Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Has Epilepsy and I Can’t Handle It”

I’m 23, my boyfriend is 29. Two nights ago my boyfriend had a seizure and cracked his head open on the floor. I was the first and only responder until EMS showed up. Blood flowed into a large puddle surrounding his head, SO MUCH BLOOD. His eyes looked nowhere, and his skin turned grey. I believed he was on the brink of death, and battled my own shock, to keep him with me while I waited an excruciating twenty minutes for EMS. I’m a lifeguard part time while finishing university, so I know basic first aid and I’ve been in situations like this before (though this was the most serious by far). It’s a whole new experience when its someone you Love.

Staying in a relationship with him, it’s likely something like this will happen again. He was diagnosed with epilepsy about a year ago, along with other health problems. This is his second seizure, the first he was driving a car, luckily slowly. My mother practically begged me to leave him when he was first diagnosed, but love ruled. Being so involved in his second seizure has woken me up; I realize I can’t deal with it. I can’t sleep — I keep seeing his empty grey face. I was so terrified to hold his severely wounded body in my arms, TERRIFIED! He didn’t recognize me and kept pushing me away while I fought to keep pressure on his wound. I was nervous he would hit me out of confusion, but more nervous he would bleed out and die. He needs me now more than ever. So, I have resolved to be there for him as a girlfriend, until he is no longer directly dealing with the aftermath of the incident. But I need to break up with him for my own sake. I can’t willingly subject myself to that situation ever again, unless I have to.

He is healing at his parents’ home now, but I can’t bear to have him come back to live with me. I went to visit him tonight and he’s already asking when he can come home. I don’t think he has an inkling of how traumatic this was for me. He was either in a fugue state or unconscious the whole time, and he doesn’t remember any of it.

I care about him deeply, but I am too young to introduce this much trauma into my life. I want to be there for him, but I just can’t be the one. I’m scared my leaving will spin him into depression.

How should I carry on now, when I know I’ll have to break the relationship when he’s better? How do I break up with him with as little damage as possible (and hopefully still be there for him)? — Needing to End This

How scary that seizure must have been for you! I can imagine it must have felt very traumatic — to see your boyfriend looking near-death and to be solely responsible for keeping him alive until EMS got to you. You may need some post-trauma counseling — maybe just a few sessions — to help you move past it, as well as deal with the guilt you feel in ending your relationship with your boyfriend. And you should end the relationship — the sooner the better — if you don’t feel up for the responsibility of being the significant other of someone with serious health issues.

It’s 100% ok for you to get out of this relationship. Dating, when you’re open to and maybe even looking for a longterm relationship, is all about figuring out whether someone is a match for you (and vice-versa). Part of deciding whether someone is a match is learning about his or her needs and figuring out whether you can meet those needs in a way that doesn’t completely deplete your own energy or compromise your values. You’re figuring out that your boyfriend’s needs are beyond what you can meet, and that’s ok. But now you owe it to both of you to be honest about what you’re feeling, what you’re learning about your own limitations and your own needs, and let your boyfriend know that as much as you care for him, you can’t be the one to meet the needs he has.

If your boyfriend is stable and resting at his parents’ home, wondering when he can come back to the home you two share, I would tell him now that he’s welcome to come back but that you need to change the terms of your relationship and your living arrangement. This may mean that he needs to find a new place to live as quickly as possible, or it may mean that you need to find a new place to live. (Is the lease in both of your names? Who found the place? Did you discuss in advance how you would handle moving out if you broke up?) For the moment, you are both entitled to be in your home. At the very least, he’s entitled to retrieve his things and have a couple weeks to find a new place to live before you replace him with a new roommate.

As for “being there for him,” I think your assessment was right that you aren’t the one for that. I don’t see how you can break up with him and continue being a support to him. That’s a conflict of interest. There needs to actually be a true break in order for you to transition from girlfriend to friend. There needs to be closure and a clear boundary set in order for healing to happen and a new space to be made for a different role for you (IF that’s even wanted by both of you, and it may not be. And you probably won’t know if it is for a while.)

Will breaking up with him be “damaging”? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not sure it will be any more damaging than most breakups. There’s always a reason, or multiple reasons, people end relationships. And you hope, when you’re being dumped, that whatever it is that caused the other person to think you weren’t the one for her or him is something that will be nonexistent or overcome or maybe even appreciated in a future relationship. Similarly, your breaking up with your boyfriend because he has health issues that are too much for you to handle right now may sting. But it will also provide him a wider perspective for what he needs in a partner going forward. Maybe he won’t be as fast to let his guard down — to move in with someone who hasn’t been “extremely vetted,” to borrow a term we’ve been hearing in the news a lot. If you can be kind and gracious and compassionate in your ending of this relationship, which includes drawing clear boundaries and not muddling the definition of your role in his life, he will be in a much better position to process this in a healthy way and to let it be a learning experience for him and not something that breeds anger and resentment and hostility. The simple truth is: You’re young and you’re learning a lot, and one of the things you’ve learned is that a serious health issue in a partner isn’t something you’re prepared to take on right now. The sooner you compassionately admit this to your boyfriend, the better.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

54 comments… add one
  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark February 17, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Eh. So much for in sickness and in health, eh?

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover February 17, 2017, 1:08 pm

      They’re not married though.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        TheHizzy February 17, 2017, 3:14 pm

        Exactly. And people break up with others for far less.

        Link
    • avatar

      Ron February 17, 2017, 1:13 pm

      Unless they are both only interested in purely casual, then the same applies, because they then both want/expect the relationship to progress in that direction. It is good that she knows what she can and cannot handle and bails now. The guy deserves a gf who is able to handle him having a condition he is always going to have. Gf needs to think hard on this, not to consider staying with this guy, but for her future relationships, since anyone you date/marry can come down with just about any condition at any time.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover February 17, 2017, 1:23 pm

        I don’t think the same does apply though. When you marry someone, you’ve decided to make a huge commitment, to merge your lives until one of you dies. Just dating someone, before you’ve decided you’re ready to make that kind of commitment to someone, is completely different.

        Link
      • avatar

        Ron February 17, 2017, 5:04 pm

        I agree with you that once you’ve made the marriage commitment you are more ‘bound’ through sickness and bad things. My point is: if you know he is looking for a serious relationship and marriage and his illness is a deal-breaker, which would prevent you from every marrying him, then you don’t date him seriously, knowing about his condition, just as you wouldn’t marry him, knowing about his condition and knowing that it freaks you out and you are unable to deal with it. That would just be leading him on. If the focus of both of them is casual, then no harm done if she stays as long as she is able and both are enjoying the casual relationship. I believe that just as one should not marry a person knowing a deal-breaker is present, one shouldn’t continue to seriously date them either. It is a waste of their time.

        Link
      • avatar

        dinoceros February 17, 2017, 5:48 pm

        I think that’s the logical plan, but a lot of people don’t realize that’s how they feel until they’re in it. She’s making that determination, just making it later than would probably be ideal. I think that most people don’t go into dating knowing that certain illnesses are deal breakers. I know that it had never occurred to me at age 23 that I might date someone with epilepsy or know what that means. If she were to go and date someone in a similar position after this, that would be a big problem.

        Link
      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover February 17, 2017, 6:42 pm

        I agree with you Ron, but it seems that she didn’t know it was a dealbreaker until she actually experienced the trauma of his episode. And that only happened two days ago. Before that, she thought she was ok with it.

        Link
      • avatar

        ele4phant February 17, 2017, 7:01 pm

        I do agree with RRRR.

        I know I’ve been advocating that the LW take a beat to calm down and get the full scope of his prognosis before making any rash decisions, but it does seem kind of crazy to say if you’re dating someone – even seriously and long term* – that you are essentially being held to the same level of commitment as if you were married.

        You can’t know everything about someone when you decide to become exclusive and seriously. That’s why its generally a good idea to date for awhile and maybe even live together before you get married. Sometimes you learn things a few years in that are incompatibilities. Sometimes you change. Sometimes they change.

        It sounds like for this LW, the realization that she might not be able to handle this is new. It’s not like she knew it was too much after his first seizure but hung on for a year. She just now witnessed, personally, the violence of his seizure and it was really really scary and she’s just now questioning if maybe it’s too much.

        And it’s fair.

        * I know not everyone believes in marriage, and plenty of people make lifetime commitments without getting married yada yada yada, but still, that’s generally is (should be) a conscious decision of both partners. Doesn’t sound like this young woman and her boyfriend were at that level of commitment.

        Link
      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover February 17, 2017, 10:06 pm

        Yep, and I agree with ele4phant that since this just happened a couple of days ago, if she loves this guy and she was thinking of him seriously enough to plan a future, then she might want to give it a few weeks and maybe some therapy and see if she thinks this is something that she could work through. But if she’s not that serious about him, or if in a month or so she still feels the same way, then I think it’s totally fair for her to decide she can’t handle this.

        Link
    • redessa

      redessa February 17, 2017, 1:13 pm

      You’d have a point if they were married.

      Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy February 17, 2017, 1:16 pm

      They’re unmarried and she’s 23 years old. Give me a break.

      Reply Link
      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark February 17, 2017, 1:24 pm

        Eh. It’s a pretty shallow reason to break up with someone. Look, I have several friends with epilepsy. I’ve seen seizures. Multiple times.
        .
        They are scary as fuck but I never once thought I had to stop being friends with any of them because I simply could “handle” them suffering another seizure in front of me.
        .
        Oh. And this was in college… when I was all of 19.
        .
        Some people need to grow the fuck up. Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes it is dealing with real challenges. If you can’t even handle witnessing real challenges… well… good fucking luck.

        Link
      • avatar

        Vathena February 17, 2017, 1:29 pm

        Being friends with someone with epilepsy and being the life partner of someone with epilepsy (or any medical condition) are two different things. I think it’s good that the LW has realized that she’s not able to take on something this serious at this point in her life; I agree with redessa below – this will be something to seriously consider before moving toward a lifetime commitment to another person.

        Link
      • avatar

        Rebecca February 17, 2017, 1:31 pm

        Also, this isn’t just seeing him have a seizure. This is seeing him come close to bleeding out while she tried to save him.

        Link
      • Portia

        Portia February 17, 2017, 1:52 pm

        As the sister of someone with epilepsy, it is very different being friends with someone with epilepsy than living with or being in a relationship with someone who has epilepsy. Her friends/roommates are generally aware of it, but a partner has to be prepared, like the LW said be the “first responder.” Both have to know what to do when a seizure happens (special medication, how to avoid an injury, those types of things), but a partner needs to know and be OK with helping with even more (daily medication, avoiding triggers like stress and lack of sleep, restrictions on driving, doctors appointments, side effects from medication, etc.). Being with someone is also signing on for these things and not everyone is up for that.

        Link
      • avatar

        ele4phant February 17, 2017, 2:24 pm

        @Portia. You make good points. But, there is a wide range when it comes severity epilepsy. Many people really don’t need a full time caretaker, and with medication they get their seizures completely under control and can function totally normally. If he’s seizure free for a couple years, he’ll be able to drive again.

        I was having seizures about once every six months, then we figured out my medication and I have not had any for 15 years. My husband has never seen me have one. He knows about it, we’ve talked about what he should do if I ever have one, but essentially my diagnosis has had no impact on his life.

        It sounds like he’s now had two major seizures in a year, which isn’t really that many. And it sounds like he’s still in the process of figuring out how to manage it.

        I’m not saying the LW is wrong to dump him, BUT it seems like this is all pretty fresh and it’s not clear what the long term prognosis for him is yet. If she loves him, which it sounds like she does, I would suggest that she stick around to at least see what they’re dealing with here.

        Link
    • avatar

      SpaceySteph February 17, 2017, 2:16 pm

      LW is 23 and she hasn’t married him. It’s reasonable to leave this guy, either because she doesn’t love him enough to overcome it, or at 23 she’s just not capable of taking that on for anyone regardless of how much she might feel she loves them.
      But I can kinda see where Ron and BGM are coming from. Let this be a lesson to her– when/if you DO get married, this is the kind of thing you’re signing up for. My grandfather signed up for finding my grandmother fallen and hip-broken in the bathroom. My other grandmother signed up for waking up in the middle of the night to my grandfather having a heart attack (more than once, actually). Sooner or later, sickness comes for every one of us.

      Reply Link
      • Kate B.

        Kate B. February 17, 2017, 2:59 pm

        Absolutely. I have a friend whose husband has Type I diabetes. One of the things she had to learn when they decided to get serious was how to give him an insulin injection in case he ever fell into a diabetic coma. It hasn’t happened because he manages his diabetes, but it could. She signed on for that.

        Link
    • avatar

      AuntyMacasar February 17, 2017, 4:20 pm

      BGM, my partner has petit-mal seizures brought on (of all things) belly laughter. I’ve learned the signs and can tell when he’s about to seize, and I am there to catch his ass if he’s about to crack his head. I’ve also seen him have a grand-mal seizure after a big accident. I do this because I love that fucking asshole to the moon and back. He can rely on me. If the LW doesn’t feel that way, she should bail. He will be better off with a partner who can deal with his infirmities.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    dmarie February 17, 2017, 1:10 pm

    I agree with Wendy that if you can’t handle this then getting out now and letting him find someone who can is what you need to do.

    I also agree with getting counselling. My daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 3 and I had some mild PTSD (I also have other anxiety conditions) from that that I talked to someone about. She was having 14 or more seizures a day and while it took almost a year we did get them under control and now at 6 she is doing very well and even off of her meds.

    But… kind of like Mark said above I don’t think you should be in a committed relationship, certainly not a a marriage/permanent commitment, if you don’t think you can handle being someones rock/caregiver through these things. You can’t possibly know what will happen in the future. I never thought I’d have a 3 year old get sick like that and I had a newborn as well at the time but if you love someone you HAVE to be there for these things especially. Just something I think you need to think about.

    Reply Link
  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark February 17, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Lucky for her, I guess. I dunno. This letter just reads… icky to me. Her boyfriend had a truly terrible and scary thing happen to him. And yet… this entire letter is so ALL about her. Like mother, like daughter indeed.
    .
    Dump him, LW. Dump him. But for HIS sake. Not yours…

    Reply Link
    • redessa

      redessa February 17, 2017, 1:20 pm

      My initial feeling was similar, but considering they’re not married, I don’t think she’s obligated to stay with him if this freaks her out so much. If she comes across as selfish and immature, well, she’s only 23. Hopefully by the time she’s ready to get married, this experience will help her realize what those vows really mean and she’ll be ready and willing to accept that commitment.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      Rebecca February 17, 2017, 1:21 pm

      Welp, I guess that clinches it: the phrase ‘ball and chain’ is meant literally, and people should push through what sounds like revulsion and trauma to stay with someone with decades more medical problems because they’re using the terms ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend.’ Mark hath spoken, therefore it must be so. *massive eyeroll*

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        saneinca February 18, 2017, 3:28 am

        LOL!

        Link
    • avatar

      Janelle February 17, 2017, 2:15 pm

      I feel the same. There is no guarantee that something won’t happen to anyone. My ex boyfriend nearly died in my arm and it was traumatic. I think that she is jumping the gun and should get some post traumatic type of therapy first and foremost. NO one wants to see anyone hurt, ever, be it a car accident on the freeway or the one you love but these things happen in life. To refuse to be around anything bad that could happen is very short sighted. Also how would she feel if the tables were turned? If something happens to her and her boyfriend said “oh this was too much I can’t handle it” I am quite sure she would be writing the opposite on here about how betrayed and hurt she feels.

      My mother had a similar seizure disorder and the fact is over time it is often controlled, you and the afflicted learn to read the signs and the chances of cracking your head open go way down. My mother now knows when she feels off and sits down, pulls over, etc. Also with such conditions it takes a good amount of time to find the exact right medications/doses to control it.

      All that being said, if she is going to behave so immature about such things it is better for him in the long run that she leave.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        dinoceros February 17, 2017, 3:03 pm

        I usually have the argument that anyone can have an emergency, but I think there’s a difference between anyone having one and someone being pretty much guaranteed to have one on a regular basis. And it does increase or decrease based on age. A 23-year-old is most likely not going to have to deal with serious health conditions as much as someone older might.

        I definitely think it’s a sad situation and think it’s a part of adult relationships to understand that you may need to support someone else through a variety of trauma (physical, emotional, etc.), but if a person doesn’t like someone enough to put up with health issues, it probably wasn’t going to last anyway.

        Link
    • avatar

      ele4phant February 17, 2017, 3:00 pm

      I agree and disagree.

      I don’t think that when you are dating someone you are obligated to stick around the same way you are when you are married. You can have any dealbreakers you want. Hell, if she wanted to break up with him because he liked to wear goofy socks and she found that embarrassing, that would be legit. That’s the point of being with someone without being married. You get decide when you want and for whatever reason. You have not made that lifetime commitment to put up with all their baggage and stick it out thru thick and thin.

      On the other hand, I have eplipsey. I know it’s very scary, but I also know that it’s pretty controllable condition for many and it sounds like right now they’re still working on getting it managed. She may be fearful that she’s going to be watching him have these violent seizures all the time; but the truth is maybe tomorrow his neurologist gets him on the right drug and the right dose and he never has another one. It happened that way for me.

      Or maybe not. Maybe this is their new reality.

      If she loves him and sees a future with him, it may be worth waiting around a little bit longer to see what the prognosis is before definitively deciding it’s too much.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      AuntyMacasar February 17, 2017, 4:25 pm

      Agree with you. She should dump him for his sake. A person’s health problems should not be all about YOU, ffs.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    dinoceros February 17, 2017, 1:16 pm

    Breaking up with someone hurts them, no matter the reason. You can’t control that part. As long as you’re kind and respectful about it, that’s all you can do.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    for_cutie February 17, 2017, 1:21 pm

    I agree with Wendy, you need to compassionately break up with him now, before he comes home. Of course he is not going to take it well – someone he loves is abandoning him due to something completely out of his control. Just because it is right for you doesn’t mean it won’t suck a lot. Plus, he’s doing his best to recover with his parents, looking forward to living with you again. You cannot let me him continue to look forward to an outcome that won’t happen – at least in the way it was. Give him the chance to recover with dignity and rebound into a living situation he is comfortable with. Maybe he won’t want to come home to you at all. And if so, he should get to process this in a safe place (his parent’s house) and make a plan for his future that doesn’t involve you.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Jane February 17, 2017, 1:51 pm

    Another possibility: her unwillingness to stay with her boyfriend with this condition may be indicative of her age or non-readiness to make a more permanent commitment; however, maybe it only indicated that she is unwilling to commit to him specifically. IOW, maybe she would be willing to deal with this condition if it were the right person.

    Just playing devil’s advocate here as her reaction to a tough situation seems kind of knee-jerk. People marry people with similar and worse conditions all the time. Maybe it’s immaturity, or maybe it’s just not the right guy.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      dinoceros February 17, 2017, 3:13 pm

      Yeah, I was thinking that too.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    ele4phant February 17, 2017, 1:58 pm

    Listen, you don’t need permission ever to break up with someone, no matter how frivolous others think yours reasons are.

    That said, I have epilepsy. Compared to many, it was pretty mild, but with medication and minor behavior changes, for most people you can get it under control. I haven’t had a seizure in nearly 15 years.

    Are his under control? Is he working with a neurologist at least? Sometimes it takes a while to find the right medication. It may be terrifying to imagine a lifetime of seeing him have seizures, but assuming he’s being proactive here, he may get it under control soon and never have one again. As you both become educated about epilepsy, it may seem less scary and you may feel more knowledgeable and empowered if he has another one, instead of scared.

    I don’t know, but if you love this guy, maybe don’t make any rash decisions. Even if he never fully gets them under control, it may all become more manageable seeming once you get over the shock.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Rebecca February 17, 2017, 2:07 pm

      I don’t have epilepsy, but I do have a chronic illness with multiple complications. I would never try to convince someone to overcome their uneasiness about me as a partner based on my ability to manage my condition. Managed or not, there’s always the need to be mindful, and maybe they’re not ready for that. That’s okay–loving me, staying with me, has to be their decision, and if that decision is no, then I’m/they’re not the right person.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        ele4phant February 17, 2017, 2:27 pm

        Your right, it is okay if she’s just never easy around him again. I’m not trying to suggest she’s in the wrong.

        I am saying, as someone who has direct experience with the disease, she may be assuming a certain future which may or may not be true. If she loves this guy, it may be worth seeing what the doctors say before she makes that decision.

        Link
      • avatar

        ele4phant February 17, 2017, 2:45 pm

        I guess what I’m saying is, you have a clear sense of what your condition is and what it may, or may not, ask of your partners.

        This guy’s condition is unknown. It’s new, sounds like they are still figuring out how it can be managed and what life will be like. Seizures are scary to witness (and have!), but what is also scary for her I’m sure is the uncertanity about what his new diagnosis means.

        I’m just trying to offer a perspective that it might not be as bad as she fears. That things are still early and that it may actually mean minimal disruption to their (his) lives.

        But, if she doesn’t want to hang around to find out, then of course, moving on does not make her a bad person.

        Just offering my perspective as someone who lives with this condition.

        Link
      • avatar

        Rebecca February 17, 2017, 3:07 pm

        While I do hear all the things you’re saying, I feel that in a lot of dating discourse there’s a tendency to advise people to talk themselves out of their first reactions, and whatever the cause of the reactions at the time they’re quite valid.

        It seems, despite the title, that her problem isn’t with epilepsy, it’s with being traumatized by the guy almost dying on her. To say that epilepsy can be managed (which is true) doesn’t negate that in this moment it wasn’t, and she feels unready (which is valid.)

        I know you’re not trying to push her to doubt herself, and I can’t be inside her head to know exactly why she wants to call it quits, but I can also say that that amount of trauma? Very, very hard to step back from. It would permanently color my interactions with my partner, no matter what I learned about their condition and its management. Particularly at such a young age–I’d be noping the fuck out of there so fast you’d see a blur.

        Link
  • avatar

    Northern Star February 17, 2017, 2:08 pm

    I don’t know, it sounds to me like you are echoing your mother, who begged you to drop the BF as soon as he was diagnosed (which is pretty crappy, in my opinion, unless there were other reasons she doesn’t like him). “I’m too young,” really? No, you’re not. People younger than you join the military, become ER nurses and paramedics, take care of terminally sick parents, etc. Getting older doesn’t make you stronger if you run away when things get difficult.

    Make sure you are leaving your boyfriend because he is not the man you want to be with forever. Don’t leave him because your mom is constantly whispering in your ear about how this is “too hard.” And get counseling to help you move past your fear and horror, for sure.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Sara February 17, 2017, 2:48 pm

      Northern Star, I’m with you. That whole “I’m too young” is complete and utter bullshit and turned me off. I can respect “I realized I can’t handle it” – that’s totally valid and good for her for copping to it, but age is irrelevant. We’ve seen older folks who have bailed after a major life tragedy and younger folks who’ve stayed the course.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      dinoceros February 17, 2017, 5:49 pm

      At first, I felt that way too about the “too young” comment. But it might be true for her. She very likely might be more equipped to handle it 10 years from now. But I do agree that if she is saying that EVERYONE her age would feel the same way, she’s naive.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Another Jen February 17, 2017, 2:23 pm

    I don’t think it’s respectful to stay with someone out of guilt or obligation. Sure, he has epilepsy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of handling the normal emotional ups and downs of life, relationships end all the time. Depending on where the relationships stands outside of his condition, it might help to discuss your feelings and his needs. You’re not at a point where you’re ready to be a partner’s caregiver…is your relationship even at that point? Maybe he’s not aware that you feel like you’re being asked to take on this responsibility…maybe he doesn’t want you to. On the other hand, if he’s looking for a till-death-do-us-part commitment, he needs to be free to find someone in the same frame of mind. All things considered, 23 is young to make a life-long commitment to a partner; if you’re not ready to do that, epilepsy or not, breaking up is the right move.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    JB February 17, 2017, 2:30 pm

    My son, 18 at the time, had his first seizure a year ago, and has had 2 more episodes since. It was terrifying; I was afraid he would die or have serious brain damage. Like the OP, my son has no memory of the episodes and does not feel traumatized by them. But because I was there with him for all 3 and in the ICU with him for 4 days after the first episode I am definitely traumatized. If he were my boyfriend instead of my son, I would seriously consider breaking up with him. Obviously I love my son and want to remain a part of his life and will do anything I can for him. But I really do live in terror that it will happen again. I have nothing but sympathy for the OP. She’s so young, and it’s a lot to have to cope with. Give her a break.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Kate February 17, 2017, 2:57 pm

    I think you date people in order to find the one to whom you’d be willing to potentially make that “in sickness and in health” vow. Until you do, you’re not obligated to be ready for that.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Hannanas February 18, 2017, 3:06 pm

      You nailed it Kate.
      .
      I also loved the compassionate and realistic answer Wendy gave.
      .
      Good luck, LW

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Arra February 17, 2017, 3:04 pm

    When a person knows him/herself well enough to know what their limits are AND is mature enough to exit a situation which pushes them past those limits, then you have to respect that. The incident apparently traumatized her to the point where she is no longer comfortable in the relationship. And nobody should be “obligated” to stay in a relationship that they are no longer comfortable in. She can’t be a good girlfriend to him if she’s always going to be scared for his safety. It’s not fair to her and it’s not fair to him. And it’s shitty to try and tell a person what they should/shouldn’t be willing to put up with in a relationship when we all have different thresholds for what constitutes a deal breaker. With that being said she’s probably still very much on edge, not thinking with a clear mind and should take some time to let her emotions settle before making a decision.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    judge sheryl February 17, 2017, 4:04 pm

    This happened two days ago! — I’m so sorry this happened to you. This is way too raw to be making any decisions. go to post traumatic therapy and THEN decide if you still want to break up. I think you are jumping the gun saying you definitely can’t handle it, especially if you were thinking of a real future together (if this was just casual, then yeah, I guess it’s fine to just break up with him) it’s possible you may come to the conclusion in a few weeks that you survived, came out stronger, and can handle it, especially if he is a great partner in every other way. It’s possible, you may regret breaking up and cause your partner hurt that isn’t necessary and possibly not what even you want.

    I really don’t see the harm in waiting a few weeks to process your own feelings before letting your bf in on any of this. I disagree that being supportive to him over the next few weeks will make a breakup any worse, if you choose to go that route. I think that is just being a decent person.

    I’m also not saying you are terrible if you decide you don’t want to stay with him after you have really processed this. But I do think you should go to therapy and take care of recovering yourself before you make any decisions. I do think it’s fair to disclose to your bf– that you were scared more than you ever have been in your life and need some support and do need to speak to someone. And also, that you are scared right now that you couldn’t handle another episode on your own (maybe helping to keep him at his parents a bit longer).

    And yes, you are young, but that isn’t a defacto justification for “I can’t handle this”. Take some time and make sure that is really what you want and need.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Rebecca February 17, 2017, 5:52 pm

      Um…”I can’t handle this” is de facto justification for “I can’t handle this.” She doesn’t need to do or say anything else to ‘justify’ leaving.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        judge sheryl February 17, 2017, 11:43 pm

        Two days after a major, horrifying event, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have said “I can’t handle this” and then, somehow, time passes, they get through it and they find they CAN handle it.

        That may or may not be the case, with the LW, regardless of her age. The point was to give it some time and get support for herself, before deciding to break up with someone she loves. There is no magic number of days to wait, but 2 days in, seems like most people would still be trying to process this.

        Link
  • avatar

    Rava February 18, 2017, 8:07 am

    What a kind and considerate response, Wendy. I didn’t know what to make of the LW’s letter until I read your response. You are right, she’s 23 and dating. And I think it’s very mature of her to acknowledge that she can’t handle this, even though it is probably not the ‘socially accepted’ kind of thing to think.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Brise February 18, 2017, 8:28 am

    LW, do tell him the truth and take some distance. He isn’t stable now medically speaking, and you are not mature enough to deal with such a grave health issue.
    The age difference and the dependence he shows now isn’t manageable for you either. Just be honest with him, it is human and OK to feel this way. You could also speak with doctors who know this condition. Then, when you will have a better view on the situation, on your own feelings and your expectations in life, you will know what to do and will be able to take a definitive decision. Anyway, the best is to be honest with him. You were frightened by this confrontation with a near death experience: anybody would be terrified and shaken. Allow yourself some time to figure out your own reaction to this event. Good luck!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Sof April 25, 2017, 12:34 am

    Yea it can be scary for you but think about him, not the blood and everything else just him. He is going through this experience and it is awkward when you have a seizure in public or with friends. I have had epilepsy for 7 years now and have had 12 grand mal seizures. They are scary and what I don’t like about some of the poeple who see it happening is they think it’s a them problem, that they are gonna be scarred and scared forever. People with epilepsy are living everyday of their lives continuing on with the fact they might have a seizure anywhere. Personally I don’t think you should break up with him because of him epilepsy becuase if someone did that to me I would be heartbroken, and feel like I needed to be changed.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    James D August 27, 2017, 11:19 am

    Disgusting. First, epilepsy can be controlled and for you to leave him at this important time only says you have a horrible character and you disgust me. My fiance left me after 2 seizures out of the blue (controlled now) and 6 months later I still spend some days severely depressed because of it. Prior I literally thought she was the kindest and most supportive person I knew. I would never leave a person I told I love at such a key time. If you say you love someone and leave them at such an important time just shows what kind of person you truly are.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      allentown1 August 27, 2017, 3:48 pm

      A noble sentiment James D, but you can never know until you actually confront that situation. Actually, you are telling us that your gf hurt you when she left and that you hope you would have behaved better than she did, if the situation was reversed.

      Reply Link

Leave a Comment

Next Post: Previous Post: