My partner (44m), who has been suicidal on and off for the last 13 years, is back to being unable to cope (and has been off work most of 2020 because of his mental health - ironically(?) nothing to do with Covid-19. He is also autistic (only recently diagnosed), and the way he processes and thinks about his mental health and autism are very intertwined.
He told me recently that “if we owned a gun, he wouldn’t be here any more, but he is still a coward and can’t work out an easy way out.”
We’ve been together 15 years, and I feel like it’s only because he (finally?) found a partner he could trust and talk to, he started to be open about his mental health. His issues seem to stem from negative core-beliefs installed into him as a child by his narcissistic parent(s), and the fact that his whole sense of identity is built around those negative core-beliefs, so actually addressing them, changing them, and allowing himself to exist without them, would pretty much be wiping out his current identity and cause an apocalyptic identity crisis.
Over the last 13 years, we’ve been in touch with, and tried to work with GPs, CBT counsellors, self-help books, self-help You Tube videos, self-help audiobooks, various therapists, wellness teams, local crisis team, local mental health teams, his workplace, occupational health, Workplace Leeds, Leeds MIND, Leeds AIM (Autism support), and I’ve lost track of how many other sources of “help”. Yes, some of them have been helpful, to a point (his second private counsellor was the person who sent him to be diagnosed with autism, and his third made him seriously start thinking about his core-beliefs, etc), but none of them have actually gotten anywhere. They all seem to be designed to try and help him to continue masking as though he’s “normal” - the “fake it, till you make it” approach - which, autistic people are constantly doing in the first place - autistic masking is hard enough - but trying to do that AND manage mental health masking, is just impossible for him.
It’s been 13 years…
ALL the online “are you worried about someone” type advice seems to say “listen to them”, “ask them how they feel”, “remind them of times when he didn’t feel like this”, “make a support team” and “make a plan”, but none of this helps… I still listen to him - even though it’s the same thing every single day and not moving forward, he can’t tell me how he feels other than that he doesn’t deserve to exist, doesn’t want to be here, doesn’t want to exist and wants it all to end one way or another (one of the common traits of autism is alexithymia - ie. unable to define how they feel), he can’t remember a time when he didn’t feel like this, and he doesn’t feel comfortable asking any of his friends for help (they all have families and other personal responsibilities), and his family are a massive part of the problem, and the support team is part of the plan, and the rest of the plan includes other things that he doesn’t think he deserves, or includes other things he’s already tried! The ONLY thing that seems to remotely help is playing computer games (games are one of his special interests) - but it doesn’t stop the suicidal thoughts - it just gives him something else to focus on in the short-term, but then he feels guilty for spending time on himself, instead of actually achieving anything, instead of being at work, instead of doing housework, helping me (I’m also autistic and disabled with Chronic Fatigue), or doing anything “useful” - his dad always taught him computer games were a selfish waste of time. All his other hobbies have dropped by the wayside - he’s pretty much apathetic about anything and everything else - even our relationship (except for feeling guilty that he should be contributing more to “us” - despite me pointing out that, without him, there wouldn’t be an “us”, and that I’d rather be with him as he is, than without him).
Once you’ve been supporting someone through the same thing, day after day, year, after year, it’s REALLY hard to even try to suggest anything new, because it feels like it’s all been attempted, tried and/or abandoned or discounted (he won’t try anything he counts as “woo”).
This year, because he’s been off work for so long, he’s now not even getting sick pay from his company, and because I’ve been disabled for the last 3-years (currently applying for PIP, but no luck as yet!) he’s been our only source of financial support, so now he’s feeling guilty and catastrophising about us both being homeless and that will all be “his fault” too! (Obviously, me not having any income for 3 years, is “different” to him, though he can’t tell me why, other than the fact he has such impossibly high standards for himself!) He’s also now blaming himself for not being able to work (especially as, with working from home, he is literally sat next to his work computer while playing his computer games), and blaming himself for not “getting better”, and pointing out that “everyone else” on the planet can work and get better, and actually function (and no - even though I’m literally the one he’s saying that to - and I’m not able to “get better” or “go to work” and half the time I can’t “function” - he can’t see the irony/hypocrisy)! He’s looked into his life insurance (that we got when we bought our house) and worked out that it does cover suicide and he has also has life cover through work, and if he was gone, I would be financially stable for years(!), which isn’t particularly helpful in trying to convince him to stick around!
So - to the point of the post… For the last few years, I’ve honestly felt like the kind of person who is literally bullying someone to continue surviving, and I’ve been worrying that I’m just prolonging his pain! I’ve lost track of the last time he had a good day, where he had a good laugh and enjoyed himself - it must be over 8 years ago - and he’s regularly curled up in mental and emotional pain, in tears, and literally clinging to me for support, holding my clothing, hands, or whatever, so that I can’t move - I’m always there to comfort him, tell him he’s loved, wanted, and deserves to be here, but it doesn’t make any difference.
If my partner had a physical illness, like cancer, I feel like it would be like me literally dragging them, kicking and screaming, to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with all the side-effects, and all of the horrible aspects of it, forcing them to live every day in pain, despite knowing that he has said time and time again, that he just wants to “let go”. I honestly don’t know if he’s even capable of changing - I don’t know if the core beliefs are just too ingrained and the fear of an apocalyptic identity crisis is just too terrifying for him to face - so that, combined with everything else, implies that he’s literally not capable of getting “better”.
I feel like I keep dragging him through every day, one day at a time, because I’m so selfish that I don’t want to let him go, just because I have this - potentially deluded - hope that he’ll one day get to a point where he wants to continue living himself…
Heck - I don’t even know if this forum is even still active - most of the posts seem to be months old - but I thought it was worth asking…
Does anyone else feel the same - feeing guilty that they’re dragging their loved ones from day to day, when they don’t want to exist anymore?
Does anyone have any suggestions/tips/thoughts about what more I can do to help him, or (even better) help him to help himself?
If you’ve got this far - thank you for reading - even if you don’t feel like there is something you can say…
I know that everyone on here has enough on their plates.