Hello everyone 👋🏼
Today I’m posting the 3rd interview of “supporting a loved one with mental health issues” and this one is a BIG one! It’s probably the one interview that had me close to tears half way through and my heart broke for the man I was interviewing. Dustin is a man in his early 20’s who is talking openly and honestly about his ex-fiancé who suffered with manic depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. I am so grateful for Dustin opening up to me in the hope to help others who may be going through a similar situation with their loved one and I can’t express how much I respect him for not only sharing his story with us all but for everything he did to support his ex-fiancé through such a traumatic time for them both. Please read the interview below with an open mind, but more importantly, empathy.
My interview with Dustin:
Me: How long have you known the person close to you who suffers with mental health problems?
D: I had known her since we were 15 or so. At 18 we started dating, were engaged at 21, and it ended when I was 23.
Me: How long has this person been suffering with a mental health problem and what do they suffer with?
D: She was initially diagnosed at 20, but we had suspected that something may have been amiss a few years earlier, as thyroid issues and depression both ran in her family. She was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.
Me: When did you first realise they were suffering with mental health problems?
D: At first it started slow. A lack of interest in partaking in anything social, a want to stay in bed all day. Zero motivation to go to work.
Initially when I approached her about it she had just said she was tired a lot and that she “just isn’t up to it”.
Having suffered from depression at the hands of medication in my own past, I recognized these symptoms as being a part of something larger than just fatigue.
After a few talks I had her convinced to get checked out.
Me: What has it been like for you personally being close to someone who suffers with mental health problems?
D: It was hard. I was initially unsure of how to handle it. Unsure of how to comfort her. I was determined, but needed to educate myself. I would’ve moved mountains for her, so I learned that some days, no matter how hard I tried, it was going to be a bad day. I had to learn that it wasn’t my fault if I couldn’t cheer her up or comfort her.
I had to learn how to cope with her lack of interest in everything around her, and some days, even a lack of interest in me. It broke my heart, but I hid it well. It wasn’t about how I was feeling, to me at least. It was about making life as comfortable and tolerable for her as possible.
Eventually, nothing was enough. There were three suicide attempts, and she was admitted to a mental health facility by her family. This family also blamed me as being the cause of her depression.
After this, she stopped taking her medication against her doctors wishes, and got violent. On more than one occasion I fell victim to physical abuse at her hands, and after one particularly bad night, I ended it.
I realized that no matter what I did, I couldn’t be her saviour. I realized I had to put myself first for a change. Making her “better” wasn’t in my control, and she wasn’t in control of herself. I called off our wedding, and ended our relationship. That’s, for the most part, the last time I talked to her aside from a brief stint where she was in the mental health facility again and reached out to me to talk to her because she felt I was the only one who could ever get through to her.
Me: If you could give any advice to someone else out there who’s close to someone with mental health problems, what would it be?
D: My advice would be to support them however and whenever you can, but to put your own health first. If a situation becomes too much to handle, or even dangerous as mine was, there is no shame in getting out.
A big thank you to Dustin for telling us his story ❤️