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Forums / Sexuality and gender identity / Relationship-Linked Anxiety and Depression

Topic: Relationship-Linked Anxiety and Depression

17 posts, 0 answered
  1. KeepingStill
    KeepingStill avatar
    3 posts
    28 April 2014

    Hello,

    This is my first time posting on this forum, I'm hoping I can get some perspective and help on relationship-linked negative thought patterns.

    For the past 2 years I have been suffering from cyclic bouts of anxiety and depression. I saw a therapist last year for a few months but can no longer afford it.

    My depression/anxiety has a particularly pernicious aspect in that my negative thoughts are almost entirely focused on my relationship with  my boyfriend: including thoughts that I don't love him, that he isn't attractive enough, that I will never find him sexually attractive and that things will never work out.

    This is particularly frustrating because I will have 'moments of clarity' either whilst with him or apart from him where I realise all of this thinking is ridiculous, I have an amazing relationship and we have so much in common, and I find him very attractive. Whenever I get to the point of asking myself: 'do I want to leave the relationship?' the answer is always a very clear 'no' in my head.

    Yet my thoughts plague me every time I see him. Sometimes I can apply CBD tactics and shut the thoughts to the back-burner, other times they overwhelm me and I feel incredibly sad. We have been together for a year and half now, and I'm kind of at the end of my tether.

    Treatment options I have tried are mindfulness, stopping negative thoughts through block  tactics ('I'll deal with that later' 'lets just refocus' etc), behavioural changes (better sleep, exercise etc) and herbal based anti-depressants. They can help for brief periods, but my cycle of doubt often starts again and lasts for months.

    We have a very honest and open relationship. He knows exactly what is going on with me and is very supported. We talk about my thoughts often and helps to spot bad patterns. When I get him involved though, I do often feel guilty. Nobody likes to be told they aren't being loved and are being criticised based on appearance. He does appear to take it in his stride though.

    Because this has continued to plague our relationship since its beginning, I'm often forced to ask myself "Is it all just the relationship?" and I don't know how to get the perspective to figure that out.

    Should be noted that I'm 25, gay, and whilst I've had semi-serious relationships in the past (couple of months) this is my first long-term one. I never really saw myself as much of a 'relationship' person before meeting him. It is also worth noting that we began dating a few months after an ex-boyfriend and friend of mine committed suicide, so I've struggled to figure out if that has prejudiced my perception of the whole thing.

    So, I'm here for some advice.

    (1) Have any of you been plagued by relationship doubts leading to depression/anxiety? How have you dealt with them?

    (2) Any tips for figuring out how to separate 'real doubts' from mental illness?

    (3) Any good negative thought-stopping techniques I can try?

     

     

  2. JessF
    Valued Contributor
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    JessF avatar
    1548 posts
    6 May 2014 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hello Keeping Still, one of the things about going to a therapist is that it does help you to get a perspective on your life, but the good news is that there are a lot of us who have experienced these same anxioeties and doubts so by talking to us here you might be able to get some of that perspective.

    I have suffered from anxiety and depression for many years, before i was properly diagnosed I used to think that it was my mental illness that was ruining relationships but I came to realise that it was a bit more complex than that. Yes, my mental illness was colouring how I thought and affecting my behaviour and relationships, but it was also causing me to m ake poor relationshiop choices in the first place.

    Now you are a young man, and this is your first long term relationship, plus as you say it came at a time in your life when something tragic happened. Maybe you were looking for security and that is why you are hanging on to your curren trelationship? Maybe the man you are with now would really be better as a close friend? 

    When you ask yourself about leaving the relationship and you say 'no' in your mind, try asking yourself another question: do you say 'no' because you love this man, or do you say 'no' because you are scared of being alone?  If you can think through that one it may give you some more clarity.

  3. KeepingStill
    KeepingStill avatar
    3 posts
    8 May 2014 in reply to JessF

    Hello JessF,

    Thanks for the reply!

    The question you've asked is certainly one that I've asked myself many times. 

    I actually don't have many fears about being alone. I'm something of a natural loner. If anything being alone is my place of security, as I don't have to worry about another person.

    I'm not an overly romantic person either, I don't think that relationships do (or should) last forever, nor that a monogamous long-term relationship is an ideal goal for myself or anyone.

    So I can get how you would interpret my post the way you have, but my values are a bit different from the norm. I'm not somebody who needs a partner, but I have a rather nice one right now.

    I have certainty that I love my boyfriend because I miss him when we are away, I get rushes of pleasure and happiness when we kiss, I relate to him on a really strong intellectual and emotional level. We never have conflict or disagreements, because we hold the same views.

    Yet when I'm down I get plagued by recurring thoughts: Is this how I am supposed to be feeling? Do other people feel differently about their partners? I should be feeling more, shouldn't I? Do I find him attractive? If I don't find him attractive now, does that mean it is all a lie? Have I tricked myself into feeling this way? If the sex was average, does that mean our sex life is terrible? Maybe we have no physical chemistry? etc etc

    I then feel guilt and sadness for being unable to figure out my feelings and for having doubts. After all, it isn't really fair to him is it? Then there is a cycle of questioning: Do I really love him? Am I wasting my time? 

    Then when I think of breaking up with him, I get another rush of sadness and guilt because part of me really doesn't want to, even though another part of me is sick of the doubt and would rather leave to end it all.

    The whole thing is really frustrating, because honestly, I know if we broke up the world wouldn't collapse, it would suck for both of us but we would both move on. Yet at the same time, I'm drawn to him, and we have quite a deep connection.

    I know from cognitive behavioural therapy that my problem here is that I'm setting up 'tests' for myself that are doomed to fail: asking myself to *feel this now*. I do my best to ignore thoughts and be in the moment, but it is an incredibly frustrating exercise. 

  4. UN19UE
    UN19UE avatar
    4 posts
    23 April 2015 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hello KeepingStill,

    Im in the exaxt spot as you. Every relationship i ask, is the rite? Is this how its meant to feel? Am i attracted enough? Why do i have days and weeks where i dont even feel i like them and then momwnts of "clarity" where things are great and i could actually be happy marrying the person!

    My current partner has such a great heart and caring soul. We have lots in common and i dont know of a person in this town who doesnt know her or rave about how kind and caring and wonderful she is. I seen all this at the beginning but i get into a dark spot and dont see anything! It can last weeks 😕.

     

    I think someone else should answer this post for you and give a more experienced answer. Love has nothing to do with how movies portray it, constant emotional connection and positive interractions every moment.

    i know your pain of questionning, evaluating and nearly having the mind beat you down to walking away, but my support group (my partner and old lady and counsellor) believe i will continue the cycle with the next one and it wont help me overcome The issues i have experienced.

     

    I have set a high bar for my partners because i just cant "be" in a relationship, i feel they have to blow my mind every day to keep me feeling that there is some sort of.emotion. pride in them is one i feel quite easily so i try to recreate that with them doing things. I have hated myself. Cried. And repeated. I will find answers and i will overcome to be with this 1 in a million girl.

  5. UN19UE
    UN19UE avatar
    4 posts
    23 April 2015 in reply to UN19UE
    Hi KeepingStill and JessF, apparently this site doesnt like Mobile Phones as it was jumping around and i missed the last paragraph of KeepingStills' post... 3times!

    Still though i believe im experiencing the same issue and have so in the last 3 relationships.
  6. Chris B
    Community Manager
    • Works for beyondblue managing these forums. Not a mental health professional, but here to help. Email: christopher.banks@beyondblue.org.au
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Chris B avatar
    1757 posts
    24 April 2015 in reply to UN19UE
    Hi UN19UE, sorry to hear you're having issues with the site on your phone - our site should resize automatically if you're on a phone. If you have time, could you send me an email and let me know your phone type, operating system and browser version so I can pass it on to our tech people.
  7. KeepingStill
    KeepingStill avatar
    3 posts
    24 April 2015 in reply to UN19UE
    Hi UN19UE!

    Thanks for the kind reply. This post was made nearly a year ago and I'm happy to say I've had a complete transformation since then.

    Despite a strong reluctance, I started going on an SSRI  - it has changed my life! I now recognise all my previous doubts and anxious pre-occupations as just that - anxiety. My relationship is going well and I'm no longer troubled by intrusive thoughts.

    I wish I had more practical advice for you then medication, but in my experience (2 years of CBT, 2 different therapists) a visit to the GP was all I really needed.

    I hope that helps.
    2 people found this helpful
  8. UN19UE
    UN19UE avatar
    4 posts
    24 April 2015 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hi KeepingStill!

     

    Wow thats amazing news for you both! That serves me well knowing that the seeming exact issue (myself and my partner) both thought i wrote it 😊. I mean on the entire internet, what a find!

     

    This gives me calm and hope. I think you for your reply 😆😉


     

     

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Rachms11
    Rachms11  avatar
    1 posts
    2 May 2015 in reply to UN19UE
    Hey all I've been reading your posts, I'm in the same situation but it's abit harder for me as I have had generalised anxiety disorder since I was 15. And also seperation anxiety disorder from my parents. 3 years ago I met someone who I truly believe is the one for me. But we only just moved in together 6 weeks ago n my anxiety has made me extremely sad, feeling guilty n wanting my family n life back that I had. Where I was comfortable. I'm 23. I am so close to just giving in n goung back to my parents but it will affect our relationship a lot. I'm torn on what to do :(
  10. UN19UE
    UN19UE avatar
    4 posts
    4 May 2015 in reply to Rachms11

    Hi Rachms11

     

    Im sorry to hear of your situation. Any advice given is purely my own thoughts based on individual experiences and is by no meams "professional".

    I think you should find a little comfort to know that you have a diagnosis Which will allow you to voice and better understand your anxiety of living with your partner (as we know anxiousness just causes us to worry and ask unanswerable question after unanswerable question Until we fall apart).

    I feel i have a unique and gentle women with great attributes that i should be happy with. On paper she is a saint and a win! But my mind does other things to who she is and can turn her into a monster (which isnt fair on her). I manage this and my reaction quite well according to her because i seeked proper help in identifying the problem is with me. 

    would it help for you to chat with your partner and family together about how you are feeling? Is this possible?

    Do you think they could all support your decision and help you together?

     Have you chosen to seek prpfessional advice? Counsellor? I know i feel like a kid at the snow after a good session (lifts weight and makes you feel alive and relaxed).

    Do you still do the same things as what you did at home i.e. (general example) wake up, breakfast, work, home, dinner, bed?

    If so maybe try mixing it up? With or without your partner? I know i couldnt live without the gym. Always makes you feel alive...!

     

     

  11. Jess6468
    Jess6468 avatar
    1 posts
    17 June 2016 in reply to KeepingStill
    Hi I'm in my first relationship now and am going through the exact same things as you are. Currently seeing a psychologist and undergoing CBT. I seem to still be struggling with this a lot. Just wondering how you've handled with it so far?
  12. Gruffudd
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
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    Gruffudd avatar
    2271 posts
    20 June 2016 in reply to Jess6468

    Hi Jess,

    Welcome to the forums. It sounds complicated with quite a bit of new stuff in your life with a new relationship and CBT - a lot to think about.

    For me CBT seemed a little fake at first, but reframing and challenging the negative thinking has made a huge difference and it is not fake anymore. I talk to myself as a way of caring, The negative thinking drags down and the CBT helped find a more reasonable view of myself and others.

    How does undergoing CBT effect your relationship? Have your views or expectations shifted?

    Rob.

  13. KF
    KF avatar
    2 posts
    19 September 2016 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hi KeepingStill

    Your post resonates strongly with me. I have been with my boyfriend for almost four years. I love him a lot but I have always felt very up and down in the relationship - constantly worrying about it, always finding things that could be better. I felt like I could never just be 'ok' and 'coast'. Lately I have felt very anxious around him to the point of not being able to eat etc. We have decided to take a break so I can work everything out. He is being so understanding and it breaks my heart. I don't know whether my anxiety is affecting my relationship or my relationship is making me anxious. Or both. I have started on an SSRI a few days ago. I have a few questions that I would really like your insight to:

    1) Did you experience anxiety and worry when you were with your boyfriend?

    2) How did the SSRI change your thought patterns re your relationship? How did you notice a difference?

    Would really appreciate your help.

  14. Paul
    Champion Alumni
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    Paul avatar
    810 posts
    22 September 2016 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hi Keeping Still,

    Welcome.

    I can relate the the doubts in a relationship, I experience that as well. It's an upsetting torment that we can do without!

    Something jumped out at me in your post and I understand it might be hard to talk about. Are you comfortable to tell us more about how you felt when your ex boyfriend suicided?

    Paul

  15. Paul
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Paul avatar
    810 posts
    22 September 2016 in reply to KeepingStill

    Hi Again KeepingStill

    I just remembered that you had asked some questions at the bottom of your post.

    1. Yes I have been seeing a psychiatrist and having therapy. My doubts stem from my father leaving when I was 5 and not being able to trust loving someone for fear of the same thing happening (very shortened version)

    2. There are some ways to explore where the doubts come from. It's about finding patterns and sometimes they are unconscious patterns we don't even realise are happening. Our unconscious mind tries to protect us from pain and can be pretty good at generating doubt to make us avoid pain again. Let's talk more about this together in our next post.

    3. There are two techniques that I know work for me. It depends on whether they are thoughts or feelings but the concept is similar.

    Firstly - diffusion making thoughts or feelings weaker so they are manageable.

    Thoughts: When you have a persistent thought that is ridiculous, turn it into something ridiculous! Sing that thought to the tune of the happy birthday song in your head. You'll probably laugh out loud - that's cool. it takes a bit of practice, but if the thought is ridiculous, make it ridiculous!

    Feelings: Let's say you feel an emotion coming on, let it come up to you but don't let it in. By that I mean no self talk about it and no judgement. Just look at it in your mind. Name it. "that looks like ......" I have a stupid orange pouch that I imagine putting the emotion in to. Some people imagine throwing it away or seeing it fade or explode. It takes a bit of practice.

    Sometimes I have to back-track because I feel like I have missed out on grabbing an emotion before it affected me and "something doesn't feel right" I backtrack in my mind and find where I started to feel bad, then I play it in slow motion, grab the emotion that triggered my anxiety or started my feeling bad, give it a name, see where it fit in to the picture and then put it in the orange pouch (which is always empty by the way)

    The second feelings exercise is deflection. If you feel a disturbing emotion coming on, say to yourself "Here it comes", but imagine it on a train. Then watch the train and the emotion pass you by. It's important to say to yourself "Here it comes" because that then changes the emotion into an object that you can then put onto the train and let it pass you by.

    Have a go of those and let me know if you find any helpful. I find the train really helpful.

    Hope this helps

    Paul

  16. 21cats
    21cats  avatar
    1 posts
    10 December 2018

    Hi KeepingStill and all,

    I'm a bit late to the conversation but this posts really resonates with me too.

    I started seeing a guy recently who led me to feel a way I've never felt before. I've never been in a long-term relationship, and like KeepingStill, have found being single as a safe space for me. This guy is caring, smart and handsome. And in many ways, I've felt like he is too good to be true. We have great chemistry, he's very understanding and we are very loving... something very unlike me! He is one of the greatest people I've ever met.

    However, as the relationship began to progress I became overwhelmingly filled with doubts and anxieties. They began as I started to obsessively think about him 24/7, when I wasn't with him I felt very down. At first, the thoughts were positive but then they began to be very negative and intrusive. I started to tell myself he is ugly and he isn't right for me. Leading me to have a series of panic attacks. I also began to lash out on him, dramatically ending it after not being with him for two hours, and telling him I didn't find him sexually attractive.

    Like others, I would ask myself "Are you having fun? Is this the way it's meant to be?" And would question to myself whether I found others attractive (people I would never usually look at) almost to tell myself that I shouldn't be with him. Whilst I knew I had 0 interest in being with anyone else.

    On the other side, I love him very much. I get excited to see or talk to him, I still get butterflies before we meet. He makes me laugh and act in ways I've never acted before, and I care about him in a way that seems alien to me. All of this makes it harder and more distressing to have negative and intrusive thoughts. Also, our sex is the best both of us have ever had, yet my mind finds ways to intrude into that too.

    Like many others, I thought that he just wasn't right for me. But the more I thought about it the more I realised it could be the intrusive deceiving side of anxiety. I have had similar thoughts about other people close to me before, dark thoughts that are made to cause my distress and retreat from the other person.

    Whilst he is very understanding and wants to work my anxiety through with me, I didn't feel it was fair on him and I needed time on my own to think it through.

    Your post has given me comfort KeepingStill in that it could be worked out. As despite ending it, I maybe naively still see a future.

    Any more recommendations would be welcomed.

    E

  17. marcus_c
    marcus_c avatar
    92 posts
    10 December 2018 in reply to 21cats
    Hi 21cats, welcome. It makes sense that if you have been single for a long time, and (by the sounds of it) deliberately, then adjusting to life in a relationship comes with some big changes. One of those is opening yourself up and being vulnerable. If you open yourself up to loving someone and being loved, then that also means it's going to hurt like hell if you lose it (otherwise it would have no value). This can sometimes lead to some pretty self-sabotaging behaviour (I'm going to cut this off before I get hurt, that way I remain in control). From what you're saying, it sounds like this is a pattern you've noticed happening before.

    It's pretty normal to be infatuated in the early stages of meeting someone, to think about them all the time and want to be around them. If you've never been in a long term relationship before, this will be even more intense because these feelings are new.

    It might be worth having some time reflect on why you've been single up until now. You describe it as a 'safe space' for you. Why is that? What becomes 'unsafe' when you let someone into your life?

    It is good to work through these things before committing to someone long-term. I have been in relationships with guys in the anxious-avoidant cycle and it's not nice to be on the other end of it.

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