I have joined this site because my partner struggles with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia and I suppose I am looking for some advice and support. I never really labelled myself as a carer before, partly because I don’t know if I do enough to be described as such and also because I am reluctant to characterise my relationship that way (no disrespect to anyone who finds that word helpful, this is just my personal honest feeling). But the fact is I feel I have some responsibilities to him above and beyond what I would if he didn’t have these difficulties.
I want to be able to help my partner with anything he needs but I also hope I can support him to make some progress, especially about going out (after lockdown of course!). I find it really hard to strike the balance between not doing enough and feeling I am neglecting him or letting him down, and doing too much and therefore disempowering him or creating a situation that doesn’t help or encourage him to overcome anxiety and agoraphobia. I find it so hard to know the right way to deal with this and feel a lot of guilt whatever I do. I haven’t been able to get any advice about this so far.
I understand how you feel. It is very difficult to strike a balance between doing too much for him and doing too little.
You come across as being a kind and thoughtful person.
I think it’s important that he feels he’s ‘in charge’ when you want him to do things that make him feel anxious. For instance - if you want him to go for a short walk today (to enjoy today’s snow!) then let him decide what time you go out and where you go etc. When it’s time to go out if he changes his mind and doesn’t want to go then calmly accept his decision to stay at home. You could still go out on your own. Then try again another day.
Be aware of his moods - for instance - he might be more agreeable to go out in the afternoons rather than the mornings, so make a mental note of that.
Watch the way he responds when you do things for him, and when you don’t.
You could keep a notebook/diary and write down any progress made and what may have helped.
Apologies if you have tried all this already!
Thanks for your advice. Yes, its definitely the case that sometimes he will want to try something and be very sincere about that when he says it, but when the time comes he struggles to do it. I suppose that is part of the illness.
I have been trying to be thoughtful about recently about what I do and don’t do for him. If it is something that doesn’t really affect me I am trying to not get stressed about whether he does it or not. That can be quite hard but I also found it helpful to draw lines of what is and isn’t my responsibility. I always say to him I will help him anyway I can. But sometimes I think it is best I wait for him to ask rather than try to sort everything out straight away.
I do exactly that with my wife, even if I can see her struggling I still wait to be asked, the alternative is that you’re slipping into “Does he/she take sugar” territory and also, (in my case anyway) slipping into doing absolutely everything instead of just 99% of it…
That’s an evocative user-name you have, I was sometimes Fishface at home when growing up, but it was more often Snotface - it didn’t endear me to my parents.