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To ask how you deal with an anxious partner

(35 Posts)
BrainyBrawny Fri 19-May-17 01:04:24

Name change for this...

DP has been informed that they are showing high levels of anxiety, started attending CBT based workshops. This past week I screwed up in their opinion (and I'm starting to understand why they feel this) and told some very close family members what was happening because it's been taking its toll on me and I needed someone to talk to. They told me that I have betrayed trust and that I am now the cause of most of their anxiety, yesterday this all culminated in a hefty row where they told me that they hated me, called me a vast amount of expletives, told me they will never trust me again and we have now not spoken other than to discuss our son's wellbeing for the past 4 days.

I honestly don't know what to do, I feel so out of my depth and exhausted with knowing how to manage or cope with this. For reference this behaviour is not normal for them at all and I know in my rational self that they didn't mean the things that were said, but equally to be told that you are hated is not the easiest thing to move past and I feel now that I'm stuck in this awful limbo of desperately wanting to be close to them and support them, but I'm still so sore about what was said, and being a little bit hard headed which I know is utterly bloody ridiculous and I'm cross with myself for being like it.

I'm also worried that our son is picking up on this, he's 2.5 and keeps asking what's the matter, is getting upset at bed time as we aren't putting him to bed together etc.

I suppose this is a bit of a whinge alongside advice seeking, I just don't know what to do. I'm trying to educate myself but a lot of what I am reading is contradictory in the 'tips'. I'm just lost and don't know where to start.

TIA for any words of wisdom

Butterymuffin Fri 19-May-17 01:12:48

I don't have any tips but it all sounds like it has been very stressful and difficult for you too. Not sure how much this behaviour is justified by anxiety. Try to take good care of yourself and your DS. I'd just tell him something about how your partner is busy at work / helping someone out at the moment, try to stay calm and back off from everything for a bit.

BrainyBrawny Fri 19-May-17 01:25:13

Thank you for your words Buttery, it is stupidly hard at the moment, I'm just not well versed in mental health and it's difficult knowing what to do. I'm not entirely excusing the behaviour through anxiety but it's certainly not normal behaviour for them, I want to challenge it but again I don't know how to without the conversation becoming self centred. I should be their support in this but I feel like a selfish tosser stood there saying "but what about my feelings!?"

SukiPutTheEarlGreyOn Fri 19-May-17 01:46:42

It's can be really tough being the support team when you partner is going through this. The inability to discuss openly with family/friends only adds to the pressure on you as does concern about not adding to DP's stress levels in everyday contexts. You end up on high alert all the time and it can become difficult to communicate honestly. With the argument it's hopefully the anxiety talking and will improve with the help of the workshops. It's really important for you to have someone you can confide in/offload to as it's easy not to prioritise your own needs while in the midst of this and you can end up bottling everything up. I found mindfulness techniques and the app Headspace helped me with relaxation during the worst bits and kept me grounded - you need a bit of a calm space yourself in order to be able to continue to give support. It's great that your partner is getting cbt help and hopefully you'll see an improvement as they learn coping strategies. But make sure you are kind to yourself and do try to look after your own emotional wellbeing too. flowers

SukiPutTheEarlGreyOn Fri 19-May-17 02:05:08

For more info MIND website in their ''information and support' section and NHS moodzone website both offer good tips, explanations and advice on anxiety and giving support. This article also offers some practical advice psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/03/28/how-to-support-an-anxious-partner/

Rainatnight Fri 19-May-17 02:14:08

Poor you. That's really tough.

I speak from the perspective of being the anxious partner. I was quite seriously ill with it a few years ago and it most definitely took a major toll on my DP.

Anxious people are prone to catastrophising. So your DP probably feels that your having told people is some sort of disaster. HOWEVER, even taking his/her illness into account, s/he's still being unreasonable. You need support, and to get support you need to tell people. I understood that when I was ill.

I think proof of the irrationality is his/her argument that your telling people is the cause of most of the anxiety. Of course it's not, because the anxiety pre-dated you telling people!

But anxiety properly gets you in some mad and irrational thinking patterns.

I'm rambling a bit and I'm not sure I've got any advice but wanted to say that I don't think you've done anything wrong.

Is s/he considering medication?

choccybiscuit Fri 19-May-17 02:31:25

All i ever wanted when i was suffering from Anxiety was reassurance. I just needed to know i was going to be ok. It can be very frightening to suffer with anxiety.

sandgrown Fri 19-May-17 06:24:10

I know how you feel OP. My partner is suffering with anxiety and depression and his mood swings are horrific. Fortunately he has had to tell close friends and family as he has been off work for quite a while. My teenage son and I are walking on eggshells at home and it is very stressful. You do need to talk to people for your own wellbeing. Look after yourself x

BrainyBrawny Fri 19-May-17 07:21:29

Morning everyone, thank you so much for your responses, reading them has been a great help!
Suki I've now downloaded the Headspace app to see what it's all about, thank you for your words of support and the Mind info, I will read through it
Rain thank you for your perspective, it's really helpful, I know a lot of the things that are being said are driven by the anxiety so I appreciate your reassurance on this. At the moment not considering meds as only just started talking therapies, but who knows longer term.
choccy thank you for being so honest, they have also told me that, I will try harder to do this, I just need to get over myself and let this go.
sand thank you for your words too, I'm sorry to hear that things are tough for you and your family too. Here's hoping things turn a corner for all of us

I don't know how to restart the conversation so I think I will start writing to them in the hope that this might drive us to start talking again. Thanks everyone flowers

SaorAlbaGuBrath Fri 19-May-17 07:24:40

OP it sounds like you're going through a really tough time flowers

I have severe anxiety/panic attacks/OCD and DP is my absolute rock. That said, I try my best to be aware of how tough things can be for him dealing with someone who is constantly on edge and how exhausting it is for him too (not that he'd ever say so, he's very patient). Part of that is that I'd never restrict who he speaks to, or get angry when he needs to talk to someone. He has feelings too!

BrainyBrawny Fri 19-May-17 08:38:59

Thank you for your words Saor, I'm sorry to hear things are tough but glad to hear you have great support. I want to be that for my partner and I'm really trying but sometimes it just gets overwhelming. Take care

SaorAlbaGuBrath Fri 19-May-17 09:25:54

Thanks flowers it's hard going for you too and it's ok for you to need to talk or let off steam sometimes. You matter too!

Eatingcheeseontoast Fri 19-May-17 09:32:34

It's exhausting being the partner of someone going through this.

I found reading up on depression and anxiety really helped. I was fortunate in that my dp is getting help and has been very open with his family who have been a huge support. I don't know what we'd have done without them.

You need support too. That's really important.

I Used counseling Services from work and my own gp.

Being anxious or depressed doesn't give you the right to be a dick. I found a good moment to have that chat with DH.

You need support and so does he.

Coldilox Fri 19-May-17 09:33:31

I have suffered sever anxiety in the past, thanks to an amazing therapist I am largely able to manage it now. But for a while I was in a complete tailspin, and I know it was tough for my wife. She was amazing, never anything but a support. But it was tough on her. I know she spoke to her parents, whom she is very close to. I never had an issue with that, I recognised she needed support too. I like my PILs, they are a massive support too, although they never brought it up directly with me which I was grateful for.

Not much of a help, but I think it's unreasonable of your DP not to recognise the toll this takes on you.

BooRadley35 Fri 19-May-17 09:49:26

Brainy - I could have written nearly the exact same opening post as you. Fortunately we don't have children so its not effecting anyone else. My DP's moods are erratic and its so difficult to deal with. I have told a few close people as I need to vent at times too. I have found that calmly explaining during an argument/ episode that he needs to examine his feelings - is he being irrational and is this down to his anxiety, can make him assess what he is saying. He is normally a logical, sensible person so he does take a step back and think about what he is saying etc.

All I can suggest is trying not to take anything said during an argument to heart, but I know in practice this is difficult to do!! My DP is attending sessions and 5 weeks later there is noticeable improvement so hang in there!!

Also I listen to music a lot more - that escape into happy tunes really helps me.

Fl0ellafunbags Fri 19-May-17 10:26:02

I suspect it was the anxiety talking - you end up getting hysterical over nothing and you can become quite irrational. You both need support though It's unfair of them to expect you not to confide in someone trusted. Do you think they feel embarrassed and want to pretend that everything is OK?
I'd really recommend hypnotherapy; it's really helpful, drug-free and you can use techniques in difficult situations to get a handle on anxiety.

Belle1616 Fri 19-May-17 11:32:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Belle1616 Fri 19-May-17 11:33:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HildaOg Fri 19-May-17 11:59:45

You don't have the right to share your partners private details. You've proven yourself untrustworthy. I hope they realise to never again tell you anything they don't want broadcast to the entire planet.

If I were in their situation I'd leave you, tell everybody you were a liar and make up some stories about you for them to gossip about. Hopefully they'll at least see sense and run.

BooRadley35 Fri 19-May-17 12:10:53

Hilda I think you are a total arsehole. The OP needs support and told some close family members - didn't broadcast to the entire planet.

If you've been in this situation you would know who stressful and isolating it can be if there is no-one to share with. Especially when being verbally abused by your DP when they are in the midst of an anxiety driven episode!!

HildaOg Fri 19-May-17 12:15:46

Boo: you should learn to communicate without calling people names.

The op did tell the entire world as I guarantee you that the family members she told will have gone to repeat it to others who will repeat it to others... That's what gossips do.

The partner has the absolute right to medical privacy and is entitled to be pissed off with everybody now knowing. The op can't be trusted with any information. People who don't want others to know their private business need to keep information from people who feel the need to share with others.

BooRadley35 Fri 19-May-17 12:31:22

Hilda - why are you assuming that the very close family members that the OP told are gossips? You don't know that the information went any further. What guarantees do you have if you don't even know the people?

You are correct - the partner does have the absolute right to medical privacy. You are also correct the people should keep information from people that need to share with others. However in a lot of situations this is not feasible.

Have you ever dealt with a loved one with anxiety? Have you ever had to sit a listen to your DP shout and verbally abuse you because their illness is making them so irrational? Have you had to cancel plans or take time off work because your DP is convinced, because of their anxiety, that something awful will happen and they have almost constant panic attacks? Has you had to physically drag your DP to the doctors/ hospital for treatment because they are haven't left the house in months, scared of everything outside of their control? Have you seen your DP become a shadow of their former self, a medicated zombie who barely communicates anymore?

If not then you have absolutely no idea how utterly soul destroying dealing with it can be. Without support and telling loved ones how would you cope?

yellowfrog Fri 19-May-17 12:49:17

OP - ignore HildaOg who I can only assume is being a goady fucker.

Dealing with a partner with anxiety is really really hard. You absolutely need someone to confide in, otherwise you risk getting sucked into the awfulness yourself. I would talk to people closer to you than your DP, eg your family rather than mutual friends. As the anxious partner in my relationship, I would have no issue with DP talking to their family for support, but would feel awkward if they spoke to mutual friends about it. Having people who don't know they are anxious can be useful for some people, as they have a space to feel normal.

as to how he's acted - understandable but still not on. I would try to talk to him at some less-stressed point and say that while you understand and are sorry for upsetting him, name calling etc it not on, ever.

being anxious is absolutely horrible, and the best thing to do is be as supportive and understanding as you can (with the above caveats about name-calling etc). Not speaking to you for 4 days when you have a kid picking up on it is not on through - maybe suggest your partner sees his GP again for some more support? medication is definitely worth considering, not least as it may help support him while he works on the CBT

HildaOg Fri 19-May-17 12:58:00

You can confide in a counsellor or at least have the decency to ask if it's OK to share THEIR private information with other people. Who will likely spread it around.

BooRadley35 Fri 19-May-17 13:03:40

Hilda - I would love to confide in a counsellor, it would probably greatly help me. The only time I have to myself is on my way to and from work and I'm usually either screaming in frustration or crying as I have no outlet at home as I am caring for my DP. However as there are extensive waiting lists for NHS counselling services and we are already paying over £100 an hour for my DP to see one privately I really can't afford it!!

As for asking permission - if they say no. What are you going to do? Keep it bottled up, get depression and/or anxiety yourself? What other option is there????

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