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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

He Needs Space

Why Does He Need Space?


Subj:    Not Sure Where to Turn
Date:    1/4/99 
From:   Suzy
To:       Dr Irene

It has been two long months since I left my home. I was living with a man for three years there. We had a great relationship, so I thought. Never fought over money, sex, we had plenty of space. Until one day, after a series of explosive arguments, he finally told me he was unhappy with life and unhappy with everything in it. He needed space because he felt he was dragging me down with him We took a trial separation during the first month, but things were progressively getting worse. So we ended the relationship. I would like to say that during the whole time, I sought therapy, which I still go to weekly. My boyfriend attended some sessions with me and it was addressed to him that he has a lot of emotional baggage and should seek some sort of help. I am sad to say that he has not taken the initiative to get himself the help he needs. He has closed himself off more and becomes more angry and distant as time is going on. I want desperately to work this relationship out. I feel I love him deeply and I can't go on without him, nor do I want to. I can't sleep at night nor get through the day without suffering anxiety attacks and crying spells when I don't know where he is or what he is doing. I have come to recognize several things about the relationship. It was very verbally abusive, I have suffered several instances of him saying that I am childish, over dramatic and over emotional when it comes to my feelings. All I really want is his understanding and support, some way to get through to him. I realize the best thing for me to do is probably to move on, but I just don't feel like I can. I don't know how to stop thinking about all of this, some days I just wish my mind would stop sometimes. I don't feel like therapy is enough and I don't know what to do. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,

Dear Suzy,
I am sorry that things turned out as they did and that you are feeling as badly as you are. I am also glad you are in therapy. You need to figure out what happened.

Your boyfriend may or may not be verbally abusive. He may simply be depressed. Dissatisfaction with life, irritability, and withdrawal also characterize depression, a treatable disease. Or, perhaps he is abusive as well as depressed. Or, maybe something entirely different is going on. Medical conditions can bring on the behavior you describe.

Here are some broad possibilities:
1. All was fine in the relationship until he was stricken with some condition which changed him.
2. All was fine in the relationship until he realized that for whatever reason, you were not the right woman for him.
3. All was not right in the relationship and you ignored the signs.

You are likely to remain off balance until you can obtain some closure on what actually happened. Were you ignoring the writing on the wall, or was there no writing? You may want to ask your therapist for some input.

I suggest that while you figure out what happened, you do something about your depression. I agree with you that therapy may not be enough. Although you don't say how long you've been feeling this way, you complain of inability to sleep, crying spells, and anxiety attacks. In my practice, you are a prime candidate for medication, and I would refer you to a psychiatrist or an internist for evaluation. You'll figure out what's going on and put your life back together more quickly if you first alleviate the depression (depression is a physical illness!). You don't mention if your therapist has suggested a medication evaluation, but be aware that many non-MD therapists have a bias against medication. If that is the case, talk with your internist as well.

About your boyfriend... There is not much you can do right now. Get yourself together and take it from there, if you still want to. And remember, things happen exactly the way they are supposed to.

Good luck!

Dr Irene