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partners of those who suffer from a psychiatric disorder
need help with dear friend 
11th-Oct-2007 02:48 pm
happy puppy!

I've been in the community a while lurking, and I think I posted an intro message but can't remember so I'll recap that briefly.

I'm 36, from Pittsburgh but visiting my best friend in San Francisco, female, unemployed. In this case my "partner" is my best friend, who I've known since I was 14; I'll call him G. He's going to be 38 around Thanksgiving. I've known him 22 years and although there have been times when we've gone months without speaking, there have been times more recently where we talk every day. He's single. I am staying at his apartment for a three week visit. He is suffering from severe depression and anxiety; a book I brought with me identifies symptoms of a major depressive episode and says if a person meets 5 or more they're having a major depressive episode, and he meets more than 5.

First night I was here, we got into a heart-to-heart where he was very upset, but he was talking about himself and it became very clear he's both seriously depressed and anxious. I talked to him about getting properly diagnosed and seeking treatment - preferably medication since therapy hasn't worked in the past - and he said at this point, he doesn't want to seek treatment because if he wasn't depressed, he "wouldn't be me". I believe he's been depressed ever since I met him when he was 16.

I have "How you can survive when they're depressed" but I left it at home, not thinking I'd need it. My friend is on vacation the whole time I'm here, so he's not working. We're spending all our time together, and just watching his anxiety when he drives is enough to make me ask if I can drive instead, cause he reacts so strongly and disproportionately.

He has said that he's go so little enthusiasm for where he lives (the city and the apartment) that pretty much whatever I want to do on my trip is fine by him and he'll come along, or not as appropriate. It's really tough to spend all your time with someone who's so anxious and so disinterested he can't even decide what kind of food he wants for dinner because he doesn't really care. I'm sure you all know the feeling.

I'm hoping some of you would be willing to give me advice on two things:

(1) how to survive this three weeks without wanting to strangle him. It's a lot better with him just being a friend than if he were my boyfriend, because I can step back and say "not my problem" about some things and just not be bothered by them. I had been considering moving out here into his extra bedroom, but in just four days, it's become clear that I can't live with someone who's like this all the time. He fails to do things that are important and good for him - example, if he's sick, he won't go to the doctor, because he's a cheapskate. This also means he won't buy things that might make him happy, because he literally never sees something and thinks "ooo, I'd really like to have that!" It's like he can't even get up enough enthusiasm for it. He exercises and he's generally overweight, but together we're starting to watch what we eat, and he'll be losing some weight this month.
(2) how to persuade him to seek treatment. I can't say getting treated won't change him, because it will, but he NEEDS that change. With luck, treatment WOULD make him "not himself" because himself is very tightly wound and anxious and depressed, and he's been like this forever. He's never had a serious girlfriend other than me when we were teenagers, and he's talking at age 38 about never bothering to try to date another woman for the rest of his life and not even being remotely interested in sex ever again. I'm a treated depressive but I still sometimes want to just be a hermit and shut everyone out of my life; he's actually DOING it. I'm probably the only person in the world he lets in. He has other friends but not close ones, & he hates his family so they'd be no help. I hate to think what would happen to him if anything ever happened to me.

I recall in Virginia there were support groups for depressed people. I can't remember what they were called; I went to one with my husband a couple times. Does anyone know if there's anything like that in San Francisco? Maybe I can just take him to one of those and that might help him see how critical treatment might be? He's not suicidal, thank God, but he's living a non-life and may someday look around and realize he's practically dissolved into nothing so he may as well not be alive. Is dragging him to a support group a terrible idea, though?

Thanks all for your time and advice.
11th-Oct-2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
DBSA and NAMI have support groups. Check their websites for specific information. You can't make him go, of course, but if he's willing it might help.
12th-Oct-2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
NAMI's the one I was thinking of - thanks!
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