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How to prevent depression & anxiety undoing a 12 year relationship

JB66
Community Member
Hi all.. My partner and I have been together for 12 years and over the last 2 years, my anxiety and depression has left me feeling like I am not connected to my partner apart from surface stuff like a quick hug and brief conversations. We share no moments of joy, laughter or pleasure as my day seems to be just managing my emotions from the moment I wake up until I get respite from sleep. I am terrified that this illness will damage our relationship and I feel like I am drifting further and further away. There is a strong urge to be alone or to escape and go somewhere in the countryside where I can be alone in silence. Is it common to feel like you don't even want to be in the company of the person you love? How can I explain to my partner that this overwhelming feeling to be alone is not about them, but the illness? I am so irritable with everything. I tried to explain the feeling last night by saying "how would you feel if you were locked in a room with your hands tied behind your back and someone was poking you all day with a stick from morning till night" Depression and anxiety feels to me like everything in life is poking me to the point of frustration, anger and sadness... with no escape. I don't want our relationship to end over an illness that neither one of us can be blamed for. My partner is very supportive and tries to understand. Has anyone out there benefitted from taking time out from the relationship to save the relationship? Thanks for reading and responding folks... blessings.
9 Replies 9

Quercus
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi JB66,

Oh how I can relate to this post. I love my husband to bits (we've been together 7 years) but there are days where I just want to pack it all up and leave both him and our kids and just walk away (usually coinciding with suicidal thoughts or plans).

Needing space is normal. Not being able to find ANY joy and needing constant quiet and space... That's not in my experience. Time to go see your medical professional asap and get a review of your medication and the techniques you currently use to manage your depression.

What helped hubby and I was me cracking it and saying he was smothering and controlling me. It upset him so wesat down and talked. Really talked. I know you are worried about me and nagging because you love me but it's doing my head in I told him. The more you control and manage and prod and nag and care the more stifled and trapped I feel. I love you but I need a little space from both yoy and the kids to be ME.

We made some changes (apart from seeing my psychiatrist regularly and medication of course)... I found new hobbies. Have started going to a class for myself. He takes the kids to the park sometimes so I can be alone. We do more as a family... Going on walks etc not just staying home and when we get home he and I will do seperate things to have some space. We had to work on balance (still do). It doesn't mean we don't love eachother... We're just individual people as well as a family and that is ok.

I hope you can sit down with your partner and speak openly. 12 years is a long time to throw away and even from how you write there is genuine love there.

Time to see the doctor and talk it through with your partner.

Take care of yourself please.

Nat

notsorosey
Community Member

Hi JB66's

I'm not sure if I can be of any help, you can read my story on my original post. Thought it might help give you perspective from the other side.

In short I'm living your partners story. After 12 yrs my partner left me. He has no formal diagnosis but ticks every box. Living with him for the last 3 years, especially the last year has been really hard seeing him pull away but be so unhappy but I was happy and willing to stick by him and help him through it. He decided to end it stating he doesn't love me anymore and felt we have grown apart. When I ask for specifics or more details he's unable to and just says 'that's just how I feel". TBH although he asked to separate, I instigated it the night before as he was hurting me everyday and I felt like I was watching the man i love slip away. I asked him (for probably the 10th time in 2 yrs) to get help because I was close to leaving.

I think he is 'taking time out' but is so lost, confused and scared that he doesn't truly know what he wants and has therefor started blaming me, being hostile at times and confusing at others. I don't know if we'll get back together or even friends at this rate (it's been 2 months) but he also hasn't really tried or used the time apart to heal yet.

My advise for what it's worth, if your partner is wanting to help and support you acknowledge that and allow them to. If you need the space and time for yourself take it but also be very clear with why and what your hoping to achieve. Timelines would have helped me a lot. Don't give false hope but also don't be vague as it hurts a lot. They may get angry, they're allowed, but remember it's because they love you and want to help you. Try and remember that and not make them out to be spiteful like my partner has/is. He can't seem to grasp that I care for him, as I believe he is unable to accept or give love atm. I wish he had asked for space sooner (says he's been feeling this way for 18months) as it probably would have allowed us to repair our relationship and he wouldn't be so resentful now for feeling so depressed (like yourself) for so long although I never asked him to.

If you don't want to go down the needing space path maybe couples counselling to help you both express your feelings in a safe environment.

Be honest and open and if you aren't already I'd recommend some therapy for you both at this time.

Happy to chat whenever. Sorry if this hasn't helped but 2 months ago I would have loved to hear from someone in his shoes.

Dear JB66

Hello and welcome. You have received two great posts with the perspectives of both sides. How do they resonate with you? It is easier to keep your relationship going than putting it back together when it's broken.

Not much to say other than to urge you to consider what has been said. I have been in your situation in wanting to be alone even not wanting to be with my children and grandchildren. I live alone and sometimes it is so hard. I miss the daily trivialities and warmth being with someone. I left my husband 17 years ago for reasons other than depression and I believe it was a good move. If I had loved him and wanted to be with him I would have stayed.

Please see your GP immediately and tell him/her all that is bothering you. If you find, like many others, the telling is difficult, write down some notes, dot points about what's happening. The GP will take it from there. If you are already receiving treatment ask yourself if it working. Again talk to your GP. It may suit you better to see someone else.

In the meantime browse the BB site and download whichever of the fact sheets you think are useful. Ask BB to send you the booklets that are useful. These are not downloadable. No charge. Booklet on explaining depression to family and friends which both you and your partner may find very useful.

It is a hard journey you are starting but keep in mind the benefits of staying with your partner, having support and being able to express your love to him.

Mary

JB66
Community Member
Thank you for taking the time to write. I probably could have mentioned in my post that I have support from my GP and a psychologist which has been ongoing for 2 years. I have up until this week, resisted taking any medication. I started taking meds this week and I feel like a zombie and it seems to have heightened the anxiety. I did sit down with my partner and try to explain how things are for me but I think due to cultural differences, conversations about emotional issues are difficult for him. Although he speaks english very very well, the language skills surrounding emotional issues are quite foreign to him. He is quite withholding emotionally which leaves me feeling really lonely. So I guess it is quite different to your story in that he is not smothering or controlling... although at times, he is dismissive when I tell him how I feel. I let him know that trying to 'fix' me is not the answer.. just be witness to my pain and reassure me that this will pass. He is getting better at this and I have asked him to reach out for support as a carer for someone with this illness. I wish I could take on an extra hobby or some activity but I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well and doing anything that requires a lot of effort can lay me in bed for a week. Once again... thanks for your reply. JB

JB66
Community Member
Its so wonderful to get replies from these forums. I can't thank you all enough. I can't believe it has taken me this long to reach out. I appreciate your advice very much. It is sensible and encouraging. I think that is good advice that I give my partner timelines and reasons for a break away. My psychologist referred to it as a 'circuit breaker'. I have mentioned to my partner that I would like some time away by the beach to just 'be' and quieten my mind. I think sometimes placing yourself in a new situation (mini break) for a short time encourages the brain to think differently once out of the routine it is used to. Luckily for us, we are both polite to the point of being saccharine (!!) and we never speak to each other with disrespect, so I am sure he would not be angry if I explain my reasons. My problem is that I experience such guilt that my illness is affecting him and to see the look on his face when I am in a really bad place breaks my heart. If only I could get out of this cloud of anxiety and depression and have our life back. Blessings JB66

JB66
Community Member
Thanks Mary for suggesting I ask for the booklets. I was not aware of them. I really don't want to damage my relationship, but the nature of this illness is that it seems to have blocked any love I feel for anything in my life.. including my pets, my friends or my work. It is a cruel situation as I was always one to feel such an affinity to all beings and nature. It was what fuelled my artwork, my love of being curious and learning.. and now I'm lucky if I can concentrate on a paragraph of a novel. I really do feel like a husk of the human I was. If someone told me this would only be for 'x' amount of time .. I could bare it. But having uncertainty about how long I will feel this way is just frightening to the core. I will continue with treatment and I do a daily practice of meditating, writing things down that I'm grateful for and trying hard to be engaged with activities that used to bring me joy.. like playing the piano. I guess I have no choice but to live each day to the best I can despite the pain of it all. Blessings JB66

Hello JB

I am very pleased to know you have a mental health team supporting you. It is really so essential that you have those who understand your illness.

I really do feel like a husk of the human I was. Yes, this is depression and it is cruel and wicked. All the pushing away stuff you do is a common action and even though we know what's happening it seems we cannot stop. I see you are a craft person, so am I. I like to sew, embroider and cross stitch, read, meditate and trying to play the piano. And I stopped doing these things because... I have no idea.

My I suggest that instead of writing down all the things you are grateful for you write about yourself. Write down how sad you feel, the actions of others that make you want to scream with irritation, the frustrations of work and your partners inability to empathise. Write it all down and leave the gratefulness alone for a while. There is only so much to be grateful for when you are depressed.

Don't go back and amend it, in fact don't go back and read it, just write and let it be. If you want to, go back in a few months and see what you have written, perhaps show selected pages to your psychologist and talk about them. When you feel crappy is not the time to count your blessings because mostly you don't feel you have any.

I think your writing will reveal other aspects of yourself. If so make a quick note on a piece of paper and talk about this to your psych. Once you start writing the flood gates can open and strangely it is not as painful as trying to keep the gates closed. Let out all your hurt and anger in your writing and leave it there.

I think it is good you are taking an antidepressant. Most of us start by refusing but in the end it is incredibly helpful to have the worst pain dulled and allow you to think more clearly. Unfortunately prescribing ADs can be a hit and miss situation. Keep on with the meds you have and in about six weeks they should be fully operational and hopefully any side effects will have gone. If not, go back to your GP for a different prescription. It really is about your body's needs and sadly you may need to try several types. Can't be helped but the outcome can be very good.

I hope you will start to feel much better soon.

Mary

JB66
Community Member

Hi Mary,

What a great insight you shared regarding putting the gratitude away for a while and writing down the things that are troubling me instead. Somehow I feel like I am a 'bad' person if I write negative things down (dare I curse too!) , but on reflection, it seems it has been my conditioning that I am not 'supposed' to get angry or there is something intrinsically wrong with me if I dare vent my emotions whether it be on paper or out loud. My psychologist suggested once that in the privacy of my car, that I either scream-out the things that are upsetting me or sing-them-out in a silly way to diffuse the power these thoughts seem to have over me. I must admit, singing words about my anxiety and depression to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star did seem to make light of the burden I was carrying. Screaming out loud, on the other hand, felt scary and dangerous. Maybe it just takes getting used to.. being able to vocalise my anguish. The more I thought about what you said about the gratitude, the more this practice seems to be in denial of what is going on for me and it had been designated to the 'should be doing it' camp. Thanks again for your sage advice. Blessings.

Hello JB

I've had plenty of practice writing about my life. Perhaps I should turn it into a book? No? OK.

Writing down your thoughts does not make you good or bad. You are simply recording your fears and anger, sometimes joy, often frustration. It's part of who you are, a human being with flaws just like everyone else. Trying to be perfect sounds good, but sadly we are too human to reach that standard yet. Lets accept we are human, we have our good and bad points, and that does not make us different to anyone else.

I can imagine your reaction to screaming in your car. I thought about me doing that when I read your post and decided I could not do it either. I have 'killed' my pillow once or twice using it as a punching bag. Found that quite satisfying but exhausting. It can get a bit expensive if you try it too often because you need to buy new pillows. Fortunately my pillow survived.

Singing about your anxiety and depression is a new one for me. Singing to Twinkle twinkle little star seems absurd but what a good way to reduce the impact on you. If you are anything like me you do tend to see these things as more important then they really are and perhaps making up rhymes and singing will help to reduce your anxiety. I think you have a sense of humour and if nothing else works you can still giggle about your verses. That is always a good way to change thoughts.

I was told by a psychologist once that my sense of humour was an asset in the fight against depression. I think it's true because even when I feel really bad I can see the absurdity in things and I have to laugh. You certainly cannot have bad or painful thoughts when you laugh. Or at least not for long.

I take it you made a typo in this sentence. this practice seems to be in denial of what is going on for me and it had been designated to the 'should be doing it' camp. Perhaps the should not be doing it camp.

It's very hard to feel gratitude for depression. I most certainly cannot think of a reason. So live dangerously and sing out your hurt, thump the punching bag and give free rein to your thoughts in your journal. By the way, it's better to handwrite than type the thoughts into a computer. More and better use of your sensory skills.

Mary