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I can't cope with my girlfriend's mental health problems

A

arkady

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Nov 21, 2014
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I could really use some advice, particularly from anyone who has experienced anything similar.

I can’t cope with my girlfriend’s mental health problems (depression, social anxiety, OCD, ADD amongst others). I feel terrible saying it. It has left me feeling guilty, scared and completely trapped in what seems to be a lose-lose situation: I can’t leave as she is entirely dependent on me (and really cannot function without someone to look after her), but by staying I find myself often inflaming her problems with my growing frustration, inability to cope, and (ashamedly) resentment. I love her too much to ruin her life further than it already is and to totally dash her hopes and dreams, but I find it harder and harder to see a future. She gets no treatment for her problems, and is generally not co-operative with doctors as she believes she understands her illness better than them and knows what courses of treatment she wants and refuses anything else. Instead of recognizing her self-destructive nature as being part of her illness all the doctors I’ve seen with her just write her off as not co-operating and therefore not wanting (or deserving, it seems) of help.

I met her online in 2011. I was writing up my PhD at the time, and was pretty much in my office 24/7. I would chat with random people online during the night to stave off the loneliness, and we just hit it off. She was upfront about some of her mental health issues, and also about her past which was one of family abuse and severe isolation, but I didn’t really appreciate what any of that meant. I felt empowered as I listened to her problems, gave her support and felt that I could help her escape her isolation and experience the world a little. She’d never gotten any help with her problems because nobody had ever supported her, and I felt that I could. So we started dating. Because of our honeymoon infatuation period, in combination with my over confidence (bordering on mania), her problems lessened as I dragged her into all manner of events and experiences without her having a moment to collect her thoughts, but she increasingly struggled as time went on, and her OCD and depression resurfaced and she found going out harder and harder. I hadn’t experienced this side of her before and was often in denial about it, preoccupied with a new job and getting frustrated that my once busy social life was coming to a standstill. She moved into my flat by stealth. Toothbrush, clothes, knickknacks, coming with her on each visit. She was always so happy not to be at her family’s house and I was happy for her to not be there too. When I next moved flat in 2012 she moved in with me permanently.

She became more and more depressed and withdrawn. She had almost never been able to go outside by herself due to social problems, and gradually she found it harder and harder to go outside at all. It would take days of mental preparation and routines for her to be able to. She had always been dependent on me but I hadn’t really noticed before. I had to go to the shops for her, make telephone calls for her, anything that involved a social interaction or going outside. Her mental problems became more severe as the honeymoon period waned. Frequently she would have confused thoughts or feelings, be unsure of reality, have panic attacks and psychotic outbursts where she would hurt herself. Doctors wouldn’t come to the property when she was having outbursts, only the police, who would end up taking her to hospital (often in handcuffs). She was traumatized by these experiences but due to social pressure would start behaving more normal at the hospital and by the time she saw a psychiatrist, many hours later, would be coherent and would tell the psychiatrist whatever she wanted to hear to get discharged. Once home she would fly into a screaming fit, furious at me. She never got any help. I often resisted calling 999 during outbursts as it always made things worse and never helped, instead I would comfort her myself, hold her (affectionately not, not restraining her), talk to her about her feelings. Often I could eventually calm her down, but it would take hours. I could easily be lying on the floor with her for 6 hours talking to her because something on the TV had upset her. Some days it might be 12 hours. 12 hours of talking and sobbing, without so much as a bite to eat or a glass of water. I stopped working to care for her. I stopped seeing friends. She needed me there all the time, she had nothing without me. No friends of her own, no interest in doing anything without me. Sometimes when she got upset, particularly if it was over something innocent I had said or done, I would get angry or frustrated. I would leave the flat to cool down, but abandoning her was the worst thing I could do in her eyes and she never forgave me each time I did. If I walked out she would always be in a terrible state when I came back, whether it was a few minutes later or hours later, and it would take me a long time to calm her down again. Often she would have self-harmed. She even said she would kill herself if I ever left her. If I ignored her when she was having an outburst/crying, if I just stayed in a different room or made some lunch, she would feel I was “carrying on without her”, which was another betrayal and would just enrage and upset her. So I became trapped. I lost my career, I lost my friends, I didn’t see my family (who live abroad) for a couple of years because I couldn’t get away. In between the moments of screaming, crying or confusion we had happy moments, and I loved her dearly, but the situation was taking its toll on me. I became depressed and stressed and often would have anger outbursts, smashing furniture, shouting at her and on a couple of occasions slapping her or pushing her. I confided in doctors about our situation, but none could help other than making appointments with psychiatrists that she’d never keep due to her social problems. I had managed to get her to see doctors herself before things became so bad, but all the various antidepressants they tried didn’t help. She got an ADD diagnosis and the small amount of Ritalin they put her on really helped, I mean MASSIVELY helped, but it was too small to help enough and she lost the ability to keep appointments with specialists and psychiatrists and so got stuck with little or no medication.

Now I find myself loving this person but feeling dead inside. I’m unable to help her, but I’m the only person who will take responsibility for her. Without me she’s on the street (or back with her family but I know she would choose the street over them). I cling to the slightest hope she gives me and revel in banal homebound pleasures in the meantime (having a shower, reading news on the internet) but everything else from my life is gone. I know how controlling she is, I have been told it by plenty of people, but it stems from her illness not maliciousness. She is a caring, thoughtful and frightened girl, who is crippled with guilty about what she’s done to me, but is just unable to stop it. I have learnt a lot about patience, listening and caring, but have also learned that there is a limit to what we can endure and that love isn’t enough to enable us to go beyond that.
 
tiltawhirl

tiltawhirl

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To me this does not sound like a relationship, it sounds like you are a hostage.

My guy is nice enough to do most all of the shopping and my business phone calls.

But I seek help. I see a psychiatrist regularly and a therapist.
I take my meds.

I know I am responsible for myself and would never ask him to babysit me, nevermind for hours. Nor give up any of his normal activities.

What if your taking care of her completely is enabling her?

Personally, I would advise ending this relationship.
 
Davey Blueeyes

Davey Blueeyes

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To me this does not sound like a relationship, it sounds like you are a hostage.

My guy is nice enough to do most all of the shopping and my business phone calls.

But I seek help. I see a psychiatrist regularly and a therapist.
I take my meds.

I know I am responsible for myself and would never ask him to babysit me, nevermind for hours. Nor give up any of his normal activities.

What if your taking care of her completely is enabling her?

Personally, I would advise ending this relationship.
This are my thoughts too. At some point she needs to take responsibility and not just be an emotional hoover to you.

You know your situation the best and at some point you have to make the best decision for you, no matter how hard that is. If she doesn't not start using external agencies to help her then it's only going to go one way. You are her boyfriend, not her carer but it sounds like that's all she wants from you?
 
R

Raache

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Aug 19, 2014
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Sadly, I must admit I've been this girl.. Well, it wasn't THAT bad with me, I didn't sh or threaten to kill myself, as it's just a blackmailing, but in my last relationship I became completely dependent on my boyfriend. While my depression and social anxiety was getting worse and worse, he did everything for me. But it exhausted him and we broke up, when I was already on meds and able to stand up on my feet. So it's definitely not going to help your relationship. You need to force her to get a proper help - meds and regular therapy, or walk away for your own sake.
 
tiltawhirl

tiltawhirl

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Yes, I have leaned very heavily on mine too at times.
But I never stole his independence.
He knew I was not well and wanted help very badly and would do what it takes to get it.
I really try not to be a burden on him.
And I try to be there for him too.
Relationships go both ways and you have to maintain mutual respect.
She need to have respect for your own individual life and personality too.
 
L

lovagemuffin

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Oct 21, 2014
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640
as yourself deepin your heart if you want to be with her if you don't your not doing her any favours by staying with her.
 
C

cookiegirl

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Sep 6, 2014
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Here's the rub: You can't fix her, and you can't be her center. You can love her, and be her boyfriend, or friend, and that's it. She has to find her own center, and she has to be disciplined enough to do the work required to be well.

When you were both flirting with each other and starting a relationship she didn't scream at you and say you betrayed her or any of that, right? She wasn't controlling your every movement, right? She wasn't laying guilt trips on you, or holding you responsible for keeping her alive. She was capable of a level of functioning to bring you into her life. Now that she has you, she has to work on herself, otherwise, she's using you.

Unless you want to bail, the best thing I can suggest for you to do right now is get some support for YOU, because if you're well, then you can in turn be a support for her. If you're at your wits end, that won't help her. I would tell her that too. Tell her, I love you, I'm not leaving you, but today I'm going to a psychologist to get some support for myself, and tomorrow I may go to a meeting. Encourage her to do the same. You can help with organizational stuff, help her, but don't sit for hours with her if she's upset with you, or with the tv.

Try to insert some lighter moments back into your relationship. Do fun, simple things. Take walks, go to a quiet park at off hours, etc. Do some nice things for each other, surprise her with a small gift, laugh a little. When the arguing starts just stop it in it's tracks and change the subject or walk away, because it's going nowhere.
 
J

JulietEC

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Sep 23, 2014
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Time to put your own health first. don't mean to sound harsh but she must know what she's doing and will manage better than you think. You will look back and be glad.
 
A

arkady

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Nov 21, 2014
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Thanks for your replies, especially those from you who have been dependent on a partner in the past, they were insightful.

I should add that she doesn't threaten to kill herself if I leave any more and accepts it was wrong that she did, but she says she couldn't cope if I left and on the occasions that I have walked out when I've returned she's been lying on the floor in the same position as she was when I left even when I haven't returned until the following day. I believe she would either starve to death or would be pushed to kill herself out of absolute desperation. It takes her a long time to recover from incidences of me walking out, she is totally traumatized by the experience. I don't see how I leave someone to that fate, especially someone I love.

As for her not getting help, she's terrified of doctors and firmly believes they won't help. That's part of her illness, she has some very deluded beliefs. Unfortunately my experience of seeing doctors with her has only given more reason to confirm her beliefs as they have generally been unhelpful, lacked understanding and have been judgemental. Doctors get annoyed with her because she doesn't want to have CBT. She argues that she needs medication to help her with the social demands that CBT would entail, but ultimately she thinks CBT is nonsense or not appropriate for her. I think she feels that her whole life has been ruined by her mental problems and if they can be solved with talking therapy then she should have been able to get over them herself by just trying harder, which she finds insulting. I can sympathise with her a lot, I suffered from depression extensively when I was a teenager but managed to make a big recovery in my early twenties and begin my life again.

Our life isn't all misery, we have goods days and good times within the bad days, but everything is tinged with sadness and hopelessness. I've tried to seek help for myself, especially after I started suffering from anger issues, as I was becoming verbally and occasionally physically abusive in moments of high stress, and it was heartbreaking. However, I got referred to the mental health services who said they couldn't help me as my problems were caused by my partner and if I left her then my problems would probably just go away. I've learnt to handle the situations differently. When she's upset she says all manner of accusatory and cruel things, but I've learnt not to get defensive or argumentative and to just ignore it. But it's not always easy to do.

Ultimately, I believe that leaving her would destroy her, literally, so no matter how much it ruins my life I can't bring myself to leave and I don't know if I'll ever be able to unless she's able to stand on her own feet. And yes, I know that by staying I'm enabling her dependency on me, so it's self-defeating anyway.

Thanks again for your comments, they are helpful.
 
krista

krista

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you really don't want to hear what I have to say about this. I think you know it yourself.
I'll just mention that she's too comfortable being like this. and no one wants to seek help if they don't have to.

I am so sorry that you've found yourself in this situation. please take care.
 
C

cookiegirl

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Sep 6, 2014
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From your initial post I gathered that you're in a codependent relationship with a person with an abusive past, who moved in without your consent, who threatened to kill herself if you took any action to change the living arrangement, whom you have LEFT on previous occasions, and who you find it "harder and harder to see a future" with,.....and in the next post you're saying it's not all misery and that there's no chance you'll ever leave her.

I just can't reconcile those two narratives. What I can do, is draw on my own experience, which tells me this is a problem and you're not facing up to it, and you in fact have no control over how it all eventually ends. You could very well walk out again, just as you have in the past, or she could just run away or deteriorate to the point where she's hospitalized.

:sorry:

I'm not backtracking on my insistence that you get help and see someone, or go to a group support organization, on a regular basis, separate from her. I don't buy the fact that a doctor refused to help you unless you left her. Find another doctor, even if you have to budget for it. Your mental health and your relationship depends on it.

In regards to her failed attempts with doctors also....I don't see why she would put stipulations on her therapy such as..."I'll do CBT if you give me meds." That sounds like someone who wants control, not recovery. It's also possible that in addition to being a survivor of abuse from her birth family, she could be an addict. There are free support groups for that, and for partners/allies.

The two of you are feeding off each other,...her with behavior to keep you around, to get instant attention, to get love, to get some predictability in her life because she knows by now what your likely reactions will be, and to get financial and physical help with daily things. On your end, you get a grateful partner who depends on you, makes you feel needed, makes you feel loved, forgives you when you get aggressive, and distracts and delays you from working on your own issues because you're busy focusing on hers.

Change is a tough thing. We think we want it, we say we want it, but there's a tiny part of us that doesn't want it, because it's scary and we can't control it.
 
Jonwal

Jonwal

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May 27, 2014
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299
Great force mess take responsibility. Do u think this girl wants to be this way? By breathing oxygen she is taking responsibility. Do u expect an infant to seek medical help and take meds because it can't meet it's own needs? As for her partner I think your doing a sterling job! For some it is incredibly difficult to find the inner core of strength one needs to live. I found it for the first time in my life last night and I actually felt like a functioning male. I lost that feeling tho Because I'm no good at protecting myself. I'm not aware of dangers so ppl just use me. I just want to shout so bloody powerfully that I gain territory. U can't control others u can only influence them :( there's probably a lot of good inside her that just needs to tapped in2. It's not her fault she doesn't trust them they're not bloody trust worthy unless ur contributing something to them they're not happy. I don't no wot to suggest this is a devasting situation
 
Jonwal

Jonwal

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I want bloody change I fucking want it I am a young man I fucking want to change I have tried every bloody thing available I ring Samaritans I stand up to doctors. I watch bloody mafia documentary so trying to get a sense of the evil ithr world. I fucking hate this I'm empty like a fucking politician. Fuck it just fuck it. I was a young carer to my mum there is no support. U have to line there pockets to get support they see me and they think ca Ching money to b made here.
 
R

Redandwhite2018

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Oct 21, 2018
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Reading this I am mind blown at how much of a similar experience I am going through with my partner . Almost every detail matches exactly with what I'm going through. I have been doing this for a few years and I was very socially active , going to college and have always been family oriented person prior to my relationship. Now I rarely see my family and friends and never get to leave my home . I have to work full time in order to support the two of us as she is unable to work and I feel like this is all my life will ever amount to . I find myself lately trying to convince myself that it is my purpose to provide for this person the best I can because I would not be able to live with myself knowing I was the deciding factor on that person ending their life . I rarely speak to friends now and all my hopes and dreams seem as if they where a fairy tale. I spend so much time at home with my partner never leaving that I find myself growing irritated and uncomfortable in public places. I feel completely trapped and spend everyday tired , depressed , nauseous and in a daze of constant anger when prior to this I was active everyday and rarely spent anytime at home . Im struggling alot because I do love and care for her but feel that if I don't make a choice soon that it will be too late for me todo anything with my life as I am accumulating debt that is going to stop me from ever having anything of value in life that requires a good credit record like student loans...I know inside that if I stay I'm miserable but if I leave I cannot live with her death .. would like to hear if anyone has learned how to cope with something like this and live a normal functioning life for themselves
 
C

Charlieno

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Jun 30, 2018
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Hi, I don't really know where to start with this other than you are an incredibly patient, kind and loving individual. For those of you saying she wasn't like this at the start, that may be because she hadn't 'invested' so much at this point. Their relationship didn't feel like all she had at this point. Right now from what I can gather, she probably feels like without you, she has nothing. This may be where the "without you I'd kill myself" thought pattern comes from. Because to her, you are all she has. Without you she is, and has nothing, she is worthless, so why continue to live?

I honestly dont think she means this behaviour to be manipulating, and she can probably see that it is, but doesn't want it to be, so she feels guilty. It's a downward spiral. She probably feels embarrassed and guilty that she has 'ruined your life too' so to speak.

As for advice, I would seriously consider showing this thread to her psychiatrist, or even writing a letter, detailing everything you have done in your original post, and sending it to them asking for help. It sounds to me like she may be suffering from a very complex Borderline Personality Disorder. (However I am no professional and I am not qualified to give this diagnosis, it is only from personal experience)

I would try slowly introducing the topic of meds/therapy/doctors with her over the course of a few weeks, She probably feels very let down and abandoned from her previous experiences with professionals. It sounds to me like a mix of DBT and medication may be beneficial to her. Not to "fix" her, but to help her re-wire her thought process and become more emotionally resilient.

However before you can even get her to agree to work with you to get referrals done, you will have to overcome her fear/deep routed hatred for professionals. With this I am afraid I have no advice other than to slowly bring it up over the course of a few weeks, not push it, do your research, speak to a psychiatrist about your concerns. In the past there probably hasn't been someone to fight her corner with her. And she has been fobbed off by professionals. Which has only added to her negative thoughts about them. You could try asking her to try one more time, but with you by her side. With you to be strong and to speak up for her when she feels there has been an injustice in her treatment. With you to fight her corner WITH her. Not FOR her.

I won't promise it will be easy, I won't promise it will work perfectly, I will be honest and say it will be hard. Probably as hard as it is now. BUT you will both be working towards a light at the end of the tunnel instead of just working towards more of the same darkness. You will be working towards her recovery and less of a burden on yourself, the possibility of going back to work, making friends again and having a life outside of your relationship without the guilt of 'abandoning' her.

If you would like to speak further feel free to message me on here, I have been in a position very similar to hers, and I would like to thank you for being so strong for her and supporting her in the way you have done for so long.

Wishing you all the strength you need to continue, Charlie
 
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