Panic Attacks Message Board
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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 
I am the 4 year partner of a person with an anxiety disorder who suffers panic attacks. It's really hard. I can't find any groups or programs for me. Only for him.

I know it is hard to be him. My entire life is now about how hard it is for him to exist.

A lot of my life is me being screamed at because he's feeling anxious. He has no energy for anything but dealing with his own thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms. He can't pay attention when I talk and can't extend sympathy for any stress I ever encounter. He always has a reason why his stress is bigger and why mine is selfish and irritating.

But he can't see any of this through his own suffering.

I lost my job recently in part because he calls me hysterical during my work day and accuses me of making him crazy and suicidal if I don't drop whatever I'm doing and give him my immediate and undivided attention. 

I am responsible for all our food, housekeeping and any errands or appointments. I have to get up every morning hours before I need to, to help him get ready and out the door and make his lunch. I make every meal all week because he has anxiety about restaurants but is too exhausted to cook.

And it's literally never my turn to be helped. I do everything for myself and keep any stresses of mine to myself so he won't get upset that I'm "causing him more stress". If I ask him to do something like give me a lift somewhere he becomes very angry and resentful, so I don't ask anymore.

I'm so tired and lonely. I feel like hired help. I cry my heart out at least once a week that my life has become so small and ruled by his dark perspectives and that despite my efforts I'm constantly surrounded by angry outbursts and depressed silences.

I hide or go across the street to an empty parking lot and sit behind a bush when I cry, because if I show my pain I get yelled at for bringing stress near him. He is the one who gets to feel low. I just have to always understand. And never need anything myself.

And I feel incredibly guilty for being so sad and so tired, because he is sick. But I am being drained of everything I am trying to support him.

The very nature of his illness makes him very self focused, so it's hard if not impossible for him to see how hard his illness on me and I can't talk to him about it or he'll feel attacked and I'll be the one who "doesn't understand".

I need support. Where can the partner of an anxiety/panic disorder patient turn for support? 


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Posts: 3,439
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi fulltimehelper

I am sorry to hear your story. Does your partner want to get better and will he do anything to help himself? That is always the first hurtle. The second is the issue of "overcare". If you are always the crutch for him to lean on then that may be the easy way for him and the idea of facing what he fears is too much in his mind. Would he be willing to read the website? Has he seen a doctor for this problem? Does he take medication?

Posts: 413
Reply with quote  #3 
Sometimes my wife, who is generally VERY supportive, gets tired of this (as do I) and can only do so much. Luckily I have a great therapist who lets me call her anytime and calms me down and can set me up for an immediate appointment if necessary.

Its good for you to support your partner through this, but you can only do so much. Sometimes professional intervention is needed and is always beneficial.

Posts: 148
Reply with quote  #4 
I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know my husband feels helpless a lot of the time. Wanting to fix it but not understanding how. How could he since I didn't either? I imagine it is very hard to be in your shoes. I just found out tonight that my husband messaged an old friend of mine who is a pastor and asked him to add me to prayers. Now, I will never turn down prayers, but it made me realize the extent that he was worried for me as that is out of character for him. I know that he gets frustrated and tired too and just wants his wife back.

Anyway, I hope that you get the support you need and maybe others on here can chime in with advice. You are a very strong woman to do all you do!

Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you for your post fulltimehelper. 

I do not want to become a burden to my husband and your post helped me to see how important it is that I don't let myself do just that. This being new for us, I do talk to him about it and he is a great listener. I appreciate him deeply and upon reading your post I made the decision to talk to a therapist in hopes to avoid putting too much on him and our marriage.  

I am so sorry that I was not able to find a support group for spouses as you mentioned. You certainly need and deserve all the support you can get. 

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Posts: 435
Reply with quote  #6 
I'm going to be honest,

Anxiety is NO excuse for belittling a spouse, especially a wife. He is NOT sick. He is NOT disabled. He is NOT dying. He is NOT off-the-hook from being a husband. This is complete nonsense and this is being enabled by YOU.
YOU are letting him off the hook. You are enabling lazyness and enabling him from not experiencing any stress. He will never recovery if he avoids stress. Stress and exposure to fear is what he needs to recover. He needs to be able to let go of anxiety in those moments. Don't put it all on yourself. You can't keep that up very long without losing it yourself!

Most people with anxiety benefit from a good kick in the arse/reality check sometimes. I know I have in the past. Sometimes tough love is required to move forward. You need to stop enabling this behavior. He may have anxiety but he is clearly taking advantage of you. You need to make him aware of this. You cannot go about your life bottling thess feelings up, that is not right in any way. No wife should have to drive across the street to cry in private. This indicates to me that you are not letting him know how you feel. What are you afraid of? That you will make him worse? This is not possible, in fact what you are doing now is delaying his recovery. The last thing anxious people need is to be coddled. Anxiety cannot really do anything to him. The worst it can ever do is make you feel uncomfortable. Is that so bad? You need to confront him and stop babying him. You're probably more uncomfortable than he is.

Now if he is really that anxious he should have a strong desire to analyze what is happening to him. A strong NEED to figure this out. It sounds like he may be moping around not doing anything. For me this has never been true. When anxious I must be doing things, analyzing things, searching. Sounds like he may have other mental health issues. Maybe his anxiety is caused by depression? either way you are creating a monster by enabling and not communicating how you feel.

One thing my wife has done in the past is secretly record a video/audio of me being an arse to her. Then she plays it back for me and I see how much of a jerk I was being. Maybe you could try this. You at least need to talk about your feelings and your needs. It's so sad to see someone being enslaved to their partners anxiety. Anxiety can't do anything to you or your husband. Does it make things harder? Yes. Buts that's no excuse in my book. Anything that is being blamed on anxiety should be blamed on the person doing the blaming.

In my opinion this is all especially true for anxious husbands who have no excuse to not be supportive and caring for their wives. It's OK if life is hard sometimes but it's not OK at all to emotionally abandon your wife.

My 2 cents.

- Karl

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Posts: 491
Reply with quote  #7 
This doesn't sound like panic disorder to me.

He should be evaluated by a professional. This sounds like BPD.... or other mood disorder.

Or, he's just abusive.

Anxiety disorder usually makes people seek reassurance or ironically almost too dependent on their partners. I've never heard what you are describing.

Karl sums it up well above. He needs to be evaluated.
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