i’ve been in a relationship for about 8 months now. my partner is occasionally suicidal and is not very good at regulating their emotions and dealing with negativity. they are not clinically diagnosed with anything because their family is averse to the idea of it. For a few months now i’ve been spending a lot (like 60-70%) of my energy coping with my partner’s distress, be it moodiness and irritation directed at me, or being ignored for a hours at a time, or rebutting unending thoughts of self hatred, and dealing with suicide attempts (twice) late into the night. i feel very drained and tired, but feel as if i cannot leave because of their instability. it is a vicious cycle of me constantly reassuring them that i love them to prevent them from overthinking and becoming insecure about the relationship, making it difficult for me to leave because I keep telling them that I’m not going to. truthfully, i say most of my “i love you"s and "i miss you"s to even it out with how much they say it to me. i am at a loss and don’t know what to do. I feel an immense loss of self esteem, emotional regulation, self identity and social interaction with my family and friends i love. the responsibility for their emotional well-being is becoming unbelievably difficult to carry, but i cant bring myself to put it down because of some stupid promises i’ve made.

Let me be the first person to release you from this sense of obligation. You are never, ever required to shoulder the emotional weight for another person’s problems. If a relationship is causing you “an immense loss of self esteem, emotional regulation, self identity and social interaction,” then it is not healthy for you and you need to leave it. It is okay to do what you need, do what’s best for you, even if it will make someone else unhappy. Their mental health is not your responsibility.

Whatever you decide to do, this situation cannot continue. It is not fair to you, and it is not fair to your partner. You are not a mental health professional, and even if you were, it is inappropriate for “mental health support caregiver” and “romantic partner” to be the same person. Suicide attempts are serious, and next time, you need to call 911 instead of trying to handle it on your own. You either need to take serious steps to set new boundaries with this person and help them find healthier sources of help and support. Something needs to change so you can shift your position to “supportive partner” instead of “24/7 crisis counselor.”

That, or you need to leave the relationship. If you want to leave the relationship, you should. You do not deserve to be in a situation where you are draining all of yourself, and you don’t owe anyone your continued presence in an unhealthy relationship, regardless of what you have promised in the past. You may need to enlist friends, adults, or professionals to support you and your partner through the breakup. A breakup will be messy, and painful, and you may feel guilt, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that you are not allowed to leave the relationship.

If this person is unable to access mental health services through their family, there are still options for them. You can point them to a crisis hotline or text line. If your partner is in school, speak to a teacher or counselor in a position to help them. You can talk to your own parents and get their help to advocate for your partner as well. You can offer to sit with your partner and help them draft a letter to their parents asking for mental health help, or offer to sit with them and have that conversation in person, or help them strategize about how to get professional help through other avenues. What you cannot - and should not - do is continue to take on all of this yourself. 

Also, since your mental health is being so poorly impacted, you may also benefit from talking to a therapist - talk to your parents, an adult at your school, or someone else who can connect you with services.