T Nation

Helping Those Who Don't Want Help

When I was on my early 20s, I was quite depressed. Not due to deep reasons, but enough to make me a very negative and grim person. While I managed to grow out of it (to never go back), I remember how pessimistic I was and how I’d shot down any suggestions that people would have for me, to feel better. One distant friend personally tried to cheer me up for a long time, to make me feel better, but it just didn’t work.

Because of this, I’m quite empathetic towards depressed people, because I really know how hard it can be, but right now I have a situation at hand that is costing me my sanity and years of my life.

My (ex)girlfriend had a bit troublesome youth. Father disappeared (and has deleted all tracks, as he’s someone important), mother wanted to abort her, but couldn’t, so kinda disliked her first daughter, her first child. She grew up feeling unwanted.
She has been depressed all her life, but this depression is hidden when she’s in love, but as soon as the honeymoon is over, depression takes over. And is toxic…and eventually kills the relationship.

This is what has happened with our relationship and, as I said, I’m extremely empathetic to depressed people, so I’m really trying my best to help her, but she’s really shooting down any suggestion with excuses and more excuses. She refuses to visit a therapist, because they haven’t helped her in the past (it seems she went twice and expected a miracle) and has a vicious cycle. If she keeps herself busy, she’s fine, but as soon as she has some free time, she falls for it again.

What can I do? I mean, I can just move on and forget about her, but doesn’t seem right, especially when I’ve been in the other side of the fence and I know how hard it is, how dark everything looks.

PS : There’s not even anything for me in here, as she has killed all my attraction and love. I can’t even feel relaxed around her anymore…

Life is short, don’t waste it on people who don’t want to help themselves.

she needs professional help.

[quote]StevenF wrote:
she needs professional help. [/quote]

Pretty much that

No matter what anyone says here it wont matter.

I know youre looking for a fix but you need to get her to a doctor…NOT the know it all assholes on the internet brother…

Something that may help her a lot and she can do on her own if she is willing to put in the effort is get the book “Feel Good” by Dr David Burns, A psychologist that specializes in curing acute anxiety and depression. It kind of speaks for itself and if she gives it a chance I am sure it will help… I never dealt with depression but I had an anxiety and panic disorder for 5 years before I got the right info to fully recover so I know where you are coming from.

Don’t waste your life trying to help people that don’t want it. You snapped out of it when YOU were ready to, not because someone pushed you. She has to go through the same process.

If I were you I’d get as far away from her as possible.

I think one factor (not only one of course) in this issue is how “good” you actually are in supporting someone like this. In other words, do you think you could actually help her in some way, even if you wanted to?

In my experience, most (non-professional) people really suck at being supportive, because at the end of the day they are too selfish. Most people only hand out some simple advice and don’t understand that supporting someone during a depression is not about that.

While having personal experience with depression helps, it does not necessarily make you good at supporting someone.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
I think one factor (not only one of course) in this issue is how “good” you actually are in supporting someone like this. In other words, do you think you could actually help her in some way, even if you wanted to?

In my experience, most (non-professional) people really suck at being supportive, because at the end of the day they are too selfish. Most people only hand out some simple advice and don’t understand that supporting someone during a depression is not about that.

While having personal experience with depression helps, it does not necessarily make you good at supporting someone.[/quote]

I believe I’m fairly ok at it, but I really can’t do much more anymore. I have listened and listened, tried to offer guidance, try to be positive, but sometimes she’s crying and saying she’d love to have a father and a mother to run and cry to, to receive support from them.

Anyways, today I spoke with her again and she’s going to consider going to a psychologist. She’s terrified of the idea of opening herself to someone she barely knows, especially if the therapist is not going to get involved enough and will just give her drugs and leech her money, but at least it’s some progress.

If I don’t see any improvements in the next weeks, I’ll move on. It’s really exhausting emotionally and my patience has a limit.

To my knowledge theres a difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, one can write scripts for meds, one cannot. if shes worried about meds make sure to go to the one that cannot and work from there. i could be wrong but im pretty sure on this, try looking into that.

In the same boat man. Each day is different and it’s a rollercoster. I’ve tried to help so much but I’m to the point in saying “enough” and break it off. She needs to help herself and isn’t wanting it. It wears on me so much that I am behind school and am more lethargic than normal. It has been like this for the past half year. She says all the same things as your girl does. I have to be careful with my words or things will set her off. I shouldn’t have to do that, no one should.

[quote]Fuzzyapple.Train wrote:
In the same boat man. Each day is different and it’s a rollercoster. I’ve tried to help so much but I’m to the point in saying “enough” and break it off. She needs to help herself and isn’t wanting it. It wears on me so much that I am behind school and am more lethargic than normal. It has been like this for the past half year. She says all the same things as your girl does. I have to be careful with my words or things will set her off. I shouldn’t have to do that, no one should.[/quote]

Mine is not so much about jumpy, but it usually triggers after a stressful situation, even if it’s very light. But it’s really wearing me out, as the relationship became toxic and I realized that I was starting to be not so nice with her, as I really didn’t want to hear all that whining anymore, especially when she’s feeding it. I tried to start telling a positive story and she started to talk about some dog that died. That’s why we kinda broke up, because we both needed some air. It was very sour.

[quote]fighting_fires wrote:
To my knowledge theres a difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, one can write scripts for meds, one cannot. if shes worried about meds make sure to go to the one that cannot and work from there. i could be wrong but im pretty sure on this, try looking into that. [/quote]

Both can give meds, as far I know, but the psychiatrist is for “heavier” stuff, so yeah, she needs to go to the psychologist. I believe I’m making some progress.

[quote]cstratton2 wrote:
Something that may help her a lot and she can do on her own if she is willing to put in the effort is get the book “Feel Good” by Dr David Burns, A psychologist that specializes in curing acute anxiety and depression. It kind of speaks for itself and if she gives it a chance I am sure it will help… I never dealt with depression but I had an anxiety and panic disorder for 5 years before I got the right info to fully recover so I know where you are coming from. [/quote]

The problem is that her depression has very deep roots. We’re talking about growing up feeling unwanted, without a father and with a mother who was also depressed all her life due to her youth.

[quote]Fuzzyapple.Train wrote:
In the same boat man. Each day is different and it’s a rollercoster. I’ve tried to help so much but I’m to the point in saying “enough” and break it off. She needs to help herself and isn’t wanting it. It wears on me so much that I am behind school and am more lethargic than normal. It has been like this for the past half year. She says all the same things as your girl does. I have to be careful with my words or things will set her off. I shouldn’t have to do that, no one should.[/quote]

+1

Been there done that; and I generally really want to help people. But with mental issues, they have to want it themselves. The main problem is that they usually think it’s useless, that people are abusive and won’t help them - and this is why an ex-boyfriend may not be the perfect helper.

It seems like your heart is in the right place man. But I guess I agree with the other posters that she has to want it and do it herself.

It’s a damn hard thing though. In college, one of the girls in our group had some issues. We tried a lot of different things, but in the end it was her life and her choices. Some of us blamed ourselves or thought we weren’t doing enough. She went through a pretty intense time with anorexia/bulimia and got really sick before it was all over. She ended up moving home and seeking professional help. It worked. She “friended” me some years back on FB and is now married and seems happy. Anyway, sorry about the vague personal story, but I guess my point is don’t blame yourself. It’s her life and she will make her own choices

Pretty sure a psychologist can’t prescribe meds as it is a PHD instead of an MD. Could be different overseas though.

I agree with all the above information, especially that she needs professional help (psychologists are very easy to talk to) and that you shouldn’t try to solve her problems directly.

I’d go to any lengths to help an immediate family member out. But I’ve stopped being so courteous to bros/gfs with issues. Everyone has got problems and I am not going to waste my life being a martyr to a cause that does not even want me.

The people that we spend so much effort on usually do not want you to help them beyond a limited initial point. It’s currently leading to resentment on both ends for you and will only get worse unless she goes with professional help and makes some changes of her own. I will say that most of these issues will be minimized if they focus on their personal lives - when they build up their health, career, and a family these issues feel self-centered and small.

also, these people are dicks. Most of us have been like that at some point, but got better.

Make sure you’re not confusing attachment with love, and that your standards of what comprises love aren’t too low.

Be there for her. Let her know you care. But don’t let it consume you. That way you don’t have to completely run away, causing both of you to feel shitty. Give yourself space, but still let her know you are there. Oh and yeah professional help. She needs it. good luck.

I seem to be stuck in the same situation as her actually. I am yet to find the solution…

[quote]browndisaster wrote:
also, these people are dicks. Most of us have been like that at some point, but got better.

Make sure you’re not confusing attachment with love, and that your standards of what comprises love aren’t too low.[/quote]

Spoken like someone who doesn’t understand what depression is really like. A depressed mood is not the same thing as major depression.

Major depression is waking up every day for weeks to months feeling like absolute shit, in both body and mind, and no matter what measures you attempt, nothing seems to make it go away or make life feel worth living. This isn’t some normal depressed mood where sleeping it off/working out/treating yourself to something will patch things up. Eventually, you begin to lose the drive to try and fix things. Eventually, you begin to lose the drive and energy to do anything at all. Friends don’t understand it and dislike your constantly black moods, and start to drift away, leaving you alone and shattering your sense of self-worth. Many resort to chemical happiness to get relief for a few, brief hours, which takes its own toll on one’s body and mind. After a while, your situation starts to feel impossible to fix, and ending it all seems like an increasingly attractive option… That is depression.

These people aren’t dicks, they’re suffering and don’t understand how to make things better. Do you think depressed people want to be like that? For some, medication is the answer. For some, counseling may help. For those that are helped by neither, the only way out is to figure things out on your own and be the effector of your own change. Many will never be fortunate enough to do this.

OP, what you choose to do is your decision. If you do not love this woman, it is not your responsibility to fix something that may not even be fixable. Do not let her drag you down, too. If you do choose to support her, you should see that she gets professional help, if you can. Should you choose to support her, make sure that you are working towards helping her, and not enabling her.

Therapists/counsellors can be very hit or miss. At the end of the day they’re just people doing a job. Like any job, most are fairly mediocre at it, a few are REALLY bad and a few are really good. If a person with as difficult and complex a problem as major depression gets a couple of bad ones (or even mediocre ones) it can definitely be enough to cause them to question the value of the whole discipline. Obviously the idea of sorting this out through trial and error or taking your chances getting referred to someone through a general practitioner is a little daunting, especially for someone in that headspace.

It’s also somewhat individual as to finding a good fit so even if someone’s “good” they might not be good for her. That said, a good professional who is a good fit for a given person can be a huge asset on the road to recovery, but in the end the person needs to do the work themselves. They must want it. They quite likely won’t be able to do it by themselves, but they must at least be ready to change. It’s a lot like addiction in that regard.

IMO, if you want to help her, all you can do is encourage her to seek help. If she is having trouble making a specific decision, help her reason her way through it. If she needs a ride to therapy, take her. If she takes a bunch of pills and calls you, call 911. I don’t mean to be cold. What I mean is you can help her with practical, immediate things and give empathy but I don’t think allowing her to hash over all her shit again and again while you make kind, supportive, positive noises isn’t really going to help her. Her talking in circles to her ex about how depressed she is and why doesn’t really get her anywhere, does it?