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Romantic relationships and mental illness


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I have a generalized anxiety disorder and I suffer from depression off and on. I have taken medication for my anxiety in the past (Wellbutrin and Cipralex) but due to the sexual side effects, I decided to stop taking medication and deal with my anxiety and depression naturally with homepathic medicine, exercise, and therapy. So far things are going ok, although I have bad days. I guess I need to give it some time since i've only been off medication for a few months.

I've been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. We are very much in love. He also has a generalized anxiety disorder however it is more severe than mine. He has been on medication for a number of years but has recently decided to start tapering off of his most recent medication, Paxil. Along with the sexual side effects, he was also have major digestive upsets.

Being in a relationship with two people who have a mental illness is hard. Sometimes it's hard for us to support each other because we're both hurting/sick at the same time. We do our best. Now that neither one of us are on medication, it's especially hard. I get depressed very easily and I'm very sensitive. He is frustrated and anxious due to the tapering.

We never go out. I can't remember the last time we went on a date. As much as we enjoy each other's company and love each other very much, we're both getting depressed because of the sheltered lives we're leading. I am having some social anxiety issues, and he is having general anxiety issues which prevent us from planning dates and going out.

It's a weird feeling. We want to go out and enjoy life, however anxiety issues prevent us from doing this. I find what's especially hard is I'm doing a lot better than he is right now. I've fully tapered off of my medication and I'm finding ways to deal with my anxiety. Meanwhile, he is having a very rough time. He feels bad that he can't take me out like I want. It just gets depressing, always being at home. I want to go out for dinner or go to a movie. But right now that's almost impossible. I just don't know what to do. I wish there was something that could make me feel better about the situation I guess.

This isn't so much a question, I'm just looking to see if anyone can relate. Perhaps they can tell me how they dealt with this.

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Hello, Buttons,

nice to hear from you again! :)

I have just some thoughts, probably not helping :(, but I'll try to write them:

- You mentioned the treatment, but... are you and/or he in therapy? This would be probably the best for both of you - especially as you don't want meds, a "talking" therapy could be necessary. I know you've already been in one. Maybe it's time to try it again, with another therapist. You both need help and it's great that you have each other, you support each other, but love can't make miracles and you cannot be also therapists for each other.

- Maybe before learning to go out more, you could be inventive and find new ways of having fun together at home ;)! ("Enjoying life" doesn't have to mean just "going out often".)

- You also can search for more "harmless" ways of "going out": If he's too anxious for places as cinemas or restaurants (there are so many people!), you could go out for a walk in a park, in nature, ... find some places where he (and you, of course) can feel comfortable.

- I'm also not an "outgoing" person (but we are both like that - we never go to restaurants or caffees (or "anything like that") and weren't in cinema for many years (we prefere to see films on a laptop), but it's because we both don't want to... We prefere nature, walks in the downtown, ...). Sometimes/often my husband has to "press me" to go for a walk or on a trip - and I'm glad he's doing it, as generally it's very fine, I can enjoy it, I'm just too lazy and/or demotivated (in a sad mood) to decide to go out. So maybe you can try to "insist" a bit - to convince him that he should try to do it - not "for you", but "for both of you". One type of treatment is expositon therapy. I know you can't do it professionally, but... maybe this kind of activities can be seen as "a part of something like that therapy". Maybe a book about ovecoming anxieties could help, guide you (mainly if he doesn't want a therapy).

- Does he have some friends? (I hope/suppose you do.) Can he sometimes go out with them?

What do you think?

Good luck! And try to enjoy that you have this love - a soulmate is not easy to find... ;)


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  • 2 months later...

Thanks LaLa. It's nice to hear from you :) It's been a while. I've not been online for a very long time, I know.

Your advice is appreciated and I think you have many good suggestions. We have since talked about going out more, but as he explained to me, I don't always want to go out. He does suggest that we do things and I often say no. I'm not sure why. I do know that he prefers to do things spur of the moment whereas I need plans. This is a challenge for us, but we're working on it.

I think a lot of my own internal issues are what are causing me not to be able to enjoy life. I've become less close with a lot of my friends in the past year. This is due to the fact that they are friends with my ex-fiancé and I no longer attend events where he is present (I am uncomfortable with it and so is my current boyfriend). My boyfriend does not have close friends as he is somewhat anti-social. We do try to do things occasionally with his sister and her husband which is nice.

I do need to start therapy again. This has become evident to me in the past month actually. My mental health took a large slide downwards. I have been in a constant state of anxiety and depression, causing me to have trouble working and functioning on a day to day basis. More OCD like symptoms are coming to surface unfortunately, which is something i've struggled with in the past but it became manageable for a while. I think that maybe if I were to deal with some of my own personal issues, some of the relationship issues would be resolved, or perhaps I would see them in a different light. When my mind is fuzzy from obsessive thoughts, it's hard for me to identify what is right and what is wrong.

Oh and I wanted to mention, now that neither of us are on medication, we are able to get out more. My boyfriend is doing suprisingly well. He is on the lowest available dosage of Paxil right now and he is feeling much better. It seems that the anti-depressants were causing more damage than good. I find that I felt less anxious on medication but that my relationship with my boyfriend is better now that I'm not on it. Unfortunately I've been diagnosed with some health issues lately which have caused me to have to take hormones at times and that is not helping my mood! But I'm hoping once that's resolved I'll feel better :)

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Thanks for posting your news! :)

I hope the therapy will help you soon and that in a not very distant future, you'll both enjoy your relationship and your common moments without all those problems... :( Feeling better may also lead to building some new friendships... ;)

Take care!

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