A non-romantic obsession from June 15, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I am lucky enough to have a wonderful, sweet, and generous man in my life. We have been together for two years and, being in our early 30s, a potential for marriage is on both our minds. The problem is that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition that dictates most of his actions. When we first met, he was doing all right. He told me about it and I was fine with it, mostly because I hadn’t seen the effects of his condition on his life. In the past six months, he has been spiraling down into the depths of this disorder, and for a time, would not come near me. I can’t begin to tell you how painful it was to be so thoroughly rejected by such a loving person. It got so bad that we did not see each other for a month. When I told him that I wanted to break up, he finally started in a therapy program (including medication). Maybe this is selfish of me, but I am not sure if I can handle this condition in my life. I promised that I would not leave him until he was stable again and we could talk about it. The reality is that his “minor” mental illness is a very difficult thing to deal with and I am not sure that I would want to commit myself to it for the rest of my life. It might help him deal with the condition, but I don’t think that his anxiety will ever go away. I feel so guilty about wanting to leave him and there is a part of me that believes that I’ll never meet anyone as wonderful as he can be again. Is this stupid? Am I wrong?
Over to you, Belleruth: “OCD is tough but not impossible. With therapy and medication, he could really get back on track. For some weird reason, the new medications for depression (like Zoloft and Prozac and some others too) seem to make a dent on this disorder; plus behavioral treatment really works. Give it a time limit of a few months and then evaluate again. Be very clear that you’re doing this. The good news is he went to get help — and he’s basically a good guy you really care for. But keep him on notice. You’re right — you don’t need the disorder in your life. Just the guy.” With maybe a wart or two.