I’ve been living with my girlfriend for the past few months and everything was going great.
She’s 28, a social worker; I’m 29, with a good job in the technology field. We dated for six months before moving in together.
I’d had one live-in relationship that lasted 18 months and ended four years ago, and she had one that ended quickly a couple of years ago.
We both felt that this time we knew more clearly what we wanted in a partner and felt we’d found it in each other.
Suddenly, last week, my girlfriend had a full-on anxiety attack. It came out of nowhere and terrified me as I’ve never seen anything like it from her before.
Does this mean she doesn’t really love me and feels she’s made a mistake moving in with me? Should I be moving out and giving her space? Does she need to see a psychiatrist?
I still love her.
Shocked by Anxiety Attack
You both need to get informed before you make assumptions about why she became so extremely anxious.
People with symptoms of “generalized anxiety disorder” tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.
Had that been part of her personality, you’d have already noted it.
But this was a sudden episode and could’ve been triggered by a past event, as in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Since her last live-in relationship ended “quickly,” there may’ve been a negative event or even abuse that happened.
If so, it’s possible that her recent move to an intimate full-time relationship again suddenly sparked flashbacks, even nightmares that terrified her.
So long as you weren’t behaving harshly to her, this episode wasn’t caused by you.
She should see a doctor for an immediate check to rule out any physical health issues.
Then, to manage the future, she should get referral to a therapist or medical specialist who deals with anxiety attacks.
Later, it’d be wise to also get couples’ counselling together when she’s ready for it (after she’s learned to recognize and control the triggers for her anxiety).
Everyone comes to a new relationship with a past. Sometimes people aren’t even aware themselves of the inner fears, worries, insecurities, etc. that they bring to new situations in new relationships.
Hopefully, with greater understanding of her reaction, professional help, and the reassurance that comes from an ongoing loving partnership, anxiety attacks won’t define or disrupt your life together.
I’m a mother working part-time who has a wonderful helper for my school-age kids. She’s from the Philippines.
She keeps close contact with her family back home and her community here.
Lately, she’s been talking on Face Time with her cousin’s brother-in-law whom she met once, briefly, back home six years ago.
There’s mounting pressure from her parents and cousin to marry the guy.
He’s very keen and, at 31, she’s feeling the clock ticking on having a baby.
I’m happy for her if she loves him, but they’ve spent no in-person time together, ever. What’s your advice?
Caring and Concerned
Give her three weeks off to go home and get to know the man, then come back to assess her feelings and thoughts.
It may delay the marriage another three or six months, but that’s nothing compared to years of possibly being with the wrong person.
If all this presents an unreachable cost, help her out if you can. She’s been a great help to you.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding family relationships:
“My son got married 10 year ago and, sadly, he and his wife decided to invite me on Father’s Day only two of these ten years, and ignore me the other years.
“On those two occasions, my son's father-in-law and brother-in-law were also invited - an elaborate, memorable event.
“It was demoralizing to be totally ignored on the remaining years, when the only communication was a one-liner: “Happy Father's day.”
“I expected that I’d at least get a telephone call. It was embarrassing year after year when I’d be asked if my son had contacted me yet.
“I guess my son was too busy with his wife and brother-in-law celebrating their father, while I put my personal life on hold waiting for his call.
“When an adult child chooses NOT to celebrate Father's Day he/she should at least be consistent.”
Ellie – Sarcasm never heals family wounds. Try respectful discussion instead.
Tip of the day:
Anxiety attacks require a medical check plus therapy to learn to recognize/control triggers to the reaction.