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Depression/Anxiety or just controlling? - Carers UK Forum

Depression/Anxiety or just controlling?

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
I'm new to this site but have been looking for people to talk to for a while. I have only been with my partner for a year now. They have been totally honest in terms of their Mental Health Issues and I've tried to be as supportive as possible.
However, as we live so far apart we communicate a lot via text and email, but we do speak on the phone most days. If I am going out with friends during the week (when we don't see each other) my partner texts me messages that make me feel like they are trying to make me feel guilty. My partner doesn't have that many friends and i have lots all over the place. they make me feel like i should not be going out and should be staying in like them. when i do go out i feel i need to check my phone constantly to make sure i don't miss a text and fail to reply asap because they then either get upset or worried, but mostly both. they also constantly worry that I'm going to "find someone better".
I am basically sick of feeling like i cant have my own life & I'm exhausted having to constantly reassure them how much i love them.
I'm also worried that this is controlling behavior. so is it or is this usual for people with depression & anxiety?
also i've told my partner how i feel and I've just mad them feel awful. so is this something i'm just going to get used to?
any thoughts/suggestions would be most welcome as i want this to work and i truly do love my partner and i want to support them and understand better how they feel.
Hmm, I can't give you any 'expert' or 'authoratitive' response, but I would say it is arguable, after all, that people with 'controlling behaviour' are actually suffering from some kind of mental ill-health. It is not, after all, 'humanly naturally healthy' to want to control someone else, is it, and surely it must betoken some kind of inner anxiety and insecurity ('neediness'?)

If we think about it, 'controllers' are either (a) ill or (b) bad. If they are the latter, then maybe they fall into the 'malign psychopath' category, of simply 'enjoying' tormenting other people (for unpleasant psychopathic reasons of their own). Whether such people are 'caused' by dreadful childhoods or whatever, or whether they are 'genetic', or whether their psychopathy is 'curable', I would suspect it is something for the 'psychiatric experts' to tackle, not we ordinary humans. Whenever I've read anything in newspapers about 'psychopathic controllers' the advice to their 'victims' is always 'run like hell'!!!!

However, assuming that your partner is NOT a psychopath (!!!!!) but already has acknowledged mental health problems (ie, is 'ill' not 'bad'!), maybe the key focus for you needs to be 'is the controlling behaviour part of the acknowledged mental health problems, or is it something else?'

I would say, as an 'amateur psycholgoist' (as we all are!), that it would be very easy to argue that someone with depression/anxiety could also be 'controlling', because as you've said, they are scared you'll abandon them. They have to 'cling' to you, because for them, you 'rescue' them from their own (self-perceived) inadequacy. You reassure them they have worth, because you are with them. If you are not with them (eg, with friends!) then, by their logic, they are not 'worthy' of you, and therefore will get anxious.

That's all very well as 'analysis' - the next step is, yes, but what do YOU do about it? I certainly think you can't 'pander' to their anxiety-induced controlling behaviour (putting your on guilt trips, contacting you all the time, etc etc etc) because that is (a) unfair on you and (b) simply reinforces their 'bad place' mental situation. If they only feel 'safe' when you are physically with them, then they are in prison, aren't they? (and you're in there with them!)

Speaking entirely personally, I'd simply 'blank' them - as in, don't respond to their attempts to 'lassoo' you in. Don't check texts constantly - do it say, routinely, every hour on the hour - and tell them that's what you'll lbe doing'. Don't 'react' to them. Stay calm. Tell them what you are going to do (eg, I'm going out tonight, with xxx, and we're going to xxx and I'll be home around xxx but maybe later I don't know yet) .....they have to learn to live both with the certainty of you having a life 'without them' AND the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what you'll lbe doing, or when. (You may stay out till midnight, you may take longer).

I know there is an expression 'tough love', but sometimes I think a better one is 'firm love'. You are not 'horrible' to them, but you are 'clear and steady'. You 'reassure them' but only up to a point. Their wellbeing is NOT NOT NOT your divine responsibility! They ARE responsible for their own wellbeing, and they do, in the end, have to learn (with help and support) to be happy of themselves and in themselves.

Finally, remember you use the term 'partner'. Partners stand, side by side, shoulder to shoulder. One of them does not constantly 'carry' the other! If they do carry, they take it in equal terms! Otherwise, the truth is, they are not a 'partner' - they are a 'child' or, worse a 'burden'. H opefully, your partner can learn to be a true partner.
Hi Bob

Welcome to my world. Supporting our loved ones often leave us feeling, ‘We’re damned we do and we’re damned we don’t!’

I don’t want you to take the following as advice but more my thoughts on your situation. It feels that both of you have needs that are not being met and relationships are about meeting each others’ needs.

Perhaps talking with your partner about the feelings behind those needs. You feel guilty, exhausted, worried and your partner feels worried about you too when she does not hear from you and she feels fear that you might ‘find someone better’.

You seem to be living your life whereas your partner may not feel she even has a life to live. Maybe her fear is really the fear of living her life and that is where she needs support. It’s a gradual process for our loved ones to get out there and live life.

Perhaps you could make a request with each other? For you to have time out and for your partner to share ideas about how she can start living her own life. She has to take some responsibility for this but you can offer your support.

One of your needs is to take time out with your friends. Don’t feel guilty. It can be a positive, as letting your partner feel some distress may help your partner discover coping strategies.

PS I am assuming your partner is a 'she" ??
Becoming a carer is hard as it alter our lives. However if you have any doubt at all you need to deal with it now rather than later. I suggest you give the helpline for carers a call. The number is 0808 808 7777 and they are here to help and advise you. If you ask then they will call you back to save your phone bill.

Local Volunteer Carers Ambassador
Inverclyde Scotland
Carers Scotland & UK
Hi when reading your post and the interesting responses quite a few thoughts popped in. In my opinion it probably is the anxiety. Though i hasn't to add that not all people with mental health difficulties worry there partner will leave them. In my own case when i used to get upset and not want my husband to leave me and go out it was because i was having a panic attack / delusions and was afraid of being in the house on my own. I would leave the house when i was very unwell and had to be walking in the fields if i was made to be on my own such as husband at work. This is because the illness is so enveloping and in the most literall sense of the word distorts your thinking. That you are in your own world and are not aware of the impact on others. Where i totally agree with jenny you dont want to get sucked into that the person needs to be encouraged to develope coping strategies for being alone, mine is having a carer in so hubby can go out. A total stressful pain because they dont understand about mental illness and say rude judgemental things and dont know how to interact with me ( because of course people with mental illness are aliens :lol: ) one in four of us will have mental health problems in our life time. So totally common part of human experience. I put up with it so hubby gets a break. Though he goes out more on his own now. Also i do things like ring samaritans when unwell cuddle my dog that sort of thing. I say to my husband my illness is chronic and relapsing and you staying with me wont help it so bugger off out!!! So he was out all night last night and i just quietly was anxious under my duvet. But i would have been if he was there anyway. :woohoo:
The other thing is maybe its something she wants changing in the relationship and is just not saying and its coming out in seemingly controlling insecure behaviour. Obviously i dont know your personal situation but maybe you are both on different pages so to speak. For instance maybe you think this is fab i go out in the week with my friends and have a casual fun relationship with my girlfriend on the weekend And she is possibly thinking i want more commitment and is to scared to say in case she loses you completly. Just a thought. Though of course you are fully entitled to all your friendships and that is healthy. As i said she needs coping strategies joining groups to make friends that sort of thing. My mates are a life line they are a great support but we have fun too not anything to do with mental health.
Finally lots of so called healthy normal people can show controlling behaviour. I know someone and when i asked if she was going to stay home and not work she can afford to. Her husband said to me if im working she is! The thought of her at home even though she was looking after her family was to much for him! And an acquaintance who have said to me if i had your husband he would not be allowed a motorbike not because she was worried about accidents but because she would not like him doing something of his own. So insecurity is a normal human emotion that lots of people express and not necessarily due to mental ill health.
Dear Bob,

Hi! I related to your post and would like to share my own experience and thoughts....perhaps it can help. I have a partner with a severe anxiety disorder, severe OCD and PTSD, which affects my life very much. It can affect my going out with friends etc.
I think its so important a person has their own life, otherwise its just codependent. My partner can be supportive for me to go out, but her strong fears can also interfere - perhaps trying to get me to be back by a certain time, to take a particular mode of transport, to keep my phone on, and possibly a few resentful comments about me having more fun with other people than I do with her. I do find some of the behaviour controlling, which is related very much to her anxiety - remember that anxiety is often a fear of things being out of control (and this includes what ones loved ones are doing).
I have often felt anxious while out (for example that I will not get back on time) and this can spoil my time out somewhat. However, what I realised was, that to a large extent...I was doing this to myself...I am responsible for how I feel when I am out. I have had to look at my own codependence, my own reactions to someone else's controlling behaviour. I can't blame them for how I feel!
I have had to consider my own actions and whether I set myself up for this. For example, have I agreed to an unrealistic time to get home? Why did I do this? I must take responsibility for my own anxiety and set-ups.
Another thing I have found useful is knowing exactly what it is my partner is frightened of and accommodating that (hopefully in a caring way??). My partner likes me to text or phone just before I leave the venue and give an estimated time of travel. I don't mind doing this. (It's a specific fear of dying in a road accident on the way home!). My partner likes to know where I am in the evenings (and who I'm with), so again I will text or give that information.
It has been a process in recovering from my own codependence, which is gradual and has its ups and downs, coupled with accommodating some specific needs of my partner. I am learning to take responsibility for myself and my own anxieties - my biggest anxieties being all about the mental health of my partner. I'm terrified of what will happen if I do the wrong thing. She is very vulnerable and i find that so frightening. So I am trying to get support for myself.
I hope this helps. Please enjoy going out with your friends! Explain to your partner this is an important part of your life and ask him or her if there are some specific things you could do.

All the best, Dragonfly