The heartbreak of mental illness and love. Desperately seeking advice
I've been in an on/off relationship with my partner for 2 years. I love him and can genuinely see me spending the rest of my life with him given some changes be made. We have come a long way, but in my opinion still have a ways to go. The fact that so much has progressed and gotten exponentially better makes me hopeful for the future. However, we still have issues. He has recently been clinically diagnosed with depression in which he displays common symptoms of this: withdrawal, mood swings , disappearing for days with no contact, is easily frustrated, easily angered, etc. As someone who has dealth with and worked with many other people who were clinically depressed, these symptoms are text-book. However, when on the receiving end for so long, one starts to wonder. He can go from yelling at me on the phone because he's stuck in traffic, to apologizing after he "comes down" from his behaviour and then talking about us buying a house together and moving in together. Major mood swings. Major stress. Yet major and textbook behaviour from someone with this disease.
When I say our relatoinship has progressed and gotten better which gives me hope, I mean that the "lows" are much less frequent and the "highs" are much higher and long-stretched out. But still, they happen. He has also finally agreed and sought out the proper help to address these issues, which for him, I honestly think was the hardest thing to do.
I'm a very cut-to-the-chase kinda gal and I am extremely intuitive. I do genuinely feel that he is as equally as in love with me, as I with him, but I don't think he knows how to properly love. We've tried the goodbye many times, but it never sticks, not because we were lonely but because we really do love each other, we just can't seem to make it work. It's always 1 step forward, 2 steps back.
I guess reading this the normal person would say to just move on if it's been 2 years. But part of me feels like there really has been a significant improvement in both of us, each other and our relationship in that time. He has finally comes to term with his mental health issues that he finally caved on started treatment because he doesn't want to lose me (his words)
But I think it goes without saying that in our low times, I am seriously and genuinely very unhappy. To have a perfect few weeks or months only to be "ghosted' for seemingly no reason because they are in a depressed phase. Or when frustrated, taking their anger and hurtful words out on me, even though I know the place they come from are not to intentionally hurt me, they do just that. I am an extremely confident girl. I'm the girl my friends refer to as the 'take no shit' one in the group. This is not the norm. But am I hurting both him and I by remaining in this relationship? Is this just a part of getting through the rough patches? What sparked my need to write this post and basically beg for help was he recently said "I know you and I will always be together because we love each other too much not to be"--any other girl would probably find that sweet but what flashed in my head was saying he knows "no matter what" (his poor behaviour, even if not his fault) I'll still remain. NOPE. Do I leave the one person I genuinely love more than anything for something beyond his control, or do I remain loyal to him, the ups and down of our relationships and hope for the best? Thank you so much to anyone who takes the time to read, and especially post your feedback. Much love.
since he has been clinically diagnosed with depression - he is the one to deal with this condition - not only medical treatment but also counseling/therapy : why is he depressed ? where does it come from ?
he has no right to dump his "whatever moods" on you - even though he knows it's not right, not fun and it hurts you : a mental condition is no excuse for taking it out on another (except when there is clearly no conscience in doing it - thus being considered irresponsible) - but in his case - he knows what he's doing and you do : so he has to find ways to take out his frustrations on something else then you - and you are not to take this "in the name of love"
love doesn't excuse all - you have to put in very - very clear boundaries about what you will and what you will not take - where your limits lie - in name of your self-respect - and he has to hear this and be able to acknowledge this and accept it - there is no messing around with your self-esteem and self-respect and he should know that - if he is self-aware which he seems to be
I congratulate you both on all that you have done to get things going in the right way but in no way does this have to be to your detriment
in this case you have to put yourself first : how much can you take ? how far are you willing to go ? where are your limits in regard to you and where are your limits in regard to him ? make a very concrete, pragmatic and logic list of all the pro's and con's : be very realistic about it - and tell him
if he's willing to do whatever it takes to get better - he will agree with your boundaries - if it is so that he respects you
in most cases (except maybe severe psychopathy) mental illness is not something beyond the control of someone : he can control himself because when he decides to take it out on you - it is a choice he makes - he can also go gardening, running, swimming, out in the woods screaming, pounding on pillows, write, sing, paint or meditate instead
you see ? he has choice : so you make yours and stick to them - with love : for yourself and for him
While I definitely respect your decision, I do have to disagree on many points that you've mad. "Mental Illness" is not but a choice, it is both physiological, emotional imbalances that affect all sorts of processes. Saying you can fix someone's mental illness by simply taking up running is like saying you can just get rid of that cancer if you ate a few more salads. That mindset you have is very inaccurate and adds to the stigma. I say this all from a medical perspective, and not based on my personal experiences. That being said, you also made great points in having boundaries and sticking to them. I've thought of this many times but am at a loss with how to execute these. If he crosses a boundary, do I walk away? punish him? Again, the "he has no right to dump his moods on you" while is a great notion, it is essentially diminishing the seriousness and loss of control that a person with bipolar disorder or depression has. People with depression especially often treat the ones they love most poorly as a mechanism to push them away because they view themselves as a detreiment to those around them. I know this both first hand experiencing depression in my teens, as well as within Medical Clinical setting as well.
I guess my questions stem from my own guilt. Loving someone so entirely but knowing you can't alone make it better for them, and in the process, start to lose my own happiness. How do others in similar relationships to this deal with this? What the "line' that can never be crossed and how do you deal from afar ?
I am not going to debate here about the definition of depression or bipolar : I am not a therapist - but I do speak from experience - not theory
but then - I'm sorry if my thoughts and opinions about all this couldn't help you : I hope someone else can do better
wish you all the best