First of all, thank you for offering this website as it helps give a perspective to those of us who love someone with bipolar. I knew my guy professionally before we reconnected and began slowly developing a personal relationship nearly a year and a half ago. During this time I’ve seen at least two hypomanic episodes and more depressive ones, with distinct triggers. Our connection has always been tender, loving, supportive, best of friends as well as lovers, and even in moods he’s taken care to not take anything out on me (though he’s always expressing fear that he’ll inadvertently do something to hurt me).
However, for two months now he’s been in a depressive state the likes of which I’ve never seen before. He said a nightmare triggered it, though I noticed the month long downward slide from a hypomanic episode to that evening of the nightmare. Six weeks ago we spent a close evening of him telling me how much I meant to him, and I think this was part of a perfect storm of events that came together and sent him deeper into depression. He’s withdrawn like I’ve never seen before, from talking or messaging every day to almost nothing. But — and this part is confusing me — he listens to a recording of my voice from a TV appearance I did multiple times a day, to get him back to sleep at night, to wake up, to get through work day. He’s told me before how much he loves the sound of my voice, and how it gets to him like nothing else, but the couple of times I’ve tried to call he ignores the phone, then rushes to see what I said on voice mail.
I’ve tried to be very sweet and understanding, non-pressuring, letting him know I’m letting him have his time but that I care and I’m always here (messaging only about once a week). I miss my dearest, most precious friend and love more than I can even begin to tell you, and I’m also so worried about him. I’m trying to break through, and can’t stand the thought of Christmas without him. What can I do, and can I take his pattern of continually listening to my voice, et al, as a hopeful sign that this pull-away isn’t permanent? Again, thank you.
First of all, I apologize for not getting to this before Christmas. The holidays were a little overwhelming this year. So big FAT HUGE SORRY!
As for your question, as with many of the questions on this site, his “pull-away” can depend on many different circumstances. Is he on his meds? Has he pulled away before? If so, did he eventually come back?
If I were to make an assumption, I’d guess that he is NOT on his medication (if he took any to begin with). I believe you have every right to worry about him for pulling away. It sounds like he clearly does care about you, but he seems to be having a hard time expressing his feelings through this difficult time he is going through.
Depression is a scary beast, especially post hypomanic depression. I myself have never understood the “pulling-away” part of depression, but I’ve witnessed many people do it. My guess is that he is trying to protect you. Possibly he doesn’t want to scare you away. Possibly he thinks you won’t love him anymore if you see him in such a dark, vulnerable state.
I can’t help but wonder how you know that he is continually listening to your voice? Has he told you this? Or have you found out this information from other sources? I personally feel that if HE is telling you these things, then it is probably a good sign that he wants you to know he still cares, but for whatever reason (ie: fear, shame, embarrassment, self-preservation) he’s just not ready to let you into this part of his life. THAT I can totally understand.
As you stated, you’ve never seen this severe of an episode before. It’s one thing to show that side of ourselves to someone who has already seen it and experienced it, but to put ourselves into such a frightening position with someone we care about who has never seen this depressive side of us, that’s a whole other monster. All of the what if’s make the depression almost worse.
What if she runs away?
What if she gets scared that I might hurt her or myself?
What if I lose her?
What if she stops loving me after seeing me like this?
Those are scary questions, and sometimes, instead of facing the answers, it’s just easier to pull away until we’ve found ourselves again.
SO … after that long winded (possibly confusing) explanation … my wholehearted opinion is yes, I believe it is a good sign. Stay patient, stay in touch, and do not hesitate to stay concerned. And if possible, maybe even show up to check in on him. Keeping the visit short and simple, maybe bringing him a dinner and letting him know you care. If this pattern of listening to your voice is indeed positive, he’ll come back to you.
One other thing I must mention is, keep in mind the winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder can strike many of us in a brutal way. If he was already heading toward a downward spiral and then the winter months hit, it’s going to be hard to recover. I think you are doing the right thing by continually letting him know you care. I hope you were able to make it through the holidays and I hope he is able to work through this difficult time and come back to you soon.