Woe Is Me! “My Boyfriend is Frustrated By My Anxiety Issues. What if He Leaves Me?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I tend to be very anxious and overthink a lot. I recently got into a relationship with a guy who has been very supportive. I have been open with him about how I struggle with my mental health. But the thing is we’re both in the same college, and end up spending our whole day together. Because of our hectic schedule, I get tense, and naturally, he sees me like that a lot! I also end up sharing how I’m feeling with him. Now I am afraid he is going to get tired of me and leave me, eventually. I am trying my best to heal and work on myself, but he gets a little impatient at times — telling me to get better soon and that he can’t keep repeating the same things over and over. Is he right? Am I the problem? Does he deserve better?”
— A downward spiral
DR: I think you should see a mental health professional soon to address your anxiety either through medication or therapy. Since you’re in college, I can imagine that finances might be an issue with seeking help. But it’s really unhealthy for your body to be in a perpetual state of stress; I’d strongly urge you to look up resources you can access on a budget.
Now, as for your boyfriend, is he really being supportive of your mental health if he’s causing you to be anxious about the relationship? But before I pass any form of judgment on him, I want to say this: it can be extremely taxing to be the round-the-clock support system for a loved one who is struggling mentally; it’s possible he doesn’t know how to deal with it better than expressing impatience. Perhaps, if you told him you fear he’s going to leave you over this, he can tell you if that’s indeed what is on his mind, or if he’s simply struggling in his own way.
As for whether he deserves better, I think that’s a tad melodramatic, so I’m going to refrain from answering it. Don’t get me wrong: I completely get where you’re coming from; extreme emotions do make us ask extreme questions. But, at the end of the day, your anxiety doesn’t define you. Our mental health struggles don’t make us undeserving of love, either. I hope that gives you some semblance of assurance, and prevents you from going down a self-hate spiral. Also, hey, you got this!
AB: It’s not about him deserving better — this is about you working on your healing. Yes, our partners are a great source of support, especially in times of stress, but they can’t be a stand-in for professional help — it’s just not fair for them to be a substitute for therapy. It doesn’t seem like this is the case for you, though, so I don’t think you’re the problem. Being clear about what you need from him as his girlfriend is important, and not diminishing your own importance in his life is vital! If it’s a matter of him not knowing what to say, make sure you discuss how you deal with anxiety and see how he can be involved in that. Also, ensure that it’s a two-way street, that you’re a source of comfort and relief for each other! That way, you won’t feel guilty (although you shouldn’t be, in the first place) about being a problem; we can’t control mental illness, and it’s not something you can ‘recover’ or ‘get better’ from. So, yes, repeating the same things can be tiring, especially when you don’t feel like you’re making a difference in the other person’s struggles. Basically, you’re not the problem; he doesn’t ‘deserve’ better; be more open about what you need. And, needless to mention, continue seeking professional help!
AS: Your anxiety should be a much bigger priority for both of you, rather than him running out of ways to respond to the situation. It is understandable for people to feel impatient from time to time, but that is no reason for really leaving someone. Maybe, at times both of you could do with breaks? Just so that both of you feel energized to be around each other again. And have a time-out system in place at times, maybe? But, yeah, this shouldn’t be a reason for someone leaving you.
QG: Just crank this song up and breathe deeply.