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Relationship Paranoia, Anxiety overall

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  • #378773
    Tiny
    Participant

    Hi guys. I’m new here and hoping to talk to people experiencing similar things/get some words of wisdom. A little background: I have pretty severe anxiety and depression. I had it under control before the pandemic and then well…you know. It got hard. Then it got better. I met someone, got into a relationship, and things have been great! This is my third relationship and the only healthy one. Both of my exes in the past were emotionally abusive. It’s been a hard process working on myself to get to the point where I felt comfortable and safe being in a relationship again.

    My boyfriend has always been sweet and everything I’ve ever wanted; he always makes time for me, calls me, if my anxiety is bad he’s there for me. I do the same for him. We communicate well, laugh together. He works A LOT but always makes sure he makes time for me. He’s affectionate, caring, got to know my family and friends, and always helps me out. I truly love him. We’ve been together for almost a year. Anyway. Lately, my mental health has been hard because I have a lot on my plate regarding my career. I feel stressed, scared, and on edge. Often times, when my anxiety is bad, I overthink everything in my life. Lately, I’ve been worried my boyfriend doesn’t care/is cheating. I was the first to say I love you a few months back and he usually doesn’t say it first. he always says it back when I do. I notice a tiny bit less affection. We got into our first fight recently and the next day, after we both apologized and he kept saying sorry, he still seemed annoyed with me and even kinda snapped at me a few times which is unlike him. Despite those things, he’s still the same sweet and caring guy. So why am I worried he’s cheating?

    He’s always been weird with his phone. It’s always facing down, which I know some people do. I can’t tell if I see him shield his screen or not. He has his phone on his pocket always unless we go to bed and he puts it on the nightstand next to me. I can’t recall if he’s always done these things or I’ve only noticed them after my anxiety got bad. I know I am more paranoid than average bc I have been cheated on in the past. The most recent thing was that yesterday, he had asked me what kinda of wine I wanted for the weekend. I replied. then he texted me back “I am annoying (insert pet’s name here) right now too *laughing emoji*. she was so hyper after she y, have a goodnight honey *kissy face* I hope you sleep well.” He always tells me goodnight honey and I always say I hope he sleeps well so he’s begun telling me first since he sleeps earlier than me. But the first part of the text confused me because we weren’t talking about that and the “right now too” seemed like a response to something. I’m extremely worried he meant to send it to someone else. I lost so much sleep over it. I am not confrontational so I cannot ask him about it. I’m too scared to. I’ve been searching possibilities like he meant to send the first part of the text to someone else or just made typos and it was all meant for me. I don’t know what to do. I tend to pull back when I get super anxious and I don’t want to push him away.

    #378777
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tiny:

    I didn’t understand the text you quoted, the one he sent you yesterday after you texted him a reply regarding your choice of wine. But what I do understand is that for a long time in the relationship, the two  of you worked as a team, working together against your anxiety (“he always makes time for me, calls me, if my anxiety is  bad he’s there for me. I do the same for him. We communicate well, laugh together”).

    But lately, you started working against him, instead of against your anxiety.. sort of teaming up with your anxiety against him (“We got into our first fight.. he still seemed annoyed with me.. I tend to pull back when I get super anxious and I don’t want to push him away”)-

    How about going back to working with him, not against him, teaming up against your anxiety?

    anita

     

    #378778
    Tiny
    Participant

    @Anita, thank you for your response! I, too, don’t understand the text. It was word for word what I got. That’s why it has caused me a lot of stress. I have been annoyed with him more lately, irritation is a symptom of my anxiety. I try not to ever show it because I believe in never taking out my anxiety or depression on others. I DO trust him…its just that tiny “what if?” voice in my head that is petrifying me.

    #378779
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tiny:

    You are welcome. That “tiny ‘what if?’ voice” in your head- I know this voice. Considering its persistence, and refusal to be satisfied- it is not a tiny voice. No matter how many times you answer its questions, it will keep coming up with more questions. If you ask your boyfriend for the meaning of the text, and he gives you a satisfying explanation, the tiny voice will be gone.. just for a short while. It will be back with the next question, and the next. So better not feed it. That tiny-what-if voice does not really seek answers- it is like an itch that keeps wanting to be scratched.

    There is a way to deal with this voice so that it doesn’t destroy your relationship. (1) Let another voice be louder: “I believe in never taking out my anxiety or depression on others”, and “I DO trust him”, (2) lessen your anxiety every day by practicing Mindfulness, aerobic exercise, and more.

    There is a principle in U.S. criminal law called “reasonable doubt”. When a jury is to decide whether a person accused of a crime is guilty or not guilty, the jury is instructed to ignore doubts similar to to the tiny what-if voice you mentioned, because many people are anxious and doubt a whole lot. So, the instruction is to not consider a doubt unless it is a reasonable doubt.

    anita

    #378780
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Tiny,

    what if he thought, half jokingly, that he’s annoying you with his question about wine so late in the evening, and so, as a continuation of his thought, he remarked that similarly, he’s annoying his pet too. Perhaps he evens feels or knows that you’re slightly annoyed these days, and he thinks it’s because of your job/career. So he might have been referring to that, but didn’t mean anything bad. He just tried to be witty and even apologetic, like he didn’t want to bother you with his unimportant question while you have much bigger worries, like your career. Do you think this could be the explanation?

    #378781
    Tiny
    Participant

    It doesn’t seem like something he’d do, honestly. After my response to you, he called me because he was on his way home from work. Our talk was really good and enjoyable! Towards the end, he was talking about his pet so I had made a casual comment about how he mentioned she was hyper and he was like “hmm she was” and then I said something else to which he replied to. I don’t know if it’s my paranoia, but I noticed that the 2 minute talk about the text (I didn’t ask him about what he meant or how I was confused about it) was weird…like he was just going hmmm or yeah which he does sometimes usually when he’s about to hang up, which after he said he was at the place to get his hair cut. I can’t tell if he was being suspicious or it’s another anxiety manifestation?

    #378782
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tiny:

    Did you read my second reply to you? If you did, when you are in a calm enough state of mind to respond to it, please do (if you want to, of course).

    anita

    #378784
    Tiny
    Participant

    @Anita, I just saw it, I’m sorry I missed it! Your response made me tear up because it encompassed exactly how I felt. I know that even if he explained what happened, I would find something else to worry about. And unless there is concrete proof of him doing something wrong, I cannot feed my anxiety. Plus, I know his heart and that he wouldn’t ever hurt me (or anyone else) in that way. I ended up going on a nice walk earlier (with my cat on a cat stroller haha) and it gave me some peace of mind. I do not have time often to do that but I want to make it a goal to try hard to take care of my body and hopefully, it will lessen that voice little by little.

    #378785
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tiny:

    Like Iike said, I know this not tiny what-if-voice, a voice fueled by anxiety and fueling more anxiety. This voice is not really interested in answers. It is like an itch that needs to be scratched. I spent a lot of time resisting the urge to scratch it (while exercising daily, and getting involved in meaningful activities), and it worked. Looking back it looks like a miracle, that such a persistent itch will be too small to notice- but it happened. Only it wasn’t a miracle: it took time and persistence that equaled and  then surpassed this voice’s persistence.

    anita

    #378786
    Tiny
    Participant

    @Anita, I told one of my closest friends how a big part of how distressed I feel is because I believed I was past all of my trust issues, paranoia, and fear that I gained after my last relationship. I had worked on myself, gained a lot of confidence, and learned how to stand up for myself. And when I found someone who was everything I ever wanted, my anxiety was still there but it got smaller and smaller as the months went on. It hurts having it pop back up now. But I know trauma is a cycle and now something that goes away quickly.

    #378788
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tiny:

    Key in the process that is required to finally mute this what-if persistent voice is to not be surprised or alarmed by the voice coming back loudly when anxiety goes up. Instead, keep your cool, best you can, and then match and surpass the voices’ persistence. Keep at it persistently and very, very patiently because it takes time. The more patient you are, the less time it will take.

    anita

    #378808
    anonymous03
    Participant

    Hi Tiny,

    I’m sorry to read you’re going through such a tough time. It is really hard, especially for those of us with anxious brains that just won’t shut up. I am no stranger to this voice. I call it “The Demonic Voice of Anxiety”.

    You see, there is a reason I gave it such a horrible name, despite knowing that my anxiety is trying to protect me from potential danger (physical/emotional). I call it thus because I find that my anxiety attacks everything I care about. These “what if” or “OMG” thoughts are always about someone I love or something that matters to me. Do you think that’s what’s happening with you too? Considering how much you love and care about your boyfriend?

    I also find that my anxiety tends to bleed to other areas of my life. For example, if I am anxious about a mistake I made at work, I get worked up to such a frenzy and am so much at edge that the tiniest of the things just triggers me. For example, why is my mom not answering my call? Is she okay? Did something bad happen? OMG what if she’s hurt herself? Actually, she was just in the bathroom. Is this something you experience too?

    Listen to Anita; she is very wise. Exercise is a great way to shake off all that stress. Go for a run. Practice yoga. Hell, just put on some music and dance it out. Practice deep breathing exercises. I find they instantly loosen that anxious knot in my chest. But I find that the best thing to do is to be present in the moment. Being present in the moment, focusing on the very present (what you are doing/tasting/feeling with your fingers/etc.) can prevent your mind from wandering and going back to anxious thoughts and what-if scenarios, lowering your anxiety little by little. These are some tips that I practice, though I won’t say I’m a master at all. It is hard and I struggle. But this helps.

    Now about the situation with your boyfriend. I know it’s scary for you, I completely understand that, but the easiest way is to talk to your boyfriend. Obviously, don’t spring him with “Are you cheating on me?” Instead, just ask him about the text. No harm in that. If you are insecure, it is always good to clear it out. From what you say about him, he sounds great and will understand. What I feel is, even though he is amazingly supportive of you, he is still only human. Him snapping at you is an extremely human thing to do, even though it is unlike him. You can’t expect him to be loving and romantic all the time, right? He is going to be angry or irritated with you from time to time. He is going to be stressed out sometimes. He is going to be sad sometimes. He is going to even not want to talk to you sometimes. Now people like us find this difficult to deal with, but it’s human nature. No?

    You mention about his phone habits, which seem to just fuel your what-if thoughts. Like Anita said, this itch you simply can’t seem to reach will only get more itchy every time you pay attention. If you get a clarification about the phone habits, tomorrow it will be something else: Why is he wearing this shirt after so long? (simply no reason) Why does he not want to meet me today? (he is just too tired) Why is he suddenly interested in working out? (he wants to be fit, probably for you) You get it? Treat these thoughts like a tantrum-throwing child. I sometimes say to those thoughts, “yeah yeah I know this could be the case. But until there is more evidence, I dont have the time to think more about this.” You could also say to yourself, “I’ll deal with it when it comes to it. Thanks for the warning.”

    I hope some of this helps.

    Take care.

     

    #378816
    Tiny
    Participant

    @anonymous03 Thank you for your wonderful response! I completely agree that my anxiety always latches onto things I love. It’s especially hard regarding relationships because they’ve all caused me a lot of deep pain in the past. I want to make it a goal of mine to work out every day, even just going for a walk, because that had seemed to help for a bit yesterday.

    Last night, I had gotten some work done and decided to treat myself to a nice bath. But my anxiety got so bad in there because I started overthinking and it snowballed a lot. I had a really bad panic attack and it was frightening because I was alone. I woke up today feeling extremely sad and also having a bit of anger towards my boyfriend. I feel like once I see him during the weekend, my anxiety could lessen up but it’s still days away and I’m losing a lot of sleep.

    #378817
    anonymous03
    Participant

    Hi Tiny,

    I’m sorry to hear about your panic attack. Are you feeling better now?

    I know it must be hard for you when it comes to relationships. You seem to have gone through tough times in the past, and it is only natural you feel skeptical and cautious in this area of your life. I know it is probably terrifying, but I still maintain it would be better if you spoke to your boyfriend about this. I’m sure he will understand. At the same time, from what you say (he always has time for you, despite him working a lot), it doesn’t seem like he has the time to cheat on you.

    Being no stranger to panic attacks, I can share with you some tips that have helped me successfully thwart panic attacks. Do let me know if you would like me to share them.

    I’m glad to read that you’re going to exercise. It does help a lot. Please try guided meditations as well, if you can.

    Take care 🙂

    #378818
    Tiny
    Participant

    I would love to hear those tips! Thank you so much!

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