Supporting family and friends

Share tips on supporting a partner, family member or friend with a mental health condition, and seeking support for your own wellbeing.

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Carmela Are you supporting a depressed partner? My tips from 18 years of experience
  • replies: 41

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel s... View more

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel supported - this also covers support groups - online or face to face. Don't let stigma stop you from reaching out. 2. Relationship boundaries - identify what is acceptable and not. My general platform is that physical abuse is unacceptable as well as regular demeaning/berating comments. Communicate this openly so everyone understands. 3. Coping tools - this could be exercise, meditation, reading a book, meeting friends, etc. They are important for your mental health. 4. Knowledge is power - research to understand about depression. The more you know, the better care you can provide. 5. Remember your partner in the good times - this is their true selves, not the darkness. 6. Listen and show receptivity - without judgement or anger. If communicate becomes strained, the timeout can provide clarity. Encourage communication gently and try not to push. 7. Seek counselling - sharing your feelings can provide an opportunity to off load the heavy stuff and identify resilience and coping strategies. 8. Work as a team - don't let mental illness be in the driver's seat. Offer to go to the Dr's and support them. Understand medication and side effects. Be understanding that some days are harder than others. 9. Words are powerful - remember what you say cannot be taken back. 10. Carer Self-esteem and self-worth - if you compromise these for the sake of supporting your partner, you are likely to live with resentment towards your partner and the circumstances you find yourself in. 11. Don't forget the children - challenging circumstances at home can affect them mentally and emotionally. Speak about mental illness (COPMI.com.au - has some great resources) and be a strong foundation toward maintaining normality in their daily activities. 12. Intimacy - there are many variables here, so from my experience - keep communication open and make couple time to connect. When my husband was depressed, daily hugs or holding hands wherever possible worked for us. Some carers I have spoken with said their partner would demand intimacy. My personal position is that intimacy is about love without demands or attachments relating to expectation. Demands only deplete the goodness in the connection and sharing a a loving experience. [Moderator's note: this thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supported a loved one with a mental health condition. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you are seeking support from the community around how to best support your loved one.]

All discussions

Teddie_123 Losing friends
  • replies: 4

Not long only about a couple days ago I lost 6 of my closest friends and my only friends, 3 of them texted me saying hey I’m really sorry but we don’t want to be your friend anymore it’s not because your not nice or whatever it’s because you put to m... View more

Not long only about a couple days ago I lost 6 of my closest friends and my only friends, 3 of them texted me saying hey I’m really sorry but we don’t want to be your friend anymore it’s not because your not nice or whatever it’s because you put to much pressure on us and are to clingy but I’ve said to them if I’m ever to clingy or annoying tell me but they didn’t so I don’t have friends now and I’ve been struggling with a ed and I fainted at school and one of my old friends was saying I was faking when I wasn’t and I have also been struggling with my mental health since I was 10 and I have autism so not many people get me now I don’t have friends and I have been crying so much and I haven’t been to school in a week people are telling me oh you will find new friends and more but I don’t want new friends I want them they were the best to me and now I feel like I don’t even deserve friends anymore, I wish I could be there friend so I can stop feeling like this but that’s probably not ever going to happen again I had so many good memories with them and now they just have disappeared and they keep looking at me like I’m some type of animal and we never knew each other.

Richard Teenage silence
  • replies: 3

Looking for advice for supporting my 16yo son who has been giving the silent treatment for 3 days now. He is isolating from school, friends and sport and not talking at all, opting to just stay in his room. I feel like we’ve tried all avenues but he’... View more

Looking for advice for supporting my 16yo son who has been giving the silent treatment for 3 days now. He is isolating from school, friends and sport and not talking at all, opting to just stay in his room. I feel like we’ve tried all avenues but he’s giving nothing. At what point do we reach out for help and how do we do that?For context he has experienced anxiety and bullying in the past, possibly still ongoing off and on and we have been seeking assistance from a psychologist.

BlueLily How to help a co-worker
  • replies: 2

If I know a co-worker is going through mental health issues but not prepared to talk about, is it still ok to offer help? Or can it have a negative impact knowing that colleagues are aware of their condition and make them feel more insecure? Thoughts... View more

If I know a co-worker is going through mental health issues but not prepared to talk about, is it still ok to offer help? Or can it have a negative impact knowing that colleagues are aware of their condition and make them feel more insecure? Thoughts and opinions are welcome as I am unsure what to do in this situation.

Peppapig1 Schizophrenia.
  • replies: 1

Hello I'm really glad I found this community I also use the sane australia forum. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the beginning of last year I'd like to know there's others like me out there and I'm hoping my experiences are the same as others ... View more

Hello I'm really glad I found this community I also use the sane australia forum. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the beginning of last year I'd like to know there's others like me out there and I'm hoping my experiences are the same as others with a diagnoses of schizophrenia. I don't use drugs or drink alcohol anymore I'm 3 years sober and 6 years drug free. I believe there's invisible people here following me, plotting against me, putting alcohol and drugs into my food and fluids, pushing me into the wall, tripping me over, taking advantage of me while I sleep. The invisible people are the people I use to hang out with or stalked on social media. When I really think about it sometimes how are they invisible, wouldn't they have hurt me to the point I'd be in hospital with injuries. I googled invisible invention and it said Canada military has made an invisible wall so now my brain has come up with there in an invisible suit. The medication isn't taking it away and even when I tell myself noones here it's just you here my brain still believes there here and it's effecting my relationship with my kids and friends because I also think there controlling what I say and what I do like they have control over my brain I also think they control what I think and they know exactly what I'm thinking about too.

Chewaldo Trying to support my Mum who hoards
  • replies: 6

I am slowly, after 11 years, coming to realise that I can't help my Mum with her hoarding, lack of cleaning, hermitting, nor seem to help with any of her underlying mental health issues of anxiety and depression. What I am struggling with, is the gui... View more

I am slowly, after 11 years, coming to realise that I can't help my Mum with her hoarding, lack of cleaning, hermitting, nor seem to help with any of her underlying mental health issues of anxiety and depression. What I am struggling with, is the guilt that she lives in this way and as her only child, that I can't seem to make any impact or help her in any real way. I have not once, but three times made the same huge mistake of cleaning her house (or in reality, spending all day cleaning one room), I know I can't do this again as it upset her terribly. I have encouraged her to have mental health support, psychological support, ACAT review, she refuses it all. And now more recently, I have the incredible guilt that I have actually enjoyed the respite of not seeing her throughout Covid lockdown. And I know I am putting off having her over to my place to resume our weekly dinners (her only activity out of her house and her only time she gets to speak with her grandchildren - or anyone at all). I am annoyed that she has told me that during isolation she "was able to live the life I have always wanted to" and that she is the happiest she has ever been. But I realise I am punishing her for saying those things and I feel terrible about my lack of compassion - I should really invite her over. Considering hoarding is supposed to be such a big community issue that affects a lot of people, I don't know of anyone else who discusses it. And I definitely don't know anyone who is trying to help their Mother live with this. My hope through writing this thread is that I will meet others like myself, who know what it is like. Don't get me wrong, it can be funny - the lounge chair covered in hundreds of shoulder pads as if preparing for a huge 80s revival was humerous, but it can also be gut wrenchingly and overwhelmingly sad. I hope someone can relate to this.

Carolyn SON WANTS TO END LIFE
  • replies: 6

My son is 23. He has said for many many years he wants to end his life. He is extremely lonely. He told me last night he will be ending his life but not whilst I am still living but if he is still single by the time I die - that’s it. He’s done. I am... View more

My son is 23. He has said for many many years he wants to end his life. He is extremely lonely. He told me last night he will be ending his life but not whilst I am still living but if he is still single by the time I die - that’s it. He’s done. I am 52. I will be around for a while yet. How can I help him ?

MummaBear High functioning but severely depressed
  • replies: 5

This is all so complicated I will just talk about what is going on now...I am staying with my 26 year old son as everything spiralled when he failed a uni exam. I live in regional Victoria and he just south of Coolangatta. I knew he was struggling as... View more

This is all so complicated I will just talk about what is going on now...I am staying with my 26 year old son as everything spiralled when he failed a uni exam. I live in regional Victoria and he just south of Coolangatta. I knew he was struggling as he was phoning me every day and sometimes twice.He presents as so together,studying at uni, working, exercising, no drugs or alcohol. Is on Anti depressants has a therapist and a caring and supportive GP. When I arrived he shared he had a suicide plan and if his ex partner hadn't picked up the phone he would have carried it out. I have been here 2 weeks. We finally have an admission date but it is a month away. As he is an adult I can't talk to the drs, hospital etc and my son will not include me in appointments, he needs an earlier date. 2 psychiatrists have said complex PTSD.At times my son has been highly anxious, aggressive and agitated, there is now a hole in a door, and then uncontrollable crying and saying he wants to die. I was struggling and my partner dropped everything and came up. He has a good relationship with my son but now things have got difficult. My partner and I thought we could have a conversation about making a plan how to manage, and that we have a life too. And where do we fit in. My son is out a lot of the time, this is how he manages by keeping busy ( which is great) but we are left in his flat with no purpose, he says just enjoy a seaside holiday and it stresses him that we don't do stuff. He kept saying he just wanted us to be like a flat mate but when pushed on this what he actually said was he is scared to be alone as he doesn't know what might happen.Now my son is upset about the conversation, we misread the situation. I have said I won't leave until he is in hospital and my partner is now shutting down and withdrawing because he is bored and frustrated. I have told him to go home because I can't jolly him along and deal with my son. My ex husband and son's father is clueless about depression ( just snap out of it!). My son says he can put up with his Dad visiting but I think this is because he feels guilty we are here. I am overwhelmed and trying to keep calm. My son and I have a tricky relationship, we love each other but it is very complicated because of his struggles with his mental health. Don't even know what I am asking....My psychologist said this is a unhealthy situation for me but I feel as though I can not leave my son. What to do, the priority is keeping my son safe. I think being bored and frustrated is a small price to pay.

Mr_E My wife self harms and I feel helpless
  • replies: 4

How do I say this... My partner (married 12 years) has always struggled with depression, and they have self harmed in the past. But recently, these past months things have gotten bad. They have a lot of pressure on them from family troubles, and they... View more

How do I say this... My partner (married 12 years) has always struggled with depression, and they have self harmed in the past. But recently, these past months things have gotten bad. They have a lot of pressure on them from family troubles, and they are seeing a counsellor about past trauma they have had as well (had been groomed as a child) they are unpacking those feelings. But it has opened them back up to self-harming. On the outside they usually seem fine, they function and otherwise act normally. Sometimes they reach out for extra hugs and love and I try to be there for that. Admittedly I haven't been the best support person in the past, and this has caused them to hesitate asking me for help. I'm working on getting better, cooking more and cleaning more. Their mood is directly related to the weather and how clean the house is. They have asked me to take their means of self harm and keep them so they have less access. But they end up just going out to buy more secretly and use those instead. I've given up hiding them The part I'm struggling with, is every time I see their legs, and see the damage they have done to themselves... I despair. Not openly Infront of them, I realize that if they see how much it bothers me it will not help them heal from it. But I can't help but feel disturbed. I fool myself to thinking things are getting better and then I notice the cuts have spread onto their other leg as well. We have carefully talked about it, and they have told me they do it to help them function, to remain in control. They call it a symptom of depression that will go away on its own. But this time it only looks like it's getting worse and I don't know what to do. They want intimacy from me, they want to feel loved and wanted. But I find my attraction flagging when I see that kind of damage. I don't want to be sexually intimate after I'm visually reminded... I mean, it's not that I don't want to, but I can't keep my head from spinning out and losing any arousal I had. I am talking to a counsellor, and my partner is too.. even so. I don't know what I can do. I don't feel like it's helping me find solutions. And maybe there isn't a solution necessarily? Maybe it's just a matter of time and effort and eventually it will stop on its own like they say if I try for long enough. I'm feeling very helpless. I know it's not my fault, but I do feel like I have contributed to their actions by not being supportive enough. If anyone has suggestions of what I could try.. out even if you just want to read and tell me your own experience too. I'm lost, I want to help them, but how do I help if they don't help themselves? I want to be supportive, which is why I'm coming here. But part of me wants to give up on them... and I feel ashamed to think that way. Thank you for reading

Snow Looking for Mental Health and rehab recommendations Qld
  • replies: 3

I have been drinking 1.5 bottles a night for the past 20+ years I am now in my early 50s. I've managed to hold down a full time job and I'm married with 3 amazing kids. Who get to see their mother passed out on the couch almost every night. Every mor... View more

I have been drinking 1.5 bottles a night for the past 20+ years I am now in my early 50s. I've managed to hold down a full time job and I'm married with 3 amazing kids. Who get to see their mother passed out on the couch almost every night. Every morning I wake and wonder when I moved from the couch to bed, hating myself and progressively through the day move from hate to it's ok, it's only a glass of wine. I have been to Belmont in the past due to depression. I know that my drinking is linked to my childhood. I just can't seem to lift the cloud I live under and seek the warmth of alcohol. I'm now on a fine line where i can't continue like this anymore. I know I have to address it and try and unravel it all to give me some peace and not depend on the bottle. I have top level health insurance and have been trying to find a rehab that feels right for me. I don't want to be feeling like a number and inconveniencing everyone. I want to be heard and helped. I don't want endless group therapy. I don't want to share a room with someone else who is experiencing life challenging lows. I don't want AA but an alternative to it. I don't want to go to a rehab that feels like detention or Cell Block H. I want somewhere that can help life my mind, body and soul without beeing too woo-woo. Ideally somewhere that is covered by private health or is affordable and won't take $100k from my super. Does such a place exist or am I wishing for unicorns and flying pigs? Can someone help me please? Before I loose it all. Thank you x

Zebra103 Friends aren't always there, but family are
  • replies: 1

Hey Guys, I have one friend who talked behind my back with her other friend and is toxic to me when in text. Every night she will text "Are we best friends" and "Do u like me or someone else like "she talks rubbish about ppl and then goes and says, "... View more

Hey Guys, I have one friend who talked behind my back with her other friend and is toxic to me when in text. Every night she will text "Are we best friends" and "Do u like me or someone else like "she talks rubbish about ppl and then goes and says, "Did u talk about me", She's Always like "Ur mad at me", And no, I'm not mad, I've been depressed for around a year now, im always sad, and people have even pointed that out, this one girl said, "Oh she's so depressed, all she does is stare", So no, I'm not mad, I'm not mad at anyone, I'm sad you would think that I'm so sad. I haven't been happy for ages, and i just watch life fly by, like I'm watching someone else's memories, i honestly don't think i belong in this world, the only thing that keeps me together is my family, who can relate or am i just weird?