Supporting family and friends

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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.]

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Blue_Basil Depressed daughter *Trigger warning - self harm*
  • replies: 17

Hello, First time posting. My 15 year old daughter has been suffering from depression for almost a year now. I am not sure what event caused it or if it is a combination but her first real boyfriend broke up with her last year. Her best friend moved ... View more

Hello, First time posting. My 15 year old daughter has been suffering from depression for almost a year now. I am not sure what event caused it or if it is a combination but her first real boyfriend broke up with her last year. Her best friend moved overseas and her friendship circle broke down. I believe the fact that one of her friends in particular started communicating with me about my daughters struggles may have caused friction in the group and my daughter now feels guilt over that also. She has been self harming, eating less and less each day and withdrawn from her friends and everything that she used to love. I've tried 2 counsellors but she doesn't want to talk to them. She opens up a little to the guidance officer at school which is good but besides that doesn't talk to anyone about her struggles. She has body image issues and has lost a lot of weight, also refusing to eat in front of people. We've been to a Dr today and had blood tests done after she disclosed feeling often dizzy and light headed to the GO. I'd love to hear from others who have been through this. Its so shattering to watch her go through this. Previously I'd become all emotional and jump into 'fix it' mode but I am now learning to keep calm and offer support rather than advise. Thanks

Twiggs How can I support my partner - recently diagnosed
  • replies: 1

Hi, I have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years now, & the whole time I've known him he has had very low moods & major self-esteem issues. He finally decided after a low where he had dark thoughts that he should seek professional help (after 2 y... View more

Hi, I have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years now, & the whole time I've known him he has had very low moods & major self-esteem issues. He finally decided after a low where he had dark thoughts that he should seek professional help (after 2 years of me suggesting it), & after a month he was diagnosed with dysmythia/persistent depressive disorder, which is suspected to have started around early high school (he's now late 20's). Since his diagnosis, he's been more low than usual, & keeps referring to himself as broken. I've done a little bit of research on it (not heaps, as he was only diagnosed recently) but I was wondering if there is anything I can do to support him? He's really good at letting me know when he's feeling down, & I just feel kind of useless because I don't know what I can do to help. Any attempts at asking if there's something I can do always gets the "I don't know" answer. It's also so hard to hear him talk about how much of a failure he thinks he is, how he's a bad friend/son/partner, how much he hates the way he looks (he's not overweight in the slightest but considers himself disgusting). He asks how I could love him when he's "such a failure of a person" or tells me he understands if I don't want to be with him, & it breaks my heart. We haven't been intimate in about 6 months because of his body issues, which I have found rather difficult. He tells me he straight up doesn't believe me when I compliment him, he won't talk to his friends about anything (though sometimes he'll mention he's having a bad day). He sees a psychologist every 1-2 weeks, & is always very down after every appointment. (Not sure if it's just hitting some uncomfortable truths maybe?) It makes him hard to be around sometimes when he's in a bad/low mood (even the dogs avoid him), & it's a relief sometimes when he wants to be left alone on his computer, though that makes me feel guilty & like a bad girlfriend for feeling like that. I'm just not sure what I should be doing (or IF there's something) to help? He knows I'm here to talk or even just listen, but he won't tell me anything other than "I'm having a low day". I want to talk to his friends about it because they're fantastic and supportive (they know he's been struggling) but I'm worried that he'll see it as a breach of privacy and trust. Trying to stay positive for the both of us is exhausting some days (especially in lockdown), & I'm just not sure what or where to go from here?

Pippa_Pie Porn addiction brick bat
  • replies: 4

My husband has just told me he is addicted to open sites and it has been going on for over three years. He has pleaded with me thst he is sorry and to take his phone away. He also tells me he has suicidal thoughts and doesn’t feel good enough. I have... View more

My husband has just told me he is addicted to open sites and it has been going on for over three years. He has pleaded with me thst he is sorry and to take his phone away. He also tells me he has suicidal thoughts and doesn’t feel good enough. I have told him he needs to get help and thankfully he has agreed. He keeps asking me if I still like him and are we okay. I know he is fragile so don’t want to cause any upset but I am upset about the porn. It feels like a betrayal.

Unsure77 Help needed
  • replies: 259

Hi i recently walked out on my bi polar fiancé as it got abusive and nasty. I wish I had read Tony's post about the cuppa before doing so, I'm not a confrontational person at all, the is sure I cheated on her which I didn't as she contacted the perso... View more

Hi i recently walked out on my bi polar fiancé as it got abusive and nasty. I wish I had read Tony's post about the cuppa before doing so, I'm not a confrontational person at all, the is sure I cheated on her which I didn't as she contacted the person and was told the same thing, but still didn't believe either us. She told me she loved me and things would change every time I went back but never did. The last time I went back she hit me again so I walked. It's been nearly three weeks now I haven't heard from her. Her family hate me as they all think I cheated on her, she has told them I am a compulsive liar. I love and miss her so much. have I made the right decision by leaving, not that I think I will ever see or hear from her again. She is all I have thought about since I left.

jmp2121 How to support boyfriend with drug addiction??
  • replies: 3

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 1 year now. He is amazing to me and we are both generally very happy in love. When I first met him I knew he would often use marijuana and I was fine with it. It wasn’t until later in the relationship that I learnt he ... View more

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 1 year now. He is amazing to me and we are both generally very happy in love. When I first met him I knew he would often use marijuana and I was fine with it. It wasn’t until later in the relationship that I learnt he has an addiction and he openly told me as well. We have spoken about it often and I do my best to support him when I know he struggles. He will smoke marijuana every day after work and every weekend when he has it, and it’s usually 24/7 that there is marijuana in the house as he lives with a roommate who also smokes it, so 97% of the time he is high. It’s not that the marijuana comes between us or our relationship, that’s not the case and he is still able to do things with me and go out with me without using it. Tonight we had a talk about how he is feeling like he needs to work on himself and his addiction. He has said to me that he uses marijuana because the drug is better than life and it gives him a feeling that is better than any other whilst it lasts and has thoughts of spending all of his money on drugs but knows the consequences that would come along with this, yet still has the urge to do it. I am finding it really hard right now as I have a lot of fears for our relationship and the future of it. I wish I could make him feel as happy as drugs can. I expressed to him my fear that he might choose drugs over me eventually. He ended up saying that he would be lying if he said to me he 100% wouldn’t choose drugs over me because he doesn’t know. This made me feel really upset because I obviously don’t want him to choose drugs over me and I don’t want to get to the future and become heart broken because he chooses them over me. I don’t want to leave the relationship because I love him so much and I know he does love me. He has said that there isn’t anything I can really do to help apart from supporting him which I already do. He has acknowledged that he has a problem and is trying to work on it. I just don’t know if there is anything else I can do to help him? I’ve never dealt with this situation before and I’m really overwhelmed.

Kipvee Supporting ex boyfriend who is currently staying in a Mental Health unit.
  • replies: 2

My ex boyfriend (from 7 years ago) is currently and inpatient at a Mental health unit, he suffers from psychosis and drug addiction and a lot of other mental health issues. We have spoken on and off over the years and last time he got put in hospital... View more

My ex boyfriend (from 7 years ago) is currently and inpatient at a Mental health unit, he suffers from psychosis and drug addiction and a lot of other mental health issues. We have spoken on and off over the years and last time he got put in hospital I was the only person he had to talk to. -I am married and have two children -My husband supports me in my decisions what I want advance on, can bring a support person for someone you once had a romantic relationship with be bad for there recovery or is it possible to keep it as a close friendship support person without hindering his rehabilitation

Huckle Desperately looking for help
  • replies: 10

After struggling with treatment resistant depression for the past 4 years, my 23yo daughter ended up on life support in ICU 2 weeks ago after (her first) suicide attempt. This is an event I'd predicted and I've lived in constant dread, worrying ... n... View more

After struggling with treatment resistant depression for the past 4 years, my 23yo daughter ended up on life support in ICU 2 weeks ago after (her first) suicide attempt. This is an event I'd predicted and I've lived in constant dread, worrying ... not about "if" but about "when". However, as I always try to look for the good things in all situations, I'm grateful that the story thus far is different to what I'd predicted. After 4 days in ICU, "medically" she is ok, there is another chance to help her. The problem is she has tried all treatments from ECT to TMS and many different cocktails of "the best" medications. She diligently attends psychology groups/courses designed to help her destructive thoughts, she is a good patient, a sensible patient, an easy patient and she tries so hard to help herself. But for her, this makes the situation more hopeless. Everytime she tries something new that doesn't alleviate her pain the situation becomes even more hopeless and she is tired and running out of energy to keep fighting. Right now I feel she needs some extra support with mixed emotions from a failed suicide attempt, she is not only experiencing her usual mental health issues but she has added trauma and grief which are really affecting her. I'm running out of ideas to find help and I feel desperate that there may not be a next chance. I foolishly imagined that she would have received counseling about what she was thinking/feeling at the time she tried to take her life and there would be some sort of trauma counseling so she could talk things through. She desperately wants to talk to someone objective/impartial. She is really hurting. Help is so hard to find, she can't even get an appointment with her psychologist for a month. She sees her psychiatrist in hospital but he doesn't really talk to her, just tells her he has tried everything and it's up to her, then he tweaks her meds a bit more. I will do absolutely anything to get her the help she needs and I will do absolutely anything to help her myself but I feel like I just don't know where to turn. Any ideas would be really appreciated. Thank you.

WorriedPartner1 My spouse is pushing me away.. what can I do?
  • replies: 9

My spouse of 5 years suffers with depression. He is currently trying to manage it on his own. A fortnight ago it became so unbearable he was wanting to end his life. He decided he needed space, and wanted to distance himself from his family and mysel... View more

My spouse of 5 years suffers with depression. He is currently trying to manage it on his own. A fortnight ago it became so unbearable he was wanting to end his life. He decided he needed space, and wanted to distance himself from his family and myself, in order to sort through his emotions. He didn't speak to me for a week. As he is a regular FIFO worker, it was an opportunity for him to get the space he needed. Communication with me has been lacking, but I have heard from friends that he is answering phone calls. He is battling with his self worth, self esteem and currently questioning our marriage. He feels like he can't love others if he doesn't love himself. He has been suffering with depression for a while, however this is very unusual behaviour toward our relationship. He has been withdrawn from regular hobbies. There have been no sudden changes, that I can think of which may have contributed, but I can't know for certain. I know we both make each other very happy. We are always laughing and affectionate toward one another. As we've both been in toxic partnerships before, we are very conscious of how we treat each other, often talking about our emotions. I understand the feelings related to self worth are impacting what he thinks he does or doesn't deserve. I think pushing me away seems like the only thing in his control right now. I have been doing everything I can to show my support. I have encouraged him to seek help from services provided by mine sites. Giving him space, alerting his family, letting him know I am here, offering to collect scripts and making an appointment for him to visit a councillor if he wishes to. I have stressed there is no obligation to attend, but the offer is there if he wants to go down that path. I am very worried for his safety. He is still refusing to communicate with me beyond a text message every few days. He is due to return home after his regular 2 week swing, only having 1 week of R&R. However I am afraid he will continue to isolate, demanding more space and time, perhaps not even living with me when he returns home. Ultimately, trying to push me away until I finally leave. I have made it clear, I am sticking by him during his journey. He seems to ignore this part. Is there any advice on how I can make him feel more supported? How can I show my husband that pushing people away right now may not be the right answer? How long should I wait before reaching out in person if he continues to want space?

Mel_Re How do I help my depressed husband 😢
  • replies: 8

Hi Everyone, I am in need of some advice and help please. My husband and I have been married for 5 years. My husband has depression (diagnosed prior to us meeting) and it seems to be particularly bad at the moment. Whenever I try to talk to my him ab... View more

Hi Everyone, I am in need of some advice and help please. My husband and I have been married for 5 years. My husband has depression (diagnosed prior to us meeting) and it seems to be particularly bad at the moment. Whenever I try to talk to my him about anything that I'm not particularly happy with I get the response -he hates himself he never does anything right and he may as well go die. I generally try to avoid bringing up any subjects as I tend to be left feeling unheard and I then need to make sure he is ok. Of late I have noticed more and more that he is unable to hold a conversation with me, I can be in the middle of talking and he will cut me off and start talking about something completely different. It feels like he has so much on his mind that he doesn't concentrate on anything anyone is saying. He seems to also have a lack of motivation, sex drive, is very negative and just spends anytime he can getting lost in his phone. (This is how he winds down ) His anger (not physical) and patience have also long gone. We have talked many of times and he has promised to see someone but never follows through on it. Or I will get reason why it is bad and he knows what to do (exercise and eat better) but then never does. I'm starting to feel a lil stretched, constantly am trying to make sure everything is perfect so he has nothing to worry about when he gets home but there is always something that he finds and that is what he will focus on and won't even realize that he has got to come home and just relax. We both work full time. Im Just not sure what I can do anymore to help. Any advice or perspective would be appreciated.

Violet12 What should I do now?
  • replies: 1

What is my role now? I've done all the things i can think of. I've gone through the process of researching and organising therapists more times than I can count, but he needs to talk to them to make the appointment, and hasn't. I've invited him out o... View more

What is my role now? I've done all the things i can think of. I've gone through the process of researching and organising therapists more times than I can count, but he needs to talk to them to make the appointment, and hasn't. I've invited him out of the house daily, he doesn't want to go. I've tried encouraging him to go to work (he does uber, sometimes) but he won't. I've even told him I need him to do something because it's too hard for me to hear about how he hates himself and hates his life and wishes he could run away or stop living. So what do I do now? Background: My partner is depressed, and has immense shame about being unemployed and being depressed, and has no motivation to go to therapy or exercise or eat well, and it's all an awful deep cycle. He's been smoking weed to cope and isn't sure if it's helping or not, neither am I. On one hand, it's sometimes the only time of the day he'll laugh and seem happy or relaxed. On the other hand, he has shame about that too since he now feels like a "drug addict". It's like everything makes him feel shame and self-hatred. He regularly says he feels shame because of society and like a drain because he's on welfare, and that he wishes he could live in a windowless box alone where nobody would know he existed. When I tell him this is stigma he's internalised, and that he didn't choose this, and that there are millions like him, he says he doesn't want to talk about it any more and shuts me out. When I ask him to go to therapy he says he can't be bothered trying. He says he can't be bothered doing anything ever again. He says he doesnt care enough about anything and that he just wants to hide so he can stop letting people down. He says he's embarassed and he's a burden. When I point out the depression is that voice and those thoughts aren't facts, he shuts me out. So... some days I trick myself into believing he's fine. If he's getting high and overeating and avoiding responsibilities, but he laughs once or doesn't mention feeling like shit, then I can at least not be absorbed in concern and heart ache that day. If he mentions hating himself, it's like a kick to my chest and I feel miserably helpless. Nothing I am saying or doing is making a difference, so I just hear that and have to walk around with it. What do I do now? I can't do anything? If I just focus on me, keeping my health in order, and enjoying moments in my day, does this make me selfish because he is in the corner feeling almost suicidal?