You Asked It

Just Wondering

Wherein we try to untangle some of your most perplexing quandaries. (Ours: how did French Montana come up in TWO consecutive answers this month?)

My boyfriend has been severely depressed for a while now, and he’s told me that the only things keeping him from killing himself are me and his cat. I’m afraid that if we break up (or his cat dies), he’ll go through with it. He’s been to counselors and on antidepressants, but nothing has worked so far. I’m really scared and don’t know what to do. —Julia, Victoria, Australia

I’m so sorry, Julia, for what you and your boyfriend are going through. I want to help you with two plans: an immediate, crisis-management plan; and a long-term plan. Both of these are equally important.

First: if your boyfriend brings up suicide in a conversation, keep him in that conversation. Most suicide-prevention experts advise that you ask at least three questions: (1) whether he has thought about how to do it, (2) if he has a time when he’s planning on doing it, and (3) if he has the tools he’d need to do it. If he says yes to any of those things, this is an actual emergency, and you need to get him to an emergency room. If he says he doesn’t have specific plans, he’s just been “thinking about it,” ask him to talk more about that. Don’t panic, and don’t judge him. Just be loving and inquisitive, and let him talk about his feelings. Often, suicidal people feel like their problems are unfixably huge. But when they actually start talking about those problems, the very act of explaining them to another person can shrink them down to life-size. A lot of our scariest emotions only feel that way because they’re secrets—once we share them they turn from a gigantic, panic-inducing force into a common, if crappy, human experience.

Second: depression is one of the most exhausting, frustrating illnesses in the world to witness. It’s not “sadness”; it’s a black hole in your partner’s brain that sucks away their energy, personality, self-esteem, ability to see anything good about your life together, and sometimes even their ability to remember anything good from their own lives. One of the hard things about loving someone in this situation is that you naturally want to fix their problem, and you can spend all of your time worrying about them, telling them how great they are, and trying to motivate them or support them or solve their problems for them. But even the most well-loved depressed person in the entire world is still going to have depression, because it is an illness, not an emotion. You can’t love it away any more than you can love diabetes away. This can make you feel powerless, which can go on to make you feel helpless, drained, exhausted, and even depressed yourself. Having been on both sides of this dynamic—the depressed person, and the depressed person’s partner—I can tell you that they’re both painful places to be.

Right now, keep reminding your boyfriend that he’s just sick right now, and he has a treatable illness, and to encourage him and support him through the process of finding treatment that works for him. But remember: it’s the doctor’s job to cure him, not yours (or his cat’s). It is unfair for him to put so much responsibility for his health and wellbeing on you, someone who can do nothing about his health and wellbeing. He might not be aware that he’s being manipulative, but he is. Don’t fall into that trap.

It is extra important right now that you spend at least some time each day away from him, focusing on your own stuff. Spend time processing this situation with friends and family. Spend time by yourself, relaxing and having fun and not thinking about your boyfriend—not because you don’t care, but because, if you don’t take care of yourself, the black hole in his brain is going to suck away all your life force, too, and then you won’t be able to help anyone.

Your boyfriend is sick, and if he gets the right treatment, he’s going to get better. But you can’t make yourself sick for his sake. It won’t help either of you. So right now, you can support him, and you can love him. And you can also remember that one of the best ways to do that is to keep loving and supporting yourself. —Sady ♦

Page

1 2 3

36 Comments

  • DreamBoat December 11th, 2012 11:18 PM

    AWWW ROOKIE, YOU ARE ALWAYS THE BEST!!
    May I suggest a little SALT with your PEPA for the female rappers? Salt ‘n’ Pepa are perfect, and “None of Your Business” is like, an amazing anti-slut shaming song! Plus their stuff is SUPER fun to dance to, and it’s pretty much the most rad thing ever!!
    I also grapple with a lot of problems with my music, because I listen to a lot of oldies-type music, some/a lot of which has misogynistic undertones. I’ll be listening to my JAM and then suddenly, I’m like “WAIT THAT IS SO WRONG! HOW COULD I LISTEN TO THIS!?” So, that was some great advice from you lovelies <3

    P.S. I have sooooo many issues with Taylor. "I'll tell all of my friends you're gay"? NOT COOL!

    http://psychedelicdaisy.blogspot.com

  • jenaimarley December 11th, 2012 11:33 PM

    Thanks Rookie!
    Also just wanted to mention: mc yogi is a really dance-able and fresh (also kind of coolly spiritual) rapper!

  • ViolentDreams December 11th, 2012 11:49 PM

    WOW that whole article on college was so spot on. Rookie you read my mind!, reading that article, i was staring at my internal conflict. Thanxxx Danielle for giving such a real perspective

  • estelle December 12th, 2012 12:04 AM

    Dear K.T.-
    about that rap. listen to Macklemore. He is a god. And his producer, Ryan Lewis, is so hot and yummy. He has songs about gay rights (Same Love), thrift shopping (Thrift Shop), consumerism(Wing$), and the beats are siiiick. Plus he has hilarious songs that just make you want to laugh and hug and dance, like American, Penis Song, Castle, And We Danced, Irish Celebration, Can’t Hold Us, White Walls and Victory Lap. Another good rap song is by a guy called Dee-1, he has this song called “You Stupid Fool” about all those rappers who make up stuff that never happened. But its always ok to relax and listen to whatever you want, and you dont have to agree with the message. BUT MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS ARE SERIOUSLY THE BEST I WENT TO 2 OF THEIR CONCERTS IN THE PAST 3 MONTHS. love them. hope this helps to you or anyone reading this.

    • kirsten December 12th, 2012 1:19 AM

      Macklemore is the BEST. Another great song is “Otherside,” which is about drug abuse and how rap influences teens.

      Also, the music video to “And We Danced” is hilarious.

      As a Seattle native (holla!), Macklemore is close to my heart <3

      • tcmaree December 12th, 2012 4:54 AM

        MACKLEMORE + RYAN LEWIS 4LYF.

    • farawayfaerie December 12th, 2012 9:39 AM

      hey! i really like your comment and I’m definitely going to check out Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, ’cause they sound awesome and it feels so good to listen to ‘decent’ music. but it’s also kind of about getting to love rappers even though they’re sexist and/or homophobic, and then trying to ignore that side of them and just go along with it. I mean, i don’t want to not be able to like their music anymore…but I also think it’s important to see others who do good, so I’m really excited to do more research on it.

      • back2thepast December 12th, 2012 12:20 PM

        DUDE Macklemore is my LIFE gaaaahh he is so amazing. And his music videos are spectacular-go watch Otherside Remix Ft. Fences music video it’s really beautiful.I love him because he adresses serious issues but he’s also hilarious. I’m super obsessed with the Thrift Shop Video and the song American-piss yourself humor, he is just so damn good.

  • Christi December 12th, 2012 12:17 AM

    Rap is incredible, but when you listen to FEMALES who can spit BETTER than guys, it makes it a whole lot better!!! Azealia Banks is my favorite right now, though

  • Teez December 12th, 2012 12:45 AM

    really good video of bell hooks on rap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtoanes_L_g&feature=player_embedded

  • adelia f December 12th, 2012 1:22 AM

    Emily, check out schools like Hampshire College and Evergreen. They basically let you design your own course of study and there’s a huge emphasis on the arts. They really require you to be self-motivated (you’re basically setting the standards for yourself along with the professors you ask to be on your committee), which is hard for some people but sounds perfect for you.

  • georgie fruit December 12th, 2012 2:00 AM

    also if you’re into feminism and hip hop culture read the Crunk Feminist Collective blog! it’s under construction right now but they are on tumblr: http://crunkfeministcollective.tumblr.com/ and they are AMAZING.

    also Katastrophe is a Bay Area rapper and spoken word poet who is also FtM trans, and raps about a lot of his experiences living in all kinds of marginal spaces.

  • GorillazFangirl December 12th, 2012 2:24 AM

    Woo hoo! Yoh, another capetonian rookie reader, this is so exciting!

  • orientaltiger December 12th, 2012 2:26 AM

    I am surprised that I’m not crazy. That might sound a little irrelevant and silly but I mean that in relation to the comment about T-Swizzle’s lyrics. I tried to listen to her RED album, and while I liked some of the catchiness (is that a word?) about it, I couldn’t stand a few lyrics at least, because I felt like they were either throwing shade at girls (like hidden slut shaming) or just plain irksome for some reason I can’t pinpoint or remember. I used to question why I was picking out these things / making these up but perhaps I’m not. Funny how I’ve been following Rookie since the start, but it took a Taylor Swift moment for me to register and create a comment. :3

  • MichelleCarneece December 12th, 2012 2:51 AM

    Danielle, your response is incredibly encouraging, because I’m in EXACTLY the same position as Emily (although I’m a sophomore). My true passions are art and writing, and although I’m actually enrolled in a creative writing program at uni, I feel as if I’m not learning as much as I do whenever I’m on my own and involved in my own research. I adore learning, but classroom environments suffocate me (spoiled by unschooling? Probably.) Of course, whenever I’ve mentioned this to anyone, they’ve made me feel petty for “being immature” and “making up problems about school”, so the guilt factor ramps up. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I feel as if I’m disappointing myself the longer I stay in school and drift farther away from a drive to do anything at all.

  • zombiesockmonkey December 12th, 2012 3:54 AM

    I’ve always seen college as a means of pursuing my dreams, by providing me with the financial and basically life stability to do so.

    that being said I can still relate to the frustration of going through the college grind instead of doing what you love

  • La La Land December 12th, 2012 4:48 AM

    Looooove Danielle’s answer!!!
    I’m so so glad you pointed out one can always return to college later! So often people think that if they drop out of school that will be their fate forever. But it’s so much better to go back to studying when you actually want to do it, so that you will enjoy your time and actually appreciate all the amazing resources that your university can offer!
    I didn’t drop out, but directly didn’t go to university after high school, cuz it had been so hard for me that i just knew i couldn’t go on studying back then (even though i really love knowledge, and books, and learning). Just a few years later (after working and having amazing adventures around the world) i found the most amazing university, which I am attending now! If i hadn’t given myself the time i needed i would have never: 1- known about this university, 2-been accepted (my school grades alone weren’t all that special), 3- appreciated being a student so much, 4-had the background of life experience that is allowing to understand so much better a lot of what im studying!
    And really, it was all worth it even just to have access to the amazing library of my university ;)

  • rose-nymph December 12th, 2012 6:40 AM

    Thank you so much Sady, I am pretty much going through the same thing and this has helped immensely. I feel like I’m forever in debt to Rookie and all of the great contributors xx

  • filmfatale December 12th, 2012 7:24 AM

    You know who’s a good female MC? Ana Tijoux. I actually want to get better at Spanish so I can figure out what she’s saying.

    Here’s her video for “Shock”, a song she wrote with Naomi Klein:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=177-s44MSVQ

  • Isil December 12th, 2012 10:45 AM

    You people are beautiful for helping people like this. I’ve never been into a depression problem, or something about my school (i have bad grades, but i like my school) but I’ve always afraid of it and I am not good at all about giving suggestions about serious stuff if someone asks me about it. Thank you all for helping people.

    http://isilnoir.wordpress.com

  • spudzine December 12th, 2012 11:54 AM

    I really liked how different this article was from all of the other “Just Wonderings” Probably because of its serious undertones, and because I feel like I can relate to a couple-if not all-of the questions above. I feel like whether you go to college or not, it all burns down to how driven you are at wanting whatever it is that you want.

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/

  • Miss Erin December 12th, 2012 5:05 PM

    Danielle, as someone who has already decided not to go to college (for now, anyway), I still found your answer REALLY inspiring and encouraging, and want to say thank you for it!

  • Cerise December 12th, 2012 6:40 PM

    Advice that includes a reference to Doctor Who? Thank you Amy Rose!

    Seriously, though, I definitely agree. Don’t pretend to like/dislike things you really don’t/do like. If you hate Monty Python–which would make me sad :’(–then don’t say you *love* it, because then the person in question may buy you Monty Python and the Holy Grail for Christmas and ask to watch it with you.

    Also, it’s totally fine (and fun, even) to not know anything about your crush/significant other’s favorite things. We don’t have to share every interest we have. There was this one guy I really liked who was obsessed with martial arts–something I didn’t really know a whole lot about–but he was cool with that, and we actually had some interesting conversations about what he was learning, which was fun (plus his love for it was adorable).

    Plus, if you both are open and honest about what you like, you may discover something awesome together that you can share. (Like Doctor Who!)

  • FlowerPower December 12th, 2012 6:44 PM

    I can totally relate to that “talking to a boy” example. We just finished reading “The House on Mango Street” and I about the only person (besides the teacher) who enjoyed it. Always makes for an awkward conversation.
    ~Caroline~

  • sophiethewitch December 12th, 2012 7:00 PM

    I’m pretty sure that one of the two people who landed the rover on Mars is a dropout.

  • Martinapovolo December 12th, 2012 7:32 PM

    y’all should get christopher owens to do that ask a grown man thingy!!!

  • lizzyheinie December 12th, 2012 7:51 PM

    Female rappers tumblr link is broken :( Amazing suggestions from all the rookies though!

  • wiltedrues December 12th, 2012 9:48 PM

    K.T. and anyone else who’s interested,
    I recommend listening to Brother Ali! He’s an underground rapper from Minneapolis and is very genuine and has a powerful story and lyrics. He especially focuses on the problems in America like racism and sexism, so I think you’ll find meaning in his work. I’ve met him multiple times and he’s a really great guy with great beats.
    Good luck!

  • insteadofanelephant December 12th, 2012 9:54 PM

    really good advice! i love getting new music and movie ideas from cute boys or girls. people are always willing to show you something they love and will want you to get involved too so you can love it TOGETHER! even if you don’t end up loving each other.

    XX
    blog: instead of an elephant
    Creative Director: Thread Magazine

  • Aurora December 12th, 2012 9:59 PM

    Julia, I am going through a startlingly similar problem, but the guy is not my boyfriend. He cuts himself a lot, and he has been hospitalized three times. He texts me all the time asking for advice, and it’s hard. I can’t fathom how it would feel to be in a romantic relationship with someone who is so depressed. I hope everything works out okay with your boyfriend, and I think I speak for everyone on this site when I say we love you :)

  • insteadofanelephant December 12th, 2012 10:00 PM

    emily from chicago: I don’t think you should drop out just yet! college isn’t for everyone but I hated HATED my entire freshman year but now this school is one of the most memorable, dearly to-be missed things about my life. I didn’t think I was learning anything new, but then I took some more classes and I learned not just new info, but new ways to THINK. I’ve heard of a lot of people transferring, who have become quite happier after they did, so that is always an option too. In my opinion, there is always time for that work hard/travel break after school or during the breaks you’ll have in the summer or holidays. There are also SO many study abroad options that I think you should consider! Don’t cross staying where you are off the list just yet.

    blog: instead of an elephant
    Creative Director: Thread Magazine

  • MaggietheCat December 13th, 2012 12:31 AM

    Although I’m happy with the life I have now, I really wish I hadn’t dropped out of college.

    I went to beauty school after working retail for a while, and I loved it so much. I’m an apprentice in a salon now. I plan to go back to school after becoming a stylist.

    I just wish I had sucked it up and finished school, but I couldn’t pass anything that wasn’t English or art.

    It will take a lot longer and be A LOT more expensive next time around, though.

    Lets just say that I now understand what my dad meant when he said that then was the best time to do it.

  • sneakybacon December 13th, 2012 7:47 AM

    hey K.T, maybe coming from south africa you’ve heard of Die Antwoord? theyre kinda a love it or hate band (i love it) but they deal with a lot of issues that rappers don’t always, the homogenisation of modern music the lines between black and white and out of the two members (most awesome husband n wife team eva!) the girl is so incredible, definitely worth a look

  • hollyholly December 13th, 2012 8:04 PM

    I LOOOVE Rookie and this article and hate to nitpick, but it would be super-cool if you linked to books on, say, an indie bookseller’s website (like Powell’s) instead of Amazon.com! (Here’s When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: http://www.powells.com/biblio/2-9780684868615-1) :)

  • justsomeone December 14th, 2012 11:54 PM

    Rookie, you rock. I sometimes wonder if other people see the world as sickening and wrong, or if I am too sensitive? To me, the world seems wrong, so wrong that the written word will never do it justice, just as it seems there is none of that in this world. Maybe other people ignore it, in the knowledge that there is nothing we will do to rectify this…this pile of blood, guts and pain, sweetened only by those we love and the notion of life itself. God…where is the answer? Buried beneath the remains of the dead and all of those who have died without justice? Or is it just nowhere to be found? I then turn to Rookie and read all the stories and comments of the brave and beautiful readers out there and I can hope again. Thankyou Rookie. In a world where all hope appears lost sometimes, you provide answers, hope and light.