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  1. #1
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    Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    I have experienced depression before, and successfully received treatment via antidepressents and therapy for about a year. It has been 5 years since I was severely depressed, but I do indeed remember what it was like.

    My ex-boyfriend who is now one of my closest friends was diagnosed with severe depression in September. He is currently taking antidepressents and going to therapy.

    I feel that I have been very supportive. I'm there for him on his bad days and his good days. I'm understanding of his mood swings and I gently encourage him to take care of himself and to do things that he finds pleasure in. I know that I am one of the few people he confides to as well. While he avoids talking to most people in his life, he will always pick up the phone when I call, and he also calls me at least once a week just to chat. I enjoy doing nice things for him like dropping off homemade cookies or inviting him out for dinner. We usually have a positive and pleasant time together.

    The problem is that he can be incredibly self-centered and inconsiderate of my feelings. While he is down, I understand that feeling that low will make it hard to notice other people's feelings and care about them. But even when he is feeling really good, feeling better, he doesn't treat me with respect. I know that on one level he does appreciate my presence in his life, but mostly I think he just takes me for granted because I have consistently been there for him since he was diagnosed. I care about him very much and I want to help, but sometimes he hurts my feelings and I wouldn't put up with this from any of my other friends. It almost seems like he uses his depression as an excuse to be a jerk to everyone, not just me. He said he has been feeling a lot better lately and it seems the better he feels, the worse he treats me.

    I am conflicted about how to handle this. I am normally very patient and this weekend I simply became fed up. I didn't get angry, but I told him very clearly that he hurt my feelings and although his apology was appreciated, what I really would like is for him to try to be more considerate. I explained that I normally try not to take his mood swings and flakiness and sour attitude personally, because I know he is depressed. But that it does put a strain on my friendship and I often wonder if he would even care if I stopped checking in with him, stopped initiating things for us to do together. I said that if it wasn't for my effort, I probably would never see him again and he wouldn't even care. He replied, "You're probably right." Ouch. Then, he started crying and we could not finish the conversation. He said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry I treat you so badly" and then refused to talk any further.

    I feel bad that I made him cry. I care about him and I don't want to abandon him, I think he needs my support. But how can I do this without becoming a doormat?

  2. #2
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    hi Qgirl,
    you are a very good friend to your ex-b/f... and hey not many ppl would still be friends with an ex...... you did say he calls at least once a week to chat... so it does sound like he really does appreciate your friendship. unfortunately it does seem as if he has taken your friendship a bit "for granted", maybe without realising it tho. I'm glad you were able to point out to him how his behaviour and comments have made you feel, Well done!
    But how can I do this without becoming a doormat?
    maybe you can take a step back?? and let what you have said to him sink in with him. If he rings up and needs to chat or talk and his attitude toward you isn't nice,, just say so straight away maybe (nip it in the bud) maybe if he's angry or such.. and you feel he is taking it out on you.. maybe you could say " hang on a min, You do realise i didn't cause this to happen,, I'd rather you didn't take the head off me! (don't know what phrase you'd use, but u get what i mean i hope!). let him know you are there to listen and maybe help him to come up with some ideas on how he can handle such and such,, but not there to be treated like a verbal punchbag!.

    Given that he is an ex b/f.. i'm wondering if he was like this toward you during your relationship. It may be that his behaviour is not "depression related" at all but like u said above an excuse to treat you badly. Just throwing this out there okay. No insult or offense intended. but obviously there is a reason he is an ex b/f and if this is it?. I'm not asking you the reason ye broke up.. just saying look back and see if maybe this was his behaviour back then.
    Depressed or not tho .. you deserve to be treated properly by him. if he can't or won't make the effort to do this.. then you might have to reconsider your friendship with him.

    I don't know if any of this helps...
    hope it does.

  3. #3
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    He said he has been feeling a lot better lately and it seems the better he feels, the worse he treats me.
    if he's feeling better and treating you worse, you should be able to speak up and say to him that you don't need to put up with that kind of treatment. if he treated you worse as he felt worse, it could be attributed to the depression, but this seems to indicate that it's anything but the depression.

    i think foghlaim had a good idea, just each time he treats you badly, take a step back and say you'll come back when he's in a better frame of mind. make it clear to him each time that it's not appreciated. if the behaviour continues, then you'll have to decide if you're able to live with it or not.
    ~ our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall - confucius
    ~ it is the journey, not the destination, that matters
    ~ keep hanging on, the sun will come shining through for you again

  4. #4
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    Thank you, Fog and Lady, for your helpful advice.

    I just wanted to make sure that it was within my rights to stand up for my feelings even though he is emotionally fragile because of his depression. He has never dealt with severe depression before and he is starting to use it as an excuse for everything -- for his surly attitude, for flaking, for being abusive, for not going to work, etc..

    I understand what it feels like to victimize yourself and feel put upon, but I know that HE knows that I have only ever been nice and supportive towards him. In fact, we broke up in mid-July because he said he felt no passion towards me because I was too nice. TOO NICE. We didn't talk for a couple of months and had written him off. But then he called me in September, apologizing, and wanting to talk because he was experiencing severe anxiety and depression and didn't know what to do and didn't know who else to talk to. I comforted him and urged him to seek professional help. I put aside my own personal heartbreak and agreed to be his friend because he needed me. He hasn't dated anyone else since he was diagnosed, I suppose I am a friend but also a surrogate girlfriend (we are strictly platonic, though.)

    Now that he has been on antidepressents for a while and has a great therapist, he is on the slow road to recovery and he finally feels optimistic that he will get better. I suppose he feels like he doesn't need me anymore and so he no longer treats me with courtesy or is even interested in spending much time with me anymore.

    I guess I just need to face the fact that he used me to get through his hard times, and now I'm just being tossed aside because he has his meds and his therapist now. I admit, that part of me is still in love with him and I was hoping that my loyalty and dedication as a friend would cause him to appreciate me and maybe when he felt better we could try getting back together. It seems like no matter what I do, he is always going to think I'm not good enough for him. Good enough to lean on, but not good enough to love in return. Story of my life, I guess. Maybe the best thing for me to do is to walk away.

  5. #5
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    Maybe the best thing for me to do is to walk away.
    That's often good advice, especially if one has already voiced their concerns about being unappreciated, only being "used," etc.

  6. #6
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    It seems like no matter what I do, he is always going to think I'm not good enough for him
    That may be his distorted thinking and views but in my eyes you are way too good to him and I believe that your best statement was the last one.

    Maybe the best thing for me to do is to walk away
    Although it is a loss that is going to need to be grieved just like any other, you need to take care of yourself and do what is best for you and if that means walking away, then so be it. You are the main priority in your life.

    Take care

  7. #7
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    Thanks, Daniel and Nancy.

    I wonder if in time he will look back and realize how good I was to him.

    I am going to take a step back and just leave him be. Although I was the one who was claiming I was being mistreated, by the end of the conversation he was crying and had turned it around as if I was attacking him. He tends to avoid conflict at all costs so, maybe he will call me, but most likely he won't -- at least for quite a while. I'm not going to make an effort to reach out, I'll just go my own way for now.

    Thanks for all your input, it makes me feel not guilty for walking away.

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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    it makes me feel not guilty for walking away
    You have nothing to feel guilty about for walking away, you are doing what is best for you at this time and taking care of yourself is the number 1 priority. Maybe in time he will realize how good you were to him but until that happens, if it does, I think you are making the best decision for you and only you.

    Take care

  9. #9
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    Qgirl, you've made the right decision, in my opinion. Your ex-boyfriend sounds like a manipulator of the first order. If he can't get what he wants by demanding, he'll try cajoling, generating pity - whatever works. The problem is his, not yours, but he'd like to make it yours. That way, he can blame you when things don't go as he wishes them to go.

    It's not up to you to support him, and not up to you to serve his needs. It's up to him to take the responsibility to deal with his issues. By walking away, you're really doing him the greatest service you could do. You're leaving him to deal with his problems in the way he should - by owning them and doing something about them for himself.

  10. #10
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    Re: Being treated badly by someone who is depressed

    I just had two thoughts. The first one is that since he is feeling better maybe he feels like he doesn't need you as much so therefore the fact that he is now treating you worse. And the second one is that he sounds like he may be just like I was. I am an expert, I have serious skills at getting people to feel sorry for me. I liked it. I truly feel like I enjoyed being depressed. Being happy was alien and uncomfortable. It was not until someone gave me a little (a lot) of tough love and said that they were done and we're about to walk away that I realized that I was being incredible selfish. I chose to be depressed. The massive doses of the many anti-depressants and anti-psychotics never helped. The only thing that helped was my self-determination to change my life.
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