Separation is something I have a hard time dealing with.
I mentioned in my Instagram stories this past weekend that I was struggling a bit in part because my fiancée, Bill, went away for the weekend. For a brain that is not mentally ill, this is no big deal (and the blog post would probably end now.) But for someone who is both anxious and depressed, it can be a major trigger for disaster.
After sharing a little bit of my story surrounding this, I had some folks message me and ask me to write about how I manage my anxiety when my significant other or I go away for a night or a few.
I won’t get into the entire backstory of Bill’s and my relationship in this post, but will just preface that we started formally dating over 10 years ago. He was living in a different town at the time, so we dated long distance for about a year.
When we began dating I was unknowingly struggling with mental illness so I had a hard time living away from him. In my mind, he was probably up to no good and was, in the end, going to break my heart, even though he had given me no indication of doing so.
When he moved to Sarnia, my irrational fears didn’t subside. As I continued through the stages of diagnosis and treatment for my mental illness, they got worse. It’s been almost a decade of trials and tribulations for us to arrive in a space where we have a mutual understanding of each other’s feelings, wants and needs, and have a pretty good system down pat to help me through those times when we are apart.
Talk openly and honestly about fears/concerns together In the beginning my fears were focused around him being unfaithful. But now they’ve shifted to him getting in a car accident or getting physically injured. Before, I’d never verbalize these fears because in my mind, if I said it, it was bound to happen. So I would ignore, suppress and eventually when we were apart, this would lead to me having a breakdown resulting in hours long phone conversations trying to calm me down. Now, when I know one of us has a trip coming up where we’ll be apart, we sit down and openly talk about what my fears are so they can be addressed and I can be reassured, no matter how difficult and awful those fears are.
Set a plan for communication and stick to it Before either of us leaves, we make a plan for how we’re going to stay in touch. Ours usually includes a text at the service station, upon reaching the destination, and a few throughout the day. We both keep our phones accessible whenever possible. Knowing I can reach him if I needed to reassures me.
Always end the day with a phone call No matter how busy or long the day was, we always end with a phone call. Even if the call is only a few minutes, we always chat about our day, and make plans for communicating the next day.
Talk to a friend if needed Sometimes I find verbalizing my fears to be helpful. I’m lucky that whether Bill goes away or I go away, I’m near a close friend or family member (even it’s via phone or text) that I know I can confide in.
Keep busy and indulge in self-care I find keeping busy helps distract my brain. Even with all of the planning and coping mechanisms in place, I can find it wandering sometime. I try to indulge in more self-care during the times Bill is away, whether it be cleaning up my spaces, doing laundry, working on some freelance work, doing my nails, etc.
Follow my ten rules when going through a depressive episode
Do you have a hard time separating from anybody? If so, how do you cope? Let me know in the comments or on social media.