I am so glad that I found this forum. I've been searching for something like it.
I'm Mel, and I've been with my boyfriend for about a year. He ruptured a disk in his lower lumbar region 14 years ago, had many surgeries on it, and was one of the first in this country to go through disk replacement. He suffered a great deal of nerve damage when his disk ruptured, and as a result is dealing with the chronic pain that ensued.
I would like to get some perspective on how I can best be supportive to him. He is very reluctant to discuss his pain issues with me, and he gets very moody, distant, and withdrawn on his bad days. I then get upset at what I perceive is him "ignoring" me. When I ask how he is feeling, I often get a sarcastic "fantastic", when he is clearly not fantastic. This is all causing a great deal of stress in our relationship. I am a very empathetic person and it's difficult to not let his low moods affect me. I can rationally tell myself that he is hurting and that's why he is withdrawn, but emotionally I'm having a hard time. I give him plenty of space when he is moody, letting him rest, offering to rub his back, etc. but wonder if there is more I should be doing. I love him deeply but his pain issues are having a huge issue on our relationship and I want to know how to help him in the most effective way. I have asked him many times to just let me know how he is feeling, but he feels like he is a burden to me, and if he told me honestly how he felt that I would get sick of it rather quickly. I told him I don't think that is the case, and it should be up to me to decide how much I can handle. We are starting couples counseling next week, and we each have our own therapist. He is finally seeing someone who works with chronic pain patients, particularly with the depression that I imagine is very common, and I'm encouraged that he is finally seeking some help.
So any advice for me would be greatly appreciated. I love this man and want things to work out with us.
Thanks in advance,