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Topic: Navigating anxiety in a relationship

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. Nini9900
    Nini9900 avatar
    1 posts
    18 June 2020

    Ive been with my partner for 6.5 years. I have been an anxious person my whole life, but it was 2 years ago that I had my first panic attack, which spiralled into a period of really bad anxiety.

    When I first was going through this, my partner pretty much rolled his eyes and was like get over it - he never had experienced it and therefore didn’t understand it. He also had his own serious health issues to focus on (he has Crohn’s disease).

    Through his health journey with his Crohn he too felt anxiety and could finally see it from my perspective.

    Fast forward two years and he is in a much better and spot and so am I. I haven’t had a panic attack for about two years and have been able to successfully manage my daily anxiety. However yesterday I had a moment which put me on the verge of a panic attack (I managed to calm myself down). Whilst my partner was actually good in that moment, later that night he was acting whack and I found out he was on edge because I was anxious. We then moved on as I was feeling better today.

    I have been anxious this past week and yesterday it just came out. Whilst I was feeling better today I was a bit preoccupied and more anxious than usual and was focusing on health stuff today. My partner got annoyed and then I confronted him and asked what was up - he told me that I just need to get over it, that I’m choosing to be anxious and choosing to fixate on things which make me anxious. I replied and said I’ve actually been great lately and haven’t had an episode like that in a long time and he replied with you always say it never happens, or it’s only this once, but is that actually true...It’s like you’re back to where you were two years ago! (He said this in a tone of annoyance). He also said that I make my life harder than what it should be by being so anxious. He then proceeded to call me miserable after I got upset from what he said to me.

    This really hurt me, because he always Says that I want you to feel comfortable with talking to me about being anxious, anxiety etc and then I do and he is responding with this.

    I understand it can be frustrating, but also I don’t think those words or that attitude is particularly helpful. I realise that the thinking isn’t logical, I’m aware of when I start to get anxious - I’ve been dealing with it long enough!!

    I need some help / advice on how to navigate this. I feel like my anxiety is annoying him and I’m becoming a burden. :(

  2. jess334
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    jess334 avatar
    395 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to Nini9900
    Hi Nini90 ,

    Welcome to the forums.

    I'm sorry that your partner is reacting this way. I have had anxiety for a very long time and it comes and goes. My current partner is very supportive and even though he has never had anxiety, he never makes me feel bad or guilty for being anxious. However I have had ex partners who have reacted in different ways. Some ignored it, some go angry or upset and blamed me for 'ruining things'. Neither of those reactions were helpful!

    Anxiety is not an emotion we can control. It's literally a chemical reaction in our brain that has evolved after millions of years to keep us safe.

    Maybe you can get your partner to read some information about anxiety and mental health? This could help him understand what you are going through?

    Kind thoughts, Jess
  3. AlwaysForgotten
    AlwaysForgotten avatar
    38 posts
    19 June 2020 in reply to Nini9900

    Hi Nini90,

    I am not sure if this could possibly apply to you or not, but reading your post made a connection for me with something that I have had to deal with in the past.

    Often when my wife and I fought, hearing her re-tell the story to the couples counselor she would often cut bits out of it, so what in reality was a slow and gradual decline, with several bumps on the way down she will just describe the beginning and the end so that it sounds like "I did X and he just suddenly lost it out of nowhere". This I find incredibly frustrating because it is like she just doesn't see all of the bits in between that lead to that point & for her to paraphrase it as if it went from 0 to 100 for no reason comes across as unfair.

    I find it hard not to think she is doing it on purpose, but over time I have learned that this may either be relating to her own issues she struggles with and/or something all human beings are prone to do which is called "confirmation bias". This is where you count the hits & ignore the misses.

    I wonder if this could possibly be happening on either side in this situation. Either he is acutely aware of every time something happens & he is checking that off as "one of those times" and you might not be perceiving it at the same level he is so you discount it as nothing. So then when the two of you compare as you explained in your story, he says that you say that every time (he is counting what he thinks are hits) and you say that you have been great lately (you are not counting them because they weren't big enough for you). So while it feels unfair, it may just end up being a different perspective.

    One thing I always try to remember is that being on the "inside" of something means you know all the facts. You know what lead up to it, how much it peaked, whether you think it was understandable that it happened & if you think it was an event. Looking at it from the outside, all you have to go on are external queues, its black or white, so from an outside perspective it either matches how it has come across before, or it didn't

    Worth a thought

  4. AYRC
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    AYRC avatar
    8 posts
    26 June 2020 in reply to Nini9900

    Hi Nini9900

    I'm so sorry you feel that way. Mental health is something that is so important to talk about with your partner. Personally, I have anxiety and it's often quite difficult for me to not stress out about the smallest of things like a slight change of plans. I can understand where you're coming from when you say you feel like you're a burden and things, but I want to remind you that you are definitely not a burden. I can empathise with you in terms of feeling guilty- at least for me, I often feel bad because I feel like I try so hard to change how I am but with anxiety, it's not something you easily control. Luckily, my boyfriend always is so patient with me and reminds me that I am not a burden and that he is here with me to help me get through things.

    I think something I would suggest is for you to ask your partner to have a serious talk about mental health and come up with a list of things you would like for your partner to do in order to best support you in those hard moments. For me, my boyfriend and I had a talk and wrote down some steps in how we could work together to help me get out of my anxious phase. I guess that's the thing with having partners- you have to work on things together and communicate. Perhaps if you told your partner that you felt like a burden when he reacts a certain way and let your partner know some things you'd prefer so that you can best support yourself too.

    I hope things get better for you! <3

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