He Doesn't See What It Does To Me
My fiance suffers from depression & anxiety. I adore him and even though there's no question of whether I'm there for him or not, sometimes it feels like things are totally one-sided. I know he wants to be there for me & is frustrated that he sometimes isn't, but there are also times where I think he uses his mental health as almost an excuse or even a kind of "get-out clause". If I'm honest though a lot of the time I think that's just my frustration at not being able to do anything to help coming through. He tells me it's amazing that I support him so completely but I just don't know where supporting ends and enabling (for want of a better word) begins.
I'm bringing up two children with autism and everything can be a struggle, so I sometimes need more support than he feels he can offer. I try my best to be understanding, but when he tells me "I just can't be around anyone right now" and then goes on a night out with his friends it feels like he's making excuses. Again, that's probably my frustrations coming out - both my frustration at not being able to help and my frustration at having to rely on him when deep down I don't know if I can. That sounds like an awful thing to say. It upsets me even writing it really because he'd be so hurt that I feel that way. I just can't be sure that he'll be there when I need him - not necessarily through any fault of his own, but it's still hard to deal with.
On one hand I know it's very difficult for him. I suffer from depression as well, so that side of things I can completely relate to. On the other hand there are times where, rather than making an effort to feel better (which is often the only thing that helps him if he's having a really bad day) he makes excuses to shut himself away. I do understand that sometimes he needs to be alone - I feel the same at times - it's just difficult to be supportive when he's going through a period where he won't come to my house. Supporting someone over the phone or the internet is hard. It's impossible to hug someone whose down via a phone or computer, for a start. The other difficulty is that sometimes he needs a little tough love - he'd agree with that himself, and has done several times -but that's something that's virtually impossible when it's not face-to-face because it's such shaky ground and it's so hard to be sure the things I say aren't being misinterpreted as an attack.
I can't go anywhere in the evening because of my children and the only thing I do that is completely for myself is attending a course once a week, but that's reliant on him looking after my children. My daughter can't be cared for by anyone else because she simply doesn't have enough contact with anyone else. At the moment I just don't know what to do. A part of me daredn't even bring up my course because he's had a couple of really bad days and I'm worried that he'll think I'm being selfish if I ask if he thinks he'll be up to it. But at the same time there's already enough uncertainty in my life, and plenty of stress too. I feel selfish saying that it's only 2 hours that he'd have to cope with my kids for, but it's hard for me not to feel that way because I never ask for anything more than that from him.
How do I know what's reasonable and what isn't? He makes it sound as though I'm thoughtless and selfish if I expect anything at all from him when his anxiety has been bad. But how long can someone keep running away from the things that make them anxious? If I'm totally honest I can't see how he's going to get better if he never faces anything difficult, but I'm not inside his head so I don't know how it feels to him at those times. I've had panic attacks myself, mostly not bad ones apart from one which was horrendous and lasted more than 24 hours. I know his attacks are bad, and I remember what mine felt like, but I also remember that he left me to take two buses home on my own and didn't come to see me until the following lunchtime. By the time he arrived I was so bad he took me to hospital. He apologised for not having come sooner but said his depression had been bad. I definitely know how that feels but when he needs me I'm there in a second, even cancelling plans with friends to go to his house and make sure he's OK.
I suppose the main problem is the age-old thing that you can't see inside someone's head so you just have to act on instinct. The only problem for me is that the whole situation has left my head spinning and I don't know which way's up any more