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Boyfriend can't look at me anymore after he saw me having a panik attack


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Hello everyone, 

So my boyfriend (28) and me (27 f) were going for a walk the other day. I suffer from sozial anxiety and he knows that. On that walk he triggered my anxiety by talking to a stranger, after I told him not to, because I already had a stressful day and didn't feel up to handle it. 

My initial reaction is always to get out of the situation as fast as possible and hide back home, so I started to walk really fast. After a while he snapped at me for walking so fast and pulling on his hand. We then had a fight all the way back about it, which made everything worse for me. The fight started because I asked him to please react nicer next time I am paniking like that, which he tought included never talking to strangers again. I told him that was not what I meant but honestly not in the nicest way possible, because we were still not home. 

After arriving back home I went to the bathroom to take a shower, where I finally  broke down. He heard me and came in at some point but I didn't noticed at first and got startled when I saw him kneeling in front of me. He apologized for not saying anything and scaring me. I couldn't say anything so we just sat there in silence for a while, then I started to panik again and tried to distract me by just going on with my task. Without saying something or trying to console me he just left. Since then he won't look at me and is saying only the most necessary. 

That was yesterday and he still won't look at me and the whole atmosphere is just cold and awkward. 

I just don't know what to do. Should I say something? And what? He knows about my problems and knows I just don't want to be alone but he left anyway. I know he ist under a lot of stress himself lately, but I feel like he should have handled it better. I also don't feel like it's my job to bring it up again. Most times I'm the one to keep a cool head and make the first steo after a fight, but I just don't see how this was my fault? Or am I just beeing petty? Should I leave and stay with my parents for a while? Or is that just a overreaction? 

Is this a bad sign? We were having minor problems for a while now because of his stress but could always settle it. But now I feel like this is more. 

 

Thank you for your time and your advice.

 

 

P.s. English is not my first language, so I would be gratefull for improvement suggestions.

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I would say wait and see if he comes back to you today with a conversation.

But honestly, the fact he doesn't nurture you and assure you when you don't feel safe confirms he's not the right guy for you. He knows what you need, how you get triggered, and what you need from your partner to feel better/safe. Yet he chose to do the opposite and ignore/blame you. That's not okay at all.

See if he comes back today with an explanation/suggestion on how to deal with this next time (to give him the benefit of the doubt if such situation feels new to him too). Know that your needs matter and I hope you are taking care of yourself in the meanwhile.

How long have you been together? Do you live together?

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12 minutes ago, DarkCh0c0 said:

How long have you been together? Do you live together?

Thank you for your reply.

We are together for almost 4 years now and I recently moved in with him.

The situation is somewhat new to him, because i normally run away, when I don't feel well and he doesn't follow me. Altough we talked about it a few times where I told him that its a reflex and I don't really wanr to be alone. 

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10 minutes ago, Shay_17 said:

The situation is somewhat new to him, because i normally run away, when I don't feel well and he doesn't follow me. Altough we talked about it a few times where I told him that its a reflex and I don't really wanr to be alone. 

Did you address the running away with a therapist? Do you have strategies to cope with triggers? Cause it sounds like you have PTSD.

With that aside, this isn't new to him because he knows how you react and that you would need him next to you. At 4 years, you shouldn't have to lay this out again and again. He knows what you need, and it's not a big ask, but he's not willing to step up the plate.

But see if he comes back to you with a convo today.

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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I am not in therapy right now. But it is not easy to get a therapy spot where I live. But I do have some strageties do cope and most times I manage it okay so I can handle everyday tasks. I also constantly try to work on it. There are just days, when there is more stress, where it is harder to cope.

I also don't excpecr my boyfriend to know exactly what do do, but he didn't even ask if I'm okay after I calmed down or hug me or look at me. 

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26 minutes ago, Shay_17 said:

I am not in therapy right now. But it is not easy to get a therapy spot where I live.

I would keep trying, for your own benefit as well. The coping strategies didn't work well in this case so it's important you have more effective tools for the future. 

27 minutes ago, Shay_17 said:

he didn't even ask if I'm okay after I calmed down or hug me or look at me. 

He sounds fed up and like he's checking out, honestly.  I would re-evaluate the relationship. It doesn't appear it's making either of you happy anymore. 

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I agree with @MissCanuck

He does sound like he's had enough and he's re-assessing whether he can do this and if this is working anymore for him.

And, at the same time, if from the beginning he didn't show affection and understanding towards your case, then he may have not been the right man for you.

I'd still strongly advise getting a trauma-informed therapist to help you asap.

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2 hours ago, Shay_17 said:

 Should I leave and stay with my parents for a while? 

Maybe it's best to move out. This seems to have increased your anxiety. 

Yes. Go stay with your parents so you can rest and reflect.

See a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Ask for a referral to a qualified therapist for ongoing support.

Your BF can not walk on eggs for fear of "triggering" you. You're responsible for your mental health.

Edited by Wiseman2
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You need to get yourself into therapy so please work to that end.

Your bf may just not know for sure what to say or do so he does nothing.  He is just a person, not a medical professional, and often times some folks just dont know how to handle a tough situation, and he may be that way.

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Thank you for all your kind replys.

My boyfriend just came up to talk to me. It turns out that he simply forgot the conversations we had about it and how I wanted him to react so he tought I didn't want him there and was insecure. Since I did better the past months he simply thought it wasn't a big problem anymore so he was confused about what happend yesterday. How he forgot multiple conversations about it is beyond me, but his memory was never the best.

 

He will also help me find therapy and not to postpone it during better times. (If he remembers)

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21 minutes ago, Shay_17 said:

Thank you for all your kind replys.

My boyfriend just came up to talk to me. It turns out that he simply forgot the conversations we had about it and how I wanted him to react so he tought I didn't want him there and was insecure. Since I did better the past months he simply thought it wasn't a big problem anymore so he was confused about what happend yesterday. How he forgot multiple conversations about it is beyond me, but his memory was never the best.

 

He will also help me find therapy and not to postpone it during better times. (If he remembers)

I'm glad you talked it out. I wouldn't buy his "I forgot" excuse. Reassuring someone and caring for someone means you either try the way you think will work and/or ask the person what they need from you at that moment especially if it doesn't seem to be working.  I'm sure it would have been ok with you if he didn't remember the exact "recipe" of what to do when you panic. 

It's also ok since he is not a professional if he says to you "I can't hold your hand when you're freaking out that way because it triggers me too much and I feel overwhelmed myself so would it be ok if instead I ____" [and this could include standing near you and calling a friend who can speak to you or guiding you through deep breathing, etc].

I want to run away sometimes when my child whines incessantly - he is not having a panic attack but he is having a meltdown or a moment or whatever. 

At a point I absolutely cannot be near him physically because it triggers me -my body shakes and I get so tense from the incessant whining so I am not equipped to manage him at that moment.  I likely would want to raise my voice which helps no one and I feel myself reaching that point.

But I tell him in advance "when you are ready to speak with me respectfully I will listen.  I am not ignoring you but I cannot be near you or interact with you when you are being this loud and whiny."  And this is so even if it's a child's lack of impulse control and not "on purpose."  If he was having a panic attack I would stay with him of course and also recognize if I needed someone else to also help me because I am a parent who loves him and also not a professional (this is hypothetical). 

But your bf might have no warning as to what is triggering you and so in the moment you are expecting him to react exactly as you told him. 

Give him slack and if he reacts in what he thinks is a caring way understand he is doing his best.  This time he did not do his best.  And it wasn't because he "forgot" - I think he's had enough of having to deal with your mental health issues unfortunately.

Also your bf might feel like he's walking on eggshells as far as - should he ignore strangers that day because he senses you are having a bad day? It's a lot to put on him.  I'm glad you've been transparent but please also see things from his perspective.  If this was a one off and from now on he acts in a thoughtful and caring way I'd try to give him another chance.  Good luck.

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I used to (and still have) that intense fight or flight response to alot of things.  I went through a good deal of therapy.  You likely already know this, but the way to other side is desensitization.  I originally started practicing staying put while in my failing marriage.  Intense conflicts from my then husband, I always bolted from the room.  He knew this, counted on it and it worked for him.  I can remember sitting in a chair several times gripping the arms so as not to move.  The pull to run was almost too difficult to resist. And initially I was not successful.  Staying in the moment was painful and anxiety provoking.  But I did it and I still do it on occasion. At some point I realized I didn't perish and in turn I have more confidence in those moments.   I am never really past that part of me.  But I recognize it for what it is and practice staying in the moment all the time to one degree or another.  I am a different person today.

Edited by reinventmyself
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I do understand his side and I don't excpect him to completly change his behaviour. And I do work on my problems and it got better over time. I normally don't try to avoid uncomfortable situation and force myself through them which improved my situation grately. But since I already had a stressfull last week, due to unrelated issues with the family, I didn't feel up to handle it that day. We also talked about it and he knew that I wasn't feeling to well.

I don't want him to walk on eggshells around me, I just need someone to be there when it is to much for me in the moment. To not be alone then. And he never was this cold before, which I couldn't understand. 

I know it is hard to be there for someone who has problems you can't fully understand. For example, when my boyfriend has stress at work or other wise he gets mad to the point of screaming at everthing and hating everything. He can't make any decisions anymore and just rages. I don't really understand how he gets worked up like this and don't know what to do so I just sit with him until he calmed down and we can talk normal again. 

It's not being easy getting yelled at because he had a bad day at work but I just want to be there for him. I am not mad at him for not knowing what to do. I just couldn't understand why he said nothing afterwards or asked me what he could have done.

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5 minutes ago, Shay_17 said:

. For example, when my boyfriend has stress at work or other wise he gets mad to the point of screaming at everthing and hating everything. He can't make any decisions anymore and just rages

And he does this with you in the same room...

That's abuse, even if it's not directed at you.

When a man yells and hits objects in the same room of a woman, it means he wishes to do this to his woman. He's scaring you and showing you what he's capable of.

Why do you put up with this? He is not excused nor justified AT ALL in his behaviour. Why not be with a normal level-headed man? A man who is level headed and loves you would want to protect you OP.

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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11 hours ago, Shay_17 said:

I just don't know what to do. Should I say something? And what? He knows about my problems and knows I just don't want to be alone but he left anyway. I know he ist under a lot of stress himself lately, but I feel like he should have handled it better. I also don't feel like it's my job to bring it up again. Most times I'm the one to keep a cool head and make the first steo after a fight, but I just don't see how this was my fault?

1) He probably doesn't know how to deal with it.. many don't

2) Is not a 'fault', it is your anxiety.. you struggle with and yes, it feels awful! 😕 

Your issue with anxiety cannot stop him from doing something like leaving.  If he needs to step out, he has that right...

Have you reached out to yoru doctor & for some prof help? My dr put me on an anxiety med for 1-2 yrs before I weaned off it, and I also went to therapy for over 2 yrs... Thing is, life goes on around us.  Sometimes we DO need to go out there & we do need to use the phone, etc. You need to learn how to 'work this' in your own ways.

I tend to push things off for too long.. BUT, I do get to them eventually.  I plan a day I will go shopping ( to get it done) and I plan a day I will make some calls.

In therapy they can teach you some healthy coping skills ( eg, I leaned grounding techniques- look it up). I often have something on me to 'touch/feel' and a roller bottle of mixed essential oils to 'smell'...etc.

And I do not really rely on anyone.. I'm a single mom & most of my kids have left home. So, I do majority of things on my own. ( I only need help with long travels- can't do a city or big highways).

Anyways, this is me.  I get it.  So, please look into this stuff.. reach out for help with your issue's and I do hope you two can work this all out . 🙂 

PS,  See IF you can sit down & have a heart to heart with him - to explain your best on how this feels for you.  If he has never experienced anxiety, may help for him to have it explained ( The nasty feelings, racing heart, very nervous- to where it's too overwhelming, etc.. 'sensory overload'?).

Like I said, many cannot 'understand' what it is like.

Edited by SooSad33
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I'm so sorry you went through such a difficult time. 

The one thing we can't really do is predict how others, even loved ones, will respond to what goes on in our own head.

If we imagine a standard for their behavior that they don't live up to, then nobody 'wins' and our relationships suffer.

Better to give benefit of doubt when this occurs, thank them for doing their best to understand, and recognize that all relationships are voluntary--yet they've opted to stay with us despite the difficulties we present.

From there, we can offer them the best options that would help us to feel better during our roughest times, even as we ask them to give us the same kind of suggestions to help them during theirs.

Head high, and turn this into a learning experience for both of you so that your relationship can win.

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This sounds like maybe he was startled by your anxiety and didn’t know how to handle it. It sounds like now he is mad at himself for not doing anything in the moment. Sometimes men shy away from issues that they don’t know how to handle. Anxiety is different for everyone. I suggest giving it some time and explain to him that you have anxiety and panic attacks and tell him what is the best way to be calmed down in those moments. 

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On 6/22/2022 at 7:31 AM, Shay_17 said:

Hello everyone, 

So my boyfriend (28) and me (27 f) were going for a walk the other day. I suffer from sozial anxiety and he knows that. On that walk he triggered my anxiety by talking to a stranger, after I told him not to, because I already had a stressful day and didn't feel up to handle it. 

My initial reaction is always to get out of the situation as fast as possible and hide back home, so I started to walk really fast. After a while he snapped at me for walking so fast and pulling on his hand.

I know he ist under a lot of stress himself lately, but I feel like he should have handled it better. I also don't feel like it's my job to bring it up again.

Having been on the receiving end of someone with serious anxiety problems, I can only tell you that it's exhausting.  Having to walk on eggshells, avoid saying or doing normal things or being forced to think ahead about what may or may not set them off is no fun.

You are the one with anxiety, but you are dragging him into your problems and that's not fair on him.  The onus is on you to handle triggering situations, not for him to have to constantly restrict his life or adapt his behaviour to suit you.  You definitely should not be telling your boyfriend what he is and isn't allowed to do.  You can decide between yourselves how you will respond (not react) in situations that upset you.  For instance, you can say that if you feel triggered you will tell him so straight away and you will leave the situation, then call/text him once you feel sufficiently calm to carry on with your shared day.

My ex-partner's anxiety got a little better when he went on medication (and my brother says medication has helped him enormously), so you should consider speaking to your doctor about this and other ways in which you (not your boyfriend) can manage your anxiety.  Your doctor may well suggest that you would benefit from a course of CBT or other talking therapy, but you can also help yourself as there are some excellent CBT books about social anxiety.

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3 hours ago, poorlittlefish said:

Having been on the receiving end of someone with serious anxiety problems, I can only tell you that it's exhausting.  Having to walk on eggshells, avoid saying or doing normal things or being forced to think ahead about what may or may not set them off is no fun.

You are the one with anxiety, but you are dragging him into your problems and that's not fair on him.  The onus is on you to handle triggering situations, not for him to have to constantly restrict his life or adapt his behaviour to suit you.  You definitely should not be telling your boyfriend what he is and isn't allowed to do.  You can decide between yourselves how you will respond (not react) in situations that upset you.  For instance, you can say that if you feel triggered you will tell him so straight away and you will leave the situation, then call/text him once you feel sufficiently calm to carry on with your shared day.

My ex-partner's anxiety got a little better when he went on medication (and my brother says medication has helped him enormously), so you should consider speaking to your doctor about this and other ways in which you (not your boyfriend) can manage your anxiety.  Your doctor may well suggest that you would benefit from a course of CBT or other talking therapy, but you can also help yourself as there are some excellent CBT books about social anxiety.

I agree with this as long as the boyfriend is acting in a caring way -a caring way that takes into account also taking care of himself.  An exhausted partner cannot help.  I agree with Catfeeder that if he is trying his best -his best as a non-professional - that's what you should expect. Also ok if he chooses not to invite you to certain events and activities because he needs space and time from worrying about whether you will be triggered with the consequence of leaving/you making a scene. 

For example I do not ride most amusement park rides.  I also react strongly to fears of getting motion sickness/food poisoning.  Over the years I've learned (almost all on my own -cognitively) how to help myself.  I try my best to compromise on going to amusement parks/disney world with our child, and looking the other way when I think it might be unsafe to eat certain foods.  I don't want my child to have my fears. 

I would never make my son and husband not go at all to an amusement park just because I won't do rides.  They do most of the rides and I keep myself busy/productive. 

And I took my son on a ride I was hesitant to go on a few weeks ago even though I was feeling anxious -I didn't want to have him go alone -not as much fun - and I didn't want my anxiety to take priority over a fun experience with my son. 

It's about balancing - I'm sure there are things your boyfriend dislikes doing a lot but would do for you.  And if he was feeling sick you would compromise and accommodate.  But it's not set in stone and walking on eggshells is unhealthy for everyone.  Good luck.

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