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Partner being sectioned - how to support


Hopeful
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So my partner struggles with mental health and has done for most of her life, she has been particularly low the last few weeks and just yesterday she told me that she was in hospital and had been sectioned for having a big break down.

She doesn’t want to see any of her family or myself at the moment and just wants to be alone. She’s incredibly distant with me at the moment. Which I knew she would be, when she’s feeling low she likes some space, and that’s what I’m giving her. I told her that I’ll be on the other side for her when she gets out (she’s sectioned for up to 28 days) and that I won’t force her to talk about anything but that I’d check in with her each day to see how she’s doing but other than that, she has all the space she needs and when she’s ready to come to me or talk to me then I’ll be there. 

I know that her being distant with me is nothing personal towards me, it’s just how she likes to deal with things and I know she’ll come to me when she’s ready to. However I can’t help but getting into my own head and being scared that this may cause us to break up, I don’t want her to think she’s a burden on me and that I don’t deserve to go through this or be with someone like this, how do I best make it known that she is not a burden on me and that I know I can’t fix her illness but that I’ll be beside her the whole journey to recovery, not because I have to be but because I love her and want to be.

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While I've not been sectioned myself, I work in the field and I can tell you - it's an extremely stressful experience. You feel like an animal in a cage (as you're there involuntarily), you get a lot of your belongings taken away, people are yelling/crying often, poor sleep due to people doing 15-30min "checks" on you to make sure you're not dead, there is usually only 1-2 phones to use and you have to share them with the other patient, food sucks, and you're usually starting on some sort of medication that may make you feel out of it or just plain out cruddy. For people like your girlfriend who kind of recoil inwards with difficult things, this is a recipe for detachment. Really, it's a crappy environment. 

You know rationally that giving her space is the right thing to do. I don't know how long you've been with her but is she the sort of person who likes space but actually wants you to check in after x days? If so, I would give her maybe 5-6 days and then, if you're able to, call in to the unit during hours that she usually feels okay (morning if she is a morning person, or afternoon if that's what she perfers) just to say hello and that you're thinking of her. Keep it short and sweet. Don't pry and let her talk about what she wants to talk about, if anything. If not, that's okay too, just tell her that you love her, miss her, and that you are ready to support her in any way(s) that she needs you to.

If you know her to be the other way, where reaching out after a prolonged period of no talking would REALLY make her mad, then I would abstain and just do your best to remind yourself: you know her, you know what she needs, but that doesn't mean that you emotionally are okay with it. That's okay and it's common to have that disconnect: to know something logically but not feel it emotionally. Sit with it, be aware of it, and know that you don't have to act on it.

She is lucky to have a partner like you. Hang tight. 

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13 minutes ago, Fudgie said:

While I've not been sectioned myself, I work in the field and I can tell you - it's an extremely stressful experience. You feel like an animal in a cage (as you're there involuntarily), you get a lot of your belongings taken away, people are yelling/crying often, poor sleep due to people doing 15-30min "checks" on you to make sure you're not dead, there is usually only 1-2 phones to use and you have to share them with the other patient, food sucks, and you're usually starting on some sort of medication that may make you feel out of it or just plain out cruddy. For people like your girlfriend who kind of recoil inwards with difficult things, this is a recipe for detachment. Really, it's a crappy environment. 

You know rationally that giving her space is the right thing to do. I don't know how long you've been with her but is she the sort of person who likes space but actually wants you to check in after x days? If so, I would give her maybe 5-6 days and then, if you're able to, call in to the unit during hours that she usually feels okay (morning if she is a morning person, or afternoon if that's what she perfers) just to say hello and that you're thinking of her. Keep it short and sweet. Don't pry and let her talk about what she wants to talk about, if anything. If not, that's okay too, just tell her that you love her, miss her, and that you are ready to support her in any way(s) that she needs you to.

If you know her to be the other way, where reaching out after a prolonged period of no talking would REALLY make her mad, then I would abstain and just do your best to remind yourself: you know her, you know what she needs, but that doesn't mean that you emotionally are okay with it. That's okay and it's common to have that disconnect: to know something logically but not feel it emotionally. Sit with it, be aware of it, and know that you don't have to act on it.

She is lucky to have a partner like you. Hang tight. 

Thank you for your advice. She’s actually been able to keep her mobile so we are actually able to text and what not. However, I’m understanding that she doesn’t want to say much at the moment but like I said to her, when she is ready to talk to me, she knows I’m here and I think that’s all that matters. I’ll be beside her throughout the whole journey.

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Just now, Hopeful said:

Thank you for your advice. She’s actually been able to keep her mobile so we are actually able to text and what not. However, I’m understanding that she doesn’t want to say much at the moment but like I said to her, when she is ready to talk to me, she knows I’m here and I think that’s all that matters. I’ll be beside her throughout the whole journey.

That's good that she has a reliable way to communicate with you. I'm sure it's still a lot to deal with, trouble sleeping, etc. Just hang tight and know that you have reassured her and that she knows how to reach out if she needs to. She is in a safe place with resources (meds, therapy) abound so she may be focusing more on that right now and trying to get her head back into a better place. You are doing the best you can do for her and you should take solace in that when those insecurities creep up. 

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11 minutes ago, Fudgie said:

That's good that she has a reliable way to communicate with you. I'm sure it's still a lot to deal with, trouble sleeping, etc. Just hang tight and know that you have reassured her and that she knows how to reach out if she needs to. She is in a safe place with resources (meds, therapy) abound so she may be focusing more on that right now and trying to get her head back into a better place. You are doing the best you can do for her and you should take solace in that when those insecurities creep up. 

Indeed. I’m currently using this time to research as much as possible about her mental illness so I can fully understand how she feels and so I can be best equipped to support her the way she needs to be

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Fudgie already have you excellent advice.

My first thought was that checking in every single day isn't really giving her space if she truly wants to be left alone. That said, you know her better than anyone here. So does she like you reaching out like that or not really? Also, are you reaching out for her or more for yourself, to reassure yourself? This is a time to be brutally honest with yourself about your own motivations.

As for your fears about her ending things because she doesn't want to be a burden to you or you deserve better.....please realize that these are just lines meant to let you down easy. If someone decides to end the relationship with you, it's never about you, it's really about them. Because they decided that they no longer want the relationship. Unfortunately, that is a unilateral decision you have no control over. You can be the best partner in the world and it doesn't matter if the person you are with wants out.

Be there for her on her terms, but try your best not to fret over things you don't control.

Finally, researching and educating yourself about her issues is all good, BUT be sure you actually listen to her directly. So if she wants to be left in peace for a bit...believe her and do it.

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2 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Fudgie already have you excellent advice.

My first thought was that checking in every single day isn't really giving her space if she truly wants to be left alone. That said, you know her better than anyone here. So does she like you reaching out like that or not really? Also, are you reaching out for her or more for yourself, to reassure yourself? This is a time to be brutally honest with yourself about your own motivations.

As for your fears about her ending things because she doesn't want to be a burden to you or you deserve better.....please realize that these are just lines meant to let you down easy. If someone decides to end the relationship with you, it's never about you, it's really about them. Because they decided that they no longer want the relationship. Unfortunately, that is a unilateral decision you have no control over. You can be the best partner in the world and it doesn't matter if the person you are with wants out.

Be there for her on her terms, but try your best not to fret over things you don't control.

Finally, researching and educating yourself about her issues is all good, BUT be sure you actually listen to her directly. So if she wants to be left in peace for a bit...believe her and do it.

I understand what you mean about checking in with her every day. All I mean by this is a simple text in the afternoon along the lines of ‘How are you doing today? Thinking of you’ and then no contact at all unless she reaches out to me.

of course I need to listen to directly when she talks to me. She knows this, I’ve told her before that I’ll be by her side and give whatever support she needs, if she needs space, she’ll get space, if she needs an ear to listen, I’m all ears.

As for what I mentioned about me worrying about the relationship, to be honest I know that I’m being stupid. I already asked her when she was talking to me first about that if we’ll be okay because of this and her reply was ‘Of course we will’ so I know I’m just getting in my hand and overthinking.

Maybe I’m reaching out for both of us to be honest. I want her to be reminded that I’m still here by checking in just once a day but yes maybe you’re right, my own reassurance too. However, her mental state is what really matters to me right now. I know we’re all allowed to be selfish but she is what matters now to me.

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9 minutes ago, Hopeful said:

All I mean by this is a simple text in the afternoon along the lines of ‘How are you doing today?

It's not simple, it's asking for attention and a response from her.

What I'm driving at is that you are very obviously anxious and your anxiety is driving you to act in a way that is not necessarily supportive to her if she truly needs to focus on herself and just herself. You are putting her into a situation where she has to take time out of her day to soothe and reassure you. Don't do that because that's precisely the kind of a thing that may drive her into feeling that this is too much and ending things with you, as you have become a burden rather than support.

You've already asked her for reassurance and she answered. Now...trust her.

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7 hours ago, Hopeful said:

I can’t help but getting into my own head and being scared that this may cause us to break up, I don’t want her to think she’s a burden on me and that I don’t deserve to go through this or be with someone like this, how do I best make it known that she is not a burden on me and that I know I can’t fix her illness but that I’ll be beside her the whole journey to recovery, not because I have to be but because I love her and want to be.

You are concerned for her and that's understandable, but sadly, many in this situation do push those close to them away.. because they are so low 😕 .

So, with all going on with her and in her mind, she is quite troubled and will be for a while.  IF she thinks on pulling away from you ( and this relationship, she will).

Some in such a mental challenge just can't do it.  Because when in a relationship, expectations are there and it takes your energy etc.  If one is emotionally drained they don't have a lot to give.  And just stop interacting and needing a lot of space ( no expectations).

So, all you can do now is wait on her to see IF she's improving some after the next month.  Also, be prepared to wait a long while after, as one is not 'all better' after a month.  Can take many more months to feel any better.

You need to remember that you also need to take care of your own mental health in that you  don't get dragged down too much either.  It can happen.

In the end, is up to her to figure out - without pressures on what she feels she wants/ needs.

So, back off now and let her focus on herself.  If you don't hear much, you need to accept that.

Hoping she improves soon.

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6 hours ago, Hopeful said:

I’m currently using this time to research as much as possible about her mental illness so I can fully understand how she feels and so I can be best equipped to support her the way she needs to be

All you plan to read is fine, but until you go through it yourself, you really may not be able to truly understand.

Plus, you are not a therapist, therefore not trained in dealing with people like this.  You're just a BF.

Even the best partners end up being pushed away.  is not on them, it's the issue's and choice from the other side.

 

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Be the silent and strong person she needs during this time. Let her know if she needs you you’re there or a phone call away. Leave out daily texts unless she reaches out. 

In the meantime try to work on that anxiety over the relationship ending. Do other things. Don’t get sidetracked with her mental health issues and neglect your own commitments and goals/hobbies. You’re a supportive partner but it’s not very effective if you’re smiling on the outside, crumbling on the inside. Be mindful of your needs and your mental health too.

Edited by Rose Mosse
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11 hours ago, Hopeful said:

So my partner struggles with mental health and has done for most of her life, she has been particularly low the last few weeks and just yesterday she told me that she was in hospital and had been sectioned for having a big break down.

She doesn’t want to see any of her family or myself at the moment and just wants to be alone. She’s incredibly distant with me at the moment. Which I knew she would be, when she’s feeling low she likes some space, and that’s what I’m giving her. I told her that I’ll be on the other side for her when she gets out (she’s sectioned for up to 28 days) and that I won’t force her to talk about anything but that I’d check in with her each day to see how she’s doing but other than that, she has all the space she needs and when she’s ready to come to me or talk to me then I’ll be there. 

I know that her being distant with me is nothing personal towards me, it’s just how she likes to deal with things and I know she’ll come to me when she’s ready to. However I can’t help but getting into my own head and being scared that this may cause us to break up, I don’t want her to think she’s a burden on me and that I don’t deserve to go through this or be with someone like this, how do I best make it known that she is not a burden on me and that I know I can’t fix her illness but that I’ll be beside her the whole journey to recovery, not because I have to be but because I love her and want to be.

You're a great partner. Well done on being so understanding, caring and nonjudgemental.

She's lucky to have you.

Right now she's healing. Just let her know you're there. Remind her that she's loved.

Other than that, allow her to heal and do things on her own time.

You're doing great.

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The worst thing you can do is make her mental health condition about you.

It's not about you.

If anxiety is steering your ship you can't be a supportive partner because you're too focused on worrying about how what she says and does affects you.

If you struggle to contain your anxiety unless you hear from her daily, you might consider some therapy for yourself.

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About 18 years ago or so my husband voluntarily committed himself for a suicide attempt( due to cold turkeying his meds due to career expectations and regulations)he was in the hospital psych ward for about a month. He was opposite and needed a lot of support. I went daily and took our son as it was good for both of them to see each other. They put him back on medication and stabilized his condition and got him involved in daily counselling and activities. He was only allowed to call home when it was his turn so I made sure to visit daily . 
 

You have to do what is best for that person’s mental health at this time . If you need extra support for yourself please seek it out . 

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On 1/6/2022 at 11:14 PM, Fudgie said:

That's good that she has a reliable way to communicate with you. I'm sure it's still a lot to deal with, trouble sleeping, etc. Just hang tight and know that you have reassured her and that she knows how to reach out if she needs to. She is in a safe place with resources (meds, therapy) abound so she may be focusing more on that right now and trying to get her head back into a better place. You are doing the best you can do for her and you should take solace in that when those insecurities creep up. 

Just thought I’d update on the situation currently. Saturday night she called me out of the blue because she said she felt ready to speak to me, said it was nice to hear my voice etc and finally reached out and opened up about what’s been going on, what’s happening etc. which was so good to hear and I’m happy she finally felt ready to reach out. She’s been reaching out and chatting to me daily since, she seems to be doing a bit better at the moment (still has her moments but to be expected) I had a job interview for a promotion yesterday and I dropped her a text saying that it went really well and they practically offered me the job, she was over the moon and it really cheered her up 🙂 She apologised for me having to deal with this which I rubbished, saying that’s not because I have to, I’m supporting and going through this with her because I love and care about her and wouldn’t change her for anything. She thanked me for all my support 

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