Can't keep trying to rescue someone who doesn't wanna be saved

My partner has been suffering from depression, or some type of (yet undiagnosed) mental illness, for as long as I've known him. I thought it was something I could help him through. I care about him and wanted to be there to support him. For almost 2 years, I've tried to offer my support as he continues to be unable to hold down jobs, impulsively spends the little money he has on drugs to cope, and completely disregards his health. I've basically been his free therapist the entire time we've been dating. 90% of our conversations are just me listening to his problems. I realize he's in pain and I feel for him, but at the same time, I can't keep pushing my own needs aside in order to attend to his. I’ve told him to go to therapy, which he’s tried, but never seems to take seriously, like he doesn’t trust them or their advice. It's emotionally exhausting, and there never seems to be any real progress. I don’t think there will be until he realizes that he is the only one who can make the changes necessary to improve his mental health, and until he’s willing to put in the work to do that. I want to leave the relationship, but I feel extremely guilty. He’s mentioned countless times that I’m one of the only things that keeps him going, and I’m worried about what it will do to him if I leave. But I also think it’s necessary because if I stick around I don’t see anything changing and I’m going to fall into depression myself. Plus, it is not my responsibility to fix someone else. It might be the push he needs to take responsibility for himself, but on the other hand it might make things even worse. So, how do I go about this? What do I do? How can I continue to offer support as a friend? I really don’t know how to approach this.

12 Comments

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You’ve already said it

Jan 10, 2019 at 8:45pm

Firstly, you’re absolutely right. You can’t save someone else. His situation is only his to fix. I won’t go into dep, but suffice to say that I’ve been there more than once with many people. Some of us have a tendency to be attracted to people who seem to need us. Anyway, you DO need to take care of yourself. Tell him exactly what you’ve said here. He won’t like it, but you need to stay strong and carry out that tough love. Not just for you, but ultimately for him. He will never get better as long as others enable his dysfunctional behaviour.

18 5Rating: +13

You are

Jan 10, 2019 at 9:16pm

... enabling his procrastination. Why should he attempt the motivation of seeking a therapist when he has someone to listen to his meanderings, for free, in the comfort & safety of home? I suggest that you face him, make direct eye contact, and say, "Honey, I love you, and it breaks my heart to watch you self-destruct in front of me. I've shown this love by being patient & supportive. Now, I need you to show your love for me by seeking the professional help that you need to stop this destruction of yourself and our relationship. Otherwise, for my own well-being, I need to place some distance between us."

Good luck! Obviously, the status quo will only worsen if you don't confront this issue.

22 3Rating: +19

You need to leave because it's not working

Jan 10, 2019 at 9:24pm

It's definitely not your job to fix him.

Wish him well and move along, before another year goes by.

I think you should be honest and let him know you love yourself and this is not a healthy relationship for you so you have to leave.

20 4Rating: +16

Anonymous

Jan 10, 2019 at 9:29pm

Like you said yourself, it's 100% up to him.

You want out of the relationship. You have to get out, because it's driving you nuts. The guy is a psychic vampire.

15 5Rating: +10

Anonymous

Jan 10, 2019 at 9:50pm

i've struggled with this line too. how do u love someone who's in that kinda space? well, just like u may need to protect urself if ur loved one gets a highly infectious disease, u may need to take measures to protect urself from the worst of it. tho u need to be strong enough to accept whatever comes and not feel responsible. if u do, u may be in a lil deeper than u wanna be.

5 9Rating: -4

Don't try to be the friend

Jan 10, 2019 at 10:50pm

Break it off and bail.

don't stay in a relationship you don't want. don't try to save them. it's not your job.

but also don't be that ex who feels the need to text or email when mentally ill ex is trying to get stable without them. that's a common dick move to.

8 4Rating: +4

Anonymous

Jan 11, 2019 at 2:08am

You can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. I have treatment resistant depression (extremely difficult to treat), OCD, and PTSD, and chronic physical health issues. Depression is an internal bully and asshole and it wears you down and makes you think and feel the worst things about yourselves it's a living hell. I've tred every ssri antidepressant, been in therapy for years and struggle but still trying even though it's extremely difficult. Is it easy, no? Can things improve for many people? Yes.

Am I ready to date? Hell no. Its difficult and lonely but I have to focus on my health. He needs to do the same with reaching out for professional help. FYI waitlists to get help can be quite long for counsellors, and psychiatrists, but the sooner he gets started, the better. In the interim, he can contact a crisis line for resources, tough days to talk to someone etc.

Coming from someone on the other side, you are NOT responsible for their happiness. If you're health and well being is being affected, you must take care of yourself and your needs. You can still support them as a friend, and set boundaries of what you can and can't do and also contact a crisis line for resources on how to provide support and boundaries or opt not to do that. Ultimately it's up to you and you must do what's best for you. Do not feel guilty if you also don't want him to remain dependent on you if you cut ties completely and end a relationship that sounds very toxic and unhealthy. It is your right, you are not his saviour. I think you know deep down what you need to do, but you have to do it.

Whatever decisions he makes, its on him. Please do NOT feel responsible for him. I've done so much for others suffering too because I know how hard it is, but it took a toll on me, and with therapy I've gotten better at recognizing that as I've got a lot I deal with and have learned through my personal experience and helping others that they must want to get help. You can encourage him to get help, give resources, but ultimately that's it. He has to choose to reach out for help and accept it. He can try different counselors until he finds a good fit and can build trust with. Hopefully he does get help because HE wants to get better.

14 3Rating: +11

If you leave him...

Jan 11, 2019 at 2:11am

... he'll be at greater risk of death from suicide.

But remember, we don't have any responsibility to anyone as women---thank goodness men are responsible for paying taxes for our mammograms tho, right sisters??

4 40Rating: -36

@If you leave him

Jan 11, 2019 at 11:24am

Speaking of someone with mental health problems.....dude, stop procrastinating and go get the psychiatric help you so obviously need. You make the same type of comment to almost every single post!

19 3Rating: +16

@if you leave him

Jan 11, 2019 at 12:13pm

give your freaking head a shake!!!?!?!!?

14 3Rating: +11

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