However, once you realize that as annoying as it is for you, it is torturous for him. You may notice in the next few weeks (while in the beginning stages of taking his meds) that he may be irritable and quite a ‘jerk’, which unfortunately is one of the consequences of taking a stimulant to help you concentrate. I had a friend almost dump his girlfriend (who is now his wife), because he started taking medicine and “didn’t care”... It may not have that affect on him, but just something to be mindful of. This also doesn’t mean that you just let him treat you poorly, but hopefully it will help you take it a little less personally.
When a person is struggling with depression, I think it prudent to encourage them towards activity and help them to identify the positive things going on. If their life is just totally in the dumps, then I encourage them that it really can’t get any worse! ;-) However, you have to treat it like a marathon and not a sprint. Baby-steps are sometimes best when walking with someone with depression. Hopefully it passes in the matter of a week or two.
The issue of becoming overwhelmed by school is one I remember very well. Especially when I wasn’t totally certain about what I wanted to do. It seemed pointless and tiresome, especially the courses that ‘didn’t apply’ to what I wanted to do. Compound that with the struggle of paying attention, then it becomes quite normal to start feeling ‘stupid’ or just want to quit. For me, I had to get to the point where I began to learn to love to learn, and realized that college was a means to an end for me, not the end of it all. Some re-thinking and other times just pushing ahead (when I didn’t feel like it) helped me to get through my undergrad program and Lord-willing through with my masters this May.
So, what are you to do?
- Encourage him to make good choices when it comes to diet and sleep. The reality is, he needs to take better care of himself. I believe if he would take better care of himself, back off the caffeine and alcohol, eat healthier, and get plenty of sleep that he will see an improvement with his ADHD, Depression, and health in general.
- Don’t mother him. That is an improper role for you to take as a girlfriend or a wife. This doesn’t mean you’re a cold, mean woman, but it does mean that you don’t just stand by and let him stay where he is. However, there is that balance of girlfriend / boyfriend encouragement. It’s a little easier if you were his wife, but you are not, so that’s tough.
- Help him to set more realistic goals. I.E. - instead of thinking about a PhD or even graduation (if it is far off), help him set an academic goal for the week. If he can start experiencing some small victories, it will boost his confidence and help him to become more proactive.
- Help him learn how to become more organized. Rod Brace helped me a lot with that, it might be worth visiting his website and reading some of his articles. It really reduces stress.
- Remember, feeling overwhelmed and thus shutting down likely brings about most of his depression. One can only sustain high levels of stress for so long. So, like they say about how to eat an elephant, you need to remind him it is one bite at a time. Therefore, you need to help him identify the bites that he needs to take and empower/encourage him to take those ‘bites’.