As a preface, I apologize if this question seems off-topic; it is a twisted problem that I have tried to narrow down to a single, good question that addresses the lump sum of my concerns and issues with my current relationship.
I have been dating a woman for around a month and a half who suffers from and is medicated for extreme depression as well as several problems that cause chronic physical pain. She has an awful family life, lives with her mother (when she is home), and does not have steady employment. She "self-medicates" with marijuana, which I do believe to be genuinely helpful in some circumstances and simply an escape in others. Recently, she has been staying at my apartment anywhere from 5 days to a week or more at a time, something I fear could be leading to co-dependence.
There have been a myriad of emotional and financial issues I have raised in the past, only to evoke an honestly truthful but not satisfactory response that I cannot possibly understand the severity of her condition.
Namely, I do not want to be an enabler for negative life choices for her. I realize that with severe depression comes an extreme lack of motivation and self-loathing, often brought on by no reason at all. However, she will often seek my approval to do the following things:
- Cancelling appointments she has for what little work she does have (she is a self-employed tutor who sets her own schedule)
- Smoking marijuana in my apartment, often 2-3 times a day, which can be probable cause for my eviction if discovered as it is illegal in my state
- Skipping therapy appointments
- Using the money she does have, or asking for money from me, to buy more marijuana because it has a more noticeable and immediate affect than her prescription medicines.
On top of these things, for the duration of her stays at my apartment I am solely responsible for buying food and driving. Whenever I raise a negative voice to these things, which I do infrequently, her reaction is that of "I need it / it is good for my condition / you can't even begin to understand me".
We are capable of an honest, open dialogue between each other where we discuss these things. However, I feel like even when I am stern I gain no ground and she does not understand my viewpoint and my true intentions. I don't wish to "win" an argument with her. Even if we disagree, I want her to see why I am making the choices I am making. Though we are capable of being open and honest, I don't know if anything I say is really reaching her.
The bottom line is that I do not want to stigmatize her depression and I want to treat her fairly and kindly, because she is a great girl and I care about her quite a bit. The issue is that, while being kind and accepting, I do not want to be an enabler by allowing her to cancel things that are important or helpful especially looking at the long term. She has had previous jobs, good jobs, fall apart in the past because of her inability to be motivated. I feel like I can't sit by and give an affirmative every time she wants my approval to run from her responsibilities, no matter how much her depression may be inhibiting her.
I understand in the short term these things are important and depression can be overwhelming and terrifying for her, but she has used my precedent of saying "yes" to these things in the past to continue the listed behavior quite frequently. I am okay with her taking these "breaks" in moderation.
Understanding that to her I come from a place of privilege and little understanding, how do I gently but confidently say "no" to her behavior without her viewing it as an attack on her or her condition?
For those who would like to posit that I speak to her about seeking professional help, she already sees a therapist and a psychiatrist.
I do not have access to either of these individuals (remember, this is an early relationship), and likely asking for access to these individuals is something that would require a lot of explanation.
Edit: I appreciate the responses and the comments. For clarification, my girlfriend does not threaten self-harm or suicide in any way when I say no to her. Instead, she turns the issue on its head and insists that I am harming the relationship by not being what she needs. I can't exactly argue, definitively - I'm no professional and when every argument starts with "you don't understand how this feels and how serious this is" I can only agree that, well, I don't.
She has a long history of getting what she "needs" from other people, so certainly she expects this as accepted behavior from a partner. Anything less is a misunderstanding and "attack" on her condition as a depressed individual, and a signal to her that I am not committed to the relationship.