“No Contact” is Very Difficult for Me

Reader’s Question

I wrote a few weeks back about a breakup with my spouse who I now know has Borderline Personality Disorder (abusive, anti-social, psychotic) and Bipolar Disorder. He has no idea where I am as I am afraid for him to find me, but I had been speaking to him at least once a week since I ran. That was until last week and now I am unable to call him. No phone. Each time I called he seemed more and more to understand why I left and was seeking to get help. He wants us to get back together and says he will do anything for us not to be apart. I know from reading that this is typical talk but I think he really means it. I can’t stop thinking about him, I check the weather where he is constantly, the news, the obituaries, his horoscope etc. He’s all I think about. When I was with him all I could do was think about getting away but now I’m obsessed with thoughts of him and the good times we had and promised each other.

I have been so busy trying to figure out how to get him help I think I forgot about me. I think I’ve lost it. I can hardly function, all I want to do is research about him or sleep. What is wrong with me? I haven’t been able to afford any counseling and I’m afraid I’m losing or have lost my mind. I can’t talk to any friends or family because they all just want to kill him for what he’s done in the past. I’ve tried online support groups and they aren’t helping. I keep all this bottled in my head and I just want to scream. How can I stop thinking about him 24/7?

Psychologist’s Reply

There is a tendency to think that detachment from an abuser/controller is a liberating experience. In truth, while it is liberating, by the time most people make the break that saves their lives, they are emotionally and socially exhausted. You are experiencing the misery of a clinical depression — excessive sleep, fatigue, obsessive thoughts, doom and gloom, torturing thoughts, etc.

Detachment and “No Contact” are strategies. They are part of many things needed to successfully detach and recover from an abusive relationship. You have successfully detached. You now need to deal with the severe distress created by the stress of detachment. I would recommend seeking a counselor and a psychiatrist. You would clearly benefit from treatment for your depression. Antidepressant medications can even decrease the obsessive thoughts. The fact that you sense lots of thoughts and emotions that are “bottled up” is a good indicator that medications would be helpful.

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I would recommend continued detachment and mental health treatment. If you can’t afford counseling, you can consult a family physician who can prescribe an antidepressant — then work with online and other support groups. When we’re depressed, it’s very difficult to benefit from any type of treatment. As your depressive symptoms stabilize, you’ll get more out of online resources and help.

Don’t give up. You notice that he says he’ll do anything to get back together — but actually he’s done nothing up to this point. He’s not going to therapy or treatment to discover what went wrong. He’s holding his treatment as another promise that will also disappear if you return. What he is really saying is “I’ll tell you and primised you anything to get you back!” You’ve heard this and seen this before if you think about it.

Stay on the path and search for additional resources…just like you did by writing this question. Victims of personality disorders share their stories in the Identifying Losers in Relationships discussion group, linked from the Identifying Losers paper. That would also be helpful.

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