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 pandorasboxxx
Joined: 5/18/2009
Msg: 1
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
I am transitioning into a strange informal long distance relationship with this guy who is in Alaska for the summer. He's moving to Boston in Sept, so we'll be able to visit each other every couple of weeks or so. I hope. He and I are both pretty into each other .. but at the same time, I've spent such little time with him it's hard to say if we would actually be compatible, or if the spark would be there after a while. I mean, how do you get to truly know someone over the phone, and is it even possible?

Problem is, last night he divulged to me parts of his traumatizing adolescence, messed up family situation and most importantly, his problems with recurrent deep, dark depression. We're talking low of the low, chemical imbalance that runs in his family, periodical depression. Don't exactly know how often and for how long, as I didn't want to pry. I am a psych student and although he doesn't have manic episodes I'm tempted to diagnose him bipolar. Also, he has dissociative tendencies (ability to ignore pain, out of body experiences etc). Have you ever been in a relationship with someone with these problems and if so, how did you deal?

It almost makes me want to take a step back and keep at a distance, though we've really fallen for each other. I cannot identify with him, nor have I had any experience with this stuff. I am a happy person almost all the time and have not dealt with depression other than that following a breakup or death. He says, "I never get sad following breakups." !?!?! Apparently his mood swings were a problem for his ex girlfriend. He hasn't been diagnosed, doesn't want treatment or antidepressants.

He also told me he can go from being social, life of the party to holed up in his apartment with a bleak, grim view of the world. Fortunately, he's extremely intelligent and has kinda come to terms with this depression, learned to harness it using positive thinking/waiting it out. I'm glad he's mentioned these extreme emotional problems though, so I don't have to be smacked in the face with it inevitably and it shows that he feels close enough to tell me this. Also, I won't have to deal with his difficult highs and lows too often because we'll be lovers from a 300 mile distance, but I know it's coming.. and I have no idea how to deal or help him.





I'm wondering: Once in Boston how can we make a long distance mindf*ck thing actually work?
 army3
Joined: 11/10/2008
Msg: 2
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:29:33 PM
Well, i my experience, people like that tend to drain the happy person. The see the happy person as an inexhaustable fountain. They will constantly come to that person in a bad mindset nd let them do everything in their power....... it's really quite sad. I'm sorry, I really wish I knew something better of your stuation, but this is my unfortunate experience.
 thelonelydude
Joined: 6/12/2009
Msg: 3
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:31:11 PM
A simple evaluation...

IF you think that you love him, then get to KNOW HIM before truly committing.
Know his condition, his patterns, check and see if he is under medical care, if not - then insist that he does so or you will end it (NICELY AND SWEETLY issue an ultimatum).
DO THIS GENTLY - AND WITH A GREAT DEAL OF TACT.

If you DON'T truly love him - then RUN LIKE HELL!!!
 Azalea7
Joined: 12/2/2008
Msg: 4
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:33:31 PM
I don't think it's depression. I think it's PTSD.

What you do with that possible fact is up to you.
 rune3
Joined: 7/13/2006
Msg: 5
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:37:54 PM
Pandora, don't rush to judgement on this one. Nothing he's said suggests he is actually "emotionally unstable". The most emotionally stable ones are the ones who have learned to ride out the waves of their depression. An emotionally unstable person would be unable to cope with the extreme emotional weather that depression inflicts.

It's very sad if you think you can't cope with this due to your preconceptions regarding what it means. I suffer in a similar way -- my partner has commented that I am the most even-keeled & stable woman he's met. He also gets depression at times. Both of us take responsibility for our own feelings and we have long ago learned to cope, although obviously there are effects during depression that are noticeable to those closest to us.

You assume that you are going to find his highs and lows difficult and that you are expected to do something. Perhaps this isn't true. My partner knows when I am depressed because I will tell him and he knows then not to worry if my responses are a little off or if I have retreated into myself a bit. No-one can help with depression. They can make it worse, but they can't pull you out of it and it's not their job to, even if they were able.

If you are very needy then you won't be able to handle the 'absence' that can happen when a person is struggling with an internal battle to cope with depression. But if you were that needy, why would you be in a long distance relationship? If you are very self-centred, you will find it extremely hard not to take depressed behaviour personally, and that will make it impossible for you and for him. Otherwise, just ask him all the questions you need to ask. It may be that the best thing that you can do to help is to simply understand his illness and give him space to deal with it when he gets an attack. He says he can cope with it so why do you feel like you have to help?

Finally, before I write way too much, don't get depression confused with pessimism/optimism. Depression is an illness where your brain is seemingly flooded with negativity every so often. It doesn't mean that your normal mindset is negative at all, just that sometimes you can't reach your normal emotional responses because they're flooded out in a black sea. People can teach themselves to handle this by using memory to substitute for emotional reactions. When I am depressed I still remember what would normally make me feel happy and I behave accordingly. Only my partner and parents would be able to guess that I am depressed if I don't bring it up. It's an internal battle and apparently it sometimes shows up by 'strain' in my voice, but otherwise I try to keep it from affecting anyone around me, although I think it very important for my partner to understand what it's all about and what it means.

If you really can't bring yourself to learn about what depression means for him and want to stay hung up on urban myths and preconceptions, break up with him right now: it's essential that he can be with someone open to understand, not someone looking for a reason to judge him as being broken. I feel like cutting down my whole post to just that one paragraph as I get the strong sense that you are eager to rush to judgement on this one and therefore not ready for a relationship with someone who suffers with depression - or the inconvenience of being human, come to that. Anyone you become involved with is going to need you to relate to them as an individual, not refer to your own prejudiced stereotypes. Can you do that?
 Arabianangel
Joined: 6/9/2007
Msg: 6
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:44:22 PM

Pandora, don't rush to judgement on this one. Nothing he's said suggests he is actually "emotionally unstable". The most emotionally stable ones are the ones who have learned to ride out the waves of their depression. An emotionally unstable person would be unable to cope with the extreme emotional weather that depression inflicts.


So very true! It's all in how well you can ride the wave.
 pandorasboxxx
Joined: 5/18/2009
Msg: 7
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 9:48:48 PM
"I don't think it's depression. I think it's PTSD.
What you do with that possible fact is up to you."

I'm a psych major in the process of memorizing the DSMV, haha ugh. Maybe I played up the trauma. I'm not not totally aware of his situation, and I have yet to witness it, but seeing as the depression is an overall gloom, not towards a thing or person, and not triggered by memories, I don't think its Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A little googling and.. there's no intrusive recollection, no avoidance nor a state of hyper arousal that I know of. He just has periodic episodes of extreme, clinical depression. Maybe bipolar but not so much with the mania. As far as him not taking antidepressants, I completely understand. I think that often exercise is more effective than meds.
 Luri
Joined: 5/26/2009
Msg: 8
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:02:06 PM
Oh, my...

HOW intelligent? Yes, it makes a difference. Since you're a psych student, do yourself a favor and visit sengifted.org and goog Dabrowski's overexcitabilities...and perhaps study up a bit on diffuse/divergent thinking styles. In other words, you do not know enough about him to make a call on the extent of the difficulties and if they are more predictable manifestations of his bits of intelligence or actually bits of pathology. Don't skimp...doing so is skimping on yourself and believe me, you'll be sorry if you do that. If he's had a full neurophysch workup, you might ask him to share it with you. Where those numbers fall do mean something...his diffuse/loose associative thinking could be a habit of highly spatial thinking.

Anyway...either way...why not make sure you cover the bases you need BEFOREhand. The research wouldn't be so bad for your school career, either. And, the bonus may be that you uncover something (ding, light bulb) that will help you both.

You are 20... And embarking on a long distance relationship with some unknowns and yet the knowns might not be smooooth goings. What if, for instance, this person you think you might love really is depressive or even bipolar (remember, I'm holding out for that reading I've sugggested in paragraph 1) ...what kind of life do you want to live? What will a move do for/to him? How is he at building a support network? How good are YOU at building a viable and strong support network...because...if it turns out that he has problems greater than he seems to, you are very much going to need one. And if you approach this without some high level counseling and/or therapy...you might find yourself in deep doo doo emotionally, financially, etc.

You will not KNOW him until you live VERY close to him, like...both of you in Boston, or both of you in Philly. It's very important to see daily struggles and moods work themselves out, through, whatever, and see how you fare during them.ev

Whatever you do with this situation, please don't do it without lots of help, and don't be shy about asking for it.

L
 p3hndrx
Joined: 3/26/2006
Msg: 9
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:07:01 PM
i live in the boston area..
i can meet up with him, throw some darts, get to know him a little, then post the dirt to you in a private message. lol.. friends in the field.

*just kidding... i would never volunteer myself for that.
 wodever
Joined: 2/7/2009
Msg: 10
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:11:42 PM

I hope. He and I are both pretty into each other .. but at the same time, I've spent such little time with him it's hard to say if we would actually be compatible, or if the spark would be there after a while. I mean, how do you get to truly know someone over the phone, and is it even possible?


Ok so you in one breath say you have fallen for each other and in the next say you dont really know him.... you ask how you truly get to know someone over the phone.... and then tell us when he tries to share the deepest part of his soul you........


I am a psych student and although he doesn't have manic episodes I'm tempted to diagnose him bipolar.



Do him and yourself a favor..... remember you are a student.
He felt like you were his freind and you might need to know this stuff about him because regardless of the causes of his issues or what ever the big book of numbers and magic solutions tells you.... he was reaching out to a friend and even people who have those numbers and lables stamped on them need friends


if he wants you to fix it for him your simple response is you cant do it beyond being a freind but you could help him find someone who could help- YOU CANT!

so how do you manage a relationship with someone who suffers greatly from the result of trama not of his own doing and a life possibly filled with depression...? compassion, self preservation instincts... and your own healthy activities and support group of family and friends.... at this moment you are only just a freind so dont get carried away connecting dots and drawing lines across a continent.
 Azalea7
Joined: 12/2/2008
Msg: 11
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:15:07 PM
It was the dissociation that made me think of PTSD. Look dissociation up in relation to trauma. I think you'll find it connected to trauma more than to depression.
 p3hndrx
Joined: 3/26/2006
Msg: 12
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:22:33 PM
No one wants a diagnosis. They want a friend and a partner. For good and bad.
I'm agreeing with Wod here..

DSM aside, in counseling/psych work, you can only learn techniques to deal with situations, techniques to talk to people... a text-book diagnoses isn't going to help anything... in fact, it may make things infinitely worse as you are more likely to project onto him. Why not just play it casual.. wait til he moves, then meet if you're convinced he may be something special.

Continue to talk to him, and if he discloses to you, then listen with unconditional positive regard (like a rising Carl Rogers!). :) then make the move when you feel ready. You have nothing to lose, and maybe a whole lot to gain.
 pandorasboxxx
Joined: 5/18/2009
Msg: 13
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 10:52:32 PM
This is all great advice, you guys are right. I'm jumping the gun a little early and getting worked up about this & I shouldn't be diagnosing him or myself or anyone EVER. I definitely accept him for who he is, and I let him know I'm cool with his bouts of depression. I just worry, while hoping I can deal with rocky patches that may ensue.
 llRoninll
Joined: 5/27/2009
Msg: 14
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 11:36:14 PM
Yeah, be careful, unstable types are just as sensitive as the normals.. ;)

because of your profession, you will tend towards overanalyzing and diagnosis more oftan than you will ever realize.. if he's depressed, and feeling moody, make sure that he at least gives you a warning like 'i'm feeling really aggressive today' and let him see and understand that you are willing to help him through it, without holding him up.. help him learn to hold himself up so you aren't taxed.. as long as he communicates with you, and you don't treat him like a short bus kid, you guys can be just fine.. these things can be overcome if both of you are just that retarded for each other.. sometimes, the best thing to do is help him understand that he is not alone, he is with someone who cares about him and his well being, he CAN and will get through it, and he will feel better about himself, and begin finding ways of dealing with his mood swings.. chances are, his self esteem is low, or has high stress factors as well.. just soothe and nurture, but don't fall into it with him.. you will have to know when to stop and let him stand on his own. He can suck you right in with him, and then the tradeoff begins, and usually does not end well after that..

you have the tools.. your love and affection. Use them.. show him how to counteract himself in positive ways.. He'll thank you later. (In theory)
 Landra2
Joined: 6/4/2009
Msg: 15
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/15/2009 11:54:25 PM
Does the whole "traumatizing adolescence, messed up family situation and most importantly, his problems with recurrent deep, dark depression. We're talking low of the low, chemical imbalance that runs in his family, periodical depression" excite you because you're a psych student and he's like a homework assignment to you.
Or...are you just as unhealthy as he is?

Because an emotionally healthy, balanced, stable woman would NOT enter into any type of relationship with some who has problems with recurrent deep, dark depression.... not to mention traumatizing adolescence, messed up family situation.

Why does a man with extreme emotional problems appeal to you?
Why does someone who hasn't been diagnosed, doesn't want treatment or antidepressants attract you?

My suggesstion is to tell him he needs to see a professional.... and end contact. Then think about why you wanted to be with him or "rescue" him.
 peachez_03
Joined: 5/16/2009
Msg: 16
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 12:41:38 AM
two things I'd like to point out, being my opinion of course...

My mother, who suffers from manic depression, takes medication regularly. She's not mentally retarded or anything, but her judgement doesn't seem to be there, because of the lack of emotions. The medication she takes that prevents the depression, ends up taking away most of any emotion a normal person would experience.

With this, you should consider the impact on your children if you so desire to have any, I would say my mother having this problem has drastically affected me. Also, since you are a psych major, you're going to be dealing with mind exhausting events in all your patients lives throughout the day. do you really want to come home to a mentally unstable spouse to tend to?
 Icthus26
Joined: 5/12/2009
Msg: 17
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 12:50:17 AM

Also, since you are a psych major, you're going to be dealing with mind exhausting events in all your patients lives throughout the day. do you really want to come home to a mentally unstable spouse to tend to?


Amen to that. Additionally, do you really want to have to treat whoever you are coming home to like a patient? And do you really think that, just because you are working on a psych degree, you suddenly know how to diagnose people?

I'd leave that for the professionals and either be with him as his friend and companion or just get out of it now. Emotional instability isn't really likely to suddenly get better, so don't diagnose him or try to fix him, just make a choice.
 serenityCW
Joined: 1/21/2006
Msg: 18
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 1:12:54 AM
i think you are suffering from analysis paralysis. there is also bipolar two while you are at it, which appears to be like anxiety depression but responds to different meds. there is no mania as we all have learned it to be, but night tremors, sleep issues, freezing anxiety, etc. post trauma is an umbrella diagnosis which rules out the hereditary nature and pinpoints it to an incident or series of incidents or toxic situation. it enables one to not be the victim of an endless label that does not peel off the vessel. one also learns to identify "triggers" and avoid/manage them, as they are externally produced. nonetheless, the behaviours overlap.

rune is right. bottom line, it's his issue and how one relates to someone with depression or whatever else, depends upon how the person handles his or her depression. i went with someone for three years who not only did not handle it well, but he mistreated me when he was "down"--not physically but in terms of withdrawal, snappiness, diminshed communication, etc.

i do have some friends who have depression or are bipolar 2. i've also been an advocate for children with the full range of diagnoses. you are not defined by the diagnosis, but you define how you manage it "ultimately". for some, it takes a longer time than others. they manage it, they communicate both the good and the bad. they announce when the time is a bad time and make it up to me, when it gets better. they let me know what i can or cannot do for them. i do the same with my lymes disease if i'm having a flareup or not much energy on a particular day.

that all being said, you don't have a relationship going until you relate--in person. you do have a possibility. in the meanwhile, get your own ducks in order. you are still very young. you both have a lot to learn "in the real world".

i wish you the best. just don't be an enabler. do a term paper on that one, please!!! it can save you years of stress.
 whenwillthiswork26
Joined: 11/13/2008
Msg: 19
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 2:52:31 AM
How come women and some guys keep posting the exact same thing in multiple forums as this person has done? And these posts are always so retarded sounding.

You cant make the "long distance mindf*ck thing" actually work. You don't have the maturity or intellect and he is unstable mentally.
 tamzin01
Joined: 5/29/2008
Msg: 20
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 4:29:38 AM
It sounds like he has manic depression, which is easily controllable by prescription drugs. The thing is, a lot of people are scared by any sort of psychological disorder....but it doesn't mean he is crazy. Like he says, there is just a chemical imbalance in his brain. Most people find some sort of balance in their emotions but manic depressives are either euphorically happy or really down in the dumps ( without medical intervetion). You need to research the subject more so you understand it properly, and then think hard if you can live with someone whose moods are unpredictable and then make a decision. As far as I am aware, manic depression is genetic.
 tamzin01
Joined: 5/29/2008
Msg: 21
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 4:32:35 AM
p.s. Has he seen a doctor and described his symptoms? Anyone can guess, but only a trained professional can diagnose him and and maybe put him on medication which can help him.
 Luri
Joined: 5/26/2009
Msg: 22
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 5:21:07 AM

It sounds like he has manic depression, which is easily controllable by prescription drugs. The thing is, a lot of people are scared by any sort of psychological disorder....but it doesn't mean he is crazy. Like he says, there is just a chemical imbalance in his brain. Most people find some sort of balance in their emotions but manic depressives are either euphorically happy or really down in the dumps ( without medical intervetion). edYou need to research the subject more so you understand it properly, and then think hard if you can live with someone whose moods are unpredictable and then make a decision. As far as I am aware, manic depression is genetic.


As a seasoned advocate (over 20 years) for people and families with mental/emotional illnesses, I 've observed that only some are easily treated and stabilized with medications, and psychotropic meds often present their own difficulties that affect relationships. Most need regular and extensive counseling, as do their families, and it's not about 'crazy'...it's about dealing with the interweaving of lives with this particular wild card tossed into it.
 packagedealx3
Joined: 2/4/2006
Msg: 23
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Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 5:26:27 AM
Unless he is treated and treatable, he will drain the life out of you. I would offer friendship and nothing more. He's told you about the depression, has he told you about the anger and the things he will say to you when he is in one of his moods?

Really doesn't sound like he is on meds, run Forrest run comes to mind but yup, the taking a step back is essential unless you want to be sucked into the insanity vortex with him.

And here's a clue, one of the reasons that they now call manic depressive bipolar is that not all people have the manic episodes or they have them but not in what is the stereotypical manic format. Bottom line, you never know who is walking through the door or on the phone. It's no way to live.


As a seasoned advocate (over 20 years) for people and families with mental/emotional illnesses, I 've observed that only some are easily treated and stabilized with medications, and psychotropic meds often present their own difficulties that affect relationships. Most need regular and extensive counseling, as do their families, and it's not about 'crazy'...it's about dealing with the interweaving of lives with this particular wild card tossed into it.
 Crunchy Tacos
Joined: 3/26/2009
Msg: 24
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 5:38:18 AM
How is it you are so into each other yet you have spent little time together? (your own words).

Long distance works for a month or so, then people get the aching for a real relationship. Why settle?
 billiam57
Joined: 9/27/2008
Msg: 25
Emotionally unstable partner: how to deal?
Posted: 6/16/2009 5:39:38 AM
I can empathise with the O/P. Unfortunately until you/she gets her Graduate degree you can't diagnoisis a wart. The BP criteria is as it currently is listed is inaccurate and incomplete. The DSM-IV-tR is an abysmal way to classify mental illness. And this may well be the last they'll see of it in the future. Until then, only through therapy with the right counselor and proper medication (with compliance) is the singularly best combination for anyone with a mood disorder.
Your roller coaster ride, including I am willing to wager, fantastic sexual adventures during his hypo-sexual phases must thrill you. On the flip side his darkness must alarm you. You can not save him and if you think you can act as his therapist you are sadly ill-informed.
Good luck.
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