The depressed boyfriend with the emotional avoidance tactics
I've been with my boyfriend for a little over two years now. We're both in the same college, although this year I will be transferring to a different college and he will be staying here (academic pursuits). We get alone well the majority of the time and have more in common than most people twice our age.
The biggest flaw in our relationship is communication.
He started working for his father's road construction business at age 10, and I think it didn't allow him to have a "normal" childhood. (I'm talking 12 hour days, 6 days a week, every summer, plus 7 hour days after school everyday during the school year). As a result, he is... difficult to connect with emotionally and if he gets angry or frustrated (which happens easily), he reverts to the grumpy "well you can just go F yourself" attitude. I feel like I walk on eggshells.
We don't fight as much as average 21 and 22 year-olds, both of our parents who have been married for 25 and 27 years say this, but when we do fight IT IS BAD. We know just what to say to hurt the other the most. The biggest problem is he hates conflict, so given the opportunity he will walk away, stonewall my every attempt at communication, come back a few days later acting as if nothing had happened, then when I try to bring it up because I'm still upset he repeats the process until he blows up at me and the fight turns into world war III.
He never apologizes for those fights, although he is starting to apologize for small things when he knows I'm upset and I extremely calmly tell him I'm upset.
I have diagnosed violent crime related PTSD, clinical depression, and severe anxiety. He has undiagnosed clinical depression and moderate anxiety that can turn sever under social situations. I am seen by a psychiatrist and a social worker to chemically and emotionally balance my mental stability, and I have been trying everything I can think of since last December to get him to go see someone, and although he admits he gets severely depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts, and anxious to the point of blacking out when he was asked to stand for his brother's wedding, he says he'll live, and wont's go.
I'm not sure what to do. I know I can't MAKE him do anything he doesn't want to. He really is a caring person and one of the hardest working people I've ever met. He would do anything for me, except go to the doctor, and I'm worried it's going to be the end of the relationship eventually because I can't handle his depression too.
Is there anything else I could say or do to convince him to communicate better, or how to get him to go see someone?
"I have diagnosed violent crime related PTSD, clinical depression, and severe anxiety. He has undiagnosed clinical depression and moderate anxiety that can turn sever under social situations. I am seen by a psychiatrist and a social worker to chemically and emotionally balance my mental stability."
I am diagnosed manic-depressive and see a psychiatrist. My wife was a borderline personality syndrome person, who had was sexually abused at 5, and had a divided ego from the trauma, with herself living on one side of the wall as a 5 year old, and the trauma pushed over to the other side of the divided ego.
We both had major mental illnesses.
I had a cousin who was schizophrenic who married someone else with a mental illness. He used to beat her they told me. My thought was, yeah, you put two mentally ill people together in a marriage, and what can you expect? I wasn't being callous, I was trying to come to grips with her marriage.
My wife and I had serious trouble in marriage, as she had over 2,000 sexual episodes outside of our marriage, by my calculation. The real trouble started, not with the over 2,000 episodes, which I wasn't fully aware of, but when I advertently stopped the outside sex. With no outside sex, she turned into an animal, and was plotting and scheming to destroy me.
She died of a long-term illness 6 years ago, and we were finally able to get away from each other, with a child and a buying a house sort of preventing that before.
Our problem was, we were two mentally ill people who married each other. We didn't have to, but we were just crazy enough to do that. Why did we marry? I had a nervous breakdown (I've had 3 in all), and thought being married would give me socialization in the apartment when I lost a job, and I wouldn't get depresses and have a breakdown like I had just six months before.
She married me because she didn't think she would ever get married because she didn't think she was good enough for that. One of the problems was, we had a child. We should have never done that. I didn't want that, but another borderline personality syndrome relative of mine (My sister, who was also sexually abused by my lesbian mother, who was also sexually abused by her father), came up with a scheme to get me to do that, because she knew it would mess things up. And it did.
So, I would say, yeah, get married. But don't have any children. You're already in a tough situation when you marry someone who is also mentally ill. And if you don't have any children, one or both can walk out the door. Not two dogs in a pit like my wife and I.
If you have a child, stay together for the child? What days a week does the child spend with whom? It's not you and him that will be the biggest problem, it's whether you want to leave the child, or stay, and stay in a horrific marriage.
I'm in school studying neurology and abnormal psychology. It helps to learn why I feel the way I do and how much worse it could be, but it's also hard because I'm reminded every second of the day that I'm "abnormal" as well.
I really appreciate you sharing your story. It helps in a way.
Luckily I have very little worry about him being unfaithful. We've both been burnt too many times, and neither of us are social people. I can't imagine what you went through.
We don't want children, as selfish as it sounds the responsibility and the lack of freedom is a little too much for us both. It might be better as you said, however, if we are both suffering from mental illnesses, as genetics often play a role in causation and if they somehow turned out "normal" they'd still have two abnormal parents.
I don't know if he's the one yet. As I said, he's a great guy, but the communication is an on going issue. We're also starting to really drift in the way of achievement and growth. I'll be taking my MCATs (medical school entrance exams) before the end of the school year, and earning my bachelor's next winter. He's a year older than me and hasn't even earned enough hours to be considered a college sophomore. He's looking at being a laborer (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with), but I'm looking at being a brain surgeon. Social stratification rates show the mingling of those income classes doesn't exist very often. I've never said any of this to him.
Like I mentioned, all of my transfer applications are now coming back, accepting me into great schools 3-6 hours from home (one is 27 hours). He's scared I'm going to go find someone "better". I'm wondering if this is all just an attempt to distance himself because he thinks I'm planning on finding someone else and he doesn't want to be hurt.
"I'm in school studying neurology and abnormal psychology. It helps to learn why I feel the way I do and how much worse it could be, but it's also hard because I'm reminded every second of the day that I'm "abnormal" as well."
Yes, that would be kind of tough, taking abnormal psychology and you yourself are abnormal, as you say.
You said in your first post,
"He started working for his father's road construction business at age 10, and I think it didn't allow him to have a "normal" childhood. As a result, he is... difficult to connect with emotionally and if he gets angry or frustrated (which happens easily), he reverts to the grumpy "well you can just go F yourself" attitude. I feel like I walk on eggshells."
I was going to ask, are there any factors in his family that may mimic some of his behavior? Does his mother or father, or grandparents, show such behavior? Does he have a brother or sister who have or lack such qualities?
After wondering that, I then saw the part where you said he worked long hours, often 7 days a week in his father's company, and you thought that played a part in his being non-communicative.
I knew someone who said her father was probably annoyed at having 3 girls, and probably wanted male children. He said whenever she would protest something even a little bit, he would send her to her room. She said she got an ant farm, and would study ants for hours a day, instead of socialization.
One day I asked her, what did your father do. She said, "He was a drill instructor." Oh, my. He would probably have said, "Drop down and give me 10 pushups," instead of giving her a hug.
She did have some problems from that. So that tough work environment your boyfriend had as a youngster may have affected his ability to communicate, as you said.
Of course, you said you have a tough time communicating, and that you and he don't socialize much.
Well, in a way, you two are what the other needs. But in another way, his failure to communicate is what drives you up the wall.
So, what do you want? Do you want someone who communicates, and is a social butterfly, or do what someone like you who doesn't socialize very much?
"We don't fight as much as average 21 and 22 year-olds, both of our parents who have been married for 25 and 27 years say this, but when we do fight IT IS BAD. We know just what to say to hurt the other the most."
First you are proud that you don't fight as much as other couples.
Then you say, but the times that you do fight, it is very bad, and you try to hurt.
After my wife's affairs became a problem, especially after they were stopped by a factor in marriage, not really me, my wife moved her pathological anger (which came from the sex abuse at 5) from having affairs behind my back, to open warfare against me, for 16 years.
99% of my defense was not to say anything. A part of my psychic said, don't go after that. Meaning, that's pathological anger, you won't stand a chance. She wants you to come back at her.
Plus, it wasn't my nature to get into a hollering match with someone. I mean, what really good does that do.
What really good does it do to get into it with a drunk? So, I just would comment concerning her verbal attack. From time to time, I would calmly speak my piece if she got too bad, but 99% of the time, I didn't say anything.
She would counter that with schemes, months down the road something would occur that would be bad for me.
I did realize at some point, as I alluded to in my first letter, that I married her to have a social contact in the house after I had a mental breakdown 6 months earlier, partly from being depressed from having no job and being alone in my apartment, and she married me because she didn't think anyone would want to marry her, and because it increased her chances of having outside sex, like maybe I knew some people (she didn't hardly know anyone), and maybe she could have sex with one of those people.
So we were both climbing on each other's back trying to survive ourselves, type of arrangement.
"The biggest problem is he hates conflict, so given the opportunity he will walk away, stonewall my every attempt at communication, come back a few days later acting as if nothing had happened, then when I try to bring it up because I'm still upset he repeats the process until he blows up at me and the fight turns into world war III."
You first say the fights can get bad, and then you say, he won't fight, or "he hates conflict."
What are you saying, you want him to fight more? You want him to love conflict?
"I have diagnosed violent crime related PTSD, clinical depression, and severe anxiety."
I'm sorry for that.
"He has undiagnosed clinical depression and moderate anxiety that can turn sever under social situations."
"he admits he gets severely depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts, and anxious to the point of blacking out when he was asked to stand for his brother's wedding, he says he'll live, and wont's go."
My brother asked to be a, what groom?, at his wedding many years ago, and I was so terrified at the mere thought that I turned down the offer right then.
So I have a lot of social anxiety. Today I needed to ask my neighbor something important, and I didn't know if I'd be able to do it or not. There are times when I needed to voice a complaint and I couldn't and it caused me great problems.
I'm taking an anti-depressant for my depression, and I do get on to people here who are depressed but won't go to a psychiatrist. I was depressed many year ago, out of a job, living alone in my apartment, seeing no one because of my social anxiety, and just don't like being around people if I don't have to like my dad.
The depression, in only about a week or 10 days from losing my job, that it felt like a heavy weight on my head, and I was blaming my mother for everything under the sun, though I hadn't lived with her in years, and I was getting angrier and angrier, and virtually exploded.
I had nervous breakdown. I got to a psychiatrist in time, and was put on stellizene, a major transqualizer, who numbs your emotions, specifically anger, and for weeks or more, I didn't know if my having no good or bad feelings was who I was after the breakdown, or if it was the medicine.
But thank goodness I did get some good help on time. Your husband really does need to go to a psy. He really does need to get on an anti-depressant.
If he's like me, he could collapse from the depression. It could crush him, and he could lose his sanity.
I know when my depression hit a certain level (at first stage of my dep. I just thought I was having a bad day, and didn't need help), but in my case, after about 5 or 6 days after I lost my job, my depression was so bad, I didn't think anything would help me.
I would say, "Someone could give me a million dollars, and I'm so depressed, it wouldn't phase me one bit. Nothing can bring me out of this," type of feeling.
The part of the brain that makes decisions quits working when the depression gets so low. What is his erason why he won't go get help? His family never did, he feels so bad he doesn't want to do anything. What does he say?
I have a helper who could get him to go. She would, in her way, get him to go. She would look up pshcyiatrists on her mobile phone. She would find the name of one, call his secretary, set up the appointment right in front of him, it would bother her, write it down, "Tuesday at 3 p.m." and hang up the phone.
She would say, "Your appointment is Tuesday at 3 p.m." He wouldn't object, because that's the way she is. She isn't mean.
When I told her yesterday, I thinking about getting a security system. She said, "ADT." She got out her mobile phone, she found the number, I think by speaking into her phone, dialed the number, told the lady right in front of me, wrote down, "Tuesday (now today) at 11 a.m." and hung up the phone.
I've been meaning to call ADT for 5 years, and I just didn't have what it takes. She called them in about 5 seconds once finding out what the problem was.
I told her, "I don't know how much you make, but it's not enough."
She'd get him to go. She'd be the nicest person he ever met, and she'd get him to go. She wouldn't even ask him. Once it was decided, "depressed," she'd just get her phone, say "psychiatrist" in "her town" and she would write down the phone number(s).
She would pick one, and call the number, and say, "I want to make an appointment." She would tell the secretary the person's name, write down the time and day, say thank you, and hang up the phone.
Six months ago, I needed a colonosphy, and I couldn't decide what to do. She said, "You have an appointment with your general practicioner in 3 weeks. We'll ask her if you need one."
In three week, she walks in with me to the exam room, much to the chagrin of my doctor, I had toally forgotten about asking her about having a colonosphy, a minute into the discussion, my helper says, "Joe, here, wants to know if he needs a colonosphy."
My doctor looks at me and says, "When did you have your last one?" I said 6 years>"
She said, "You need one, who is your doctor." I told her, she called him, set up the appointment," hung up the pone and said "You have an appointment in 3 weeks." Bam!!!!!!
3 weeks later, I'm at the procedure, I had it, it's over with, don't need another one for 5 years. Because of her.
Just tell him, I'm going to call a psychiatrist. Do you have a preference who I call? If he doesn't, pick one and call him or her, as you choose. Tell him the day and time, and walk out of the room, if need be. Issue settled.
Remind him, "You're appointment is in 3 days," and walk out of the room, if need be.