Two weekends ago, something REALLY weird happened to my boyfriend and I'm still struggling to try and figure out what it was. A hallucination? A psychotic episode?
posted by alysonagain to Human Relations (45 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Some background: he and I have been together almost a year, in our mid-twenties, both professionals recently out of grad school and in our first "grown-up" jobs. Both of us consider this a serious relationship and see it leading to marriage, perhaps in the next 2 years or so. We communicate really well on an everyday basis but we do have fights occasionally, mainly when one or both of us is sleep-deprived and/or stressed about work or something else, and we have talked a lot about it and are both working on conflict resolution skills, and I think it's been getting a lot better.
From the very beginning of our relationship, he has been extremely open and honest with me about his past. He grew up the middle child of a rather dysfunctional family and went through a very rebellious phase in high school and college, including using drugs. (He grew up a lot during grad school and stopped using all drugs about a year before we met.) During college, he went through a really bad stage of depression after a long-term girlfriend cheated on him and broke up with him. He attempted suicide during this phase of his life. I don't know the details; I've never pressed him about it. I know that he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after this happened, I presume for just a few days since I don't think he ever had to take time off school for it. He was on antidepressants for a while but no longer takes them. Like I said before, he has always been 100% honest and open with me about all of this. It made me uncomfortable, of course -- no one likes to hear that their boyfriend has tried to kill himself before over an ex-girlfriend -- but he's promised me over and over again that this is a completely different phase of his life and he has grown up a lot since then, and he would never even dream of doing such a thing now. I believe him. There are times where he does show mild signs of depression, but overall he's a generally happy person and I have never been concerned about him until now.
Two weekends ago, we went out for St. Patrick's day with a female friend of ours (she's actually the girl who introduced us to each other). We came home to my house around 1:30 am. He was in a bad mood, because at around midnight I had wanted to go home and go to sleep and he wanted to go out to another bar for a couple hours. We had compromised and decided to go to the new bar for an hour and then come home. I could tell he was in a bad mood and had been holding it all in because our friend was around and he wanted to put on a good face while she was there. As soon as she left, we started to fight. Both of us had been drinking a little bit, but were not drunk by any means. (If anything, I was more tipsy than he was.) He started accusing me of not having a good time while we were out, because I wasn't dancing as much to the live music as he was, and because I had wanted to go home. It was a really dumb reason to be picking at me, but somehow it turned into a full-blown fight with both of us getting defensive and me crying. He was really upset -- I really think the whole night he had been annoyed at me because I wasn't acting like I was having a good time (when I actually was having a good time, I just don't get as into live music as he does -- we enjoy things in different ways.)
So we were sitting on my kitchen floor, I was crying, and he started crying. He suddenly looked at me with this really scared look on his face. I honestly thought he was about to break up with me -- I was really confused, and kind of scared. I had never seen him look like this before. He got really quiet for a long time and just had this odd look on his face but it looked scared. I calmed down and held his hand and asked him what was wrong. He didn't even acknowledge me. I kept trying to talk to him but it was like he didn't know I was even there. This went on for maybe 2 minutes or so. Then he got up and speed-walked out of the kitchen really quickly. I wondered if he was about to get sick or something, so I checked in the bathroom, but he wasn't in there. I found him lying in the bed, sobbing. I was really freaked out. I tried to talk to him, but he was doing the same thing where he didn't even acknowledge that I was there. This went on for another couple of minutes. I held him and told him it was going to be okay -- I didn't really know what else to do.
Then he suddenly jumped, like he was startled. He looked at me with a really confused look on his face. He said my name over and over like he didn't know why I would be there . He asked me where he was. I told him -- "you're in my house, you're in bed, I'm here with you, it's going to be okay." He then burst into tears and asked me "am I really here? are you real? Where's Anderson?" I had no idea who Anderson was... and this was starting to really scare me for real. After a few minutes he told me what he thought had happened. He couldn't really remember anything for the past 30 minutes or so. He did remember that we were in the kitchen and that we were fighting -- but he had no idea what we were fighting about. He just had a hazy memory of being upset. And then -- this is the part that gives me chills just typing it -- he walked over and picked up a kitchen knife and killed himself with it. That's why he was so confused when he "woke up" and was in bed and I was there with him.
He told me something similar to this has happened twice before. Both of these times were a very, very long time ago when he was struggling with bad depression and self-harming. At least one of those times, someone named Anderson was there with him and was the one who stopped him from actually hurting himself.
Since then, everything has been normal. We've both had a very stressful month at work, so we've bickered more these past several weeks than we usually do, but nothing like that has happened again. But I'm worried about him. He swears up and down that he doesn't have suicidal thoughts anymore, and hasn't in a long time, and that I make him happier than anyone else has ever made him. I believe him -- I think. I'm just scared because it seems like fighting with me brought out some terrible dark side of him. I don't even know what to call it. A hallucination? Temporary amnesia? Both? I'm a physician, so I have a pretty good understanding of basic psychiatric disorders but this doesn't seem like anything I've read about or heard about. I'm thinking that it was most likely some sort of transient thing brought on by severe stress. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this before? Should I be really worried?