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Whenever I ask my partner for emotional support he has a panic attack and I end up taking care of him.
I have been with my husband for 3 years after meeting in highschool. I am on the autistic spectrum (formerly Asperger's Syndrome) and have ADHD. I am also somewhat depressed. My partner also has his own psychological issues including depression and high levels of anxiety.
I have always been a supportive husband and have never judged my partner for requiring significantly more care than I do, but recently I have been going through a patch of depression. I am currently seeing a therapist for my conditions and for the most part have been able to manage my symptoms without needing any assistance from my partner. But every now and then (mostly recently) I have needed and asked for support from my partner, which he claims to be willing to provide. But as soon as I try to open up he will have a panic attack and I end up taking care of him.
I understand that he has a lot more issues than I do and requires more emotional support, but I feel as if I shouldn't be scared of feeling depressed or anxious out of fear of causing him to have a panic attack. Even attempts to discuss this with him either result in panic attack, no matter how delicately I try to put it.
I truly love this man. But I am sick of feeling as if my problems do not matter or are less significant than his. What should I do?
You haven't offended me.
That's the difficult thing. Partnerships are two people, not just one. I've had hundreds of panic attacks. They suck.
This isn't the same as an intimate partnership but it is a relationship just the same.
My Mum has a severe mental illness and she has extremely, extremely high needs.
But I had a violent sexual assault amongst other things and now have PTSD.
So tell me, who's more important?
Neither of us.
In the long term, his high dependency on you is not sustainable. How on earth you shift his high dependency is not a quick fix but ideally should be addressed. Somehow.
You are important too.
Can other family members/friends help him while you are dealing with your own health issues in the short term?
Your husband does need to seek help too. It isn't fair on you to be relying on you for emotional support and not be able to return it. Ring Beyond Blue to seek advice. That's what they're there for.
Hi thisperson, welcome to beyond blue forums.
I get the feeling this is really affecting you, perhaps leading to feelings of bearing the burden of the emotional wellbeing of the relationship. This can lead to what you've described then a cry for help. Your cry for help isn't going unanswered!
Do you know what the root cause of your husband's panic attacks are? in your first post you describe that when you try to talk to him he has a panic attack and you end up looking after him instead of him looking after you.
It seems your husband associates you being unwell with him suffering a loss and then it leads to a panic attack - just from what you have said I get that feeling. Perhaps it's time for a slightly different approach.
Could you have a chat when you are feeling fine and step through with him what happens when you have a chat and he has an attack. Ask him if he knows what thoughts or feelings trigger it and let him know you are concerned about him and love him a lot. This might lead to a discovery of something you both didn't know.
Another option could be to visit a counselor or psychologist together and see if there's a way to bring some mutual care and health back into the relationship.
Do you have any other thoughts as to what else might be going on? Anything you can suggest that could help us work this out together?
I feel for you. It must be difficult trying to cope with your own issues and also provide support to your partner. Paul's response above has some wise words. I have issues I try to deal with and my partner has issues herself. I try to wait for a time when we are both on a relatively even keel where we are relaxed and reflective of our life together, or when we are out having a walk or drive. That is when I raise the issue gently and explain how I feel, and why I reach out to her, because I trust and respect her. I also explain how it hurts when I feel rejected or not heard. We manage mostly to talk things through and agree on how we respond to each other. This does not always work, but I am finding we are becoming clearer about each other and how we each feel.
Good luck with your struggle. It is not easy and seeking support from an objective third party is often a good solution to help you