Hello! My name is Rachel and I'm in need of a lot of advice about my boyfriend, Tim. Tim and I have been dating for two years now and they have been a great two years. On one of our first dates, Tim confessed to me that he has struggled with depression and anxiety for all of his life and that he does take medication for it. I had dated another man with depression and thought I knew a lot about it and his confession did not sway me from beginning a relationship with him. Now, two years later, I am starting to panic that maybe I am not equipped to handle how severe his anxiety actually is. Tim uses beer and cigarettes to cope with his anxiety and to me, that is the real problem. In social situations where he feels lonely or insecure he drinks beer heavily and then becomes loud and boisterous. If we're around my friends, who really don't drink, it can become uncomfortable for me! Like, who wants to hang out with a drunk person when you're sober? And then if I bring it up to him he gets more anxious and feels badly about his behavior which usually triggers a panic attack. During the panic attacks he starts to cry and hyperventilate. I've gotten really good at talking him down, we snuggle for about an hour and discuss everything and at the end of it he's calm again. I understand that it's all a part of something he can't control and I don't blame him for having the panic attacks but a) I think that they are triggered sometimes by alcohol and b) when it happens in a social situation and I have to leave my friends for over an hour to calm him down it can be embarrassing and awkward, especially because they've all seen him drinking and just assume it's some drunken meltdown. I've talked to Tim ad nauseum about the drinking and he just straight up does not agree with me. He says that while the alcohol "probably doesn't help" he doesnt believe that it is an underlying cause of his panic attacks. He says he has always had severe anxiety and panic attacks. And I totally understand that this is a medical condition and it is mostly beyond his control! But alcohol is a depressive substance! I think it's a huge contributing factor! I feel panicky myself now because I just do not have the skills or knowledge to know how to handle him in these situations and I think he needs to talk to a professional. But, when I bring it up he reminds me that we do not have the money to afford counseling. We've been skrimping together every penny we have to save for a house and we're living paycheck to paycheck, so he's right. Counseling is incredibly expensive and we cannot afford it. But I'm not a therapist and I feel an overwhelming pressure sometimes because I don't know how to help him and I feel as though I'm the only one he's got. I don't want to make it seem like I think Tim is an alcoholic because I absolutely do not. He'll have a beer or two most nights but probably only has more than that 2-3 times a month. He's rarely drunk, but when he is he's all over the place and it's really hard for me. Case in Point: Last weekend I went with Tim and 4 friends to a weekend long music festival. We camped out in a field and listened to music all weekend. Literally everyone there was drinking the whole time and Tim followed suit. Of course, one of the days he became loud and silly and was interrupting people and slurring his words. I gave him a nasty "omg take it down a notch" look and he got confused and mad at me. Then, he tripped over a big bag of chips and it exploded and he got really mad when one of my friends harshly told him to clean it up. He cleaned it up but then basically had a panic attack and went to his car and started crying hysterically. When I asked him what was wrong he couldn't articulate it. When I asked him to go on a walk with me so we could talk privately, he refused. I went to the bathroom and when I came back he was gone. He came back an hour later still upset and drunk, saying he had gone on a long walk to clear his head. My friends left to go see some music and I stayed and talked him down for an hour until he had stopped crying. He told me my friends were mean and didn't care about him. Even right now I can't really tell you why he was so upset and why he had the panic attack. This incident really opened my eyes. I try to be so patient and understanding because I love him, but it is really hard sometimes. So, I feel like I'm stuck. I've done research on anxiety and depression and I feel for him so much. 95% of the time he's the sweetest and most adorable man I have ever known. He has a great relationship with his family and mine, a great job, and my friends adore him (even though they do think he can be obnoxious when he's drinking, which is totally true). I don't want to leave him. The pain I feel when I even think about it is huge. But, I also feel sometimes that I'm not equipped to deal with the anxiety and the depression and drinking and smoking and panic attacks. I feel suffocating pressure sometimes. The drama of it all seems to unnatural and sometimes wrong and bad. I'd love for any and all advice you have, I really need it.