Coping with partners mental health

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by SnRK1, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. SnRK1

    SnRK1 New Member

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    Hello.


    I am here hoping to connect with anyone who is or has been in a similar situation to the one I’m about to describe. I would love to gain your insight, or indeed receive any advice that you may have gained through experience.


    So, on to my story - A couple of months before christmas I came home from work to find my partner having a panic attack in the kitchen. It was obviously very scary for both of us, but she was able to slowly calm down and once calm we were able to talk. She confided in me that she has had suicidal thoughts, irrational thoughts and that she feels in a permanent state of anxiousness. To hear all this out of the mouth of someone you love is devastating. We have been together 6 years and I have definitely picked up on some of her anxieties, but I had absolutely no idea that things had reached breaking point for her.


    After we talked, she agreed to make an appointment with the GP the following day. I went with her and waited outside and when she came out she said she felt relieved and was impressed with how thorough the doctor was. She seemed lighter for sharing her problems and although it still felt terrifying, I was glad that she had a professional looking out for her. Her doctor placed her on a list for CBT therapy and gave her a prescription for some tablets that she never took.


    Fast forward to the present day – she is still waiting for a CBT appointment. She had a telephone appointment where they assessed her and diagnosed her with severe generalised anxiety, but nothing since. She is still not taking the medication prescribed and things are getting pretty difficult at home. I know this is not about me, and I am doing everything within my power to support her. But, it’s just really hard. As part of her anxiety she obsesses over everything, and I mean everything. It’s difficult for us to make joint decisions and when we do decide on anything she usually changes her mind a few times before it is settled. Her personality has also changed (understandably, given what she’s going through) and therefore it feels like she is not the person I used to know. We don’t laugh or smile as much as we used to and she is usually so exhausted by the end of the day that she goes to bed by 9.30pm. She doesn’t see her friends as much and when she does see them it feels like she is almost trying too hard to appear as she did before anxiety took hold. I feel like I am constantly reassuring her about everything and it is honestly exhausting. Some days she doesn’t want to get up for work and I have to encourage her out of bed, which is also exhausting. I then do a full days work, in a very challenging job, only to come home to make her dinner, clean the house and get ready for an evening of reassuring her and trying to help her with today’s obsessions.


    I am tired. I want her to have the help that she do deserves to get better. I have the money to go private but she won’t take it, and I cannot force her. I want her to try the medication, but again these are her choices and hers alone. I worry about her all the time. I worry that since she isn’t thinking rationally then she isn’t capable of making decisions such as whether to take medication or not. I worry that she is vulnerable. Things seem to escalate quickly and I worry that she will need to be hospitalised due to her irrational thoughts, and everyday I wonder if that day will be today.


    I guess I am seeking comfort in others’ experiences. If you have any words of comfort or advice, I would love to here from you. If you think I am being selfish and need a talking to then please go ahead and deliver the talking to! If you have any idea of how I can support her better without feeing burnt out myself then I would love to hear from you.


    Thanks very much.
     
    #1
  2. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    Hey there...I don't have any experience but I would like to share things I have heard and what I might do in that situation. I think you are a very loving, responsible partner and quite an intelligent one. This had to be one of the worst things to happen all of a sudden in couple hood. You are dealing with a sudden change you didn't see coming and yet here you are thinking ahead and recognizing what needs to be done.

    I think if I were you, I would go private and see someone myself. It could be a marriage counselor and a referral for a support group. I know your time is already limited so making these appts will add to it. Sometimes just having you see someone may help lead her way to go with you and hopefully she will get help on her own.

    A word on medication...a friend of mine went on medication after a bad long term relationship and he decided to skip a couple of doses and he done disappeared for a day and a half before one of them iphone find friends thing was invented. Luckily he was found and recovered. So, taking meds is something that couples should agree on helping each other monitor closely. I text my gf when I take a simple aspirin so I don't forget how long ago I took it and she would be aware. And she does the same with me.

    As you age, as a couple, you will help monitor each others health and medical issues. You can't force her to get help like you said but at some point there will be consequences to your partnership. And like you are thinking ahead, it might come that day you will have to make all the decisions because she might be incapacitated. I would consult on your legal options there.

    One more thing, I had a friend who fell into depression and attempted suicide. It took some time before they found a tumor growing into her noggin. They were able to operate and she made a full recovery. I would always make sure anything physical is ruled out with her doctor.

    So sorry you are going through this and my thoughts are with you.
     
    #2
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  3. rainydaze

    rainydaze Well-Known Member

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    I apologize that I am just responding. I read this post a while ago and did not have the time to give it the attention that it needed then, so I meant to return later to reply. Then, life happened, so I got side-tracked. I'm sorry about that.
    I sincerely hope that you have found some support and/or relief for you and your partner by now, but thought I would respond just in case.

    It sounds like you are being a very supportive partner. While you are accurate that this is her mental health issue and she needs to be the one in charge of her decisions related to treatment, as her partner you do have the right to give your input and to speak clearly and lovingly about how her symptoms and (more importantly) how her lack of follow through on seeking treatment are affecting your life together. Let her know you are willing to listen and to help as you are able, but that you cannot substitute for a trained professional who has experience and objectivity in treating anxiety and depression.

    I would also talk to her about widening the circle of people who can provide support to her... like trustworthy friends or family. It is not safe or fair to you that she is pretending to be fine with her friends and that you are the only one she is seeking support from for her episodes of anxiety. It is dangerous when someone becomes isolated, will not seek treatment, and relies only on one exhausted individual without the resources for help. You both need support. If she is on a 6 month wait list for an appointment, she (or you together) could be calling weekly to find out if there is a possible cancellation. She very well may need medication, but this should be closely monitored on an ongoing basis by a physician or nurse practitioner with experience and training in treating mental health disorders.

    If you do have the resources to go through private practice, it may be a good idea to do so. Do your homework, you may only have one shot at this. Investigate who may be a good match as a therapist in your area, someone with experience treating anxiety/depression/obsessive behaviors, and someone who is LGBTQ friendly. Try to talk with the therapist ahead of time to explain the situation and see if she might be willing to help. You could request to make a "together" appointment and ask your partner to attend with you. You could explain that you do not know what else to do for her and you absolutely need her to see a professional. If she refuses to attend, you could choose to go alone (let the therapist know that is a possibility ahead of time to be sure the clinician is willing to meet with you without her). That way, at least, you would be receiving some sound professional advice from a clinician with training/experience treating anxiety/depression. The clinician may help you problem solve and may have ideas about resources as well as how to talk to her and set boundaries with her around her responsibilities and your level of support. YOU cannot be her lover, only friend, only support, her "therapist," her "doctor," her around-the-clock caregiver, and the only one who knows that she is on the brink of a "break down"/hospitalization/possible suicide.

    This must be an incredibly stressful situation for both of you, especially since you have been together for 6 years and you were not aware that it was this bad for her. That may mean the severity of onset was acute and took her as much by surprise as it did you...or that she has been dealing with this for so long that she has exhausted her own internal resources and simply cannot do it alone any longer. Either way, the two of you need some help and relief...Now.
     
    #3
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  4. couchPotato

    couchPotato New Member

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    I had been on both sides, supported someone thru depression and ignored my own problems.

    I understand if you feel hopelessness while watching what is happening around her and how she is dealing with it, but to help her you need to take care of yourself first. If you fall sick or into depression, who will take care both of you? In my case I fell into despair and I ignored my own needs and felt I stretched out.

    Now I believe by having someone to talk to, share your burden, gym and second opinions to bring in new prospective can help with burnout. I heard on a podcast, about music had helped trouble high school with their emotional regulations. Quick Google search http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-music-that-has-helped-me-battle-depression-5014322

    I never did take any med even I was given, because it affected my mind. I don't think med is the key, I believe in talking and finding the problem should be considered before anything else. Redirect the problem to something more positive and makes it solvable issue. Comfort the hurt inner person and encourages new physical activities create new nuron paths. Have you heard of body technique, when you feel span out so you take a shower or think about toes. This could go on forever, I could only say. Work with your partner, find out what is coping techniques with her. Hope the best for both of you! Just hold on there, things will get better overtime!
     
    #4
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  5. SnRK1

    SnRK1 New Member

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    Thank you all so much for replying. I can’t tell you how much your kind, supportive words have lifted me up. It helps just knowing that I am not the only one that has gone through this kind of thing.

    Her CBT started a month ago and it seems to be helping a lot. She is a very practical person and finds the advice and exercises she is given very pragmatic and manageable. She still has some very bad days but mixed in with those are some very awesome days where I feel like she is her old self again. She has hugely cut down on drinking which has had a massive impact on her wellbeing, and 3 weeks ago we got a dog, which she adores. The dog has lifted her spirits and brightened up the whole house, it is a joy to go home again.

    She still has the occasional panic attack, but I guess we both feel slightly more prepared for them now so, although they are still scary, we both know they will pass fairly quickly. The biggest change in her is her acceptance of her illness. Since being open with a few people she has been surprised to learn that most of them have suffered or are currently suffering with mental health issues. It as helped her to reduce the stigma attached to being so unwell.

    Overall, we are making progress and I hope for it to continue. Thank you so much for the helpful, kind comments. It is so nice to know that there are wonderful people out there that care.
     
    #5
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