Both people in relationship with mental illness
Some background, my SO and I have been together for almost 2 years but we were friends long before this. I have (high functioning) autism and depression, she has generalised anxiety disorder, but we both knew about and accepted it before we got together. For many reasons we don't live together but we will move in and get married eventually. For both of us it is our first serious relationship.
I have a stressful and unstimulating 9-5 office job which I am trying to quit, and my SO works in hospitality, normally the 6-12 shift. As well as this her passion is running. She spends hours and hours training, and often volunteers as a running/fitness coach for friends, family, members of her running group's kids....etc etc. Running is her passion but before any marathon or race of any kind, she goes into this anxiety where she doesn't talk to me about it. Sometimes it lasts for weeks leading up to it, but she never shares any of it with me, she just sort of disconnects from me and all I can do is watch her suffer in silence and wait for it to end.
A marathon is coming up and she's back at the silent anxiety again. My company has an awful management team and my work is getting more and more stressful, which has pushed my normally mild depression into overdrive. I'm struggling to hold on while I look for new work, but my girlfriend who's my rock is so distant right now. I grew up well into my 20s with a totally controlling and overbearing mother and my natural instinct is to push people away the moment I feel rejected/neglected. I love my girlfriend so much but I can't handle this at the moment. Has anyone else been through something similar?
Welcome here to the Forum. It sounds a bad time for you at the moment with a toxic job plus a SO who is so anxious she withdraws and gets locked into her worries.
I guess the first thing to ask is that as you both have mental health conditions are you under treatment? Both anxiety and depression are treatable and I have found professional help has made all the difference. The silly thing was I put it off for far too long, making matters that much worse.
Being cut off due to the marathon leave you with a pretty lonely life, and can even make you question if you are loved. I think you have to bear in mind that athletes do put so much of themselves into their performance - and training - that it can seem that way.
Do you think that there is plaything you can do to join your SO in some way. I don't necessarily mean try to run, but maybe help with timing, recording statistics, discussing performance, taking pictures, diet and so on? Try to get included in her specialized world until it is over.
Humor can help too if not overdone.
Do you think any of this might be possible?
Hi OldFashioned and welcome to the BB forums
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Sorry to hear about your work and having issues there. I recently resigned from my work for a similar issue. I am currently looking for another job. I feel like my anxiety has gone down. Have you started looking for other jobs. A lot of times you think management and the work environment will get better, but I discovered that it wasn't going to change. Have you considered looking for other work?
With running I now consider myself a runner. I think it is it would be nice if I could find someone that would join me. I know not everyone is a runner. But it would be nice if someone could do the occasional park run (free 5km) with me. Have you considered trying to go running with your gf? Do you think it would help bring you closer together?
Also I just want to ask if you are seeing a psychologist. I talked to mine about my job issues etc. I found it really helpful for myself. Maybe it could be something to consider
Hope some of this was helpful
Thanks for all the replies, I don't know how to reply all so i'll do it like this.
Croix and MsPurple- I'm on a mental health plan now, but only since seeing my GP 2 years ago after not coping so well with the death of a (controlling and manipulative) parent. I didn't realise I had bouts of depression throughout my life (I also didn't realise the emotional abuse I had gone through my whole childhood/teen years either, I thought it was normal and I was just incompetent). SO is the opposite, she was on anti depressants/anti anxiety meds a lot of her life and has just came off them the past few years. I worry about this but she is terrified of anything medical so also refuses to see the doctor about anything not just mental health. I can't change people so I just tell her I'm here to support her if she ever wants to overcome this. I always worry if she ever gets a running injury how she will handle it.
I have my hobbies too but she can join in in a way. I illustrate books and work on old cars and she is happy sitting next to me while I'm illustrating or bringing a deck chair out and chatting while I work on a car. I am quite active too but have knee problems from AFL injuries as a kid so although I can do knee-friendly activities, I can't run. We walk together, I go with her friends and watch her run and I take photos, I take her to the race and back home etc but I can't be there during the training if that makes sense. There is weeks of solo training which I can't be involved in.
I am currently looking for work and even going back to do more study or retraining. I often just get nervous that I'll get even further into jobs I hate then end up 50 with a string of bad jobs (currently 39). I have a psychologist under the plan my GP set out for me and yes, I do talk about work.
Leah Jane - Yeah your inner critic can come into your mind any minute of the day. My SO wrote out a list all the things she loves about me and stuck it to my door, so each morning when I'm heading to the dreaded office, I read it on the way out. Of course it doesn't stop my mind going into overdrive at times, but it is helpful. It is like "well, brain, she wrote that, so you can't argue with it." Maybe you could ask him to do something similar for you? Or maybe you could do something like that for him? Doesn't have to be elaborate. Heck, my note is on the back of an envelope! Also, what is "normal?" I think it's a dead end trying to feel normal. I tried for years and got nowhere haha.
Thank you for coming back and giving such a succinct and thoughtful reply. I'm glad you have professional support, even if your SO is hesitant for herself. With an actual physical injury that effected her running she may end up thinking differently.
Not realizing the true facts is very common, and I was in that exact position for years, which made things harder when medical help did come along. It is so easy to blame oneself and not even think about the possibility of illness- after all there is nothing to compare things to so one simply thinks 'this is life'.
I'm not sure she is disconnected from you before events, even if you do not have the normal conversational to-and-fro, or share confidences. It sounds as if things do change when she is under stress, but you are not excluded, quite the opposite, accompanying her and recording events.
Being joined when doing your own hobbies is gold. While I think of it many places require illustrations, museums being one that comes to mind straight away, particularly if you start as a volunteer and 'click'.
I think your advice to Leah Jane is sensible and lovely. I also think your SO was very perceptive in setting up that list. It shows great care and consideration
Dear Leah jane (with a wave to OldFashioned)~
I've read your description of your problems here, and also in your other post. It seems to be a vicious circle, a small matter gets blown out of proportion, you find that difficult to bear so you take action (text you partner for example) then you have to worry if you are being too needy or interrupting and round and round it all goes.
From what I understand you believe this comes at least in part by feeling what you describe as self-hate. I can relate, but from anxiety, which I guess in turn has a lot of poor self esteem as a part of it.
My own problems came about due to specific things in my earlier life, in fact they were occupation-related. May I ask if you have some period or event in your past life that might be at least in part an underlying cause? A good and supportive life now does not mean a shadow is not cast from the past.
I read you are on meds, however it may well be that they need review and therapy too might be indicated - what do you think?
While anxiety cannot be totally overcome by logic I think Oldfashoned's advice is excellent, if you and your partner write out the things each of you love about the other and stick the papers up in a place where you will each see them on waking it may well be a big help.
Things that reduce anxiety as a whole will help too, and there are a great many. I find the following thread very useful, even though of great length:
Forums / Anxiety / SELF HELP TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY
While I think of it may I suggest you start your own thread? Here in OldFashioned's is OK, but you will have more people to talk to in your own. If you get stuck making one please just sing out here.
Thank you Croix. I'm a solicitor at a small firm and although I love the law I dream of working as an illistrator. Just need to find confidence and a place to start. Museums are far from my little regional town but we do have a community centre type place. I'm not into modern cars so wouldn't be a mechanic.
And thanks, it is possible that she is not disconnected from me but just busy training. It's easier if I think of it this way.