I'm struggling to know where to go... I've had panic attacks, anxiety and depression since i was 20 (now almost 40). I've been on and off AD's for the past 10 years as well as seeing physiatrists and psychologists over this time. I've been in a relationship for almost 10 years now, she has always wanted to get married, have kids and travel but I have always felt too "unwell". She has been understanding and very supportive. Last month she wanted to "take a break" to see if she could keep going with me. I don't know what to do, she feels by staying with me she is having to give up her dreams & desires... I don't want her to leave, but I also don't want to hold her back any longer.
Hi, and welcome to the forum!
Having panic attacks, anxiety and depression for two decades is rough. I'm glad you've had professional help over the years, and have been in a stable relationship for almost a decade. If you don't mind me asking, would you have liked to get married and have kids, but felt that it wasn't wise because of your mental health? Or would you not necessarily want those things? I am glad she has thus far been very supportive. Unfortunately, it sounds as though she is now starting to struggle emotionally.
This is a difficult situation - loving her and wanting to be with her, but not wanting her to give up her dream of starting a family etc. In this situation, compromise (for the lack of a better word) is possible. Marriage, while a formality that may be important to those who like tradition, does not improve or necessarily change a relationship. Weddings and honeymoons, while significant life events, are expensive and (to be honest) non-essential to maintaining a healthy long-term relationship.
If your wife is in her late thirties or older, having children is biologically going to be increasingly difficult. If you don't mind me asking, does your family or partner's family have young children you can spend time with? I'm not suggesting this is an 'alternative' per say, but being an Aunt or Uncle, for instance, can be pretty rewarding in itself. Perhaps your wife could volunteer as a mentor for a child or teen, through a local organisation.
In terms of travel, your wife could go on a trip with a few family members. While this could be difficult for you emotionally, it may be manageable. You could spend more time with immediate family if your partner is away. Maybe you and your partner could go on a small local trip (when/if you are able to) together, and make the most of that experience.
Here are some resources you may like to refer to:
http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=44 (panic attacks)
It would be great to hear back from you.