How do I deal with my anxiety-ridden partner?
February 6, 2013 12:04 PM Subscribe
My partner of three years has some pretty fierce obsessive anxiety issues, and I would like some help to deal with this.
posted by anonymous to human relations (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My partner moved to a new city recently with me for a few years while I started a post-doc, with the intent of finishing their degree at my new university. Since arriving here, she has not really made any friends or developed a support system of any kind other than me. While for the most part I can handle this, from time to time this becomes very challenging to deal with.
Specifically, she starts to obsess about what their long-term plans regarding their degree are, and worries about whether she is productive enough at her coursework. It ends up rapidly spiralling downwards, with her paralyzed by anxiety about how little coursework she feels she is doing, which leaves her unable to do any work, which makes her feel worse, etc.
She seems to get paralyzed by an inability to make choices because she doesn't know what the best possible choice to be might be, so she doesn't make any at all. And all of this spins around in her head (to hear her description of it), with no ability to stop and just let go.
The problem is that in some sense, the only answer that I feel that I can give when she asks me what to do is that she just has to do something, that it might not matter how crappy she feels, that she just has to work. Or make a choice. Or something.
However, I know that this is not a very supportive answer, and it isn't really helpful because she already knows that; she just can't do it. It's hard to help her, since I don't know what to do, and in the end it starts to detract from me being able to do the things that I need to do to take care of myself and of my work.
So what am I supposed to do? It'd be easier, I think, if she had made friends here, at least someone that she could unload on sometimes other than me, but she suffers from a lot of anxiety at the idea of making new friends, which tends to make her hide out at home unless I make a strong effort at bringing her out to socialize with people that I've met.
I love my partner, and I want to make this work, but I'm finding it harder to know how to deal with her increasing anxiety. What can I do to help her?