Ask Amy: Depressed partner locked in shame cycle
Dear Amy: Lately, I have been doubting myself in every aspect of my life.
I am always sad. I am working on my teaching certification and I cannot get myself to open my laptop and work.
My boyfriend is amazing, yet I always find something to argue about.
I get very upset over nothing.
Yesterday he said he’s losing interest in me because I always find something to argue about.
I was annoyed at him because I sent a photo of the two of us to him and told him to post it on Facebook. He got upset. He has not posted anything of us on social media since we started dating over a year ago.
When he was in another relationship, he would post photos of his ex-girlfriend all the time.
I wonder if I’m not good enough? I’ve always been a confident person, however with him I feel insecure. — Lost
Dear Lost: I assume you ordered your boyfriend to post a photo of you because you are insecure and grasping at straws. You are also testing him and forcing him into a corner.
You seem locked into a shame cycle. Picture a compass with these points: Negative thoughts, negative feelings, negative self-worth, destructive behavior, leading to negative consequences, which leads right back to negative thoughts, etc.
Your behavior — being sad, argumentative, procrastinating, and doubting yourself at every turn — are all indicators of depression.
You cannot help being depressed, but you must do everything possible to deal with it. See your physician right away and ask for a referral to a therapist.
This might not be the right time for you to be in a relationship, in part because you are acting out in anger, which affects your boyfriend’s self-worth, as well as yours.
You acknowledge your negative behavior (good for you), but now you should really commit to working on yourself.
With treatment, you will gain insight, strength, and tools to cope.
Dear Amy: Our large family is all grown, with kids in various life and career stages.
Within the limits of our physical and financial ability (and based on their needs), we help our kids as much as we can.
In the last few years we have allowed two of our adult children to live with us on a short-term basis (less than a year) when moving states to take a job or while attending college.
Early this year, our son announced that he and his family would need to move in with us, as he was applying for a new job.
He lives 40 minutes away from us and owns a house. Living with us, his commute to the new job would be shortened from 40 to 10 minutes.
We were concerned about some incompatibilities between us (differences in diet and housekeeping style, and a dog) that we thought could damage the relationship if we lived together.
We also didn’t feel that we needed to help in this way, because he is local and financially stable. He rejected our reasoning, claiming that he has always been the least favorite. Now he is completely estranged from us.
Was it a mistake to allow any of our kids to live with us if we could not have offered that to all of them? — Struggling
Dear Struggling: It sounds as if your son was testing you. He wanted you to prove that you put him on the same level as his siblings, by making an almost irrational demand. When you responded rationally (as he knew you would), you confirmed his belief, enabling him to justify pulling away.
Yes, it is important to treat all of your children fairly. But fairness in families is more about balance than equality. The children who don’t need you as much for material or financial help should take pride in their own independence and competence, and you should stand firm and fair.
Dear Readers: In a recent column, I answered a question from “Bit,” who had regular contact with an aggressive dog. In my response, I quoted a dog behaviorist who advised anyone in this situation to: “Act like a tree.”
Yesterday, as I was jogging up a country road, a very large dog bounded up to me, barking and snarling.
I remembered the advice, and stopped, stood very still with my hands at my sides, and did not make eye contact. The dog quickly lost interest.
I share this because I want readers to understand that I am growing, changing, and “learning new tricks,” just like you are.