He Made Me Promise Not to Run Away When Things Went Bad, I Still Here, But it’s Taking its Toll!

“I was with my ex about 3 months, he had told me about his bipolar depression in the beginning of the relationship but I never really thought anything would happen. About 2 months ago, completely out of nowhere he called it off saying he wasn’t feeling well and needed space. Even though I was shocked I told him I would stay by his side no matter what. Now 2 months later we barely talk, whenever the topic of the relationship or depression comes up he gets very defensive and angry. It almost seems like he hates me. All I want to do is be by his side and help him but he wont talk to me about anything. He is being so confusing and it is getting very frustrating. I really don’t know what to do anymore, I love him so much but it’s now taking a toll on my mind. I have given him lots of space and time but nothing has changed. He was very concerned during the relationship that this might happen and he made me promise him I wouldn’t run away when things got bad. I have kept that promise but it seems like it doesn’t mean anything to him anymore. I just need some advice on what to do here, should I just give up or just wait it out?”

This is a very hard question to answer. Is he seeking professional help? Is he doing what is necessary to improve? The answers to these questions are important, but you really have no control over those things.

I admire your tenacity and I feel your pain. I also admire the fact that he told you from the very beginning about his depression. He is obviously a kind and thoughtful man. I’m quite certain that he does not hate you. But I think your key words are: “it’s now taking a toll on my mind.”

Your priority should be your mental well-being.  My advice is to back off from this man, from your friendship, and from the hope of a renewed romantic relationship. Depression has a way of being “contagious.”  You are no good to him if you are needy, uncertain, depressed, and hurt. This will only give him more guilt, anxiety, anger, and depression. Remember: when men are depressed it often manifests as anger. You cannot really “help” him more than you already have. You’ve proven your loyalty even in the face of the reality of his illness. You’ve already done all that you can do. Tell him that you’re not “running away,” but in fact need your own space. If you like, be honest with him and tell him what you’ve told me. Then resist the urge to contact him, respond civilly when he contacts you, and go on with your life under the assumption and the acceptance that he is no longer a part of it. I know that perhaps this is not the answer you were looking for, but I think you know in your heart that it’s your only recourse.

5 thoughts on “He Made Me Promise Not to Run Away When Things Went Bad, I Still Here, But it’s Taking its Toll!

  1. My on and off boyfriend spent years keeping me at arms length. It felt like he didn’t care, but during some alcohol induced moments of clarity he’d confess that because of his illness he wasn’t relationship material, and that his disorder was just too hard on relationships, and had ruined his marriage. He usually distanced himself during episodes, and I only spoke with him occasionally when he wanted to telephone. Last year he was so sick that I ended up moving in with him for five weeks to make sure he ate, and didn’t unintentionally harm himself. We turned a corner after he came through that, and we’ve become very close. Unfortunately his episodes seem to be getting more frequent and lasting longer. He’s into his second long bout in the past six months. I wish I understood why there isn’t better medication to keep him in balance. I’m exhausted dealing with the anger and paranoia right now…I just had to stay at my own place tonight. :-/

  2. Hi Tina,
    I’m sorry that both of you are going through all of this. We all would love to understand why there isn’t better medications to keep him in balance, but the sad fact is that relatively speaking there is very little dollars spent on research for better medications for treating mental illness—especially in today’s economy. More research money is spent on tooth decay than mental illness. What we don’t have is a cute poster boy. We don’t have a Jerry’s kid! We need a cute kid. Muscular dystrophy is an extremely rare disease affecting only 0.02% of the population and yet in 2011 alone $61.5 million was raised in six hours during the annual MDA telethon. Mental illness affects over 25% of our adult population! Does this make you mad? It should.

  3. I have a very similar story – I am in a relationship with a man who i have known for many years, but only recently reconnected. We have been “together” for 5 months. Over that time, he made me feel more love than i could possibly imagine. I fell completely in love with him. He would overwhelmingly give me affection and say the nicest most amazing things to me (Bear in mind…I am technically married nearing divorce…and he is living with his ex-girlfriend – Complicated i know…but we both considered our previous relationships to be “over”)

    I knew from the beginning about his bipolar..and did as much research as I could to prepare myself. I helped take him to dr appointments, and helped him get medicated (as he was not taking meds prior to us meeting). I was always there when he hit a low and needed comfort, and was always ready when he was having a high and wanted to see me. He discussed with me and warned me of his “shut downs” and made me promise to “chase” him and never leave him. He would disappear for a few days at most…and always return to me. The first few times, I was devastated at first, but got used to it. I learned to send him one text message saying i would be there when he was ready. He returned every time.

    For a few weeks now – he has become increasingly distant. And last week – completely “shut down”…has ignored all my texts and calls since. He still however goes out with friends and talks to other mutual friends on the phone…which i find odd because that means it is ONLY me he is ignoring.
    So I confronted him Monday – and he appeared annoyed, detached and distant. I asked him if he still loved me and he couldnt answer. I asked him if he still wanted me in his life – and he couldnt answer. He only said “I dont know”. I am at a loss. This is the longest time apart, and I am concerned. A mutual friend told me that he made a comment about “getting his life in order”. This would be ok with me, if I knew he still loved me and would eventually come back. It is an unbelieveably hard thing to deal with…

  4. Hi Christine,

    Putting his illness totally aside, I think you need to ask yourself the following questions:Do you need this in your life? Do you need to continue this tumultuous relationship? Is this adding quality to your life? Is this where you want yourself to be? Is this really making you happy? Only you can answer these questions. My advice to you is basically the same as above. We are on this earth for such a tiny moment and it should be a happy moment. I do hope you move away from what appears to be causing you so much pain.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave your feedback here!