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Caring for my boyfriend with severe depression - Carers UK Forum

Caring for my boyfriend with severe depression

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Dear all,

I have just joined the forum hoping that I can find some advice and some other people to relate to.
I am caring for my boyfriend of two years who has depression. We have just recently moved to the UK from Germany. He had a very difficult time in Germany and I think it made him feel worse. Finally, it got too bad so we moved here. I found a great job and I like living here. At the same time I feel quite lonely sometimes.

It's lovely to meet you all,
Anya welcome. Do have a browse around the forum, especially perhaps on the section at the end on Mental Health - sadly, you will find that you are not the only one coping with a family member with depression and assorted such afflictions (eg, chronic anxiety, etc).

Do ensure that now you are in the UK you are signed up with a GP, as the GP will be your gateway to the rest of the NHS, and, for your boyfriend, the mental health services that are (sometimes!) availalble. (You may find them not as good as in Germany, as the NHS is under huge financial stress in the UK, and Mental Health is one of the casualties, with long waits and a heavy preference for pharmaceutical approaches - because they are cheaper! - than therapy/psychoanalysis etc etc)

In practical terms, I would say, sign up with a GP for BOTH of you and then maybe YOU go and see them first and tell them your boyfriend has a history of depression, and ask what might be available by way of help for him. From what (not much) I know, I believe that first of all he will be put on a course of anti-depressants, to 'stabilise' his moods, and hopefully 'lift' him a little, and then once he's been on that for say six weeks, he can (I hope) see a therapist to have some 'talking therapy'. I believe the NHS does not do 'talking therapy' until and unless he has taken anti-depressants, as the psychs are so overworked they have to have the meds (medications - ie, pills) give them a 'head start' on treatment.

May I ask if English is your first language (and your boyfriend's) as if it isn't, then 'talking therapy' might be a little trickier for him??? Just a thought!

In terms of you and him, I'm afraid that my own personal opinion is that he MUST agree to see the medics and take the treatment offered, if you are to stay with him.

Depression is an extremely 'self-absorbed' condition, and those with it can find it hard to understand why others find it difficult to cope with them. They are so focussed on their own unhappiness, and cannot see what it is doing to others (or they do, and that simply adds to their bad feeling about themselves.)

So, in a way, it is up to you to set the boundaries and the 'rules', to stop him sinking further and taking you with him, and, as I say, personally I think you need to make it clear he MUST be 'in treatment' (even if it's not that satisfactory) not sinking more and more at home.

What is happening on the money front? Can he still work? I do hope so! In a way, work itself can be very 'therapeutic', in the sense that sitting at home being unhappy is NOT therapeutic, but it may depend on his abilities.

hopefully things will come together for you both, and this will be a happier time coming soon.
Thank you Jenny. I'm really sorry, I wrote a very long post. I hope someone can help me who has more experience with the NHS and mental health care.
English is his first and my second language. Luckily money is not a problem because I found a great job and he is currently working in a temp job (I am sooo glad for that!!).
I have just signed up with a GP and have made an appointment for in a couple of weeks. I am desperate to talk to someone because I feel really sad and lonely and I feel like I can't tell anyone about it.
We had my sister visiting a couple of weeks ago and my boyfriend got really stressed out about it and made the whole weekend really awful. He was terrorizing me the whole time with texts and complaints when I was out with her and made me come back to him one time saying that he cant cope. He speaks of suicide often and I'm always worried. I felt so horrible and my sister later told me that she thinks he is manipulating me and making me miserable and she thinks I should consider that he doesn't always tell me the truth.
I was really shocked because the thought that he might be lying never even crossed my mind. But now I am not so sure what to believe anymore. After the horrible weekend I could finally convince my boyfriend to go and talk to the GP and he said he would because he also wants to feel better. He went on his day off and told me that the doctor said he had severe depression and wanted to section him but didn't because he is working and coping most of the time and I'm living with him. He said he would have to go to the hospital and get assessed and then the doctor would call every day to make sure he's ok.
That was a huge relief! I thought that finally someone was helping us and while I don't want him to be sectioned I thought that now everything would get better. So we were waiting for the appointment and it took about 10 days when my boyfriend said that he would go to the hospital the next day (his day off). So he went and then he told me that they can't help him. He had a head injury a few years ago and he said the MRI showed that the area of his brain where joy is located was dead and that's why he can't feel joy. He also said they did an intelligence test and because he is highly intelligent and has studied cognitive behavior there is nothing they could tell him in therapy. He will have to go back for a while for monitoring but should just do nice things to get better.
So that's it. I felt like someone had stabbed me right in the heart. No one will help. No one cares that he hurts himself and that he talks about suicide. And no one helps me either. How can that be? Is he lying? Did he never go? How can I find out?
I tried to get him to let me come along or ask them if they could help me, but then he gets upset and always finds a reason why that's not possible. It's so horrible now because I'm not sure what to believe.
Hi Anya,

I'm sorry to read this. I know there are people here with experience with mental health problems, but I'm not one of them.
Was you boyfriend referring to an earlier MRI or saying one was done in his recent hospital visit? Speaking as a layperson, I find the reports suspicious that the doctor would phone him every day and that the part of the brain where he can experience joy was destroyed. I may be wrong, but it does sound to me that he is inventing these things to keep you from finding things out.

I realize you can't find out anything from his GP, but could you tell your own GP what problems you are having and ask whether the stories you are being told sound convincing?

I hope someone else will be along to help you.
Hi Anya
Depression and mental health is a very difficult problem to deal with and harder when you are so close to someone.
I have a daughter with depression and anxiety and so very often I feel that I am being manipulated. I dont think she even realises what she is doing - it has become the norm for her.
I do think it strange that on his first visit to the hospital he was given an MRI scan, the waiting time on NHS is quite long unless it is an emergency such as an accident, scull fracture etc or possibly stroke. Even if that took place and you said he had brain damage from a previous accident then they would probably want to compare the pictures and notes
I would seriously try and find out from the GP if he actually went as the hospital would have sent him a report.Maybe it might help you to see a counsellor and get some guidance .
Sorry I cant be more helpful but all I have learnt over the last couple of years is to build up a bit of emotional detachment as you don't want to be dragged down "that hole" with him.
Keep Strong

Anya, warning bells are ringing in my head!

On first reading what you said your boyfriend said I simply thought 'Boxxxox' - it just sounded 'rubbish'! So many unlikely things, or inaccuracies...

- GPs do NOT 'visit every day' (unless in exceptional circumstance, certainly no a young man with depression)

- you don't get an MRI scan the first time you go to see a hospital consultant (unless in exceptional circumstances)

- there is no 'joy' part of the brain that can be injured (unless he's using incredibly 'non-medical' terminology)

- highly unlikely to be sectioned with depression even with talk of suicide (unless he actually makes the attempt)

- no hospital consultant would say anything like ''therapy would be no help to you.'

I'm afraid I rather agree that he is most likely to be making this up in order to go on being the way he is, and not do anything about it...

You say you've been with him two years - has he been depressed this entire time?

I'm not trying to be too negative here, but two years is NOT a long time to invest in a relationship, and sadly there are folk here on the forum who have spent twenty years with a partner with Mental Illness. Please, please please think very carefully about whether you should invest you life with this man. You may love him dearly, and he may love you dearly, and love can, indeed, go a long way, but you may, you know, be condemning yourself to lifelong unhappiness and misery.....

As I say, for me, who am well old enough to be your mum (possibly even your gran!), warning bells are definitely going off in my head.....

PS - nor do hospitals do intelligence tests and then tell the person they are highly intelligent and because they've studied cognitive behaviour they don't need therapy.....

May I ask what your own family think of your relationship with him? Are they worried? If I were your mum I would be worried......your sister definitely sounds worried (and yes, it's worrying as well that he was so hostile to her, and wants you 'all to himself' - NOT a good sign!)

If he knows he is making these things up to 'get you off his back', that is one thing - if he believes them, that is yet more worrying......

Why don't you visit your own GP, on your own, and tell the GP what you have told us about what he has said, and how he is, and see what they say about him, and what help he COULD get (if he consents). That would give you some reliable guidance as to just how 'ill' he is, and you might be able to make better decisions about what you want to do next.

Does he have family in the UK? Have you met them? What do they think of the situation?

It's always difficult to cope with someone with mental illness, but when you are 'a stranger in a strange land', on your own, and with English not your first language, that is EXTRA hard.
Thank you so much for your kind words and advice. It feels really good to see that someone cares.

There's more to the story, I'm so sorry for writing such long posts!

He was given the MRI because the GP thought he might have epilepsy because of his old head injury and because he's been passing out during his panic attacks. He has lived in the UK most of his life so I think the NHS would already have old scans on file to compare.

He said initially that they would send him a letter or email for the appointment. So when I started having some doubts I did a really terrible thing and looked for this letter or email and I couldn't find it in his email account or anywhere else. I know this is a despicable thing to do but I just have no idea what to do.

I have signed up in the same GP surgery as him, but he said he couldn't remember which GP he was assigned to so I'm not sure if he's with the same one as me. I will definitely talk to them about it at my appointment and hopefully they can help.

Would the GP or anyone from the hospital usually try and contact me? Can anyone explain to me how this is usually dealt with?

Thank you so so much for the help, I really appreciate it. I feel really alone, in a strange country far away from all my family and friends.
Thank you for your advice Jenny.
He does hurt himself often, by hitting himself, or hitting his head against the wall and things like that. I have to physically fight with him to stop it.
And he said that he rode his bike into the canal the other day on his way back from work because he felt too sad (and I do remember him coming home really wet one day but at that time I thought it was the rain).
Would that be a reason to section someone?

I am so unsure about everything now. I have no idea what to believe.

Yes I know his family but I am not sure how much they are aware of how bad he feels.
He has hurt me once and then I made him tell his mother because I wanted someone else to know and was hoping that she would help. But nothing happened. I stayed with him and she and I never talked about it.

When he lost it after my sister had left, he was hitting himself in the face and I tried to stop him. He was hurting me and when I told him he stopped. But I don't want that either. That's why I wanted him to go and get counselling so all of this would stop. I don't want him to him and I don't want him to hurt me.

I need to find out if he went to the doctors or not because I need to know if there is still hope.
Reading between the lines he knows exactly what hes doing.and convining you that hes seeking help for his depression when i think its all storys for you to feel sorry and compassionate for and stay with his unreasonable behavior.2 years should be the fun part unreasonable for you to live like this im so sorry to say.