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Burn Out Over Boyfriend's Mental Health Issues


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Hello kind people, 

I am struggling over my feelings for my boyfriend of over three years. He has Bipolar Disorder (type 2), anxiety, OCD, and post traumatic stress due to a number of past issues. He was open with me about this from the start, so this is no suprise. He has been managing these issues for over two decades as well. Lately, since December, he has been very up and down due to a family issue that occured that triggered past issues he thought were beyond him. He has been moody,distant, and anxious. I have been supporting him through his struggles with compassion. I am, by nature, patient and I try my best to understand him.

But, I am feeling wrung out. I have my own mental health issues and I feel as though I am sacrificing my own needs for his sake.  I want more affection, more deep conversation, more, more,more. I also feel selfish and dispicable due to these feelings that will not go away. 

Communication has broken down on my end because it seems that every time I bring up my needs, it turns into a whrilwind of s**t feelings and poor self-esteem that goes nowhere. It wasn't always this way, but I've been less and less inclined to share what I need due to his reactions in the past and his current mood. 

Any advice from those who have been or are in this type of relationship is appriciated. I am not sure how to progress. 

Side note: He has been seeing a therapist for many years and has gone through all types of treatment. I also am seeing a therapist. 

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I say you two are not fit for each other. You with your mental health issue's and him as well - You're clashing, not building this relationship in a healthy manner.

So a LOT of issue's are now arising.  I suggest you remove yourself as it is draining you 😕 . This is NOT what you need.

Plus, the fact he's been dealing with this with help from a professional etc. So, these issue's will be ongoing, right?

And yes, I know a couple people like this.  They are a real challenge in many ways.  I deal with on occasion, if necessary.  In a relationship with them? Nope. ( As you've mentioned, to have your own issue's going on, I can't deal with their stuff as well).

 

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How long have you been together? Do you have future long term plans? Is he on meds and if so is he compliant with them? You are a lovely and giving and compassionate person.  And you can only do so much.  You deserve to be cared for -even pampered! - and in a situation where the energy is far more positive -I usually don't use those sorts of terms but my dad was bipolar and my mom was typical, great, healthy -and when he was around the negative energy was draining to my sister and me.

Please keep a close eye on yourself -it's more than ok now to turn the focus inward.  Do you live together?

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Hello to you both and thank you for the replies. No, we don't live together, so the removal part is already there. I'd like to have a place with him someday, but he's been non-commital on that end due to his struggles and need for space/solitude. He hasen't been on meds for a long time. They never really helped him much, but CBT therapy worked for him. He's much better than he was in the past. He has mentioned going back on anti-anxiety meds, though. I told him it was a good idea, but as far as I know, he hasen't persued it. 

He cares for me in his own way and does things for me, helped me through the scary process of getting on meds myself-I was terrified to try, but they helped me more that I could ever imagine. I feel terrible for feeling the way I do. 

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My father was bipolar .  Bipolar is a chemical imbalance so CBT does not work for a chemical imbalance ,however, it can work for anxiety .  The only thing that works for being bipolar is medication .  My father was incredibly noncompliant . I have PTSD and I understand the need for solitude. 

 

 However, these are lifelong conditions that go up and down throughout life it is not a linear path . So there will always be a challenge depending on the situation and life changes.

Edited by Seraphim
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Yeah, he said he struggled with finding the right meds. It's been so long that there might be something new that could help him.  He also told me that he rarely experiences mania, or hypermaina. He really struggled with depressive bouts.

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I was in your boyfriends shoes and my partner left me. I was going through a hard time in my life (a time that was only temporary) and my partner left me instead of loved me. I was betrayed by this but soon realized anyone that can leave me in pain does not love me enough to be in my life. I thought I would marry this person but his actions proved he was not willing to stand by me in sickness or health. He was not willing to love me through my pain and be there for me. Instead of loving through it, he was letting issues that were beyond my control dictate how he felt about me. I was the one with the trauma, I was the one hurting and he used my pain to dictate if I deserved love or not and punished me for it. 

The answer is simple, if you love him enough to stay, stay and be there for him. If not, let him go because there is someone out there that will stand by him when he needs it. 

If you're going to punish your partner for their pain, struggles and trauma, it is best for you to walk away so someone will actually love him the way he needs to be loved. 

 

Protect your mental health and do whatever you need to do, but understand the grass is not greener on the other side. People are damaged and most adult relationships require assisting your partner through their trauma. 

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Hi rchubn. Thank you for your reply and I appriciate your perspective. I do not want to punish him, but I can see how it could be viewed that way. I love him and it's difficult for me to sort out my feelings. 

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You need to look after your own needs too, OP. It is not selfish to do so. 

Leaving him is also not punitive. It is acknowledging that you are not in a position to be his doctor or therapist and cannot be expected to do so. 

 

 

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I spent 5 years in a relationship with someone who had multiple mental health problems. It ended up affecting me in a big way - unable to be myself, censoring what I said, always trying to second guess how he would react. I got tired of his behaviour making me depressed and anxious.

Although he was fantastic when he was in a good mood, he couldn't/wouldn't regulate his behaviour most of the time, nor would he seek help, so I ended it.

Love isn't about sacrificing your own health and happiness. I have felt so much better on my own - you likely would too. 

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7 hours ago, Naddie101 said:

. He hasen't been on meds for a long time. 

Sorry this is happening. How old is he?

What do your friends and family think? Do you work? Go to school?

Do you go to your physician and psychiatrist regularly? Do you follow up with a qualified therapist for ongoing support?

Get involved in your own physical and mental health care and more productive endeavors in your life.

Get involved in support groups, join some clubs, volunteer, get involved in sports and fitness.

Dating is not social work or charity work or playing psychiatrist.

You're doing more harm than good to him and yourself.

If he refuses to take care of himself that's fine but you need to get off the bipolar rollercoaster and stop putting him on a pedestal.

You're playing doctor to distract yourself from your own problems. 

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To answer some of your questions, Wiseman2: we are both in our 40s, I have an all-encompassing, stressful career that takes up much of my brainspace, and I am an active person. I'm not completely sure what my family thinks. They stay out of my personal life. I assume that they want whats best for me. My friends are supportive and want me to find happiness. I think that he believes that he's doing the best he can for himself. I am involved in my own mental health care and he's helped me in that reguard. 

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10 hours ago, Naddie101 said:

Hi Seraphim. Thanks for the reply. I thought that about bipolar dissorder (meds) too, so it confused me when he told me about meds not helping. 

Meds plus talk therapy kept my father alive (plus my mother his hero).  He suffered with BPD and depression most of his life.  I don't know how my mom did it but dad was compliant with meds and only went off them in his late 70s/early 80s after very long term side effects. He died a few years later from Alzheimers.  I don't recommend doing what my mom did as much as I love her to the ends of the earth and totally get why she did so -and back then there was such a stigma!  

Certainly you can help him as a friend -with resources, some support that keeps you at a safe emotional distance.  I know you feel grateful to him -show him by supporting him as a friend. I'd end the relationship if I were you.  I'm sorry.

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39 minutes ago, Naddie101 said:

. I think that he believes that he's doing the best he can for himself

Maybe so but he's pushing you away, your relationship is unsatisfying and there's no future here.

You're getting lost in a sea of DSM talk but what lacks here is a relationship with a balanced person who wants what you want.

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@Naddie101 if he's going through BPD episodes and doing almost nothing than seeing a therapist, then his actions tell you he might be okay being this way. I know it sounds harsh, but him complaining and avoiding meds is part of the problem here. Using his mental health as an excuse to behave the way he does is not what a good responsible and caring partner would do to you or himself.

I too stayed with my ex of 6 years who had BPD. He would take the meds, then go off them while complaining he doesn't need them, but he didn't care about the scars and mistreatment he's done to me. I wouldn't do it again with anyone.

Love yourself enough to speak up for your needs and be firm about it. They are obviously not met, and your bf doesn't give too cents about it. That's who he really is. And sure, he might throw a bone at you every now and then to show he cares, but truth is... Not that much.

Can you imagine 10 more years with him behaving like this? Have you sat him down and had a talk about this? If so, what is his reaction?

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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Spend more time on your mental health and devote less energy to being his helper. You may be spending vast amounts of time thinking about how to make him comfortable and not diverting enough thought to yourself. 

My suggestion is subtle and simple: keep focusing more on yourself instead of habitually turning the focus on him. If you feel the urge to see if he’s ok, check yourself and do a mental health check on you first. It’s not one or the other. You’re just not doing a better job balancing your needs and health or thinking of yourself first in some circumstances. 

The stronger you become mentally and emotionally, it’s very likely you’ll want to shed this relationship as you’re healing and growing at different rates and on your different journeys. That’s perfectly fine also. People do evolve. 

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Give him ultimatum...either he gets into the doctor to have his meds updated/increased/more intensive therapy/counseling, or you simple just walk away. It's really not your job to maintain his condition. I get it there is a lot of guilt, and a feel of obligation BUT he's an adult, let him and his family deal with it. It would be a different story if yo were husband and wife, but you are not. Yo can do whatever you feel you need to do for yourself. 

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3 hours ago, Naddie101 said:

 I don't know how, honestly, and I fear that I will make him worse. 

He's a grown man. He knows what he has. He has friends, family, doctors, psychiatrists and therapists to turn to. If he chooses to refuse treatment/meds, that's his choice.

It's not your job to manage his mental health. It's your job to manage your own health.

Clinging to someone like this as a security blanket won't help you in the long run.

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Love and support go both ways. If he's refusing treatment he is not being good to himself and is in no shape to be a loving, supportive partner to you.

Does he give you support with your mental health issues? Or is it always you being supportive of his?

Don't think you are obligated to stay with him. The whole "if you loved him you'd stay" is a flawed argument because you shouldn't have to sacrifice your own well being just to stay with someone who won't get help for his issues.

My cousin's husband was just diagnosed with bipolar after a lot of really bad episodes. She's staying with him because he is actively participating in receiving treatment AND they are in a long term marriage (more than ten years). But if he refused treatment she told me she would be divorcing him.

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@smackie9 He did say he was considering going back on meds in Januarry. I told him that I thought this was a good idea and was relieved that he brought it up. Nothing has come of it, though, so I might go this route. 

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4 hours ago, Naddie101 said:

I fear that I will make him worse. 

You're not his punching bag.

You're his lady. His gf. And as his gf, you should never have to feel that way.

You need to love yourself more than him and this relationship to realize that this can't be sustainable in the long run and leave. You deserve to be treated right, in sickness and health. Know your worth and don't let him or anyone else convince you otherwise.

Let us know if you've had a talk about this before. Your feelings and needs matter. They should matter to him too regardless of his condition, and he should respond by understanding and finding ways to make it up for you.

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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