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    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

Mental illness + long distance = difficult

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mynameislalala

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Sep 6, 2020
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Netherlands
My girlfriend and I have been a couple for a little more than 1,5 year now. We're long distance and both live with our families.

She has some mental health issues: An eating disorder, depression and a history of several suicide attempts. After really getting to know her, I have realized that it's most likely her home situation that's causing her most of these issues. Her mother has basically "given" her an eating disorder. She started putting her on diets when she was just a kid and still today, she tries to force her to do extreme diets, manipulates her into exercising and verbally abuses her everyday ("you're so fat", "nobody will love you like this", "your body is disgusting", "we need to hide your body" etc"). Her brother is also physically abusive.

I recently got back from a visit in her country. I came while her parents were out of town, and during these 10 days she seemed so much calmer and it was so much easier to be supportive. She managed to eat most of the time, we even cooked surprise meals for each other, and she just seemed overall mentally healthier. When her disorder did show up, I could at least be there for her physically and hug her and comfort her and she was always willing to talk to me about it. But as soon as I went home and her parents returned about a week ago, she has been "weird". She's not acting like herself: She seems anxious, is isolating from me, saying scary stuff, is acting cold and even kinda rude etc). Now she's saying that she doesn't want me to see her on Skype or anything until our next meeting (in months) because "she needs to lose weight first and wants to surprise me", she posts things on social media about how fat she is etc.

I know that her eating disorder and home situation is really making her feel terrible, it's understandable. But I don't know what to do about this. Ever since I got home to my country I feel so powerless, like I can't help at all. Supporting her being so far away is so much harder. During my visit I could hug her, she felt more comfortable during meals because unlike her family I don't insult her body or steal food from her plate because "she needs to lose weight" , and she actually talked to me about how she felt. Now she's just withdrawing herself from me. I'm super worried about her and it will be 4 months until we meet again.

I love this girl with all my heart but supporting her while being apart is so hard, partly because of what I mentioned above but also mentally for me since I feel very worried and powerless. It even seems like it makes her angry that I care...

She used to go to therapy but hasn't gone all summer. She has promised me to go back now and I hope she doesn't break that promise.

If anyone has any advice on what I can do to help I'll appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
 
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bpd2020

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May 25, 2020
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England
Hello and welcome to the forum. You are such a kind and loving partner. I can see how much you care about your girlfriend. She is being abused by her family and it is likely she will not realise this as she has grown up in this environment. I am wondering if her being more cold is due to her confusion as she is being shown love for the first time. It can be really difficult to accept love when we are not used to it. I think she needs to realise she is unwell and get herself therapy. You can only guide her but she has to do it herself. It is very hard and frustrating to see somebody in such a situation who will not take steps to get support so I do understand how you feel.
 
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