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

DuchessRavenwaves1 Housebound elder Parent Depression
  • replies: 3

Hello, my mother is on full-time oxygen and housebound. She's in her mid 70s. Most of us found lockdown rather difficult. However for her it will not really conclude. The downside of the pandemic is she's lost mobility because she was not exercising ... View more

Hello, my mother is on full-time oxygen and housebound. She's in her mid 70s. Most of us found lockdown rather difficult. However for her it will not really conclude. The downside of the pandemic is she's lost mobility because she was not exercising and is now housebound for what will be the remainder of her life. She is an intelligent woman and now very depressed. There's only so many puzzles and tapestries and television shows one can watch. She has portable oxygen but it is so physically taxing for her to be out and about. Studies about depression in elderly housebound people are not giving me much around how to help her. I'm lost and have not clue how to help and she is so sad. She has my father still but the reality of watching everyone live and do things that she can't participate in has her so down. Anyone in a similar position? Any ideas..

MarieKA Seeking advice on getting a loved one to take meds
  • replies: 1

Hi! I’m seeking advice. A loved one (LO) of mine went through a very traumatic breakup a few years ago. There are children involved and so they are now co-parenting with the ex and the relationship is hostile and antagonistic. My LO has undertaken so... View more

Hi! I’m seeking advice. A loved one (LO) of mine went through a very traumatic breakup a few years ago. There are children involved and so they are now co-parenting with the ex and the relationship is hostile and antagonistic. My LO has undertaken some counseling but didn’t find it useful and are not motivated to try again. They have been prescribed antidepressants but refuse to take them. Depression is massively affecting their daily life - they miss appointments, work, breakdown in tears and explode in anger. I have tried to encourage LO to take the meds but they refuse on the basis that what they are feeling is legitimate, they have a right to be angry and broken hearted about what has happened and they don’t want medication to artificially dampen their feelings. They fixate on events that happened years ago, but argue that as they are still living with the outcome (loss of house, strained relationship with children), these are effectively current events. I am no psychologist/doctor but I do think they may be suffering PTSD from the very serious events in the past (this has not been diagnosed though). I haven’t taken ADs myself so struggle to explain how they will help them, but I strongly believe they will (or at least may) be able to help them move forward and find peace. I’ve not been able to find a good explainer of how they might help someone deal with trauma be able to move past it without forgetting it or being artificially ‘happy’ about actual terrible things that have happened. Can anyone help me out, I’m really interested in first person experiences or articles that I could share with my LO. Thanks in advance. Xx

brookelouise Where can we get help for our dad?
  • replies: 1

Hello, I’m new to this but don’t know where else to access help. My dad is 60+ years old, and has lived his life with undiagnosed adhd and as a result, we (his family) believe he has developed quite severe depression. I am wondering if anyone knows o... View more

Hello, I’m new to this but don’t know where else to access help. My dad is 60+ years old, and has lived his life with undiagnosed adhd and as a result, we (his family) believe he has developed quite severe depression. I am wondering if anyone knows of any supports available in South Australiathat could help? He is very resistant to anything involved with emotions, but we really want to get him help.

Anna-B-Love Need for non-judgemental support and understanding-Loving a partner with depression
  • replies: 2

Hi everyone,I've never posted on here before.I'm reaching out because my partner of 7 years has depression and I'm struggling trying to support him.I just need nice words, reassurances, to speak to people in a similar situation. When I try talk to my... View more

Hi everyone,I've never posted on here before.I'm reaching out because my partner of 7 years has depression and I'm struggling trying to support him.I just need nice words, reassurances, to speak to people in a similar situation. When I try talk to my family or friends they do exactly what they should-and advocate for me instead. They'll tell me they're concerned because he's making me unhappy, and I should think of leaving him etc. But that's not what I want. I want to stay with my beautiful partner but sometimes I just need to share the load a bit. His family are all quite self-absorbed and he doesn't reach out to them at all. We are in week 3 of a depressive episode. I'm lonely. All of the usual things that sustain us are missing. He doesn't want to talk to me about my day, he doesn't hug me, he's cold and detached. We've been here before for not usually for 3 weeks. He's self medicating with alcohol and weed a bit-not too out of the ordinary. I keep suggesting healthy things that might help like a hike, a run, an appointment with his psychologist but he's not acting on any of those. I can tell he feels worse when I'm around because he has to take on the guilt of affecting me too-So I try keep busy and stay out of the house. I go gym, shopping, work, gardening. Being social is harder though because I don't feel like being near anyone who'll ask me how I am, then I have to be fake or just burst out crying. I love him so deeply, and it is so painful to watch him hurt and be miserable. I'm trying to be strong but I feel like I'm make of origami and a gust of wind could blow me over. I just need to hear from people in the same situation. A bit of faith or motivation. Thank you.

Moominmoo My beautiful 16 year old daughter hates herself.
  • replies: 6

I’ve just spent another night trying every tactic, every loving compassion filled ounce of my soul, to settle my 16year old daughter to sleep. Again. ”I’m ugly, I’m so lonely, I’ll fail anyways, I have no friends, everyone leaves me out, I can’t do t... View more

I’ve just spent another night trying every tactic, every loving compassion filled ounce of my soul, to settle my 16year old daughter to sleep. Again. ”I’m ugly, I’m so lonely, I’ll fail anyways, I have no friends, everyone leaves me out, I can’t do this anymore, why is everything so hard?!” I sit here in desperation watching the wee girl I spent my years as a proud mummy with crumble. Move told her even if she spends every day in bed I’ll still love her and be proud of her. I’ve told her she is amazing. I’ve listened, I’ve booked countless rejected dr and psychology appointments, I’ve tried everything I can think of! Even going so far as to say she is responsible for the happiness in her life, which in hindsight sucked because she sees no happiness! How the hell do parents and teenagers get through this and more importantly how the hell can I guide her, unobtrusively through this?! She just reacts in extreme anger, like throwing things and shouting and swearing in any situation that confronts her. I need a holiday!!!!! helllllllllp!!!!!!!!! waaaahhhhhh!

geoff A Devastating Year 2022
  • replies: 8

Such an awful year 2022 has been so far , now with The Queen passing away in September aged 96, such a strong icon for some many years and has always been on the throne before I was born, unfortunately the same year her husband Prince Phillip died.I ... View more

Such an awful year 2022 has been so far , now with The Queen passing away in September aged 96, such a strong icon for some many years and has always been on the throne before I was born, unfortunately the same year her husband Prince Phillip died.I had so much respect for her but it's not only her, we have lost so many other wonderful people who aren't with us any more this year, it's so devastating.My heart opens up to all and my sincere apologies for those concerned.Take care.Geoff.Life Member.

smaireewall Partner's depression
  • replies: 6

Hi... My partner is 39 years old and severely depressed. He's also an addict which really doesn't help with his depression obviously. We've been together 5 years and there's a 10 year age gap between us, him being the oldest. He absolutely refuses to... View more

Hi... My partner is 39 years old and severely depressed. He's also an addict which really doesn't help with his depression obviously. We've been together 5 years and there's a 10 year age gap between us, him being the oldest. He absolutely refuses to get help, dismisses me when I suggest counselling, dismisses me when I attempt to bring up his mental health in general. He can be very hostile, says really nasty things and if I get upset he gets angrier saying I'm too sensitive and he is 'sick of having to worry about how I feel', which just ends up in me walking on eggshells pretending I'm not upset while he continues to take his depression out on me. I don't believe I'm too sensitive, I think being upset at being spoken to that way is justified. I don't know what to do, the thought of trying to have a conversation with him about it is exhausting, I just know I will be dismissed or spoken to like I'm stupid but I love him and don't want to end the relationship. The whole situation builds up this resentment in me because I can't believe that he would continue to feel like this and because of it, treat those around him like crap and still refuse to do something about it...is it wrong of me to think that as so selfish? Perhaps it is...I'm trying to be patient. Any advice would be appreciated.

815 Supporting a depressed husband - seeking hope
  • replies: 230

I am married to an amazing man. We have been together 20 years, married for 15 and have 2 amazing daughters. We have always stood by each other, and he has always been loving and supportive. Towards the end of last year, my husband told me he was dep... View more

I am married to an amazing man. We have been together 20 years, married for 15 and have 2 amazing daughters. We have always stood by each other, and he has always been loving and supportive. Towards the end of last year, my husband told me he was depressed. At that time, I asked him to get help. He said he didn't want to and we left it at that and things got better for a few months. But for the most part of this year things have been very up and down,. A couple of weeks ago he admitted that he wanted to die. I know nothing about depression so every time we talk about it, I ask him to get help. However over the last few weeks he has stopped talking to me, and started sleeping in our spare room. He has told me that I can't help him, he wants to go it alone, I haven't been there for him, and may other hurtful things. I keep telling myself that it is the depression, but it causes me great pain and sadness. Last week one of his oldest friends contacted me to tell me that my husband had been to see him. He told him he's lost and disconnected, doesn't know where he is, and how or where I stand with him. But his friend told me that he loves me, and that I can't give up, even when/if my husband says he has. He hasn't given up. But I need to be patient and try to find a way to reconnect. I cry every time I think of this. I do believe there is still love there. But I can also appreciate that the depression probably leave very little room for him to feel/see anything else right now. I know the priority is to get him help. However as he keeps refusing, I feel there is little more that I can do. I know he needs professional help and as long as I still have the strength to, I will keep trying to convince him to get help. I am writing this post basically because I need hope. I need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I need to know that loving him and simply being there for him (even though he says it's not enough) can get us through this. So if anyone has any experience, stories to share, tips and suggestions on how to reconnect, I would be very grateful. I know that it sounds highly idealistic, and we don't live in fairy tales. But I have to keep believing that we will get through this somehow.

Jacah Long distance relationship - boyfriend with depression
  • replies: 4

Hi all, I have been in a long distance relationship for 9 months with a gorgeous man who I love incredibly. We get along so well, and he's just beautiful. When we met he was depressed however I didn't realise, as our relationship started out we were ... View more

Hi all, I have been in a long distance relationship for 9 months with a gorgeous man who I love incredibly. We get along so well, and he's just beautiful. When we met he was depressed however I didn't realise, as our relationship started out we were both so excited and chirpy that I found that both my anxiety, and his depression was nowhere to be seen. We spoke twice a day, texted constantly, about everything and a lot of sexual things. (honeymoon) About 3 months in, he completely plummeted emotionally and asked for a break and for me to cancel all flights and that he could not handle our relationship anymore. It broke my heart. We hardly spoke, hardly messaged. After 2 weeks he apologised, said he couldn't handle the split and that it was a mistake, that he loved me and paid for me to go there. The depression then disappeared again until about 1 month ago. He started a new job, had really high hopes for how it would go. Some pieces he worked on did not go to plan and all of a sudden he started plummeting again. Getting depressed, not texting or calling much, etc. Me, being anxious, has automatically gone into OH GOD mode, worried that he will think that our relationship is causing too much stress again, and will break it off. I feel neglected because he has withdrawn. He mentioned a few weeks back how hard he found this, that he couldn't just see me whenever, and that planning for the future of me moving there felt like loads of pressure too. As a result I have become a sad over thinker and have been too impacted by it emotionally. In summary, I need help with how I can support him and also manage my own expectations. Understand that it's not necessarily me, and how to 'drop those thoughts'. I just love him dearly and he deserves to feel the absolute best and I desperately want him to see that. Also, we have been talking about next year closing the gap. How do I live with someone who is depressed and not get depressed myself? How do I stop getting anxious when I feel neglected? Also, how do I make sure I don't put my own needs and feelings second always? Advice and stories appreciated.

Mell-T Need help
  • replies: 4

My partner is an alcoholic, he has no cut off when he drinks. He is always looking for specials and finds things to do outside to drink. We don't have many friends as he becomes really silly when drinking, he thinks he is funny but honestly it's emba... View more

My partner is an alcoholic, he has no cut off when he drinks. He is always looking for specials and finds things to do outside to drink. We don't have many friends as he becomes really silly when drinking, he thinks he is funny but honestly it's embarrassing. We went to a party not long ago and he was found in a ditch in the yard with his pants down and had to be helped back to the party. Recently our children have started having friends over for sleep overs, I have asked him not to drink when my children have friends here. He passes out in the toilet standing at the bench, kneeling on the floor or outside. I don't want my children to experience this at anytime, let alone when they have friends over. Anything I say to him follows a reply of sure or whatever and he just ignores anything I say and drinks. I'm at my wits end and don't know what more I can do to try and get him to get help. I have offered to go to the doctor with him and support him through this to get help. He just ignores me and continues to drink. His children have asked him to stop and he ignores them too. He was horrible to not only my child but rude to the friend who was over too. I told him it was unacceptable and he needed to apologise, how would he feel if that was his child. He apologised but told the child to make sure they told me and his child that he apologised. This is not ok and I really don't know what to do anymore, he changed jobs which was a good thing and I thought that would help, but nothing has changed. He is on antidepressants and other medications and drinks 2-3 cartons of beer a week, plus sometimes other drinks as well. I don't know how to get him to see how this is affecting his family and for him to understand he needs help and him to get help. I can't keep living this way and don't want my children to grow up thinking this is normal and ok!!