Relationship Girlfriend with CPTSD Hospitalized for Mental Breakdown, Don't Know What to Do (Long Read)

  • Thread starter ScaredButNotGivingUp
  • Start date
S

ScaredButNotGivingUp

Hi everyone,

Long-time lurker here, I've always been deeply appreciative of the wealth of insight this place has given me, but now I'm in a place where I need to reach out directly for advice and support because I'm not sure where else to go. I never thought I'd be one of the ones to make such a long saga of a post, but it was an event weeks in the making, and there's a lot to know.

My GF (29) and I (also 29) have dating for a year and a half, and friends before that for over a decade. She's always been extremely private about her mental health issues, so I didn't know about her CPTSD until after we became a couple, but since then we've been trying our hardest to make things work. Her main triggers are feelings of abandonment. She also suffers from depression and anxiety, as do I to a lesser extent. She sees a therapist once a month, but doesn't take any medication.

The last week has been hell for her and her family. A few weeks ago, I was over at her place and fell asleep as we were watching TV together. She didn't realize I had fallen asleep and kept talking to me, and when she finally turned around and noticed I wasn't actually present, those feelings of abandonment stirred in her.

Normally, this isn't a cause of concern. She handles her triggers well. Worst case scenario, she'd do her breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques, and take the next day off work to rest, and she'd be fine. She suggested that from now on, in order to avoid triggering her, I had to give her a warning before I fall asleep. I explained that that's not always possible, since I'm usually exhausted from working two jobs and supporting her when she's triggered, and sometimes I pass out without meaning to.

Well, bad move. I understand now that when our sufferers are upset, we need to listen to their feelings rather than attempt to justify our own actions. I got defensive and neither of us were willing to budge from our positions. I told her I'd do my best to let her know if I was about to fall asleep, but sometimes that isn't always realistic, and I couldn't promise I'd get it right 100% of the time. She insisted that I must. I know that both of us were being unreasonable, but at some point we weren't willing to compromise anymore because we both wanted to be "right".

We argued back and forth for a week and didn't make any headway. Then finally on Family Day, I came over to see her in-person to try and resolve things. We had a long talk and she dragged to light some of my own issues that I now understand I need to work on. But during that talk, she acted oddly in ways that I'd never seen her act before. She kept repeating the same questions over and over, and wouldn't accept any answer I gave her. She'd say things like "What do you REALLY think", and phrases like "I'm asking you directly" and "Why did you do this to me" practically became her mantra.

She was extremely suspicious of everything, but especially me. When a mutual friend messaged her in the middle of talking, my GF looked at the chat and said "I don't think that's really her talking". She called me manipulative and interrogated me with rapid-fire questions. She wouldn't allow conversing if it wasn't a direct answer to her question, and outright said I was not allowed to ask any questions of my own. This is not who she is, even in her worst moments. I knew that right now I was an "unsafe" person to her, and she was feeling scared and vulnerable and lashing out. There was anger and vindictiveness in her voice that I had never heard before.

She was and still is a gentle soul. In all her past triggers, she was always scared, but never angry. I thought it was her CPTSD flaring up to new heights, but looking back now I think it was the beginning of a breakdown.

We felt that right now we weren't in a good space to take care of each other emotionally, and she suggested that we end things to focus on our own mental health. That caught me off guard, but I agreed that if that's what she wanted, I could accept that. She said she'd wait till the 21st, her next therapy appointment, before making a final decision. We cried, hugged and went our separate ways for now.

Flash forward to the 19th, four days later. We had gone no-contact to give each other space. I suddenly get a call from her dad (she lives at home) that night, telling me to come over and see her now. When I get there, something is not right in the worst sense. She's muttering non-stop, "Why did you do this to me" or "Please don't hurt my family". She's struggling to put words together when I engage her in conversation and her body is visibly shaking and stiff. She's non-sensical and tries to go outside in winter in just her shirt and pajamas. She's telling me she's going to die, but she wants to live. She says something got put inside her that's consuming her, but she doesn't know what, and she'll die if she stops fighting it. She thinks COVID-19 is the reason our relationship fell apart, because, "once we have it, we have it and we can never get rid of it, it will always be inside us and that is the truth." She's obsessed with the truth. She believes that whatever the truth is, she must find it, because she won't be okay without it, and she needs to feel okay to be okay.

I take her with me and try to calm her down. I direct her in her breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques. She says "oh, I see what's you're trying to do" but follows along. She calms down a bit and even manages to smile and laugh, but she's not acting like herself. Her parents say she hasn't eaten much or slept in days. I lead her to bed and manage to get her to lie down. I get in bed with her and hold her tight to me. She keeps talking in the dark, but the subject matter gets worse and worse. I don't confront or feed into her thoughts, I just hold her tighter to me and kiss her forehead. She suggests suicidal intentions and that she doesn't have much time left but would like to spend the rest of that time with me. She says she actually does love me, but she's afraid of me, and thinks she has to be with me to protect her family. She thinks that as long as I'm with her, I won't try to kill her family. Then she tells me that if I value my life, I'll stay away from her family and friends.

Well, that was the last straw for me. And I get it through my dumb skull that this is beyond my ability to help. I contact a mental crisis team who comes over. They ask her many questions and she feels very unsafe, as they showed up with police for their own protection. She tells them she's scared that I'll hurt her, but she clings to me and they have to physically pry her away from me to talk to her alone. They agree that she's a danger to herself and needs to go to a hospital. She refuses and struggles, so they put her in handcuffs, and she hollers and screams in a way I've never known her to do. She's never raised her voice her entire life. But she was wailing at the top of her lungs, screaming that they were going to hurt her and that she wasn't safe. Even now, remembering her in that way makes me shake and cry.

I talked to her parents after, and apparently they had called 911 twice in the days between our in-person conversation and now. She was hospitalized the first time, but they sent her home in a few hours after giving her some sleeping pills. The second time, paramedics arrive, took her vitals, said there was nothing they could do and left. For context, her parents are not bad people in the traditional sense, but they have horribly misplaced ideas about mental health. Their idea of dealing with a breakdown is to tell their daughter to stop overthinking things and take it easy. Her torso and back is one giant bruise because they tried to do 'cupping' on her (they're Vietnamese), so not only was she in mental anguish but physical pain as well. They said their daughter had been acting erratically since our talk on Monday, that she told medical professionals that I had drugged her, and I had hacked her phone and computer and was planning to steal her money. Her parents did not inform me that any of this was happening, although I acknowledge for good reason in case any of the above were true.

So she's in the emerg now. The psychiatrist has seen her and plans to admit her, although where and for how long we don't know yet. She's suspicious of everyone still, and is having memory troubles. She can't discern if what happened the night before was real or not, but it makes me hopeful that she's semi-aware of what's happening to her. She has her phone and I'm checking in on her a few times a day to make sure she's alright. There's no visitors allowed due to COVID and I'm not sure if her parents have tried contacting her yet. She's texted me, asking "was everything that just happened the past while real?" and "people must think I'm loco now... after what I think I did...? My memories kinda fuzzy". She says she doesn't have any context for why she was placed in hospital. I'm worried that being in a hospital surrounded by strangers and noise, with no one familiar near her, might make things worse for her mental health.

Some moments she is alright. I actually talked to her over the phone last night and she seemed like the person I knew again. We avoided talking about her forced hospitalization, but talked about our relationship. She said she is sorry, and she doesn't know what's happening to her. That she's fighting hard but she's so exhausted and doesn't know if she can keep hanging on. She asked if we're still together. I told her I loved her and still wanted to be with her. I know that may sound crazy to a lot of you, but I truly from the bottom of my heart love her, and I know what's happening to her isn't her fault. I'm continuing to take care of myself, and I have people who support me, including a therapist of my own. I'm being mindful of my limits. There may be a point in the future where I say "no more" and exit for my own health, but this event isn't it.

She still gets suspicious of me. The doctor prescribed her an anti-psychotic that she refused to take, because of fear of side effects. When I gently suggested that she try it, she got defensive about it. But her love for me comes across very clearly.

The hardest part is that her normalcy comes in waves. We'll talk and she's like her old self. Then an hour later, the delusions come back. Last night after we finished our phone call, I texted her and we wished each other a good night and I sent her some cat pics (she loves cats). I go to bed feeling like things will be okay. This morning I woke up to a message from her at 3am. "I want to ask you directly. Why did you do this to me".

I believe I did the right thing having her taken to a hospital. But I'm still scared, and worried about what's going to happen to her. She's so exhausted and I want to reach out my hand and pull her up, but I know she needs to do this on her own. Help me make sense of it? Is it normal to go in and out of delusions like that in the span of hours? Does anyone have a similar experience? How do I talk to her when her delusions are all suspicions of me, without making it worse?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
How do I talk to her when her delusions are all suspicions of me, without making it worse?

You’re not going to be able to do the “right” thing here. There is no right thing to say or do. She isn’t well right now. You cannot defend yourself against delusions.

It sucks to be the designated asshole. Of course you want to defend yourself, especially against things that are obviously and categorically untrue. It’s crazy-making. When your partner is in this state any single word, sigh, tone, or twitch of an eyebrow can be interpreted as proof of why you’re the designated asshole.

It’s a delicate tightrope walk. You can be empathetic without validating their delusions, but it’s really hard to figure out. It’s also really hard to not feel guilt for somehow causing them distress. The most important thing is to know your own reality. You aren’t toxic, dangerous, manipulative or whatever you’re being told. Just because they believe it doesn’t make it the truth.

She’s exactly where she needs to be right now. A strange medical setting is stressful, but in the long run it’s safer than the alternative right now. I would step back and let the professionals do their thing. You aren’t a part of the treatment team, so don’t take on any responsibility for her mental health. Stop worrying about saying the right or wrong thing and “making things worse”. You’re a supporter, so that’s all you can do. Be there for her while she and her medical team are doing the heavy lifting. As frustrating as it may feel, at this point in time you’re just a hand holder if she’ll allow you.

It’s good you have a therapist and recognize the importance of boundaries. Those boundaries are going to save your own sanity.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi. Welcome to the site. Sorry for what's happening. Stressful for sure. If someone is suffering from psychosis and delusions then you just have to let the docters do their thing. Medication should help. Take a step back because you've got your own mental health to preserve. It can take months before someone is stable again. Best wishes S3😊.
 
S

ScaredButNotGivingUp

Thank you for the sound advice, everyone. Her brother contacted me, and believes what she's been saying. He's threatening to go the police if I stay in contact with her, so it's really out of my hands right now. I'm worried what will happen now that, from my perspective, I was promising my love and support one day, and completely dropped off the face of the earth the next.

But you guys are right that there's nothing more I can do. I trust the doctors will take care of her. Thank you all.
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
Sorry for what you both are going through. After what her brother threatened I wouldn't make any contact with her or her family. I wouldn't even respond to her calls or texts. These people can make your life a living hell.

She obviously had a pshchotic break and needs all the medical care she can get right now. This is a very serious situation. It's more than PTSD in my opinion.

I realize you have been with her for a year and a half but that isn't a very long time especially if she hasn't been honest with you from the beginning. She has been hiding a lot from you and I don't feel you really know her. Or her family.

Let her get the help she needs and take care of yourself right now.

Good luck with everything!
 
Top