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They just wont understand, why?

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion
We hear those words often. The trouble is, there is a word in that sentence that doesn’t
fit, it shouldn’t be there. It’s the word “wont”

“Wont” means they have a choice to understand your emotional struggles. It should, in many
cases, be replaced with “don’t” or "cant"

For these people are the people we love and they love us. Would they, make the choice of not understanding? Understanding…what does that entail? Do we expect our partners, children, friends and parents to understand what its like to have our minds as if it’s in a cloud? Or throbbing like a migraine? Or whysome of us sleep for what seems endless hours?  What about when our carer partner has been so long without
love making and their frustration explodes and we chant “you just don’t understand”!!!

I put it to you, that it is us also that doesn’t understand what its like to be a partner of a mentally ill person. In respect to this an article I wrote a long time ago now can be googled- “Topic: who cares for the carer- beyondblue” In that thread I mentioned that if you can walk to the toilet, answer the phone and get yourself something to eat during the day while your partner is at work….you can also greet him/her as they walk in the door, have a cuppa and a chat asking how their day went before you slip back into bed if you must.

Some cant, understandably. But some wont! A choice (note the word “wont”) is made. In
these cases they are hurting the ones they love.

I’m lucky, my wife has depression, it comes and goes. We never say “you wont understand”. We both do understand. However my last partner and before her, my first wife, never understood my struggles. Those days I believed that they chose to not understand. I was wrong. They had little hope of understanding. Why?

Simply  because the other person doesn’t “feel” the effects of the illness. And there might also be the blaming effect to, to blame others through our own expectations of what we are pleading for.

Whatever sooths you and comforts you from your partner – tell them what that is. Think about your needs whether is a daily hug, a hand on the shoulder or an ear with the occasional comment or question. For your partner or loved one likely has no concept of what they can do to help. And that in itself can be agonising.

We should never get the feeling or not being loved mixed up with a lack of ability to help us. It’s not
that they wont understand-its more likely they cant understand so they don’t.

Tony WK

153 Replies 153

Community Member

My partner

a) don't understand me

b) can't understand me

c) won't understand me

d ) all of the above


Answer d)

Community Member

I have a friend who doesn't understand. She is one of those people who believes we should just get over it. I was finding it difficult to remain in contact with her. Then one of her family got depression. I was so worried she might destroy her relationship with this family member that I decided to send this friend an email explaining in detail what it was like for me to have depression. Unfortunately I am incapable of doing this face to face. Then I said in the email that if she would just ask how I'm going and listen when I responded it would make such a difference. She has done this for me and my hope is that she would interact with her family member in a similar way. In return I tell her truthfully how I am, but I don't go into detail or waffle on too long. 

We're still good friends. Thank god. It's hard to find good friends.



Hi Maureen, thankyou for posting

You are lucky with your friend. But you are spot on, most don't make the effort to listen then understand. Any effort to understand in my view is more important than the understanding itself.

Is she the only friend that has mad an effort?

Tony WK

I've been very lucky in that my close friends and family have all been very supportive and are very understanding. Mind you, the family is now starting to push for me to get back to work. It's been over a year. I'm 55 and they're worried ill never go back. 

Hi Maureen,

For what its worth, I retired at 57yo 3 years ago following two breakdown episodes. My father retired at 55yo following a heart attack and his father at 52yo.

People might be thinking that at your age 55yo you are too young to retire. I say - everyones an individual and where it concerns mental health issues some can work on some cant.

For 18 years I ran my own business as a PI. I excelled in the job, was the first choice for many companies etc. But when your mental endurance has hit a wall then that's it!!!  No more. I'm now recovered really well but am really fragile also. If I returned to work of any sort in a part time capacity, I'd likely let others down with attendance.

I know and my wife knows I'm not well enough and appears I wont ever be well enough to return to employment of any sort. That's all that matters. Is that if I could I would and I cant.

Tell yourself Maureen "I'm not in this world to live up to others expectations..."

Tony WK

I might forward this topic to a friend of mine who has been having some pretty bad personal stuff lately. It's really, really hard when your family or partner or whoever can't understand but you are 100% correct, sometimes they just physically can't understand. My partner is the type of person who can just willpower through any issues (no idea how he does that haha) so he sometimes doesn't understand why I can't do the same especially if the issue isn't a big deal according to him. That said, he acknowledges that I can't just get over it so when I do reach out for his help he does try to support me and help me out any way he can. I know he is trying to help and I really do appreciate it. Because he genuinely tries, I make sure to at least sit down with him and watch a show or play a game or something when we have time because it makes him happy. Relationships with people who don't get it can be hard, just as I am sure being in a relationship with a depressed person can be hard at times, but you can make it work as long as everyone understands that sometimes, they just can't fully understand the other person, and that's ok as long as you make an effort to try. 

Hi vox

Great reply, so true.

As long as they make effort. Very apt.

I just severed a friendship. This guy I've known 10 uears had a mother and two brothers take their own lives. Yet because he believed he couldnt understand them, he took the view that there is no point trying to understand me. Hence no effort.

Hence no friendship. And thats the thing with us mentally challenged, if there is no effort to take interest at all in our struggles then thete is no middle ground IMO.

I have more important people to give to.

Tony WK

Great thought provoking thread.

Yes you can trim your friends down, I have, the list is now empty and it hurts.

Not as much as the hurt when my wife who also has depression can't seem to understand, or it does seam won't understand, or doesn't believe, or thinks my pain is unimportant.

People do choose to hear what they want to hear, I still find that so amazing after all these years.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
some people can't understand and have no capacity.
They will not be able to change. It's okay to decide who you want to hold onto in your life. It helps to know that there are people out there who will try and understand, even just a little. I value the small efforts.
One of my friends hasn't contacted me for a month, since I got out of my inpatient stay. It's very interesting. She didn't really understand or try to understand about what I was going through, and unpredictably, she disappeared pretty quickly. Some say it's a gift through these difficult times, to learn who is a real friend. I value this lesson and don't mind if I have to cut out a few fairweather friends.