Caring for partner and really struggling

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi, I really didn't want to have to do something like this, but in all honesty I'm getting zero help from the people that should be and it's starting to have a dramatic effect on my own wellbeing. We are in a long distance relationship, however I still see her weekly for a few days at a time. When I am not with her I spend almost every minute I can on video call with her, as that is the only way I can stop her from feeling lonely.

To give some background, I have been in a relationship with my parter for a year now, and in this time her mental health has been deteriorating slowly, with her psychosis, depression and BPD becoming more and more prominent day by day. At first, she was quite reserved about it, as we were in a new relationship, but over time she has become more and more open and now she is completely transparent about her mental health. I personally feel this is a really good thing, and she is completely trusting of me to care for her properly. However, while I'm happy she is comfortable with me knowing these things, the dependence on me has become ever-greater, and being only 17, I am not fit to be going through this and taking action on it alone.

We are at the point now, where I can no longer prevent her from self harming. Before, I could say no to that, and she would listen and not do it, but now, when I am not with her, she waits until I shower or go to sleep and hurts herself. I see a little bit of her go, every time she hurts herself, it's like something is taking her, and rewards her with a few hours of good feelings before wanting more, and this is a recurring cycle. I was a line of defence for her, protecting her from whatever is taking her over, and I could stop it momentarily. Now I am nothing, I'm invisible, irrelevant and useless. Not for her, but for the thing controlling her mind. I view it as a species, something that is trying to take her like a possession, but not in the religious sense. This has helped me when coming up with ways to help her, as it gives me a physical target to fight, rather than it just being a thing. Now though, this target has become way too strong for me, and I cannot fight it anymore. She has been sectioned once before, and I know she is at risk of it happening again soon if no intervention and help is provided. I am terrified everytime she leaves the house alone, because I know at any moment irrationality could consume her, leading her to do something that she may not be able to recover from. Suicide attempts have been a part of her past, but I have only personally experienced one "close call" since being with her. I think now she has me she is deterred from that, because she feels self-worth and protection.

The affect on me with all this is both positive and negative. When I can help her with something, give her a good day or make her happy, I feel very self-confident and proud, and this has boosted my confidence in other things in life. I now have no worries or anxiety when having to communicate with people I haven't met before, or engaging myself in new things, because caring for her has made me realise my capabilities are rather expansive. On the other hand though, when I cannot help her, or she hurts herself, I feel guilty, hopelessness, defeat, depressed, and that feeling has a detrimental effect on my day to day life. If she wakes up feeling down, I feel so heavy and lethargic to the point where I don't eat breakfast, shower or clean my room before I go to college, making me feel dirty and irritable. I have tried again and again to push past these feelings in a morning, but that leads to me purposely being late for college, and feeling worse than I did before. The guilt is a very overwhelming feeling for me, and one I have always struggled with. Even from being young, if I told the smallest lie to my parents about whether I ate my sandwich for dinner at primary school or not, I would be engulfed in feelings of guilt for days. So when my partner harms herself, the guilt is so piercing that it is paralysing, stopping me from working at college, or doing my job properly while working, or getting out of bed on the weekends.

I do not blame her for any of this, and never have done. She doesn't have a choice, and people are only so strong, her being far stronger than myself. However, soon I may be at risk of becoming susceptible to more mental illnesses. I have relatively frequent panic attacks, find myself too scared to go to college classes and become self-conscious sometimes due to feelings of anxiety, and have depressive "episodes" (as told by my college "councillor") every few months that last for a week or two. I fear for my own mental health, as caring for her is making it worse. I love her dearly, and I adore her personality, we are looking at moving in together next year when I hopefully go to University. She is right for me in every respect, I just need support in caring for her, and to get her some help before things get too bad for her to recover from. If anyone could give me websites/numbers/support group details for either South Yorkshire or West Midlands or general services I would greatly appreciate it, as I am trying to explore all the options I can at hopefully getting both her and myself some proper support to help us now and in the future.

ADDITION: I forgot to include some writing regarding our relationship with one another, and the advances we have already undertaken to get her help. Mine and my partners relationship is happy, stable and supportive. After being in a one sided, and arguably abusive relationship last year, I swore to myself that I wouldn't endure that again, under any circumstances. She is a very caring, loving and truly a wonderful person. When we are together, we are both happy and have the best times I have had in my life. We share great experiences, like travelling, going to gigs, and also doing relatively "normal" relationship activities. People with BPD often choose a "favourite" person, this is why when they are in care, they will have a person they value more than anyone else. I am this person for her, and that means she is very dependent and obsessive about me. This is not a bad thing for me, as I personally prefer this type of partner, but when I am not physically with her, it means she becomes lonely and misses me. This however does not prevent me going to college, or doing my own things, as she does not demand that I miss college or don't go to work to see her, but asks that I go and see her when I have free time, which I am more than happy to do. If the relationship was one sided, or I was unhappy, I wouldn't spend £30 a week on train fares to go and see her, I am a tight sod with money as it is, so I wouldn't spend that unless I was sure! I hope this gives more insight into our personal relationship, as before I seemed to paint a picture of me being unhappy in my relationship, which I am definitely not!

As for our professional help, we have visited her local GP, which referred her to the hospital, where she had an appointment at which she was given some psychosis medication to take daily, which she does without fail on video or when I'm with her every night, and she is very good with her medication in general. She has also tried herself to get earlier appointments, and make other ones with different organisations, however we have both had no look in this area. Her next appointment is more than a month away, and the one at the hospital was almost five months ago.

Thankyou!
Chris, this is a very unhealthy relationship. I'll be really blunt here, she is using you. It's not a true partnership at all, because that involves both sides doing things with and for each other, not one giving and the other one taking. Is this really the way you want to go on? What do her parents say? Please, please think very carefully. Help her to get support locally to where she lives, but the more you do for her, the more she will want. You are not her slave to do what she wants or demands. These should be really happy years, with fun, laughter, etc. don't waste them.
Dear Chris

She isn't right for you in every way - she's wrong for you in every way (the way she is now!). Two people with MH issues are not going to help each other at all, and all that is happening now is that you are 'feeding' her problems....

She desperately needs professional help, and getting that for her is the BEST thing you can do!

You are way out of your depth here and indeed you SHOULD be way out of your depth - if you were 'in as deep' as she is you would be drowning too.

You say she doesn't have a choice - but she does. She can choose to seek the professional help she needs. While you 'attend to her' she won't, and that is the danger. Guiding her towards the professionals is the best help for her you can provide.

I am saying this not 'just' for your sake, but for hers, too. Right now, she needs far, far more than you can provide - not because your feelings for her are not strong enough, but because she needs PROFESSIONAL help by dispassionate experts.

Please, please get some counselling yourself on this relationship - ask at college, or your parents, or your GP. You need to learn from professionals how to handle this relationship, so that you can do the best for her, and the best for yourself.

Doing what someone NEEDS, not what someone WANTS is the hardest lesson that love has to learn, it truly is.

You write with great eloquence, and display great sensitivity and awareness of your girlfriend, her problems, your relationship, with all the immense emotional intensity of your age (you'll never feel as intensely again in your life as you do now, and just reading your post brings back vividly to me that time in my own life, when I FELT so, so much.....), and you also .come across as very, very self-aware yourself, with an ability to analyse and perceive. That is all very very valuable - but even with such insight, this situation calls for more than what one devoted individual can achieve. Please, please have the insight to see this truth - that your friend needs MORE than all that you can offer. Your good, kind heart will always 'stand by her' - but now is the time to fetch professional help for her, just as you would do if she, say, broke her leg, or had an asthma attack.

I do hope you will take on board all that folk here are saying. One of THE most valuable thing about this forum is that we can use the collective experience of all the members to help us.

Kindest wishes, Jenny (mum of a lad not much older than you!)(To whom I would give exactly the same advice if he came to me with the situation you are in.)
bowlingbun wrote:Chris, this is a very unhealthy relationship. I'll be really blunt here, she is using you. It's not a true partnership at all, because that involves both sides doing things with and for each other, not one giving and the other one taking. Is this really the way you want to go on? What do her parents say? Please, please think very carefully. Help her to get support locally to where she lives, but the more you do for her, the more she will want. You are not her slave to do what she wants or demands. These should be really happy years, with fun, laughter, etc. don't waste them.
I do understand what you have replied here, however I seem to have left out some vital information which was a mistake on my part. She is a very loving, caring and supportive individual. I have been in a one way relationship before, and swore that I would not let myself become trapped in one again. We have tried to get her local support, and they have given her some medication that she takes without fail every night. However, the local support is very busy, and we have infrequent appointments which are leading us to have no support. She never demands anything, but she is very reliant upon myself. We have many happy days, and when we are together things are perfect. We spend hours in the park or round the city centre, having deep talks about our future and genuinely have such an enjoyable time together. I didn't intend to make it sound like she was demanding or giving me nothing back, as that is truly not the case, I am just lacking support from professionals despite already seeing them.
jenny lucas wrote:Dear Chris

She isn't right for you in every way - she's wrong for you in every way (the way she is now!). Two people with MH issues are not going to help each other at all, and all that is happening now is that you are 'feeding' her problems....

She desperately needs professional help, and getting that for her is the BEST thing you can do!

You are way out of your depth here and indeed you SHOULD be way out of your depth - if you were 'in as deep' as she is you would be drowning too.

You say she doesn't have a choice - but she does. She can choose to seek the professional help she needs. While you 'attend to her' she won't, and that is the danger. Guiding her towards the professionals is the best help for her you can provide.

I am saying this not 'just' for your sake, but for hers, too. Right now, she needs far, far more than you can provide - not because your feelings for her are not strong enough, but because she needs PROFESSIONAL help by dispassionate experts.

Please, please get some counselling yourself on this relationship - ask at college, or your parents, or your GP. You need to learn from professionals how to handle this relationship, so that you can do the best for her, and the best for yourself.

Doing what someone NEEDS, not what someone WANTS is the hardest lesson that love has to learn, it truly is.

You write with great eloquence, and display great sensitivity and awareness of your girlfriend, her problems, your relationship, with all the immense emotional intensity of your age (you'll never feel as intensely again in your life as you do now, and just reading your post brings back vividly to me that time in my own life, when I FELT so, so much.....), and you also .come across as very, very self-aware yourself, with an ability to analyse and perceive. That is all very very valuable - but even with such insight, this situation calls for more than what one devoted individual can achieve. Please, please have the insight to see this truth - that your friend needs MORE than all that you can offer. Your good, kind heart will always 'stand by her' - but now is the time to fetch professional help for her, just as you would do if she, say, broke her leg, or had an asthma attack.

I do hope you will take on board all that folk here are saying. One of THE most valuable thing about this forum is that we can use the collective experience of all the members to help us.

Kindest wishes, Jenny (mum of a lad not much older than you!)(To whom I would give exactly the same advice if he came to me with the situation you are in.)
Hi Jenny,

I really appreciate the response you gave. We have sought out professional support for her over the recent months, and like I said to the above poster, the lack of appointments and dedicated time that they provide is the main reason we are on a downfall. She has been given medication which she takes without fail every night (I check) and she is truly dedicated, just as much as myself to her recovery. I feel reading back that I didn't convey that very well. This isn't a case of me being used, or the relationship being one sided, but rather a dual effort from both parts but with very limited support from professionals. I also want to stress that the way she is now is not constant, but works on an intermittent basis, alike most mental illnesses. When she is happy, she is honestly my definition of perfect. We connect extremely well, and are able to share thoughts and feelings on our relationship openly and freely without negative repercussions from one another. We are very close, and I value her just as she values me. When the illness is prominent it's not that she forgets me, she just becomes very distant and almost dazed.

As for myself, I have had a couple of sessions with the college counsellor last year, but she was relatively unhelpful, saying she would have an hour session weekly when in reality I didn't hear from her for four months. Me and my partner are not pitched against eachother, we do work as a team, and like I mentioned before, both work as best as we can to make advances and progress towards her wellbeing. What we do lack, and what you have also reinforced is professional help, which was the main reason for my post. Getting professional help and soon is vital for her. If she is getting that help, and moving towards recovery, my mental state will change, allowing me to relax.

I do apologise for the confusion, I should have wrote more regarding our personal relationship with eachother in the original post.
Hi,
You don't want to be justifying your relationship. I think you need to push for getting help, use the carers helpline or look at getting support from your GP.

If you decide in time you cannot cope then so be it. If she is the one then your mental health needs to be strong 98% of the time to be there for the other person.

What do your and her parents say. I think insights from both will help you with the role. Share out some of the burden. I don't mean that in a rude way, it can just help you get a break or another person to help.

Good luck