Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Stuck with fiancé 24/7

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  • #879539 Reply

    Like a lot of people I recently got laid off due to Covid 19. My fiancé is still working 40 hours a week but now from home. We live in a tiny (less than 600 sq ft) apartment in a decent sized city. I’m also dealing with a lot of depression (I already suffered from depression and take medication but it’s so much worse now) because my life no longer has the structure it previously had (not only did I work but I participated in a recreational sports league and was a member of several clubs) I find myself completely unmotivated to do anything. I sleep A LOT like 18+ hours per day. If I’m awake I’m eating. It’s gotten to the point I’ve gained 10lbs already and I wasn’t small before. I have friends who live outside the city who exercise daily in their backyards/neighborhoods but I don’t have that option… I’m honestly confused about when I can and can’t go outside so with the exception of taking the dog out I’ve been cooped up in here. To make matters worse my fiancé’s job involves discussing personal information with clients over the phone so when he’s working I really have to stay in our bedroom away from him. A few times I’ve come out of the room to speak to him and it’s always a bad time and I get shooed away. I’m not mad because I know he has to work but every day that passes I sink deeper and deeper into a funk. I feel like because of my inability to exercise I’ve lost all the muscle I gained playing sports and because I no longer have a job and there seems to be no end in sight to this virus I get no joy out of making plans (we were previously planning our wedding and I’ve completely abandoned it because who knows when this will end) My hobbies before included cooking/baking but I don’t want to do that now because I’m disgusted by how much I’ve been eating. We’ve tried to exercise in the house but we don’t have the room to do much more than jumping jacks and push ups and our downstairs neighbor complains about the noise. I know everyone is suffering right now and so I feel even worse for complaining. I could be dying or have a loved one dying. I could have no job and no partner to support me. I know all of that but it doesn’t make me feel any less dead inside. I have an extreme fear of death so I know I won’t kill myself but the other day I was thinking how much easier it would be if I just went up on the roof and jumped off. I love my fiancé so much but I miss having space. I miss having a life and a purpose. I miss my job and my team and my friends. I even miss my family who I haven’t even spoken to in a year. I’ve been working since I was 15 (in my 30s now) and I’ve never been laid off or not had a job. I feel like a failure. I feel ugly and fat and like I don’t deserve my fiancé or even to exist. I literally don’t know what to do. Like I said I’ve dealt with depression most of my life but it’s never been this bad. Does anyone have any advice at all?

    #879540 Reply

    I’m sorry you’re going through this right now. I think you need to take some action ASAP.

    Tell your fiancé how you’re feeling. Do you have a therapist or a doctor? You need to call them or find one. As far as exercising, can you do jumping jacks, etc when you take the dog out? Can your fiancé work in the bedroom and give you more space?

    Try to replace the negative voice in your head with something less destructive. “I’m disgusting because I eat so much”-“I’m doing the best I can in a terrible situation.” Try to be good to yourself. Try not to beat yourself up.

    #879542 Reply
    avatarMiss MJ

    Can you and your fiance work out a time for him to make these calls all at one time, so you can arrange to be out of the house during them? You’re definitely allowed to go out for exercise. Just stay the requisite distance from people. I like @annoymousse’s suggestion to do your jumping jacks, etc. on your walks. Reach out to friends and family via Zoom or FaceTime, too. It’ll make you feel better. Also, stop being so hard on yourself for eating. If ever there was a time to start granting yourself the kindness and leeway you know you’d grant to others right now, this is it. If you enjoy baking and cooking – bake and cook! Finally, have you tried doing online therapy? That might help.

    #879543 Reply

    I’m just going to focus on the exercise part of this, since that is the best place I think I can help. How about the stairs? Since you live in an apartment, I assume you have several flights. Going up and down the stairs is great exercise. Also, there are tons of things you can do just on Youtube. There are great walking videos, light weights (you can even use cans if you don’t have any weights), yoga, etc. Things that aren’t as pounding on the floor as jumping jacks would be. And take the dog on the longest walk you can manage. It is hard to get up the strength to be active when you’re feeling depressed, but the more active you are, hopefully the depression will lift at least a little.

    #879544 Reply

    While his business calls are personal, the clients likely are complete strangers to you, so it shouldn’t be any problem for you to be in the room. Obviously you shouldn’t try to talk to him when he’s speaking with a client, but I don’t think he needs the room to himself. I’ve worked in office arrangements from doored offices, to cubicles, to a combination of the two. If my neighbors talked in a reasonably loud voice, I could clearly hear virtually every word they said. The same situation is likely to prevail when he worked from the office and his co-workers could hear his calls. Likely they had a better idea whom he was talking to than you did.

    Walking the dog can be a fair amount of exercise, as it is for my neighbors. There is an acceptable strategy for distancing. When two people (and dogs) approach, on will walk in street or cross street so they don’t get within 6 feet. I’m in the more sparsely populated portion of a small city, so this is probably a little easier to pull off here, but people log a mile on their dog walks.

    I’ve found that when we can get outdoors and look at any small bit of blue sky, trees, etc. that it greatly alleviates the shut-in feeling. My wife has seasonal-affective-disorder and could not cope with being indoors as much as you are.

    It sounds like you need a schedule, so create one. Set a time that you will be out of bed. Dress promptly. A time for meals. A time for dog walks. A time to phone or internet with friends and family. A time to read a physical or on-line paper. A time to read a book. A time to write in a personal journal. A time for in-apartment exercise. You are allowing yourself to just drift and hide in bed and that doesn’t help either the depression or the weight gain you complained about.

    Also, I notice that the dog walkers do converse with each other, often from a very safe distance of about 10 feet. They talk to random strangers they meet. Dog walkers, at least here, don’t view that as uncommon or rude.

    #879545 Reply

    @ron – I would not be as generous if I were spilling my guts to a professional and someone walked by the camera. We don’t know the circumstances but there may be confidentiality rules.

    That said – if that’s the case, then your fiance should be working from the room with the fewest access points, like the bedroom and if you need to nap – you can nap on the couch.

    But you definitely need to start doing a couple of things:
    1. Get up in the morning and get dressed. Put on clean underthings. Do your hair. If you wear makeup – put some on. You don’t have to dress fancy but dress as if you were going to run to the market where an ex works across the street and you want to look presentable just in case.
    2. Go outside and walk.
    3. Call people on the phone old-school style. Just leave a nice message like “thinking about you and had time to catch up with everyone and thought of you. Hope you’re well. Blah blah blah” Then talk to people. Hear about what they are doing. Tell them what you are doing. It’s not a bitch sesh but it’s contact. Face time if you can.
    4. Do something that you haven’t had time to do. Bake bread (also good exercise), make pasta. Something that you never did and now have time to practice.

    Stay well.

    #879546 Reply

    Yes to trying online therapy, or finding a therapist who is accepting new clients and doing teletherapy sessions. Yes to being kinder to yourself. Yes to FaceTime and Zoom to feel less isolated. You’re not a failure. These are tough times. Just because someone may be having a tougher time doesn’t mean you can’t have feelings about your own situation.

    I don’t know where you live, but I’m in a big city sheltering in place, and solo outdoor exercise is still allowed so long as you keep an appropriate distance from others. I’m staying active in the form of long dog walks and will go on a short run every few days. (If you aren’t a runner, you can run/walk or just walk briskly.) My gym has also been putting at-home workouts online, too — squats, push-ups, lunges, sit-ups, etc. aren’t as loud as jumping movements. They’re also showing us how we can creatively add resistance to at-home workouts with random objects from home. E.g., do you have a cast iron skillet lying around? A six-pack of beer? Single leg deadlifts with those random objects! I was legit doing Turkish get ups with a handle of vodka for weight yesterday.

    If you enjoy baking and cooking, do those things. Cook yourself some healthy meals that you WON’T feel bad about eating. I am an anxious and emotional eater and this is how I’m handling it. I’m so infuriated that diet culture is somehow still relevant through all of this.

    I also felt a major loss when my routine changed. I have a little whiteboard and every day I write down a few very small goals. Things like reading a chapter of my book, walking a certain number of miles, etc. I find it helpful to give myself the teeniest bit of structure back.

    Take good care of yourself! This will pass eventually.

    #879547 Reply
    Dear WendyDear Wendy

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like you might be struggling with something bigger than any tips we can share would help (as great as these tips have been!). That you already suffer from depression, you are using a lot of negative self-talk, and are having fantasies of dying all signal that this is more serious than some fresh air and exercise will fix (although fresh air and exercise are very good! and will help most people who are feeling the stress of our collective trauma). I urge you to please reach out to a professional. Who do you get your depression medication from? Is is a psychiatrist? Will s/he do tele-therapy with you? Can they direct you to someone else who can help you if they are not able to?

    Since you have been laid off and are likely concerned about finances, please look into free or low-cost virtual therapy that’s available. I just did a quick google search and found these resources:

    You could also google the name of your city + “virtual therapy” or “mental health hotline” or “mental health help” for more location-specific help. Here in NYC, we have a new hotline for free mental health help given by mental health professionals volunteering their time during this criss. The number is 844-863-9314.

    Some of what you are feeling is very normal right now. I am struggling with some depression and despair myself. This is such a scary, uncertain time! What worries me is that you are fantasizing about death and that you are beating yourself up. Please, please reach out for mental health help and touch base with your support network – your friends and family and people who love you.

    I could give more advice about how to navigate your relationship in a small space, etc., but I really think what you most need is a little mental health tune-up (and maybe a change to your medication?) to help guide you through this very intense time. It’s going to be ok. You are going to make it through to the other side and you will have so many things to plan and look forward to. This is temporary. A little mental-health tune-up will help you internalize these facts and will help drown out the mean voice in your head telling you lies about yourself.

    Wishing you the best.

    #879548 Reply

    L for L — It shouldn’t be difficult to arrange the room so that he is in front of a corner with camera directed at him/corner, such that the bulk of the room is not visible. Naturally, she needs not to be loud.

    #879552 Reply

    I have been attending a few mental wellness online workshops over the last few weeks and a concept that has been brought up over and over again has been the jackal and the giraffe.

    In this series of images, the jackal is mid-jump, showing its teeth as it’s attacking a bird in a dust filled landscape. In the other picture, a nice giraffe is bending its long neck looking at you in a calm manner, with a nice blue sky in the background.

    The question is, when you self-talk, are you the jackal or the giraffe? If you make a mistake, the jackal says “you’re so stupid, why couldn’t you just pay attention, you ruined everything”. However the giraffe says “now, that’s a mistake, you didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did. That sucks but it’s ok. What can we do to make it better?”

    It sounds like you’re self-talking like the jackal a lot right now, which is not helpful. Try to catch yourself when it happens, and try to re-phrase while being nicer and softer with yourself. Try to think about how you would talk to a friend about this. Try to think about a nice giraffe calmly bending its neck toward you and saying “now now dear, what happened?”

    #879834 Reply

    Hi All, OP here
    So I just wanted to give you an update. I wanna thank everyone for their kind words and great advice. I decided to sit down and have a talk with my Fiancé. Our apartment while billed a 1 bedroom is really a glorified studio so separation is pretty impossible. Because the bedroom can only hold the bed that is where I am. We did agree to buy foam padding for the floor to try to muffle the exercise noise. We also agreed to walk 5 Miles per day however we could. I was previously a makeup artist so I’ve been trying to get up and put on makeup as if I was working. As dumb as it sounds my fiancé also bought me the animal crossing video game this weekend and since a lot of my friends/family are playing it’s almost like we are spending time together. I’ve also started talking to an online support group. I am trying to accept that I will not be losing the weight I wanted and will likely gain during this. As such my fiancé and I decided to push all wedding planning until this is all over or at least more settled. I need to remember that some people have lost their whole wedding and I shouldn’t be so miserable over wedding planning issues. All in all I’m trying to be proactive but not beat myself up if I can’t be. I really appreciate everyone here for the invaluable help and suggestions.

    #879836 Reply

    LW, I’m glad you seem to be feeling a little bit better!

    I have a friend who is also playing a lot of animal crossing, and while I don’t know what it is, if it’s something that makes you feel connected to friends/family and brings you a little bit of joy while helping pass the time… well, then that’s a great thing!

    Five miles a day is also a great goal. I aim for about that as well in some way, shape, or form.

    Also, if you’re on Instagram (I sadly feel like I kinda live on The Gram these days… I am checking and posting to social media, IG in particular, a lot more while we all hunker down), highly recommend accounts like @i_weigh and @breakdietrules if you need to reframe any of your anxieties around food and body image. Both post content that will remind you that your weight may fluctuate, but your value will not… and that it’s okay to just say NO to diet culture (at all times, but especially now).

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