First message here. I found this forum when I started looking up for some answers about my situation and I have to say that most of the things I read here helped me to understand better this mental illness and its consequences on a romantic relationship. I decided to share my story here, in hope of meaningful insights that would help me deal with the present situation.
I'm gonna try to be clear and short.
My girlfriend and I have been together for more than 7 months now, and it never has been a really easy relationship. She's been diagnosed bipolar a few years ago, once been under medication and therapy. It was getting a little bit better since a year, she decided to stop her medication as she felt like it was more dangerous to her sanity than anything else, and she's willing to continue therapy but is on waiting list since two months (something that I learned recently).
The way I would describe my relationship with her is: unstable. She used to be really emotionally driven, that's the way I learned to know her and the picture she kinda left in my mind of the person she is. At the beginning of our relationship, her feelings were really vivid and bright, always said through long deep chats and messages, which is something I like, being a sentimental person myself.
After a little while, she pulled of her feelings for the first time. That left me a big impression. From one day to another, she stopped talking to me.
That was hard. She basically explained to me that that's the way she is, she doesn't feel like she needs to express her feelings all the time, and that sometimes she's overwhelmed by our proximity and somewhat that has to do with the strength of the love we share.
This eventually got better. After a month or two, she apologized, acknowledged that she pushed me away and said that she was ready for a real relationship now. This has been the pinnacle of our relationship, she started being really attentive and loving, I thought I found her again.
Recently things have been worsening. She's pulling off again, but in a different way.
Since maybe one week or two our relationship is really different. I've seen her in such a bad state (sorrow, anger, hopelessness...) that I realised that her illness was really serious after all.
I've been with in a relationship with someone that deals with mental illness. I know exactly how it looks like, and it's only recently that I've seen the patterns in her and started understanding that this was actually serious.
So I started looking up to understand depression and bipolarity a little bit better, and found stories that matches really well with what I'm going through.
The past experiences I have with her used to brings down my self-confidence, questioning her love or our relationship as I couldn't tell if she loved me or cared for me in these times. Learning about the depression and its consequences in a relationship definitely helped me to understand that it's actually egocentric to think so. That taking distance from a significant other is something common through this stage.
I would like to say that I took that decision, to stick with her and help her going through. I think she's worth it.
But that doesn't make it easy.
Sometimes the feel that something is wrong between us two or the fact that she might not love me anymore is stronger. Sometimes I feel at loss, as I don't necessarily see any progression.
To give you more informations about her behaviour, she keeps saying that she loves me, but rarely by herself. She can be cute and loving sometimes, but most of the time she's hurting me by pushing emotional talks away and romantic behaviour. We still have sex together, good sex, although she doesn't express her desires as often as she uses to, and the sex feels different, like if it was more for the action itself and the pleasure (like a drug addiction) than to have sex with me as a person and as her partner. She's having dangerous drug behaviour too. She's having difficulties to be grateful when I do something for her, she can even be cold in answer to a present or a loving attention.
She doesn't hide her sorrow with me. I'm seeing her crying every time I see her since things have changed. I listen to her, try to not overwhelm her with advices. But she does look really happy to be around her friends, it's almost as though she would rather be with them than with me, but we keep seeing each other though and spending good times, most of the time on her call.
She genuinely became really quiet about her feelings, and sometimes look like she lost them ("it's been a while we're together", "it's only been a week we haven't seen each other"), but keep contacting me and asking to see me from times to times.
As you can see, her behaviour is really unpredictable and paradoxical when she's feeling low about herself. On one hand, I'm happy that she doesn't have to hide how she feels with me, that she tries to talk to me and explains how she feels, but I miss the person that I know as my girlfriend and it's painful to see her depressed with me and happy with others.
It's difficult for me to see her like that. I don't really know how to deal with it, even though I believe that she still loves me and care, it feels like there is no space for me in her heart and thoughts these days, and it also feels like our relationship is more a friendship recently, which made me understand that she might need more of a friend than a boyfriend to get through. Maybe emotionally charged talks and messages are not helping her in that way.
A couple of times when I've been questioning the reasons why she was pushed me that way, and acknowledge the fact that I feel sometimes like she's not here for me, or does not care as much as I do, or... she said that she would rather have me happy alone than feeling at loss with her. That's something I hear well, but that's not her decision, that is mine, and somehow I can tell that it's not the real person she is, not the one I love, that would say these things.
One more thing, I think she starts getting the idea that I'm better off her, or better than her. She basically said that she doesn't want me to stay with her just because I don't want to let her down. Which makes no sense to me, I'm not with her to be a caretaker, I'm with her because I love her and I want that, period. This kind of reasoning is very confusing for me, as it looks like she really wants to push me away, but keeps me here anyway. It does explain some of her behaviour though.
To be fair, I'm worried. I have a bad tendency to say my emotions in order to hear the answer and get reinsurance when I doubt about the reciprocity. I know it's wrong, that's something I try to do less. It's like checking her feelings.
The fact that she doesn't always reply the right way or with the passion/love she used to, that she tries to avoid it or become tense when I touch her is really difficult from my point of view. I cannot help but feel that she might not love me anymore, even though I know that depression can do that.
My questions are those:
- How do you deal with someone depressed that is on and off with you? Shall I continue loving for two (being romantic as I am naturally to show that nothing changed in my feelings), or shall I pull off and give her some space to realize that I'm not a part of the problem?
- Should I avoid contact with her for a little while as it can drags me down? The thing is I don't want her to feel like I'm not here for her, what I'm doing these days is to not talk to her except if she does. I'm trying to balance the relationship, in a sort.
- Knowing that she hates deep talking and she hates talking about our relationship, and she's strongly believing that nothing close to a drama should come in a relationship, how can I tell her that I feel a bit at loss sometimes, or that is hard for me to see sometimes or to deal with? Shall I even say these things, or is egocentric too?
- How do you see my situation with your experience? Can depression explains the distance she puts between us, and her unstable romantic behaviour?
Thank you for your insights and thoughts, and thank you for reading me.