Originally Posted by bindersbee
He's under extra stress right now with work and is just coming off a bad flare up over the last year. What is the best thing I can do for him? I try and listen and empathize and I'm told over and over again that I just 'Can't understand'. I'm trying, I really am.
It's difficult for anyone to fully understand what another is going through, depression or otherwise. That is expected, and not much you can do about it. Listening is one of the best things, and empathizing can help. However I think it is important that you are not afraid to call him on anything. Don't be afraid to say things which you might consider to be confrontational. While it is nice to have someone to listen and be supportive, it is also important that someone "kick your ***" every once in a while. While dealing with depression is hard work, it should not be used an all-purpose excuse for not doing something.
Originally Posted by bindersbee
It's frustrating too because I have to be completely emotionally independent. He's so self- absorbed fighting the daily battle that he has nothing to give to me. God forbid *I* need the occassional pep talk from him. It's been a hard 2 years and I thought it was under control again (I get that it ebbs and flows) and now he's in the bathtub puking from stress.
What should/can I do? He is taking meds and has the right doctors etc. but I'm the only person he has/will confide in and I need to know what helps the most?
Unfortunately depression does make one very self absorbed, or egocentric if you will. It is not intentional, just part of the mood disorder. It manages to cause more introspection which in turn leads to more negative thoughts, thereby exacerbating the depression. A vicious cycle. If he could be less self absorbed, he'd like jump at the chance, but it is very, very hard.
You have the complete right to do things for yourself, and it is important
that you do them. A spa day? Take yourself out for a movie and some ice cream? Absolutely. Though your support of him is vital to the health of your relationship, supporting of your own mental wellbeing is equally - if not more - important. If you're allowed to cope with your own stress, you won't be in a position to cope with someone else's. And, quite frankly, you deserve to be able to live a life too.
Being on meds is good, so long as they are they right ones. Medication that works great for person A may be bad for person B, and meds that worked 3 years ago may not work now. Getting the right medication is a crap shoot and is extremely frustrating.
As important as drugs are, they are not a treatment (there is no 'cure' for depression), only something which can enhance treatment. Feeling comfortable with one's doctor, and able to use them as a vital resource, is the most important aspect of dealing with depression. If he has a doctor he is comfortable with, it can make a big difference. The type of therapy can play an important role. I've always been a big believer of cognitive behavior therapy.
If you can participate in some of his sessions with the doctor, it will help you get a better understanding of the support process.
Lastly, (if you've made it through my babbling) you deserve high marks for sticking with it. Some can't deal with it and walk away. Take it from me, commitment like yours does not go unnoticed, even though he might not say it.