My partner broke up with me and disclosed mental health issues as part of reason

F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#1
Hi All,

This is my first time posting to any forum, it's been a rough couple of days and I could really use some feedback and encouragement.

My boyfriend of over a year broke up with me suddenly two days ago. Overall from my perspective our relationship was great-- I have never felt the connection I have with him with anyone else. Our similar sense of humor and the weird world the two of us created together was amazing and I have never been more sure that the relationship had the potential to last a lifetime. That is not to say it didn't have its issues, as all relationships do, but I didn't see any be all end all major problems and most time spent together was enjoyable. I'm devastated and really struggling to accept what happened as it was so sudden and I thought our relationship overall was pretty great.

There were some areas of concern that I noticed throughout our relationship that looking back now were flags that there was more going on than I originally thought. He would have major mood swings-- days that he would wake up so irritable for no apparent reason (more than the "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" every once and awhile), or one small thing would set him off and he'd withdraw, and it could take hours for him to pull out of it despite my efforts to cheer him up. I was willing to stick through these times because when he was feeling good, things were amazing between us. He got stressed easily as well-- for example, when asking what he had to do that night he'd list off the same tasks he performed daily (making lunch for work the next day, working out, etc.) in a way that told me he was stressed about getting those things done. He would get stressed about setting aside time for our relationship, not that I don't think that he enjoyed spending time together but I often felt like spending time together was a burden for him in the sense he could have been doing other things on his to-do list that would help him feel less stressed.

Our breakup came three days after a fight we had. The fight basically consisted of me just wanting to feel like we could talk through the things we may not see eye to eye on instead of him either avoiding telling me how he felt or if he did providing no rationale/conversation about why. For me, compromise and talking through things is a given thing that has to happen in order to have a successful relationship. I didn't think talking about it would result in us both walking out of the restaurant and driving off to our separate residences without saying goodbye.

Cue three days of minimum interaction of any sort. The texts I did get from him ranged from blaming me for bullying him to get my way (which I think was me asking for rationale from him that was misinterpreted) and the issue being me to stating the problem may be him and maybe he's not meant to be in a relationship. (Side note, we're both 28 and I'm his first girlfriend, so he's been basically alone his whole life and hasn't opened up to anyone on a deep level.)

I finally got him to agree to see me on the third day because barely talking and dragging out the disagreement was putting me in a very bad place emotionally (I struggle with anxiety issues). The conversation started with more of what I had done wrong, and then moved to that he is damaged from people hurting him in the past which affects the trust he has in our relationship, to how he gets stressed balancing his time and never feels like he has enough. By the end of the conversation he had admitted that he likes mundane routine because his mind races constantly and routine allows him to not have to think or sort out the racing thoughts. That he can't sort out his feelings about our relationship, and he's not sure if he's even cut out to be in one or what's going on. That it's not my fault, that I'm one of the best people he's ever met, and that I deserve more than having to deal with the mood swings and him withdrawing.

I expressed concern that some of what he was describing sounded like anxiety/depression and I was worried. I think that for the first time he really realized that something is wrong and it's not just "the way he is." We talked about therapy and medication and he seemed more open to the idea than I expected.

From what I've been reading, I should be giving him serious space right now for at least a few weeks so that he can sort through his feelings. But I also feel conflicted because 1) I worry about him- he tends to isolate and now that he's realized he needs help I don't want him to be alone 2) I want to be with him and I worry that too much space will do more harm than good. But I don't want to sit around hoping he'll get help, and have that never happen. Or if he gets help, he still realizes he doesn't want to be in a relationship with me.

I would appreciate any thoughts/feedback/suggestions on the situation and how I should go forward. I've been crying on and off and really struggling with accepting that the person I love most in this world doesn't want to be with me right now.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#2
Hi and welcome to the forums. I'm very sorry that the relationship with the person you cherish is suffering. I want to commend you for reaching out to us, you seem open to understanding more about depression which demonstrates acceptance and this is praiseworthy. Many of us have only known abandonment, so thank you.

For me, compromise and talking through things is a given thing that has to happen in order to have a successful relationship.
Quite - at least for the healthy-minded. For those struggling with depression, it's difficult for us to separate ourselves from our symptoms. Consequently we perceive everything through the distorted lens of depression.
When loved ones attempt to alleviate our mood and bring us out of the malaise we genuinely can't oblige - and often feel worse for being unable to. We feel pressured to put on a fake face around then which often results in us isolating and avoiding.

Because depression is not rational there's no reasoning with us about our behavior or outlook. We try to maintain for a while, struggling until exhausted and overwhelmed by the symptoms. I mention this because you wrote of his need for more time to himself, how everyday chores seem so burdensome. It sounds like his mental bandwidth has shrunk, most of it devoted to dealing with symptoms.

From what I've been reading, I should be giving him serious space right now for at least a few weeks so that he can sort through his feelings.
When symptoms are raging, we tend make our world very small, it's too hard, too confusing and everything seems like a demand. You probably understand this from struggling with anxiety. He does need space and he very likely will isolate. Though that isn't necessarily a problem if he can come to the conclusion he needs help.

But I don't want to sit around hoping he'll get help, and have that never happen. Or if he gets help, he still realizes he doesn't want to be in a relationship with me.
It's to your credit that you want to help and I want you to know, I think your compassion for him speaks highly of the sort of person you are.

Unfortunately with mental illnesses like depression, nobody can be helped who isn't ready to receive help. This may seem contrary to how you feel but my advice is, stop telling him what he needs or what you need. Don't try telling him much of anything.

Voice your concern not with alarm or worry but with compassion.
The most important words you can offer him:
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
"I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling that way, that must be tough."
"I'm don't need to talk I just want you to know I'm here to listen when you need someone."
"When you don't want to be alone but you also don't want to talk, I will sit with you and...
- watch TV
- stare at my phone
- eat
- hug you...
...and we don't have to say a single thing."


That's a lot of information but if you have questions about anything specific, please feel free to ask.

Finally, you wrote that you deserve more than mood swings and to be shut out and I agree. Your feelings are important, I hope nothing i wrote seemed to suggest otherwise. You can be frustrated with the illness, he is not his symptoms.
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#3
Hi Bizzarebitrary,

Thank you so much for your response it has helped immensely. I didn't realize how much I needed to hear from someone that understands from a first hand perspective. I have reread your post a few times today and it helped me push through some moments that were tough, so from the bottom of my heart thank you.

Because depression is not rational there's no reasoning with us about our behavior or outlook. We try to maintain for a while, struggling until exhausted and overwhelmed by the symptoms. I mention this because you wrote of his need for more time to himself, how everyday chores seem so burdensome. It sounds like his mental bandwidth has shrunk, most of it devoted to dealing with symptoms.
This hit home, hard. So many times I tried to talk to him about why he was in a mood, bothered, etc. and how it was affecting me only to get nowhere. "Sorry this is who I am" is a common response I'd get. I always felt like I was in the wrong and ironically he also felt like he couldn't do anything right. I was super affectionate and reassuring on a daily basis of how much I loved him and appreciate what we had and it still wasn't enough.


It's to your credit that you want to help and I want you to know, I think your compassion for him speaks highly of the sort of person you are.
This made me tear up, thank you. I feel like I never got recognition for all of the effort I put into our relationship or how extremely hard this break up would be for me and my own mental health from him. I'm beginning to realize that it's the depression that was unappreciative/selfish of my efforts to be supportive and not him. Today I woke up numb which then turned to anger about everything. Anger at the world for giving me a person that I truly feel could be my life partner but mental illness took him away from me. Anger at him for not speaking to me about it sooner, not seeking help already, and at times dragging me through the mud with his moods. I have worked so hard to be at the best point I have ever been at in my life in basically all realms and that it's not enough is extremely painful.

Unfortunately with mental illnesses like depression, nobody can be helped who isn't ready to receive help. This may seem contrary to how you feel but my advice is, stop telling him what he needs or what you need.
This is a tough pill to swallow, but it makes sense. I know that he's confused on what he needs and how he feels on a multitude of things and the depression is even further clouding things, it's just difficult feeling like I'm sitting around waiting for him to make a decision on what I can be in his life. I basically feel powerless and have for a lot of our relationship which I now realize wasn't/isn't powerless to him but to the hold his depression has on him. I made an appointment with my therapist tomorrow so I can sort through my own feelings and mental well being because I'm worried that this situation will drag me into a bad place myself as I've struggled with suicidal thoughts associated with my anxiety for about ten years now.

That's a lot of information but if you have questions about anything specific, please feel free to ask.
One question I had is at times that you felt your depression was under control, at least at a much better place, could you look back on the rougher patches and see them without the tinted depression lenses? Or is looking back kind of blurry because your depression had taken hold so tight? I'm wondering if he'll be able to be able to look back and be able to see the hurt that was caused because I think that would be very helpful in my healing process for him to acknowledge it. Have you had personal experience with pushing someone away hurtfully and later were able to make amends?

On a similar note to my above question, I also was wondering about how easy you can differentiate your personality without the depression vs. what depression does to you when it's at a high. Since he has never pursued treatment before, or even realized that he had a problem, I don't think he knows who he is without the depression symptoms. (for example he's been a loner much of his life-- does he really find the most happiness spending time alone or is this the depression isolating him?) Can you remember before you knew what it was like to have the depression managed vs. when it was for the first time? I'm wondering how much clearer his mind will be if he finds effective treatment and how long after finding the right med/therapy/other help were you able to sort out some of the chaos caused by being so clouded by the mental illness?

Again, I appreciate your thoughtful response to my post. Amazing how someone you've never met can give such insightful feedback without ever meeting the other person, even more so than friends and family.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#4
You're welcome and I appreciate the acknowledgment, it's nice to hear that my comments were helpful.

could you look back on the rougher patches and see them without the tinted depression lenses? Or is looking back kind of blurry because your depression had taken hold so tight?
A bit of both though it's closer to "kind if blurry" and that's due to the manner in which severe depression creates a hollow numbness inside - as if I died and became a walking corpse. Some occasions I can remember quite clearly while stretches that lasted months blur together, during which I was struggling each day just to maintain and barely functioning as an adult.
I get that you're interested to know if treatment will alter how he remembers and reflects (emotionally) on the occasion that so devastated you. If we imagine good outcomes from medication reducing symptoms and therapy to help him sort himself out, I'd like to believe him able and willing to recognize and validate your suffering. I'd also like to believe he can forgive himself.

Have you had personal experience with pushing someone away hurtfully and later were able to make amends?
Most definitely. Like switching off the lights in each room in a house, I severed a lot of meaningful connections with people in my life because I couldn't bear the perceived strain of the obligation. When my symptoms finally went into remission, I realized what I'd lost but I didn't immediately know what to do about it or even if my mental health was durable enough to face the consequences - if you know what I mean. Therapy was instrumental. It provided the means with which I repaired some of those relationships and helped me to cope with ones that were hopelessly lost (sadly I did lose my sweetheart). But the motivation to do so was sparked by something deep within me.

I was aided by an insight. During one of my treatments I had an experience (some would call it a vision) that showed me how my depression-driven isolation affected everyone I had connections with. Over the years I spent struggling to survive, I suppose I'd forgotten what I meant to my loved ones.

I'd left a "me-shaped hole" in their lives. This insight has deeply personal meaning to me. Without it, I don't know if I'd be so compelled to make repairs, to ask what I could do to make amends, to find the self-compassion required to forgive myself.

Can you remember before you knew what it was like to have the depression managed vs. when it was for the first time?
What it's like living outside the fishbowl? Yes. But Depressive disorder manifests differently in different people. I've been able to beat it into remission several times, allowing me intervals during which symptoms are mild to moderate and I feel more like me. 5-6 years ago it returned acutely and for a time I forgot that there was a beforehand. The brain adapts, ever seeking the new normal. Depression can stain and corrupt even happy memories so there's no haven there.

He may remember a time when it was different. A close family member will recall if there was ever a time he seemed different - for me it's my brother.
It's an entanglement in any case, separating the "he" from the "we". Where depression symptoms end and he begins is a very serious self-examination he can undertake once symptoms are understood and managed. Cognitive therapies are a terrific framework for this sort of thing.

If life were a tidy affair, he would've joined this forum and reached out to us, we would welcome him.

I wish depression didn't also hurt people closest to us, it's so insidious. Well done for taking care of yourself by seeing to your own mental health and making that appointment with your T. Also for giving yourself permission to express difficult emotions like anger and frustration rather than burying them. It's clear you're hurting and thats awful. Can you do something nice just for yourself this week?
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#5
You're welcome and I appreciate the acknowledgment, it's nice to hear that my comments were helpful.
A bit of both though it's closer to "kind if blurry" and that's due to the manner in which severe depression creates a hollow numbness inside - as if I died and became a walking corpse. Some occasions I can remember quite clearly while stretches that lasted months blur together, during which I was struggling each day just to maintain and barely functioning as an adult.
I get that you're interested to know if treatment will alter how he remembers and reflects (emotionally) on the occasion that so devastated you. If we imagine good outcomes from medication reducing symptoms and therapy to help him sort himself out, I'd like to believe him able and willing to recognize and validate your suffering. I'd also like to believe he can forgive himself.
Most definitely. Like switching off the lights in each room in a house, I severed a lot of meaningful connections with people in my life because I couldn't bear the perceived strain of the obligation. When my symptoms finally went into remission, I realized what I'd lost but I didn't immediately know what to do about it or even if my mental health was durable enough to face the consequences - if you know what I mean. Therapy was instrumental. It provided the means with which I repaired some of those relationships and helped me to cope with ones that were hopelessly lost (sadly I did lose my sweetheart). But the motivation to do so was sparked by something deep within me.
I was aided by an insight. During one of my treatments I had an experience (some would call it a vision) that showed me how my depression-driven isolation affected everyone I had connections with. Over the years I spent struggling to survive, I suppose I'd forgotten what I meant to my loved ones.
I'd left a "me-shaped hole" in their lives. This insight has deeply personal meaning to me. Without it, I don't know if I'd be so compelled to make repairs, to ask what I could do to make amends, to find the self-compassion required to forgive myself.
What it's like living outside the fishbowl? Yes. But Depressive disorder manifests differently in different people. I've been able to beat it into remission several times, allowing me intervals during which symptoms are mild to moderate and I feel more like me. 5-6 years ago it returned acutely and for a time I forgot that there was a beforehand. The brain adapts, ever seeking the new normal. Depression can stain and corrupt even happy memories so there's no haven there.
He may remember a time when it was different. A close family member will recall if there was ever a time he seemed different - for me it's my brother.
It's an entanglement in any case, separating the "he" from the "we". Where depression symptoms end and he begins is a very serious self-examination he can undertake once symptoms are understood and managed. Cognitive therapies are a terrific framework for this sort of thing.
If life were a tidy affair, he would've joined this forum and reached out to us, we would welcome him.
I wish depression didn't also hurt people closest to us, it's so insidious. Well done for taking care of yourself by seeing to your own mental health and making that appointment with your T. Also for giving yourself permission to express difficult emotions like anger and frustration rather than burying them. It's clear you're hurting and thats awful. Can you do something nice just for yourself this week?
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#6
I apologize for the weird post from Thursday, I'm not sure if it was a site glitch or what but it wouldn't allow me to type anything in response. It seems to be fixed today thankfully!

An update on the situation: On Thursday afternoon I was surprised to receive a text from him, especially since it's only been 5 days since the breakup. We corresponded back and forth a few times and the main points of the conversation were:

-He said he had been thinking about me a lot, he's missed hearing from me, and life isn't quite the same without me

This was nice to hear as I feel the same way. I guess I had started to second guess whether this was hard for him, or if he'd instantly moved on. But also hard to hear in the sense that it doesn't change the situation right now and there's nothing I can do about it.

-Asked me why I had wanted to go to couples therapy (the argument before our breakup I had asked him to go, and he flipped out and said no) because he was talking to his mom about everything and realized he never really asked.

I responded that we had been having some miscommunication issues and I just thought having a neutral middle party work with us may allow us to see the other's person side more clearly and ultimately make us a stronger couple. That it wasn't the stereotype "last ditch effort" or me trying to attack him for anything. I'm super glad that he went and talked to his mom about it and isn't completely isolating.

He responded with he wished he would have just went with me and not made such a big deal of it. Continued on to say that he needs to go talk to someone and he's scared to initiate the process on his own. He also said that he is "definitely starting to think some of the things that were bothering me are from anxiety and my brain being weird and not what I had originally thought so I'm trying to work on my shit."

That was great to hear. I was worried that what we had talked about would fade a day or two after we broke up but it seems like he has accepted that he needs help. Also selfishly it qualms my fears that I had imagined things or was way off the mark due to being caught up in my own feelings so it's a relief in that way as well.

The last text I sent emphasized with the seemingly daunting task of finding a therapist to talk to, but giving him encouragement that I knew he could do it. I also said I agreed with what he said and I hope that he pursues help because no one deserves to suffer from a brain chemistry imbalance that they never asked to have in the first place.

Any feedback or advice on the conversation and if there is anything that would be helpful to say? Or not say?


He may remember a time when it was different. A close family member will recall if there was ever a time he seemed different - for me it's my brother.
His mom has said on a few occasions that she misses the time when he used to smile a lot. At the time I was kind of confused by this because it's not as if every time we saw his parents he was miserable, but I now I'm starting to think it was more her noticing a change in him due to his mental health.

It's clear you're hurting and thats awful. Can you do something nice just for yourself this week?
I've leaned on my friends a lot and they've really came through for me, as usual. On Thursday I even worked my first shift for a grocery delivery service that I've been meaning to do and brought a friend along which ended up being quite a fun adventure.

I'm trying to do activities I enjoy and surround myself with good people, people that also understand mental health struggles so I know that I can talk about how I'm feeling and/or the situation in general if I want to. I've been also going to the gym when I can.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#7
The MHF has a complete update to forum software, there are a few glitches yet which could explain the weird behavior you experience when you tried posting the other day.

I think his replies are encouraging, do you? I see signs and signals of remorse, self-reflection upon his earlier behavior and acknowledgment that he's got a problem he just can't solve all on his own. That's good. Missing is a firm apology for splitting up with you, a firm acknowledgment of your suffering due to it and an offer to repair that hurt - but perhaps that's to be expected. He's still struggling with symptoms which aren't yet being treated and depression makes it near impossible to turn inward focus outward.

He responded with he wished he would have just went with me and not made such a big deal of it. Continued on to say that he needs to go talk to someone and he's scared to initiate the process on his own. He also said that he is "definitely starting to think some of the things that were bothering me are from anxiety and my brain being weird and not what I had originally thought so I'm trying to work on my shit."
Yes - big step here by acknowledging he can't sort this one out all alone. So what comes of this? Early in my struggle, I found it difficult to imagine seeing a doctor about depression, taking pills, sitting in a therapists office. Every one of my fears about this turned out to be completely imagined, every single one. In retrospect, I wish I had someone with me for my first appointment with the psychiatrist - which might have come sooner - had I not been so afraid.

You might ask if he'd like you to go with him, if he'll make the appointment. You might tell him about your experience seeing a doctor about your anxiety, if that story is relevant. However you want to proceed, there's is a limit to how helpful you can be:

"There is a way to be there for someone without putting pressure on them. Provide your presence, your acceptance and distraction.

Friends and family members can play an important role, but do not help when they make it their mission to “fix” the depressed person. The person does not want their family members to suffer or to need to perform for them. Family members cannot help but be impacted. But finding a balance between care for self and care for others is especially important in the relationship with a person who is depressed."
- Nancy Bugoyne, PhD clinical psychologist
Do you think couples therapy would benefit you both right now or do you think you both will be better off if he sought medication for symptoms and individual therapy to help him? Maybe the former will resolve the rift between you sooner but maybe not resolve his individual problems that could have had a hand in driving you apart? Of course his willingness to engage in any of the process is absolutely critical.

Frequently, I tell people I know who are considering therapy, "This is not a movie, therapy isn't something that happened to you and magically you're somehow better. You must engage with the process, you're required to open up and honestly share what's really bothering you and you have to want to do the work necessary in order to see improvement. All of this isn't going to happen in 1-5 sessions, it will take as long as it takes. If you can't commit to a process or if you won't play a role in your own treatment, then I wouldn't dip a toe in just so that you can shrug and tell everyone 'therapy didn't work for me.'"

Ew, that reads a little cold and bitchy. Alright, maybe more than a little :redface: I know I can be impatient with people who expect instant gratification and therapy is not a transaction. So do not take my words and repeat them, please, it's their sentiment I truly want to share.
I have great compassion for my fellow depressives, depression affects cognitive ability and the ability to look at things critically so therapy is affected. Sometimes medication can reduce the turmoil and in turn help one engage in the process of healing.

On the subject of you, taking the delivery job is affirming of your life apart from your relationship. Sharing time with a friend of yours is also good for your mental health. Both help you to realize your worth, neither are problem behaviors. Good job, you.

On the subject of your relationship, do you feel like having him back in as-is? Whether you do or don't, I would not tell him your answer and choose to ignore any feelers he puts out there. In my opinion, it shouldn't be a decided matter while his illness and the wound of this breakup remains an unresolved matter.
 
Urban Hermit

Urban Hermit

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
2,033
#8
I hope you are able to work things out, it sounds like you have for the most part a very loving and supportive relationship X
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#9
I agree that they are encouraging- that I wasn't expecting to hear from him anytime soon, let alone have him tell me what he did.

Missing is a firm apology for splitting up with you, a firm acknowledgment of your suffering due to it and an offer to repair that hurt
I'm definitely struggling with not hearing these things. I'm happy that he reached out and acknowledged what he did acknowledge but no part of it was directed at me and how this has affected my life. I haven't brought how I feel into the conversation yet because I didn't want it to sway what he was going to say and also I put all of my feelings for him and the breakup out there when he ended it already. But I'm starting to think that I need to on some level, because this it's really starting to eat at me.


You might ask if he'd like you to go with him, if he'll make the appointment. You might tell him about your experience seeing a doctor about your anxiety, if that story is relevant.
In my last text I agreed to help find him a therapist if he wanted, and depending on his response to that, I'm also fine with going along with him for support whether that means actually going in with him or sitting in the waiting room-- whatever will make him more likely to make the appointment. I've told my story (stories) of finding therapists in bits and pieces, but maybe it is a good idea to tell it as one cohesive story.

Do you think couples therapy would benefit you both right now or do you think you both will be better off if he sought medication for symptoms and individual therapy to help him? Maybe the former will resolve the rift between you sooner but maybe not resolve his individual problems that could have had a hand in driving you apart?
I think that at the end of the day he still needs to pursue his own individual therapy due to how much his issues have negatively impacted our relationship, and his own life. That being said, it might not be a bad idea to do a couples session in the near future even if we aren't back together when we go for a few reasons: 1) It's probably a good forum to discuss our feelings about the breakup with a therapist. At this point at least, we're tippy toeing on some things and being able to discuss everything in a safe space I would hope would bring some clarity and push along the healing process. 2) It would give him an experience with therapy which hopefully would qualm some fears about finding a therapist of his own.

I've known since we broke up that if I'm waiting to see progress, there's no definitive timeline for that progress to happen. I'm prepared for it to take months-- even if he had a therapy appointment set up for tomorrow, from experience I know that it can take awhile to really get down to the root of your issues and then trying to make changes is a whole separate step. Bring medication into the equation and it can take 3-6 weeks to see the result, and that's saying the first one he was prescribed worked for him.

That being said I don't know what he's expecting.

On the subject of your relationship, do you feel like having him back in as-is? Whether you do or don't, I would not tell him your answer and choose to ignore any feelers he puts out there.
I'm not sure how I feel. I would feel better about him at least having therapy sessions set up before if/when we got back together so I wouldn't have to worry about him getting comfortable and it never happening. I know that I would need him to put in the effort to mend this in ways more than sending a few text messages- he'd need to initiate a face to face and apologize for the hurt he's caused me and I don't know if that's something he's up to doing right now.

In my opinion, it shouldn't be a decided matter while his illness and the wound of this breakup remains an unresolved matter.
I agree. I'm actually at the point where waiting for him to text me back is making me extremely anxious and negatively affecting my mental state. (I texted him at 4pm yesterday, and its 10am and I haven't heard from him which is well above the norm for us.) I'm considering telling him I need some space for awhile. Hopefully that reinforces the fact that he needs to follow through getting help because he can't have his cake and eat it too. Meaning, he can't break up with me because of his mental illness but then be able to text me and keep me on a string. I find myself imagining what he's doing that he can't text me back and it's making me upset. It's again a blurry line, I don't want to break contact and not be supportive but being in the gray area isn't healthy for me right now. I'm confused.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#10
I'm actually at the point where waiting for him to text me back is making me extremely anxious and negatively affecting my mental state. (I texted him at 4pm yesterday, and its 10am and I haven't heard from him which is well above the norm for us.)
Please, I hope you'll see to your own mental health first and his afterwards. Difficult emotions are going to be present, that's expected given what all occured. You want to avoid exacerbating anxiety beyond what you're able to cope with if you hope to have the energy to help him.

His symptoms are unmanaged so they're going to relapse or subside randomly. As such his behavior is not a good indication of what you did or did not do.

As you've said, you desire good communication and that's very important for the relationship but that requires his cooperation and it's unclear whether he can oblige at this time. It's okay to let him be and let the relationship issues be while you attend to your emotional wellbeing, hopefully he'll do the same.

When you feel anxiety rising because of the uncertainty of this situation tell yourself you're going to be okay no matter the outcome - because you will. You have the strength and it appears you have people in your life to support you.

I hope you're getting some rest and a little peace tonight.
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#11
Please, I hope you'll see to your own mental health first and his afterwards. Difficult emotions are going to be present, that's expected given what all occured. You want to avoid exacerbating anxiety beyond what you're able to cope with if you hope to have the energy to help him.
I'm struggling with what that line is, he has the ability to make or break my entire day. It's great when I receive a text from him that's loving and gives me hope. But when I don't hear back from him for awhile (even if it took me awhile to get back to him with the text before) my anxiety starts to rise and I find myself checking my phone more and more, re-reading the text I've sent to see what could have been interpreted negatively, etc.

This is where my mental health issues and his mental health issues are intersecting in a difficult way-- I know he needs support and has told me how helpful me being positive means to him, in both terms of him getting well and the hopes that we can ultimately be together. I want nothing more than to give him that and I know that things take time so I need to be patient. But I do not do well with "letting things play out" and not having any idea where the road is going. My anxious thoughts consume me-- what if he never makes a therapy appt? What if we never get back together? What if I continue to sit here in purgatory not able to move forward in any direction, miserable, to only have nothing happen?

I guess it comes down to the fact that I have no control over what happens, the only thing I can control is my response to what's happening. How long can I stay in the gray area? How long do I want to stay in the gray area? I don't know the answer to those questions exactly but I do know I can't handle this being a long term thing.

His symptoms are unmanaged so they're going to relapse or subside randomly. As such his behavior is not a good indication of what you did or did not do.
Deep down I know that, but I'm still trying and hoping that my efforts are enough to push him to make that first appointment. It's hard when I have been so clear to him that he is the love of my life and I would do anything for him, more expressive than I have ever been or from what others around me have said more expressive than most people in general, and that's not enough for him to just make the damn appointment. It's hard not to take it personally-- does he love me the way I love him? Because if I had all the support and resources (I sent him a list of a few therapists I'd found) he did and I could potentially lose my partner forever it seems like a no brainer to make the call and set something up.

I guess there just doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency and that hurts.

I presented to him in the last text I sent him that I would be interested in getting together in the next week sometime, and that it didn't need to be anything crazy and I wasn't expecting anything to get figured out that evening but I think it'd be good to see each other. So we'll see what his response to that is... There's something about seeing someone in person that can't even slightly be duplicated through text. I'd hope that seeing each other would be comforting and maybe bring some clarity to where we both are at right now.

Depending on what he says to that... Well I think if he says no the next step for me is doing no contact until after he's had his first appointment. Any suggestions on how to word that? Basically I feel like we've said all that can be said until he gets help and texting in the meantime is making me so up and down. It puts the ball in his court, but also shows that I still want to be a part of his life he just has to want to get well.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#12
I guess it comes down to the fact that I have no control over what happens, the only thing I can control is my response to what's happening. How long can I stay in the gray area?
Yes, unfortunately that control isn't possible because you can't fix him and it's not your responsibility to.

This is where my mental health issues and his mental health issues are intersecting in a difficult way
That's an astute observation. You understand that there is a fine line, a balance that must be achieved between caring for him and caring for yourself. I want to point out that this is true for his family as it is for any family with a member who is struggling with mental illness. Loved ones cannot help but be impacted by a family member suffering from depression, everyone suffers with him.

Well I think if he says no the next step for me is doing no contact until after he's had his first appointment. Any suggestions on how to word that?
It brings us back to my first reply to you. You and he can see each other, spend time together without the stipulation that you talk about the relationship or about his illness or getting help. It may be an unsatisfactory or unsatisfying condition for you to accept and if you don't want to or it hurts too much to - don't offer. That arrangement has to be okay for you because your health is important.

I don't know if he's replied to your texts yet. Maybe give it several days before checking in again, being mindful that you putting pressure on him won't help him proceed. Providing your presence, distraction and acceptance is how you can show him you're there without pressure for him to perform for you.

If it's been nearly a week and still nothing from him, send out a gentle reminder that isolation may feel right but it isn't. Wording that can be tricky. I'm borrowing this example from a clinician, to me it sounds reassuring and mutually respectful:

“I respect that you want to be alone, but I don’t want us to make the mistake of having you be alone too long.”

That's all I got with regard to helping him. On the matter of helping you, has your anxiety been manageable, are you coping or feeling overwhelmed? If you're seeing your therapist, what can you discuss that can assure you that, while you can't control the outcome, you can control how much you suffer during the in-between? What support from friends and family do you require for you to know you'll be okay?
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#13
To update on the situation, he had responded to my request to see each other with something along the lines of "Ok I guess" "I'll try" etc. Long story short I told him that that response hurt my feelings. He then flipped out saying he was having a bad day (one of his anxiety flare-ups) and then I have to come at him like that.. Basically the response was him having a pity party and then turning it back to self-hating, "I suck at everything" etc etc.

I didn't respond, because frankly, there was nothing to say. I understand that he's struggling, but I can't keep being the target of his issues.

He texted me five days later apologizing, saying how much he loved me and misses me but I'm better off moving on because he's f-ed up and I don't deserve getting dragged through all of this.

We later talked on the phone and agreed to meet up Thursday.

He talked to me about how nervous he is to get help. He has a lot of wild thoughts about it-- he's afraid that going to therapy he'll be labeled and ultimately not be allowed to have firearms, afraid he'll be a zombie, and afraid that he won't be able to get better even if he tries.

I talked through with him his fears a bit and I also mentioned that I had a therapy appointment next Tuesday and he is welcome to join me to see what it's like, and if he wanted we could grab a bite afterwards (I want to normalize the experience, especially since I know the idea of therapy is so stressful for him.) I didn't ask for an answer, I'm sure it will come up if he is contemplating it if I do end up seeing him Thursday.

It brings us back to my first reply to you. You and he can see each other, spend time together without the stipulation that you talk about the relationship or about his illness or getting help. It may be an unsatisfactory or unsatisfying condition for you to accept and if you don't want to or it hurts too much to - don't offer. That arrangement has to be okay for you because your health is important.
As much as I want to be able to be there for him like that, I don't think that I can. I am too in love with him to be able to hover in the gray area. Down the line that might be an option, but if he's not ready to get help then I need to allow myself the space to heal and move on. We'll see how Thursday goes-- I think seeing each other in person will be hard but will also bring eventually bring some clarity. It's one thing to type out text messages, it's another thing to see someone in person and speak face to face.

“I respect that you want to be alone, but I don’t want us to make the mistake of having you be alone too long.”
I like that phrasing, a lot. It hits the nail on the head.. so thank you for that, I will most likely use it.
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#14
That's all I got with regard to helping him. On the matter of helping you, has your anxiety been manageable, are you coping or feeling overwhelmed? If you're seeing your therapist, what can you discuss that can assure you that, while you can't control the outcome, you can control how much you suffer during the in-between? What support from friends and family do you require for you to know you'll be okay?
I have been extremely up and down. Some days I feel alright, other days all I want to do is fast forward a few months until my anxiety and hurt are better under control. It's difficult because relationship turmoil is one of my biggest anxiety triggers, I've been fully aware of this for awhile. In the moments
where my anxiety sky rockets and I start having panicky thoughts, I talk with a friend about them, even if it's exactly what I said the day before to them (it definitely helps to have friends who understand mental health struggles.. I never feel judged, only supported.) My support system helps a lot, but unfortunately I feel like the only thing that is going to allow me to push through is ultimately distancing myself from him. I'm not quite there yet, and we'll see how seeing one another goes. But I'm starting to accept that I'm most likely going to need to walk away...


As always, thanks for the support and listening ear. It's helpful to hear from someone that isn't actually involved in the situation but can relate.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#15
He talked to me about how nervous he is to get help. He has a lot of wild thoughts about it-- he's afraid that going to therapy he'll be labeled and ultimately not be allowed to have firearms, afraid he'll be a zombie, and afraid that he won't be able to get better even if he tries.
Ah, there it is: stigma. The single issue most responsible for why people struggle in silence rather than reach for help. Together with anxiety, which amplifies the possibility for negative outcomes while minimizing the potential for relief, our thinking becomes black and white. It's difficult to overcome on ones own but as you're modeling a treatment-positive behavior and he trusts you, there's good reason to believe he can overcome these objections based upon fears.

I talked through with him his fears a bit and I also mentioned that I had a therapy appointment next Tuesday and he is welcome to join me to see what it's like, and if he wanted we could grab a bite afterwards (I want to normalize the experience, especially since I know the idea of therapy is so stressful for him.)
That's excellent work and I hope he's moved to reevaluate his notions. In addition to stigma there are other forces at work. One of them may be learned behaviors. What his father, grandfather or role models demonstrated when dealing with difficult emotions. Behaviors we acquire, usually some version of suck-it-up, man-up, stop feeling sorry for yourself. "What do I do with these unhelpful ways of coping that aren't mine but became part of my identity?" Letting go of them isn't easy when one has made it a part of his identity.

I hope it goes well when you see each other today. You're right, texting is not a substitute for in-person communication in matters like this. Compassion and other emotions don't translate.

but if he's not ready to get help then I need to allow myself the space to heal and move on.
This is a great example of affirming your own feelings, even though it's hard because they hurt.

I feel like the only thing that is going to allow me to push through is ultimately distancing myself from him. I'm not quite there yet, and we'll see how seeing one another goes. But I'm starting to accept that I'm most likely going to need to walk away...
While that outcome isn't certain, your anxiety over it is. I think anxiety can be overwhelming when we try to ignore what it's yammering on about. Again, you've shown care for your own mental health by allowing the thought of a future without him to occupy some space in you. That deserves a fist-pump or some sort of recognition and if it doesn't feel right to do it yourself, I'll offer you the deserved praise. Well done. This can never be easy.


Relationship anxiety seems to decrease as we grow more confident in the belief that if we must go separate ways with a partner, we will be okay. Okay doesn't mean it won't hurt, it doesn't mean it won't suck for a time, it means we believe we will be able to survive it, that we have the tools and people with us to deal with the emotional debris and move on. Your wisdom, the self-awareness you show.and the great support network you have to rely on makes the idea of "okay" so much easier to believe.

Perhaps today won't be decision day for you and him and that's alright if you still have energy left in you to tread water. If you're pretty clear about what you need from him when you speak today, you won't be stuck on indecision.

I'm hoping that you get a satisfactory result either way. Be well and remember to try and do something nice for yourself - it doesn't need to be grand.
 
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#16
Well I've got some substantial updates, although I'm still processing through them myself so I'm not sure what ways my feelings about them will settle to.


We saw each other Thursday as planned, we grabbed a few drinks and dinner. He was very upfront and immediately jumped into telling me about just how hard this month has been without me, how he realized so much of his world was connected to me or reminded him of me, and how he can't imagine ever being with anyone else. All that was nice to hear and reassured some of my worries and fears that come along with being broken up and not seeing each other for a month.

He actually found out that his older brother went to therapy three years ago-- he had a panic attack and at least one other instance of panic that led him to go talk to someone. This is huge.. I think this will help with the stigma issue a lot. My ex mentioned that he wants to talk to his brother about it (their mom told him this) and wants to talk to the same therapist his brother did. His mom also disclosed that she also went to talk to that therapist as well. I'm glad that he found out about his family's experience with therapy so that he's aware he has family history of anxiety and he's not alone in it. He also has realized that his dad seems to struggle with the same things that he does, and "handles" his struggles in a similar way and this has caused problems within their family. My ex said he never wants to take out his anxiety on me the way his dad took it out on him and his siblings and mom.

After dinner we went back to my place and he stayed over. I think we both knew that it would make things more complicated but it felt right and I don't regret it happening. The next day (Friday) we both were very anxious, I actually called in sick to work. Just a lot of feelings and confusion.

We continued to be in contact, regularly, after that. I mentioned going to therapy with me and hesitantly agreed which was a huge step! He followed through and met me at the appointment yesterday. My friend gave me the solid advice of going into the appointment with the mindset that it's okay to almost be a bystander and not super vocal in the appointment-- yes I have things I want to discuss, but he needs to be the focus so he can get his questions/concerns answered/squashed so he can feel more comfortable making his own appointment. I'm glad that I had thought about that beforehand, because my therapist and him talked between themsevles for 50 minutes of our hour appointment which was a little difficult but I knew was for the best.

When the therapist asked him what our status was he said "It's complicated" and when prompted whether or not he felt like he could work on both us and his issues, he responded that he can't commit the time the way he did when we were in a relationship. He said he can't give me what I want and deserve right now.

His feedback of the appointment was good-- he felt better now that he knew about some of the biological components of anxiety (Fight/Flight, adrenaline/cortisol) and that the therapist described a lot of how he felt without him having to talk about it which I think that confirmed with him that he does have anxiety and he's not alone in how he feels.

We went to dinner and this is where I go back to what you were saying about just being supportive and not bringing up my wants or needs, and I f-ed up. I'm just so hurt that it's hard not bringing up what the future looks like and how I'm nervous about waiting, I was just feeling a lot of things from the therapy appointment prior. He told me that it seems like nothing he ever does is enough, he went to therapy with me which I knew wasn't easy for him, and I didn't seem to appreciate that step and shut down. I later apologized for that both in person, and via text this morning, because I don't want him to feel that way. I do appreciate his going, so incredibly much, and that its my own anxiety kicking in.

I convinced him to come over, and after some snuggling and affection he pulled out of his mood.


While that outcome isn't certain, your anxiety over it is. I think anxiety can be overwhelming when we try to ignore what it's yammering on about. Again, you've shown care for your own mental health by allowing the thought of a future without him to occupy some space in you. That deserves a fist-pump or some sort of recognition and if it doesn't feel right to do it yourself, I'll offer you the deserved praise. Well done. This can never be easy.
I'm such an emotional person it's been very hard to bite my tongue with my own feelings, as you know from this thread.

I'm making an individual appointment with my therapist for hopefully next week-- I do see progress so I don't want to walk away but I'm also back to my original struggle of not knowing how to handle this, if I can handle this, or where to go from here.
 
MeropeneM

MeropeneM

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
208
#17
You posted this in the depression forum because that's what you think his problem is. In my opinion, his state of mind has nothing to do with depression. Judging by your description of him, I think that he could have ADHD.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
MeropeneM

MeropeneM

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
208
#18
When the therapist asked him what our status was he said "It's complicated" and when prompted whether or not he felt like he could work on both us and his issues, he responded that he can't commit the time the way he did when we were in a relationship. He said he can't give me what I want and deserve right now.
Not completing tasks and being behind with the things you need to do is possibly not anxiety...it sounds like real, logical worry of not being able to do what you need to do.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
F

fightorflight

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
16
Location
New York, USA
#19
You posted this in the depression forum because that's what you think his problem is. His state of mind has nothing to do with depression. Judging by your description of him, he has ADHD. He needs amphetamines to be normal.
ADHD could be part of the picture, because yes, some of the adult symptoms of ADHD are definitely present, but they don't cover all of his symptoms so I'm fairly confident anxiety is the main culprit.

Adult ADHD Symptoms (Red, doesn't have. Bolded black, does):
  • Impulsiveness- He's not impulsive. He's very indecisive actually.
  • Lack of organization and difficulty prioritizing tasks- He's actually very organized. He does have difficulty with prioritizing.
  • Difficulty with focusing and following through on things- He follows through with everything he says he's going to do whether it be plans, a project, etc.
  • Poor time management and planning skills- It's not that he has poor time management, it's that he feels consistently overwhelmed by what he has to get done, even when some of the tasks are every day tasks such as doing laundry, making his lunch, etc.
  • Restlessness- He sometimes is restless, but also goes through periods where he has no energy whatsoever, for no obvious reason.
  • Frequent mood swings- He does have mood swings.
  • Difficulty coping with stress- As I mentioned above, everyday tasks have become stressful, so I can't imagine how he would be when something came up that wasn't everyday stuff.
Anxiety Symptoms (Not exclusive list, but some common ones):
  • Excessive Worrying
  • Chest pain/Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Neck tension
  • Stomach upset, nervous stomach
  • Feeling Agitated
  • Restlessness
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Irrational thoughts/fears
  • Weakness in legs
  • Sleep problems

Regardless I just want him to get help, I'm not concerned with the actual label.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
410
Location
California, US
#20
We went to dinner and this is where I go back to what you were saying about just being supportive and not bringing up my wants or needs, and I f-ed up. I'm just so hurt that it's hard not bringing up what the future looks like and how I'm nervous about waiting, I was just feeling a lot of things from the therapy appointment prior.
That's you being human. Your feelings couldn't remain underwater without popping up to the surface eventually. It sounds like you're not especially proud of how they came up and out - and I get that. It reminds me of how I effed up by blowing up at a family member last weekend over something he said. In my therapy session later on, I realized that this one moment when I'm not at my best doesn't mean that all the skillful work I did over that weekend meant nothing. And I think this holds true for you, considering how you sat in silence through 50 minutes of therapy devoted to him and how you've encouraged him to discover the history of illness in his family. You've done real well by him and you've shown your ability to self-regulate your emotions.

I do see progress so I don't want to walk away but I'm also back to my original struggle of not knowing how to handle this, if I can handle this, or where to go from here.
Yep he's gaining insight and gradually coming to terms with his emotions. Good. He recognized how much you mean to him, how fortunate he is to have you in his life. Great. It doesn't sound like he's closer to actually making a repair of the hole he tore in your relationship - maybe he's not yet ready to deal with that? In any event, the sand in the hourglass has to run out sometime. When do you think that will be? You refer to him as your ex so I take that to mean a life after him is conceivable. Can you cope for a while longer to see if the small steps he's taken are leading him back to wellness?
 

Similar threads