Depressed and Alone

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

A little over two years ago I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. I left my friends and my life on the east coast to help mom take care of him. Before he passed he and my mother adopted my young niece and nephew. After his passing I stayed on to help her with the kids. She decided she no longer wanted to live where my father had passed, so we moved out west. I had a female friend that I kept in contact with and we decided to make a go of a relationship. My only concern is that she was much younger than I (she was 23, I was 35). She moved out west with me about 6 months after I came out.

Almost immediately there were problems. She was insecure and jealous. I chalked this up to her not knowing anyone and not working. I begged her to find friends or a job, but she became more clingy and I felt I couldn’t breathe. We split up for a couple of weeks and then decided to try again. I found out a month later that, while we were apart, she slept with one of her friends. I had difficulty dealing with this. I know we weren’t together, but she told me she loved me countless times, even when times were rough. I didn’t understand how she could have done that if she loved me. We still tried to make things work, though.

I began counseling for the depression I never dealt with at the passing of my father. I also began taking anti-depressants. But the arguing continued. She was even more distrustful than before. I felt I was being punished for her mistake. I couldn’t have female friends. I never went anywhere without her. I was feeling cornered again. She still wasn’t working regularly so I was taking care of our financial obligations. She would get upset and tell me I never took her anywhere. I tried to explain that I didn’t have the money because of the bills I was paying.

Now, before she came out west, she knew that I needed to be with my mother to help with the kids. I was living in northern CO when she came out and my mother was living near Denver, renting a home. She finally found a home she wanted to buy (with plenty of room for my ex and I) and we made our arrangements to move. But the arguments would not stop. We began to argue in front of the kids, and I couldn’t take it. I knew this was unhealthy for them and I couldn’t allow it to continue. I told her as much and she said that she would just move back home. She would say this a lot, so I assumed it’s what she wanted. I let her go. This was Christmas Eve 2012.

We kept in contact and a week later she told me she was moving back out. She had contacted her old job and an old coworker and lined up work and a place to stay. She came back out right after New Years and we began to talk again. She said she wanted to work it out and that she loved me. She would even come visit and stay the night. But, toward the end of January, I stopped hearing from her. Recently I learned that she is in a relationship and has been since Jan. 19! And she has severed all means of contact. Why would she say she loved me and wanted to work it out if she had begun to see someone?

Needless to say that didn’t help with the way I have been feeling. There is also the issue of my living arrangements. I have moved into the house my mother bought. I feel I have given up my freedom once again. I don’t know anyone here, don’t have any friends. All I do is go to work, the gym, and home. I feel so alone. I don’t think I could get back with my ex, even if she wanted to, because I don’t think she ever really loved me. How could she if she could forget about me so quickly? But I don’t know how to meet anyone else. Or if I should right now.

I am not suicidal, but I do wonder if people would be better off were I not around, if that makes any sense. I feel like I should just disappear, cut off all contact, and start all over somewhere new so I don’t have to burden the few friends I have or my family anymore. But I also don’t want to abandon my mother to raise these kids without any help. I think I’m doing what my father would have wanted, but I know he wouldn’t want me to hurt like this. I just want it to stop. What should I do?

A: Please stop torturing yourself about your former girlfriend. She sounds very insecure and immature to me. You were right to be concerned about the age difference. At 23, she is just figuring herself out as an adult. She wanted to be your everything and you, being in your mid-30s, had taken on other responsibilities. The timing just wasn’t right for the two of you.

I don’t think it would be wise for you to revisit that relationship. It’s time to move on and to find someone who is interested in sharing you with the rest of your family. Believe me: There are mature women who would be delighted to be with someone who is as responsible as you are.

I admire your willingness to take on helping your mother raise the children. But it also sounds like you and your mother didn’t think things all the way through. I understand why your mom didn’t want to live where she had lost her husband. But by moving west, she also separated herself from other supports and friends who could be helpful right now. In your good intentions, you did the same. I don’t know if that move can be undone or even if it should be, but it does explain why you are both feeling like you don’t have enough emotional or practical support and are perhaps leaning on each other too much.

You are right that you gave up some of your freedom. You have taken on a co-parenting job and giving up freedom is always part of the parenting package. But it also sounds like you and your mom aren’t doing all that you could to make the many transitions you are going through work better for both of you.

It’s time for a calm, rational, “let’s figure this out” kind of talk. You need to be meeting other young people and having a life. Your mom needs some help. How can you keep both needs in balance? Can you, for example, alternate nights “off” from child care? If you have a clear schedule, you can each commit to doing some new things outside of the house.

Although going to the gym is a healthy start, you need to also be joining in some activities where you can meet people your age and stage of life. That means getting involved in something that truly interests you where there are others who share those interests. Yes, it takes effort. But it also takes a kind of effort to be depressed. Trying out a volunteer job, or participating in a political campaign or joining a team or taking a class will get you further than being at home every night wishing you were elsewhere.

Please remember that thousands and thousands of people relocate every year. Most adapt to their new surroundings and make new friends. If you and your mother decide to stay there, you can too. Look around. Commit to moving forward and finding a niche for yourself in your new community. Don’t quit until you do. Not only will you be happier, but you’ll be a better role model for the kids and more helpful to your mom.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Depressed and Alone. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/25/depressed-and-alone/