I am a 22 year old purple lion who has been in the fandom since I was about 8-9. I am what you call an optimistic pessimist, or pessimistic optimist. I am also a depressive, but it has yet to impact my ability to function. I live by the motto "Hope for the best, expect the worst."
I have been scanning the letters, and I feel that your advice is valid, even without being a therapist. So here is the issue:
My mate is an 18 year old, second semester college student. I have known him since he was 14, and have bonded with him since he was 16. I have known for a long time that he was anti-social at best, pessimistic at worst. Lately, though, events have been dragging him down like two boulders tied to his legs.
He has gotten into a couple of accidents lately, both his fault, though this latest one was barely a bump to the other car. However, because he is culpable according to the law, he is afraid that the other driver will make a claim, and his insurance will drop him. If it does, his mother will harp on him for a long time.
On top of this, college isn't going as well as he hoped, and it is backing up debt on him. He fears that he isn't going to earn his degree, and he claims that if that happens, he will begin to pull away because he “is not man enough” to provide for me.
I have told him time and again that his providing for me isn't an issue, that I want him and only him. I also know that he is the only mate for me, though we are yet to be married. I am terrified of him leaving, and am at the end of my rope how to help him. I have tried to tell him everything that I thought would help, but he is very much like me: stubborn to a fault.
Please spare some advice, Papabear: is there anything I can tell him that will at least provide stabilization for him? I don't think he's suicidal, but he could fade on me if things keep shaking up his hope.
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I have dealt with this sort of thing myself. My former mate would get very depressed and at one point basically dropped out of life for a full year and did nothing but play online games. What did I do? Well, like you, I tried talking and talking and talking. I wanted to make my mate happy. But at one point she said, correctly, “You can’t make me happy. Only I can do that.” So, I stood back a bit. What I did was just reassure her that I was there for her and I continued to go to work, maintain the house, and just be there for her.
John Milton once wrote, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” One of the most difficult things to do in life is to simply wait, but it is a testament to your love when you do so, whether it is sitting in a hospital room waiting for a loved one to recover from an illness or injury, or simply trying to create a safe and secure home for your mate to live in while he or she struggles through a personal crisis.
You might not realize it, but the best thing you can do right now for your mate is provide him with a safe haven, a place he knows he can come to when he really needs it and where he knows he will not be judged or reprimanded, but loved unconditionally. He is not, apparently, getting that from his mother, so he needs that from you.
Talking to him about his problems only reminds him he does have problems and makes the pain worse. So, instead, create an air of normalcy around him. Have your meals together, do little things around the home, go out and eat a pizza. These things are enormously comforting to someone who is going through a rough time.
Showing you love someone through actions can be a thousand times more powerful that just saying it.
Good luck! Hugs!
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