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Dear dr robert

i am writing you this e-mail about my girlfriend Debs, she is 41 yrs old with 3 children and lives in Scotland and is apparently suffering from depression, or so her doctor tells her.

To give you as much information as I can i will start from when i met Debs. I met Debs while on holiday last year in Egypt, we just seemed to click together and there was a strong chemistry between us as though we had known each other for many years, and it was so natural to be together. As time went by the bond between us got stronger and stronger, so much so that Debs was going to move in with me.

Debs has been married before & has 3 children, she has had trouble from her ex about the children and has been building up for some time about taking them away, and the daughter being beaten by her father just recently and as Debs put it she lost the plot, as she went down and set about the ex.

Debs went to see her doctor and told her all about what happened and that she could not take much more, she also told her doctor about our relationship and her doctor replied do you want a relationship right now!! i find that a very strange thing for a doctor to say as there is a man who is so in love and devoted to Debs and wants to be with her no matter what.

Her doctor then gave her 3 months supply of VALIUM and as far as i am aware no counseling or follow up appointments with her doctor, as i asked Debs how often do you see your doctor and Debs said when ever i feel need to.

I am very worried that she will become addicted to the drug and will find it very difficult to come off them, she has been on them now for about 4 weeks and already she has shut herself down to people and what hurts she has shut down to me also, it makes me feel that i have done something wrong, but she told me that i have not...she just wants space, but i find it hard to cope with as i know the love she had for me was very strong.

I saw Debs just before the New Year & it was like looking & talking to a different person, she made very little eye contact & looked very withdrawn. I told her that i wanted to be with her and part of her life to help and be there for her, but she said she just wants to be left alone to do it all by herself, but i know she can't.

I asked her to look me in the eye and tell me that she does not love me and wants me out of her life, but she said she could not say that.

I just do not know what to do, i feel so helpless and shut out as she won't accept my help what makes things a little worse for me is that i live a few hours drive away. I have told Debs that i am not walking away from her and that i will wait and be here for her and that i am only a phone call away and if she wanted me to go see her i would be there like a shot.

I have tried to tell her about the medication she is taking, and that a far as i am aware VALIUM is a suppressant & not an antidepressant, but all i got back from her was that her doctor is a fully qualified professional, and that Debs feels very angry that i have tried to help and says that she will deal with it her way and in her time.

Is there any thing that you can suggest in your professional opinion that i can do or say to Debs without her getting upset at me or push her away, i would very much value your thoughts and opinion on this matter.

Yours Sincerely

Mike Jackson.............from England.

Hello, Mike-- Without meeting Deb, I am not able to offer an opinion about her emotional condition, but recognizing depression usually is not difficult for a well-trained professional, so I will assume that her doctor had good reasons to make that diagnosis. Normally, depression is not treated with Valium, which is more of an anti-anxiety medication than an antidepressant, but, again, without meeting Deb, I cannot make a judgment about the medicine she is taking. She may very well have needed some pharmaceutical relief from anxiety if her relations with the father of her children are as bad as they seem to be, or, her doctor might be the kind of practitioner who prescribes Valium excessively as some unfortunately do. You seem to believe that Valium has no medical uses whatsoever, and this is incorrect. When used properly (and by "proper" I mean as part of a treatment regime which includes counseling and psychotherapy), Valium may be just what is needed temporarily to restore a sense of calm and control to a person who had been feeling overwhelmed by events.

Instead, since you value my opinion, and since you have provided me with some relevant information about your situation, I would like to address the dynamics of the relations between you and Deb. I understand that you feel a bond with this woman, that you are attached to the relationship, that you believe you love Deb, and that you feel concerned for her wellbeing. However, judging from what you have written, I wonder if your attachment is blinding you to some of the realities here.

As I understand what you have said, Deb consulted the doctor because she felt that she was coming to the end of her rope, or, to put this in other words, that she felt that she required help in managing her life. Now, you object to the doctor's having asked Deb if she was ready for another relationship, but that question seems to me a good one under the circumstances. I do not imagine that the question was a judgment about your love and devotion to Deb; after all, how could the doctor possibly evaluate those feelings which are entirely interior to you? Instead, I imagine the question as an attempt to suggest to Deb that she consider turning down the emotional volume in her life--that she aim not at having a love affair which almost always produces emotional ups and downs, but rather that she work at reducing her level of stress and anxiety, which might not be a bad idea at all. I understand (and sympathize) that for you such a direction feels like a loss, and so would be a pain you would prefer to avoid, but that does not mean that such a choice would look like a bad one from the point of view of a doctor who is trying to help Deb. Please note: the doctor's job is to help Deb, his patient, not you, and not your relationship with Deb.

Now that Deb has apparently followed her doctor's advice, which I assume was to "cool her jets" on the love and romance front until she felt more stable and more able to manage her emotional life, you say that you feel as if you have done something wrong. But Deb told you that you have not done anything wrong--that this is about her and her life, not about you at all. If she says she needs space, Mike, I think you should consider taking that statement at face value--it probably is accurate. This does not mean that your affection for her and your need for her are wrong or bad, just perhaps that they are inappropriate for Deb at this time in her life.

Now you wrote this: "I told her that I wanted to be with her and part of her life to help and be there for her, but she said she just wants to be left alone to do it all by herself, but I know she can't." Two questions, Mike: first, If she says she wants to be left alone, why do you wish to force your attentions on her?, and second, How do you know that she cannot manage her life without your help? I think if you address these two questions honestly, you will see that your concern here is much more about what you want, and what you are losing (sex, companionship) than about what Deb needs and wants.

At a distance, I cannot judge whether or not her doctor is capable or not, but I certainly would not assume, as you want to do, that the doctor is mishandling this case. Deb herself has told you that she is satisfied with her doctor, and that she wants to deal with her doctor and with her problems without your criticism. I know you will not want to hear this, Mike, but in my opinion, if you really care about Deb, you should respect her wishes. In other words, in my professional opinion, you should honor her requests and leave her alone until she feels ready to resume intimacy with you.

Be well.

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