(Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez)
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I've been dating my boyfriend for almost four years now. We started dating in high school, and for the most part, things are great.
I've got a lot of mental health issues because of my abusive childhood, and he has been nothing but supportive for our entire relationship. Lately, though, it seems like he's been getting more and more frustrated with me when I get upset at something or react badly to something completely benign.
He hasn't said he's tired of my problems, and he's promised me many times that he wants to be with me no matter what, but I can't help but worry that one of these days I'll have a meltdown about something trivial and he'll be done. I'm going to be getting therapy once I have medical insurance, and I know that a lot of his complaints are legitimate.
I just can't shake this feeling that he's going to leave me and find someone who makes him happy without being insane.
Thanks for any advice you can give.
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I have been there. In every relationship I’ve had, including early on with my husband, I lived in fear of being discovered — that discovery being my mental health issues. I struggled with and ran from my depression for so long, and it resulted in all sorts of dysfunctional behavior. I pushed people away, acted out, and had a hard time controlling my impulses. What I didn’t consider that you should consider…
Take what he’s telling you at face value.
Your boyfriend has said that he wants to make things work. You need to believe him. I have been on both sides of this in a relationship, and it is incredibly frustrating when your partner refuses to take your words at face value, assigning hidden messages to them.
It can push people away when you constantly doubt what they say. Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship, romantic and otherwise.
We have no control over what someone else may or may not decide to do.
I, like you, spent so much time worrying about losing people that I often ended up pushing them away. Ultimately, you have no control over what he does. However, you do have control over what you do. This is why making your mental health a priority is imperative.
Our mental illness is not our fault, but it is our responsibility.
This is something Ravishly’s EIC has often said, and I wholeheartedly agree. For the partner of someone who has a mental illness, it can be frustrating, to say the least. I am glad to hear you are getting some help when your insurance kicks in. You owe it to yourself; taking care of ones’ mental health is the ultimate in self-care and self-love. And, bonus, it benefits your relationships.
All that said, if you find he uses your mental health issues against you or holds grudges over instances when you’ve acted out, those are red flags going forward.
Take care of your mental health, FOR YOU. Give your partner the benefit of confidence in what he says, unless he shows you otherwise. Keep the communication with him open — you should know how he is feeling in the relationship and vice-versa.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Hiddenite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo