I'm Truly TERRIFIED Of Telling My BF About My Mental Health Issues

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Are we doomed?

By: Ashley Reese

I haven’t showered in four days.

Dirty laundry and clean clothes mingle on my bedroom floor, a union built on procrastination and bad habits. I’ve barely left my apartment for over two weeks, partially because I lost my key card to enter the office, and the security guards finally started hassling me about it after letting me through day after day; the thought of actually going through the process to get a new one is so daunting that I’d rather just work from home.

Projects I’ve been working on for ages have suddenly taken bad turns. I keep putting off doctors appointments or finding a therapist. My bank account is tragic. My only truly good day in recent memory was Halloween, and by the next morning I suddenly found myself feeling moodier and more dour than ever.

I can attribute a lot of my recent behavior to my anxiety issues and AD(H)D, but I don’t remember ever feeling as depressed as I’ve been over the past few days. Even through my usual freak outs, I’ve had a tinge of optimism, or something to laugh off. Not right now. I’ve been Googling Seasonal Affective Disorder, hoping that the time change and the promise of cold nights ahead could explain my unease. I’m lethargic and hopeless by the time evening rolls around, that has to mean something, right?

But I’m afraid that there’s no straight answer, and a lamp probably won’t do me many favors. I’m worried that this isn’t just the usual Scorpio moodiness or extreme PMS. Above all else, I’m terrified that my anxiety, insecurity, and bad habits are just manifesting into something more sinister, like depression.

But the worst part of is this: I’m apprehensive to ever talk to my boyfriend about this because it makes me feel like a burden at best, a bundle of crazy at worst.

Mental health has always been something I’m comfortable talking about, online and off. I’ve been fortunate to have parents who didn’t undermine mental health — which is still hugely stigmatized in the black community — and friends who won’t hesitate to talk about therapy sessions. So it’s strange to feel as if I suddenly should keep my mouth shut about how I’m feeling to one of the people I care about the most.

This isn’t to say that I’ve kept everything a secret. Nah, I’m a shit actress, so when I’m feeling down, my boyfriend can usually pick up on it pretty quickly. I also attempt to explain how my AD(H)D manifests in ways that are probably surprising to most, since there’s a ton of misinformation and just general ignorance as to how it affects adults. I’m pretty open about my anxiety, too. And while my trichotillomania–compulsive hair pulling–is in remission, the dude knows about that as well.

Still, I can’t help but feel that every time I open up, I’m revealing an ugly side of myself that nobody would want to–or should have to–deal with.

Yeah, no number of cutesy relatable posts about what it’s like to date somebody with AD(H)D can shake that off.

Having anxiety has already preconditioned me to lying and bottling shit up for survival — so it looks as if I have a grip on life, so that it seems as if I can afford to do something when I can’t, so that I’m granted extra time to finish something that is already past due, so that I can pretend that I did something when really I just want to stop being asked about it — and it’s absolutely exhausting. But it’s even worse when I participate in that level of performance around somebody I love.

Moderating what I say, trying to keep a smile on my face when I’m feeling absolutely miserable, pretending to have everything under control when I’m afraid that everything is falling apart… it’s just really fucking dishonest.

I never saw my mental health as a burden on anybody until my relationship was well under way.

At first, our glaring differences were kind of cute, like some opposites attract romance of the organized introvert who’s always calm, cool, and collected, matched with a messy extrovert whose bubbliness creeps into bursting neuroticism. How cute, how quaint, how perfect. Not so much, at least not anymore.

My disorganization leads to us missing buses or me arriving 30 minutes late to a date. His stoicism can feel like a slap in the face when I’m feeling my worst. I explain or apologize for my over the top behavior with downcast eyes and poor–but earnest–articulation, only to receive short replies of “okay” and “it’s fine” when it feels anything but. I wonder if this is why so many couples stop communicating and fall apart, it’s easier than actually having a real conversation. 

Because, hell, sometimes it seems easier to just pretend like I’m in a good mood than to be honest, because for me it’s more than just an off day, it’s like a personality flaw.

I mean, damn! It’s bad enough that I can’t fuck properly. What did the guy do to deserve somebody who’s a moody brat on top of it?

Maybe I should be easier on myself. Of course, I know that I’m more than my anxiety, or my missing apartment keys, or my harrumphs. But I’m worried that a turning point is up ahead, when my quirks become flaws that are too stressful to deal with. I don’t want to be a stressor in somebody’s life. It just doesn’t seem fair.

I wish there was a way to be open without being overwhelming, but I’m also against censoring or moderating the way I talk about myself, especially to someone I spent more time with than anyone else. I’ve never hesitated to be myself, so I don’t think I could start now even if I tried.

But are relationships in which one has a mental disorder and the other doesn’t destined to this crossroad? Do they usually find a path to walk down in unison, or split their separate ways?

I’d like to know, because right now I’m absolutely buggin’.

This article was originally published at The Gloss. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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