Partner has depression and anxiety, can't copy any more

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi all, my first post here, I've come here because I'm at my wits end and I just need a rant and maybe some advice.

My partner has had a pretty traumatic past and has been abused and abandoned a lot. She really struggles with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, hypochondria, low self esteem and lack of confidence. She's a vet so she's also in a very high stress job with very long hours. I absolutely feel for her and I've been through some nasty stuff myself and had my own suicide attempts so I completely get how she feels.

The problem is my whole life has now become centered around her. She comes home most nights and is either really flat, really grouchy or just bursts into tears. I feel like I've put my life on hold looking after her - I no longer have any hobbies, I don't go out anymore and I rarely see anyone else.

I get home from work and then I have an hour to decompress from work (I'm autistic so I really need this time) before I have to start on dinner. She gets back, we eat, we sit in the living room staring at the walls and then she goes to bed around half 9. I don't go up with her because I need some time in the evening doing something which isn't just looking after her, so I end up getting to bed late, and she feels lonely because I don't go up with her. Half 9 is too late on a week day to go out and see anyone or do anything, and too late for me to get involved in anything that actually interests me as I'll lose track of time and get to bed really late, so I can only use that time to spend an hour or two watching TV or playing video games, passive stuff that just passes time but doesn't excite me or energise me.

Literally my whole life has become based around keeping her company or waiting for her to get back. When she goes away for work functions I actually feel relieved because it means I get time to myself, to dive into an interesting project I haven't been able to do or to see people or just to spend some time alone not dealing with massive emotional upset. And then I feel guilty for looking forward to her not being around.

I know I need to set some boundaries and lay out some rules so I get some "me time", but when I do give myself me time she gets really needy or passive aggressive or guilts me into feeling like I've abandoned her and am not paying her enough attention. I spend 99% of my time outside of work with her, am I not allowed one day here or there to actually do something I want to do?

I also had an unfortunate situation where I told an ex I couldn't help her as I didn't have the head space and she tried to slit her wrists in the bathtub, so now I'm petrified that if I do try and take some time out or tell my partner I can't help her right now, she might do something like that, and how awful would I feel if I wasn't there for her? How guilty would I feel if she succeeded?

I can't bring these things up with my partner either because she is ALWAYS in a bad way, there's never a good time. I don't even get to be upset for myself, for example on the anniversary of my Auntie's death, who I was really close to, I spent that day looking after my partner because she was upset about something and I didn't feel I could bring up what that day meant to me and that I had to be there for her.

In the past when I have tried to bring up how frustrated and upset and stressed I'm getting (as nicely as possible without blame), she cries and then apologises and then starts beating herself up about it (sometimes literally) saying things like "I'm no good for you, I'm so sorry you have to put up with me, you deserve better" and then I just feel awful for making her feel worse.

But I can't keep going like this. I don't feel like I can talk to her about it but this is not sustainable. My life has become one long depressing slog from day to day where I no longer feel like her partner, but her counsellor. I have no time for me, I have no life, and I have constant emotional drama which is really hard to cope with. I don't feel I can say anything because I would just feel awful, how do I tell her I don't want to be around her sometimes without it sounding really bad? But I can't live my life like this, something needs to change. I'm stressed, frustrated, frazzled, and beginning to wonder if I can really be with her for much longer, and that terrifies me to admit "out loud" as it were. I don't want to be the latest person in her life to abandon her when she needs help.
Is it worth making an effort to save your marriage?
Only you can answer that one, and I'd suggest that you have counselling to talk through your feelings, in confidence, with someone who is focussed on you, not her.
If you don't want to carry on like this, then YOU will need to make the first move. She sounds totally self focussed, but as a vet she is clearly an intelligent woman.
I believe that home should be where you can chill out, relax, and be happy doing nothing together, enjoying the contentment that comes with being the one you love more than anything else in the world.
Hi Paul,

It sounds like you are in a very stressful situation and this must be incredibly difficult for you. Your partner is lucky that you have been there for her.

Has she been in touch with any mental health organisations? Mind and Rethink provide a wealth of information and support including information about helplines, therapies and a link to a supportive online community. Mind also provides information about support local groups. In addition, if she hasn’t already spoken to them, your partner’s GP may also be able to provide her with support, for example counselling among other options.

This helpful online search service enables you or your partner to look up details of local therapy services if you both feel this is a route worth exploring, or this search helps you locate local counselling professionals. One other form of talking therapy that you both may want to consider is relationship counselling, and the charity Relate is a good source of help on this.

Alongside supporting your partner, it is really important that you get support for yourself. If you feel able to speak to someone about how you’re feeling or how to cope, please contact The Samaritans 24/7 for free on 116 123. They also have an email address jo@samaritans.org as it can sometimes be difficult to verbalise what you are feeling or make a call in privacy.

Our website offers a lot of information for people who are caring in an unpaid capacity, and a useful introduction to the support that’s on offer can be found in this online guide:
https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice

Once again, I am really sorry to hear about what you are going through. I hope you find the support you need both on this forum and elsewhere. Other forum members may have other suggestions too.

Links to the above organisations are below:
Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-supp ... minds.aspx
Helpline online search: https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Psych ... arch/10008
Search your counselling professionals: https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists
Relate: https://www.relate.org.uk/
Samiritans: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-h ... CgQAvD_BwE