relationship, and ultimately the other person.


For us this includes me not going to some events, or taking 2 cars in case I need to escape and go home early. If I get up and leave the room without talking (even if we're hosting guests), my wife now knows I'm not being rude - but that I'm struggling, am too upset to talk, and/or need to be alone (or that I'm about to curl up in a ball on the floor and it's better to do that in private).


It might help to think that the MI is something you are learning to understand and manage as best you can, but also that your partner is also learning to understand and manage too. You're on the same team - the MI is the problem, the real "enemy". It's not easy for sufferers, but also it's not easy for our partners. If sometimes we don't understand how we feel, or what we want or need - what chance have our partners got of knowing and understanding? This is not a bad reflection on anyone. No one's letting anyone down. It's just something MI can throw at us. So try as best you can to give each other the benefit of the doubt.


I love that you're doing what you need to do to take care of yourself!! That is soooo awesome!!! It's so important. That can actually be the best investment in the relationship you could make. If your partner can come to understand that, it could help you both enormously. But don't be discouraged if it takes him time. It's not an easy thing for him to understand. 


Lastly, I once thought I should leave my partner "for her own good". I felt was dragging her down. That I was a dead weight she'd be better off without. One of my most gorgeous and amazing friends said to me "How do you know she'd be any happier without you? She's a big girl and can decide for herself. She's choosing to stay. Perhaps you should allow yourself to accept that? Who are you to make such a decision for her?". It was an amazing idea I never would have thought of myself - but one that helped me enormously.


I don't know if any of this might help. I hope it does. But mostly I wish you all the best with your health and with your relationship.


Sending support and best wishes,




Re: Partner doesn’t understand depression.

Mental illness makes us selfish.


My ex fell into a depressive stupor (pull the car over to the side of the road, get out & fall asleep on the ground) every time he didn't get his own way. The rest of the time he was manipulating me that he was so, very sorry that he was such a bad, depressed boyfriend that he could never do what I wanted to do. Ever. It was never my turn. The entire relationship was all about him & his depression. His needs, never mine. I had my own, more severe MI to deal with which he gave me zero support with. I was inexhaustably supportive of him in every way, never more so than with his MI. That relationship did me so much damage.


If you love your boyfriend maybe you should set him free. If you have nothing to give at the present time should you be in a relationship?


Re: Partner doesn’t understand depression.

Hi @BlondeBipolar  and welcome to the forum. That sounds like such a tough place to be in, for both of you. You obviously really care about your partner to have this weighing on your mind.

Having someone be dismissive of your feelings and experiences can feel really horrible. I know I feel extra alone when I'm shut down or when it seems people in my life don't understand. Sometimes I try and protect others from what I am going through, as it sounds you might be doing a bit of also. It's pretty lonely, frustrating and tiring to do I find.

It's really hard to try and juggle your own needs with the needs of another person and it's OK to prioritise yourself and getting better if that's what you want and need to do. It's also OK to want to try and work through tough times with someone else too.

Have you spoken with your partner about your thoughts of whether it is fair to carry on the relationship? I wonder what his thoughts on that would be. I'm thinking that he's probably pretty free to leave the relationship if that's what he wanted to do, and the fact that he hasn't might mean he's wanting to ride it out with you even though he seems to be questioning things at the moment.

Navigating relationships and mental health issues can be so tricky. Keep talking and posting if it helps.


Re: Partner doesn’t understand depression.

Hi @BlondeBipolar - so great that you have come to the forums and reached out for support. 


There are a range of experiences in the forums and everyone will have different ways of approaching situations when it comes to relationships. Its something so personal! Peer support in the forums is so great to help you consider many different perspectives, while making sure you do what feels best for you. Its wonderful that you have a range of responses here and support from members. 


Have you got some professional supports to talk to as well, like a gp counsellor or therapist? Sometimes it can also help if your loved one has a bit more information about what you are going through as well. Perhaps you can check out some good resources and read through them together? Beyondblue has some good info about depression here and there is also Relationships Australia if you are interested in talking through relationship challenges or decisions as well.

For urgent assistance, call: