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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SoulSearch Suspected depression and the end of marriage
  • replies: 2

Hi There For the first time in 2 decades I believe my partner is suffering from depression. The things being said and the behaviours all are signs. I’ve also been told that our marriage is over, there is no joy or desire or will to fight for it. Ther... View more

Hi There For the first time in 2 decades I believe my partner is suffering from depression. The things being said and the behaviours all are signs. I’ve also been told that our marriage is over, there is no joy or desire or will to fight for it. There is no official diagnosis yet but I’m very confident it’s depression of some kind. So I’m really confused. I’m hurt because our marriage has been ended without warning and I want to fix it and bring us closer and reconnect. But my partner has said that’s not what they want. How can I provide help and support and love and care and confirm that I won’t let go without fighting for them and us, when I’m being pushed away and told to give space and separation? I feel like if I stay away it’s confirming that I don’t want to help or fix our marriage.

BElaine Teen's first psych ward stay - what now?
  • replies: 1

Hi, I have spent this morning reading posts and replies and already feel reassured and not alone any more. I have admired the courage and resilience of those that post and the compassion and wisdom of those that reply. What a safe environment has bee... View more

Hi, I have spent this morning reading posts and replies and already feel reassured and not alone any more. I have admired the courage and resilience of those that post and the compassion and wisdom of those that reply. What a safe environment has been created here. My first enquiry is about how to support and encourage my 17 year old daughter after her confronting but apparently helpful experience of a 3 week residential in a youth program. She is highly intelligent but has managed to scoop the pool as far as diagnoses go - ASD, ADD, ODD, depression, anxiety and probable bipolar. She has spent years masking but found high school socially disasterous and academically unfulfilling or irrelevant. We've always been open and positive about her autism diagnosis but she resents it and resists any sort of help or therapy. When teenage insecurities kicked in things really got difficult, and confusing for her. She isolated herself on line, identifying as a man and a vegetarian on the same day - vegetarian lasted 2 days, being trans lasted 3 weeks. She projects all her issues onto her parents and will cut off anyone who disagrees with her, including her older sister who she used to admire so much. After a domestic violence incident her psychiatrist recommended a clinic stay as a circuit breaker where she had a built in social life, plenty of structure and few expectations placed on her and she also stopped communication with us because we "reminded her of her depression" - so no depression in the clinic either. She cut her hair off with scissors, shaved a slit in her eyebrow and ate a lot. She also met a lot of serious issues through the other patients. When we collected her she was manic - dropping out of school and enrolling in TAFE, her new friends at the clinic love her , she was talking like a machine gun whether we were interested or not, spent all her birthday money on line, watched Ru Paul's Drag Race relentlessly. 48 hours later came the crash - so down she couldn't eat. What do I do? or say? She was only doing 3 subjects in Year 11. Next TAFE intake is February and this is August in lockdown.....she sits on her bed all day dreaming of her fashion course at TAFE while bonding with drag queens on line. She only emerges to eat now. It's great that she's more positive than when she went to the clinic a month ago, so is this it for 6 months? How do we move forward? From what I read here, we have a long journey ahead. Any advice/ideas would be appreciated.

Scarey Struggling as a mum of teen. Want to give up. Trigger warning 'self harm and suicidal ideation'
  • replies: 2

Hi there, I'm not very good at communicating in writing but here goes. I want to give custody of my 15 yr old to their Dad. I feel as if i've reached my limit and have no more to give. I had twins at 17, both are doing well now and parents of my gran... View more

Hi there, I'm not very good at communicating in writing but here goes. I want to give custody of my 15 yr old to their Dad. I feel as if i've reached my limit and have no more to give. I had twins at 17, both are doing well now and parents of my grandkids but during their teen years both suffered depression and anger issues. Another child at 22, she suffered serious depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts during her teens. She ended up in a mental health facility multiple times. Went off the rails with drugs as well. We had an episode where she was delusional on drugs. Very scary. But she is doing well now and living with her boyfriend, working, studying. Now i have a 14 year old still at home. Multiple seriouse food allergies. Dad and I seperated when they were 3. We have been dealing with anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidal ideation. We got them help though Drs and the government youth mental health service. They have been on medication for almost a year. They have recently said they identify as a boy (born a girl). This has come completly out of the blue for me. I don't judge people for anything but knowing the work that will need to go into this mentally is too much for me. I did explain this to my child and they seemed ok and said they would talk to their Head Space pyscologist about it for support. It has now come to light that they have started self harming again, that they hear voices telling them to hurt themselves or others. This was found out by their Dad. He is currently looking into getting them into a pyschiatrist. My biggest issue at the moment is that I don't think I can cope with this anymore. I'm thinking that maybe they should live with their Dad and just have normal visitation with me. I honestly don't think I can offer the support that they need at this time. This hurts me alot but I don't know what else to do. I am mentally worn out from all my childrens mental health issues. I feel like for the last 15 years I've been dealing with it everyday, one child after another with each one a bit worse then the last. I don't mean it to sound bad but it has happened that way, each child has been worse mentally then the last. The 14 year old's dad and I have an okay relationship, not close but no animosity and able to communicate. But he does live half an hour away which would make getting to school hard. They would also not want to live with their Dad as he is more strict then me.

PamelaR Empowering people with autism
  • replies: 15

Hi everyone One of the other Community Champions thought it would be good if I shared some information I had on the Autism Spectrum. I’ve dug a little deeper than my original piece of information as I think it’s an important topic these days. I'd lov... View more

Hi everyone One of the other Community Champions thought it would be good if I shared some information I had on the Autism Spectrum. I’ve dug a little deeper than my original piece of information as I think it’s an important topic these days. I'd love to see add what you know about empowering people with autism. Please feel free to post your experiences. Throughout my life I’ve worked, socialised and been friends with people on the Autism Spectrum. I know how life can be difficult for them and those who support them. Here is some of what I’ve learnt over my life: Presume intellect: Because a person is non-verbal or struggles in communication does not mean they are not intelligent nor have nothing to say. We must explore and utilise the strengths and passions of the person. Behavior is communication: We may be making a grave mistake when we simply seek to shut down or suppress with powerful psychiatric drugs what we judge to be ‘unwanted’ behaviors. Behaviors, even those one may deem ‘unwanted’ may be for some the only means to convey their needs or distress. Self-Advocacy: If we wish to understand autism, we must be willing to enter their world, not force them to enter our own. We must be willing to validate self-advocates and seek knowledge about the autistic mode of being from those who actually live it each day. Relationship: To help autistic persons forge emotional connections, navigate through the mainstream, and learn new skills, the key is relationship. We must be willing to forge a bond with the person, to truly seek to understand their experience, their world, how they find meaning, to know them as a fellow human being. Once we forge relationship, we can create a common healing ground Respect: It is necessary for respect to exist and this means as well that we do nothing to force, coerce, or manipulate the person. We regard them as a person worthy of dignity. Our role is to advocate and support, not seek to alter the person into something they are not nor need be. While I've learnt all the above, these words were taken from the 2013 article Autistic Empowerment in Psychology Today by Dan L Emunds. Kind regards PamelaR

Natalia_S Dealing with my boyfriend who goes into psychosis and has been diagnosed with mild schizophrenia
  • replies: 3

I (22F) have been with my boyfriend (25M) for around 10 months now. Early into our relationship I noticed after drinking, he would completely change into a different person - yell at me, swear and verbally abuse me, become aggressive and punch things... View more

I (22F) have been with my boyfriend (25M) for around 10 months now. Early into our relationship I noticed after drinking, he would completely change into a different person - yell at me, swear and verbally abuse me, become aggressive and punch things (never me) and would hear things and talk to himself and constantly repeat himself. It later turned out that he was in psychosis set off by certain types of alcohol. The first time dealing with this was very hard and confronting. However, I tried to be patient and understand as he is obviously mentally unwell. This is also a reason he has been in trouble with the law so many times - he will go into psychosis and cannot be stopped easily. He doesn't remember anything the next day and is always feels horrible and is very down for a few days afterwards. As time went on, he went into psychosis quite a bit and in front of my friends, who were very worried and didn't want me around him anymore. He decided to quit drinking for about 4 months and his psychosis stopped and he went to see a mental health professional. He slowly started introducing small amounts of alcohol back in but only beer, not hard liquor. Until he got too confident and drank more and more. Last week, he went into psychosis again, in public, and verbally abused me in front of everyone again. It was embarrassing and so disappointing it happened again. This is the sixth time its happened in 10 months... I love him so much and he is willing to address his past traumas that have caused this and stop drinking completely again. However, it is really starting to affect my mental health - the verbal abuse I take when he is in this state is really distressing and he doesn't even remember. He thinks I should break up with him because he doesn't think I deserve this, which I don't, but I understand mental illnesses and I know he cannot help it sometimes. But, when do I draw the line? Do I risk putting up with this for my whole life? I'm not as happy as I once was... I fear if no real change is made, I am just wasting my time trying to make him better. What's to say he won't drink at our wedding, for example, and he goes into psychosis in front of all my family? I'm not sure what to do.

Picket Sudden change
  • replies: 18

My wife and I are pensioners. Our son, who is nearly 40, lives with us. Up until a few months ago, he lived a relatively normal life. Then he became mentally ill. He spends nearly all his waking hours talking to us about something that happened when ... View more

My wife and I are pensioners. Our son, who is nearly 40, lives with us. Up until a few months ago, he lived a relatively normal life. Then he became mentally ill. He spends nearly all his waking hours talking to us about something that happened when he was five years old. He just keeps on repeating the same story. All his friends and relatives have blocked him on social media because of his ranting. This only makes things worse because he desperately wants people to listen to him. We have told him that he needs to see a physiatrist but he doesn't think that he has a problem. We listen to him without arguing because that would cause him to become loud and verbally abusive. It's difficult for us to live a normal life. We go out as much as possible for a break. We love him and feel powerless to help him.

HeyJupiter Bipolar Partner: Gaslighting and no empathy?
  • replies: 3

I am tired. I have been with my partner, who has bipolar, for 19 years. I am sure it is the same for all of you, but there is so much to say that I do not even know where to start. Also, I do not want anyone to think she is not a good person who has ... View more

I am tired. I have been with my partner, who has bipolar, for 19 years. I am sure it is the same for all of you, but there is so much to say that I do not even know where to start. Also, I do not want anyone to think she is not a good person who has amazing and beautiful characteristics. She is the strongest person I know. I just feel like my experience is absent. Even from me. After 19 years, I can no longer answer questions like "what do I want?" or what is important to me. I find it really hard to make decisions, or to trust in my interpretations. I could count on one hand the number of times in the last few years she has asked about my day, or how I am feeling. Now I am writing that it sounds so petty but it is one thing in a larger context. That context includes me feeling like I need to check with her about everything. Feeling nervous if I need to say something and I am not sure of her reaction. She doesn't say thank you often. I can be talking and she does not respond. Her making decisions about her life as if we are not even in a partnership, like looking for a job where she would be away for months. She says these things definitively - no discussion. If I am sick it is like it is an inconvenience to her. All of this (and more) adds up to me feeling worthless and hurt. I can not say anything that she interprets as criticism - small or big. When I have tried in the past, she somehow turns it all around on me and goes into attack mode. I end up apologising cause I don't want the situation to keep going and to get the silent treatment or make her angry. If I say anything too big, I am afraid she will just say "well that is it then, if you don't like me the way I am then it is over". I don't think she is happy but I am too afraid to have the conversation. I get that I am not perfect, but I try and be a good partner. I feel like I don't even know who I am anymore. Does this stuff ring true with other people's experiences? Even now I am frightened she will somehow see this and I will be "caught" talking. And this is when things are stable and she is well. We have had more difficult times where she has been very unwell. I am not feeling desperate, though I have many times in the past. I would just appreciate some perspective from people. Thanks for your time.

Dr_Kim They won't get help: supporting your teenager through a mental health crisis
  • replies: 3

Like many adults, adolescents have their fair share of resistance in accepting that they may have a "mental illness ". I think it's especially difficult for adolescents because it's a time when they so desperately want to fit in and just be normal. S... View more

Like many adults, adolescents have their fair share of resistance in accepting that they may have a "mental illness ". I think it's especially difficult for adolescents because it's a time when they so desperately want to fit in and just be normal. So anything that identifies them as "abnormal" will be difficult to accommodate. That doesn't mean we don't try and get them help .. so how do we get them there? Firstly, I would suggest to try to find something that is bothering them ( as opposed to something that is bothering the parent) . For example, the child might be not attending school and the parents are beside themselves about it - but the main issue for the adolescent is that they find it hard to get to sleep at night. So suggesting a visit to the GP to work out a way to sleep better at night may be more fruitful ( even if it's not the main issue in the parents eyes). Secondly, I would use language that isn't going to stress the young person out and induce resistance. Terms like "mental illness" or even "depression" can send them running. But words like "not feeling yourself" or "feeling stressed" or "feeling down " may be less confronting, initially anyway . Thirdly, be super reassuring. Keep telling the young person that you are there for them , that you are confident that they will get through this, that things will be ok , that you are there to help them. Part of them will groan but part will be really relieved . And lastly .. LISTEN . There is a time to not speak and not do advice but just listen . To really just try and understand what the young person is going through . If they think that you have put the time and tolerance in to listening to them without judging or telling what to do but simply asking more questions, they are MORE likely to then take advice from you at a later point ( like your advice about going to the GP for example) . I also think that it is imperative to book a double appointment with the GP so the young person isn't rushed and it's ok to also give the GP a call beforehand and give them a heads up that your loved one is coming in and you have these concerns ... that gives the GP the best opportunity to engage the person. I hope these few tips might help in this tough situation. What tips do you have to share? [Mod note: see also beyondblue's Have The Conversation resource. This thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supporting a teenager through a mental health crisis. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you would like support from the community about how to support your teenager.]

WorriedMum22 My son has anxiety related to eating
  • replies: 6

Hi, I am new here and after some advice. My nine year old son has developed anxiety around eating food thinking that he will choke. He is now only having liquid food and is really stressed out. He went through something similar 3 years ago when some ... View more

Hi, I am new here and after some advice. My nine year old son has developed anxiety around eating food thinking that he will choke. He is now only having liquid food and is really stressed out. He went through something similar 3 years ago when some popcorn got stuck in his throat. It cleared and was not an emergency situation but he got a fear of eating as a res. We were able to get him into a child psychologist and it was a long and slow process to get him eating again. I took him to our GP on Monday who did a referral to see a child psychologist again. The one he saw 3 years ago no longer works there and I got told the waiting list was over 6 months. I’ve tried several others and all waiting times are over 6 months. My son needs help now. What am I supposed to do? This is extremely stressful. How can I get him the help he needs?

Speechless Friend not coping with lockdown-
  • replies: 2

During these lastest lockdowns, my friend who has schizophrenia and recently been in quite mentally ill these last two years and in and out of hospital now stable on a new medication has been starting to pick up for a month or two until the other day... View more

During these lastest lockdowns, my friend who has schizophrenia and recently been in quite mentally ill these last two years and in and out of hospital now stable on a new medication has been starting to pick up for a month or two until the other day when lockdowns were announced. Its not that he's psychotic or anything atm but he has mentally processed the lockdown in a far negative way even when trying to help him talk about it and try to suggest things he can do at home with his time. His daily life doesnt change much if at all really except for going out a bit here and there, which he can still do for his essentials anyways. Yet he is choosing to sleep all day and al night and doing so as his medication makes him tired. He talks about the whole thing aggressively and is not open to understanding things like most people would. Thing is he is my one contact apart from my family i lve with and it makes me feel a bit angry that he acts like this when the messages in the media are always to reach our to your friends via online and phone etc. Last few time we had lockdowns I never heard from him as he wasnt well. I guess im just so tired of being there for him and thinking about his mental health as opposed to my own. I have GAD and high functioning social phobia/social avoidance disorder and he is the only friend i have had for some time. I hate that he chooses to act the most crippling of ways and is not a friend i can ever rely on but he can always rely on me, i get hurt by that.