Can someone help me try to understand why my partner has recently developed a cornucopia of issues seemingly out of nowhere, and how I should deal with them?
I'm 28 and have been with this girl(23) for the past 4 years. We've had a dream relationship; similar interests, constant sex, no real fights, no drama, cool family, etc. I couldn't have asked for a better girlfriend. She's had an excellent childhood/family life and been an overachiever her entire life; graduated HS and undergrad with honors, college scholarship, popular in all her social circles, socialized at parties but never really drank/drugged much, etc.
Everything was peachy until this past fall when she started her last year of grad school. In this time, she's developed several major psychological issues and more. Manic bipolar/depression, bulimia, anxiety, insomnia, hearing voices, risk-taking behavior, self-harm, drug use, questioning her sexuality, and more. She's been clinically diagnosed for most issues and has been on medication for a few months now.
The only reasoning I can get out of her is that graduation is coming soon and she's petrified of adulthood. She feels that she's always had a plan for her life, working hard through school, and has never had much of a chance to enjoy her life. This seems at odds with what I can observe; she hangs out with friends quite regularly (far more than I do) and I've always done or bought anything she's ever wanted.
Everyone around her is terrified of what she's becoming and doesn't have any idea how to deal with it besides just offering unconditional support.
I can understand the anxiety about graduating, but she's been interning for a couple years now and already has job offers lined up. What is there to worry this much about? What can I do to help? I don't want to lose her but it's beginning to drastically impact my life as well.
If she is actually experiencing those things you're talking about, then she has real mental health issues and you won't understand them. Adults that develop schizo-affective disorder often do so at her age or near her age. It may be coincidence that this happens often in grad school but it does. Unconditional support will not fix it. She needs to see someone. Sooner than later.
If you're exaggerating what is happening to her, then maybe it is just stress of graduating.
Actually, sorry I see now that you said she's been diagnosed. There ain't a whole lot you can do for her other than hope the medication helps. And then decide if you want to be with a person that has these issues, because often it gets worse as they get older.
Source: been working with mentally ill adults for many years.
It's a combination of things. Delusions/hallucinations mixed with mania or depression. Most of the stuff you said doesn't put her there, but the hearing voices part is what's concerning. Often it can be degenerative and, like I said, gets worse with age. All the other stuff seems workable, but if she is really (and I stress really) hearing voices, that's a bad sign.
Thank you for your input.
I wish I were exaggerating the severity of her problems. I recently had to change jobs, taking a $15k paycut for something lower stress and more flexible, just so I could tend to her when she needs.
It really isn't a tenable situation for me. She is such a large part of my life and how I have defined myself these past few years. My life would probably spiral out of control if I lost her, but I don't see how I can let myself stay in a relationship much longer that's borderline abusive at times.
The sad irony in all of this? She just so happens to be a metal heath professional herself.
It's up to you, but it ain't an easy life. I've watched spouses that have been with their wives/husbands through this and it breaks them.
As far as your comment about MHPs, it's not ironic. It's actually pretty common.
You could get to a point that it's workable I suppose, but I have yet to see someone that is truly schizoaffective that can have a normal life. And it really seems to be screwing up yours. More power to you if you think you can do it, but personally I'd say you have to weigh the guilt of leave against the guilt of not leaving.
Going through the same as her OP but I'm a guy. It triggers for me in periods of stress, when I'm home for winter and summer break its not nearly as bad. All you can do is try and help relieve her stress.