Need advice - caring for a depressed BF

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi all. This is my first post and I hope you can provide some advice. I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years. He has depression, adhd, and anxiety. Our relationship has always been up and down but without any real issues. Recently his depression has been really bad and I feel that he takes it out on me, an emotional punchbag. He has even blamed me for his depression. He's just finished his last session of CBT and I worry this is not enough.
I love him so much but I feel at breaking point and it's tearing our relationship apart. Please give me any advice how you all cope.
Thank you
Is he saying those things when he is frustrated/ angry or does he just say them? The problem with any type of treatment is it only works if the person receiving it actually puts the hard work in during and after it's finished so if he is saying these things in order to get you to do what he wants or to make you feel bad then firstly that's actually emotional abuse and none of the conditions you mentioned would account for that sort of thing but if he is only saying it when he is angry then anger or stress management would possibly help. Have you tried relationship counselling? or telling him out right how he is making you feel and that if it doesn't improve then you will have to have a serious think about whether it would be better if you went your separate ways because you need to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else and if you go down hill then your both in trouble
Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. He says hurtful things when he is angry. Things like how I've done nothing to help him through the depression and that I have been useless. I feel like I could have done more, but I always make sure he doesn't need to worry about little things like washing up/laundry/cooking but he's so ungrateful.
I feel selfish for even complaining about this but it is so so emotionally draining and I really don't want us to break up. We would make up and then next week there would be another argument about how rubbish I have been. It's a vicious circle I can't imagine it going away.
I've suggested couples counselling but he doesn't want to do that. I feel so guilty even posting on here, as he is going through such a worse time.
Hi sally,

Believe it or not almost every carer feels how you do, that they aren't doing enough, that they should be doing more etc. Even I feel like that especially for the first 2 months after my wife first got sectioned, but what you have got to remember is that as I said even though it's hard you take care of your own needs first before you can even think of others, otherwise you will just burn out and break down then we do what we can, at the end of the day he has depression, ADHD and anxiety which means you can ask anyone that works in the mental health profession and they will tell you that none of those three conditions fully account for the way he is talking to you and he is mentally capable and responsible for his own actions. sounds harsh I know but it's true.

Secondly you are in no way selfish for wanting to talk about this and your not complaining you are asking for help. If you want to stay together then ok but you need to start making time for yourself and make sure you have the support you need (in wales we have carers support called HAFAL) if you don't you will lose yourself and begin to crack up...... remember your needs first both mentally and physically. It may also help if you discuss how you are feeling with your GP as they will be able to refer you to any help or support that you need and can also liaise with your partners mental health team to help them help him.

I do feel you need to break this 'vicious cycle' Sally and whether that's by staying together and you both getting the help and support you need or if it's by deciding enough is enough and walking away it's entirely up to you and you can't let any one not even your partner decide which is the best option for you, but either way you are going to have to be brave and strong because there is no easy answer or quick fix.

Definitely do not feel guilty about posting on here, we all need to get things off our chests and when the person we care for is the one person we would normally be able to turn to whether it's our partners, wifes or husbands its almost impossible to find someone else that you can trust enough to talk to. As I said all carers feel the same guilt about admitting they might be struggling but believe me we all do, it doesn't make us bad people it makes us human, as humans we aren't designed to carry the world on our own we are designed to spread the load between us if you get me
Welcome to the forum. As an outsider with no experience of MH issues, your relationship sounds very unbalanced. He's very self focussed, while you do all the housework to take pressure off him. Maybe he just doesn't realise how much pressure that puts on you?
It's much easier to blame everyone else for a problem than accept personal responsibility for a problem.
I like to think that ultimately, we are all responsible for our own happiness. I'm going through a tough time at the moment, connected with my disabled adult son, but I always try to find some good things to be grateful for, which make me feel better, every day. Is your BF trying to find something which makes him feel better?
One thing I've learned from being a carer on this forum, is that sometimes we allow others to have control over us, for a variety of reasons, but in reality, the only power they have over us is the power that we let them have. It took counselling for me to realise that my mum controlled me.
I think some counselling for you, specifically looking at your relationship and how to manage your BF, would be really helpful. Maybe think about how you can make it work, or whether deep down, this is the time to either end the relationship? If not, how to make it work again? Ask your GP to refer you.
Can I ask whether your life is now entirely spent dealing with him and his needs? You need some sort of relaxing escape, a club, group, exercise class, anything which you really enjoy.
Stop waiting on him hand and foot! You're not his servant.

He MUST do stuff around the house and to look after his own needs. Using his illness as an excuse to be lazy and ungrateful is utterly unacceptable. Re-read your posts as if they came from someone else.

The more you do for him, the more ungrateful he'll be.

Does he thank you and be appreciative of you when he's not being 'angry' as you call it? If so, ie, if he has two personalities - his 'real' (nice!) self, and his MH-angry (horrid!) self - and when he's in the former state then he is a decent, nice, appreciative person, then fine (or fine-ish!), but if he doesn't, if he never apprceciates what you do for him, then NOT acceptable!

From what I've read on this board, many with MH can have really 'nasty' bouts, when they rage and rant and accuse and are absolutely vile to the person caring for them who loves them, BUT when they 'come out' of those episodes, they are remorseful and regretful and appreciative. That's 'acceptable' - as in, you can see a decent person there, and can then pity and care for them when they are in their 'MH-mode' so to speak.

So, how is your BF to you when he is not angry?

If he is still a 'good' person when not angry, and is appreciatve and loving, then I think the next step is to work out what is the best way to be towards him yourself when he is in MH-angry mode. Like I say, it's about what is acceptable for you to 'put up with' (all the accusations of being useless!!!!!)(when he is SO DAMN LUCKY to have you there!), and how to deal with it. Do you 'counter' it - ie, refute his accusations, tell him to get stuffed, walk out of the house, say 'there there' or whatever others here with more experience than I have can recommend.

It is a careful balance between 'healing tolerance' (which is good) and 'unhealthy tolerance' (which is not!)

See my next post on the difference between SUPPORTING someone through MH and merely ENABLING them to continue in the throes of it.
Hi again - I wrote the following for another thread (Robin - caring at uni)(might be worth reading for yourself by the way, the whole thread, as it may ring bells with you??)

Support vs Enablement (how tricky is it to tell the difference??!!!)

I've been trying to think of how to describe /define the difference between 'supporting' and 'enabling', and at the moment I'm coming up with something along these lines:

When you SUPPORT someone you provide a kind of underpinning for them, to 'firm up' the ground beneath their feet, so they can walk FORWARD....ie, your support acts like a 'bridge to a better place'.

When you only ENABLE someone you simply put something under their feet that keeps them where they are, and allows them to go on staying there without any forward motion.

Support is a stepping stone. Enablement is a tethered raft.

Support is dynamic and moves forward

Enablement is passive and static.

Support helps someone progress.

Enablement allows them NOT to progress. In fact, it prevents them from progressing!
Another thought....

I think sometimes when we want to help someone, but feel powerless to do so (you can't alas wave a magic wand over your BFs head and 'cure' him of his MH) it becomes very very easy to lapse into what are perhaps 'displacement help activities'.

You'd love to 'really help' your BF - ie, 'cure' him of his MH - but you can't, so you 'displace' your efforts into other things - ie, cooking/cleaning/laundry etc instead.

This makes you feel better because you can think 'Well, I'm doing what I can for him!'.....and ditto with offering sympathy etc etc etc.

But this may not be (probably isn't!) what he actually NEEDS!

What he may need - ie, to help him beat his MH - is 'firm love' treatment for you, where you set reasonable expectations for him (essentially 'showing progress')(allowing for relapses!) according to what he can manage with his MH.

'Pouring yourself out for him' may be what you CAN do - ie, it's within YOUR power to do this, and somakes you feel you're 'doing your best for him' - and indeed, it takes a toll on your own emotional and physical energies no doubt about that!

But, sadly, it may actually be not what is truly helpful to him in terms of him getting out from under his MH.

Like I say, it's a very tricky balance to prevent support slipping into enablement.

Wishing you all the best, but the fact that you've taken to this forum does seem to indicate that you are reaching a point where you can't just go on the way you have been. Something has to change now!

Kind regards, and he's a lucky chap to have you. I really, really hope that his 'nice- self' shines through when he is not overwhelmed by his MH issues. Jenny
For Jenny Lucas, Just wanted to thank you and praise you for your post on support and enabling, I found it very useful. :D
Thank you all for your kind replies, I'm overwhelmed how nice everyone is!
When he is depressed it's a lot of anger and lashing out, which is pretty constant right now. We can't even spend a whole weekend together without arguing. But when he is happy, everything is great! And I feel like we can get through this.
Counselling is my last resort. Until very recently I haven't told anyone, not even my parents about his depression. They would be so worried!
How do you all cope though? And how would counselling help? When your loved one is shouting at you for every.single.thing it is so hard not to shout back. How do you control your own emotions? I feel like I'm constantly trying to defend myself. I'm so tired on crying all the time but I love him and i want us to work. I work with a woman who has very bad depression so I can't get any 'peace' there either!