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Seeking Help with Ex-partner with Mental Health Issues



New member
Feb 13, 2021
I had been in a 5 year relationship until back at the end of January, and my partner was dealing with grief of two grandparents during the pandemic, and it was like he just changed overnight from someone who was super happy with me and positive about our future together to having a huge breakdown because I was going to Japan for 12 months and he said he couldn’t cope with me leaving because he loved me too much, and he couldn't deal with any more loss, and then all of a sudden completely shut down emotionally, and was super cold towards me. He became very withdrawn, was spending all of his time making depressing posts on social media about grief and breakups, talking to strangers on social media, and obsessing over events from the past. He also became obsessed with finding pictures of his cat that died around 10 years ago, and looking at old photos. Another odd behaviour I noticed was he changed all of his social media photos to 10 year old pictures that don't really reflect what he looks like now, which I assumed was all part of how he was processing his grief.

Two weeks later he told me he had feelings for someone else he had been speaking to on the internet for a couple of weeks, and we should take a break. I was incredibly taken aback by this, as we had had an incredibly loving and amazing relationship prior to the previous two weeks, and we had both bragged about how we didn't understand couples that were hating each other's company in the pandemic, as we loved spending time together. During this time I was staying with my mother and her new partner, who put me under a lot of pressure to get him to make a decision about what he wants, as the living arrangements were causing my mother's partner stress, and so they wanted me to either move back in with my partner immediately or get a flat of my own. Of course I knew that the situation wasn't going to be resolved in this time, but I met up with him anyway. We ended up breaking up, because he told me he still didn't know how he felt or what to do. The situation was incredibly confusing, as he told me that he had never had any doubts about me, loved me very much, and still thought of me as his soul mate, but that he just needed space to grow, and he felt guilty over the fact he was suddenly thinking a lot about this other girl he had speaking with, who I think was someone who reached out to him over his negative and depressing posts.

I was getting very mixed messages between him being unsure about this other and saying he has no idea what he wants, so I couldn’t understand if he needed space just to work on himself for a while and we could rebuild our relationship, or if he just didn’t know about me anymore for some reason. I knew he had been very anxious about me going to Japan, but I had tried to reassure him about it, and during our break I realised this wasn't really something I wanted anyway, as I had made the decision to apply for this job very impulsively, and when I had lived in Japan previously I had been very homesick and miserable. I realised that the job isn’t really as important as the people I’m close to, and that perhaps part of the reason I had wanted to leave was some abandonment issues of my own. I had a very toxic relationship prior to my relationship with this partner, and so for a very long time had been incredibly scared of just how much I loved and cared about him and didn't want to lose him, as I felt if I admitted that to him or myself he would leave me. I realise those were my own traumas playing out in my behaviour, and I really did want to take a risk on making this relationship work, as I love him incredibly deeply, and he was always a consistent, loving presence in my life and all round a wonderful person unlike anyone else I've met.

During our time apart, eventually he realised he didn’t have feelings for this other person and they were just friends, and I started reconnecting with him again, but really slowly, because I didn’t want to rush him into anything since I knew his mental health was still very bad and he hadn’t seen a doctor. We had some lovely dates together that went very well, but on one occasion at the end of the night he told me he was having intrusive thoughts about stabbing himself, and I managed to calm him, but obviously was deeply concerned about this. He later told me he wakes up with suicidal thoughts every day since the breakdown he had in January, and spends hours after that lying in bed awake without even looking at a phone or anything, just visualising scenarios in his head. This was all really worrying stuff, but when I tried to push him to see a doctor and told him how concerning that is, he either wouldn’t believe he’s actually unwell or won’t believe they will help, and is just all round incredibly cynical about it. He said if they put him on meds he wouldn't take them because he has allergies and a lot of anxieties around taking any kind of medication, and had a very defeatist attitude to the idea of therapy helping him.

He seemed to start getting into a more positive headspace however, and actually agreed that he would quite like me to help him with booking a doctors appointment in the future. At this point in time he was very affectionate to me, complimenting me a lot, always sending cute good night texts, and we were having weekly dates that he always seemed very happy on.

Then around two weeks ago I went to visit my brother for a week, just to try and do something to cheer me up and get my mind off this whole situation. He remained in contact with me the whole time sending me cute goodnight texts with hearts every night and telling me he missed me, and posting hearts in response to pictures I uploaded to my Instagram stories. Everything seemed really positive, and he told me he was feeling really happy, which is the first time he had said that in a long time. But that was also the week all the bars reopened, as well as his first week back at work after being on furlough pay for a long time.

The first night he went drinking, when he got home after he was in a really dark place and feeling suicidal, and I ended up calling him and chatted to him for hours and gave him distractions and positive things to focus on. He told me that he loves hearing my voice, and that imagining my smile is sometimes the only thing that can bring him out of a really dark place, which were lovely things to hear but also I obviously wanted him to be in a better place in himself and to get help. Then when I came back home after my trip he was suddenly incredibly cold to me agai,n and acting like we were just friends, which was so strange. We had had a date planned and we went ahead with it, but he seemed very emotionally and physically distant, and didn’t even want to sit near me.

Eventually, he ended up telling me that at the end of the week I was away the online friend he’d had feelings for when we broke up had gone out of touch and been posting pics of dead family members and stuff, and he’d thought she was suicidal so was really worried, and when she finally got in touch she was telling him she loved him, and he wasn’t sure if she meant as a friend or something more but it confused him. Since then he'd been in contant contact with her, messaging all hours of the day to an intense degree. Now I just can’t understand what’s really happening, because he says he still loves me very very much, and everything seemed so positive prior to my visit to my brother, but he is suddenly confused about his feelings for her again, and in a darker headspace. He told me that while he had been enjoying our dates, he feels intensely guilty about the amount he is interacting with this other person, and is confused about how he feels towards them since they told him they love him, and isn't sure if she means as a friend or romantically. He then started sending me messages from this person, asking me if I could clarify which it was, and obviously I found this upsetting and very telling of the strange headspace he was in, that he felt this was appropriate. I ended up having to ask for space from him while he resolves his feelings, as it was too painful to go on chatting as if we're just friends, while I know he is in constant contact with this other woman. In response to my request for space he suddenly was incredibly apologetic about having asked my opinions on the situation, and said he could understand that was too much to ask, and said the last thing he would ever want to do is hurt me because he loves me very, very much. But then he also started saying about how this other girl seems to have sensed his confusion, because she's suddenly gone very cold towards him, and then at the end of the mesage he was saying how he just needs clarification because he's had friends with unrequited feelings for him before and he's been oblivious to it. This was all very odd to hear, as on the one hand it seemed as if he was suggesting he does have feelings for her too, and then on the other hand was implying that if there are feelings there it's one sided on her part, and she's misinterpreted the situation between them.

I met up with him the day after this as he had some food items to drop round for me, and he was incredibly cold, but said he actually feels good in himself, and it was a relief to get the things he told me off his chest and he feels better now, which was somewhat crushing to hear, as I obviously wasn't feeling the same sense of relief. I’ve tried to consistently be supportive to him and encourage him to see a GP, and offer to help him with appointments and all that stuff, and had been in touch with him every day just trying to be a positive influence in his life and cheer him up, but it’s so heartbreaking for me that suddenly he might have feelings for this other person again, after saying all these amazing things about me and how great I am for him. It’s just really hard for me to understand, and messing up my head a lot.

i really want him to see a doctor, but it seems no matter how much I tell him that and try to support him to do so, he is refusing. Originally he became obsessive over reading about various disorders and convincing himself of which ones he had, and told me that he just wanted to be informed about mental health conditions before going to the doctors, as it would help him get a proper diagnosis, but the longer this has gone on for the more I began to feel this was an avoidance tactic on his part, as it never culminates in anything, and there's always another disorder he can read or watch videos about endlessly.

After he had told me about the suicidal thoughts and I had agreed on taking space from him, i spoke with a friend of mine about this who is partner to one of his closest friends, as I felt that it was important some of his close friends were aware of what was going on, as it isn't safe for me to be the only person who knows what he's dealing with when he's in a really dark headspace. He is a very private person, so i know he wouldn't have liked me speaking about this, but I also understood that it was what was best for protecting him, and he isn't thinking in a very logical way at the moment.

His friend tried to handle this as kindly as possible, and on a night out with him when he got chance to speak with him in private, told him about what he knew and why he knew about it, expressed support towards him, and told him he'd really like to get chance to talk with him properly about it just the two of them. I had thought this was a really positive thing, but then the next morning, despite my understanding being that we weren't in contact, he messaged me to ask about whether I still wanted to do something we had planned prior to our no-contact period. I considered it for a while, and then replied explaining that although I'd love to, my understanding of that situation would be we were spending time together as a date, and I didn't want to do that unless that was something he wanted. And he responded suddenly expressing his anger around me having spoken to his friend about him, saying it was a violation of his privacy, and he was really uncomfortable. And then responded to my actual message, saying that he didn't know, as he isn't ready for a date, but still would have liked to go ahead with the plans, just not necessarily as a date. I responded that I understood, and it was better for us not to go ahead with the plans, and also explained my reasoning behind telling the friend about his mental health, and how I was incredibly concerned and didn't understand why he won't speak to anyone or go to a doctor. He then said he had been intending to tell this friend soon anyway, but on his own terms, which I think is unlikely, as he hasn't spoken with anyone about his mental health at all excluding perhaps this girl he met online in the six months we've been separated. It seemed very much like he was lashing out because people knowing means he can no longer stay in denial about being unwell and continue drinking all the time and locking himself away. After cooling off he then said he understands why I did it and isn't angry with me, but would prefer me not to do anything like that again in the future.

I am feeling so heartbroken and exasperated by this whole situation. I love him incredibly deeply, and although I'm not giving up on him, I've had to take a step back to take care of myself, as the hot and cold behaviour, and feelings for someone else he's experiencing are really hard for me to deal with. If I at least knew that once he was well he would want to work towards rebuilding our relationship I could continue to support him in a friend capacity for the time being, but while he's exploring things with another woman I feel it's better for me to remove myself from the situation for now.

Can anyone give me any advice on this? Is it likely that he will come back and recognise again how amazing our relationship was if he can get himself well?


Well-known member
Forum Guide
Nov 10, 2019
How long has he been depressed for?

Has he seen a doctor to receive help?

With medication, depression should get better after about 6 weeks. If he has never behaved like this before, i would think after 6 weeks he would be more likely his old self.

I don't think it is fair for you to be put through all of this. You seem to have done nothing but be kind. You need to put yourself first and your happiness needs to be the priority.

Have you spoken to your friends and family about how you feel? I would take their advice if they are usually caring to you.

A breakdown i have heard lasts around 2 years but that is a big ask for someone you are not married to.
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