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.]

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JuanitaMaldo Drawing boundaries with depressed friend
  • replies: 2

Hi, my best friend suffers from depression and anxiety. Over the past 8 months I’ve noticed she’s started to withdraw in ways that are different to what she often does. She seems to now get anxious with one on ones, and can’t seem to talk honestly ab... View more

Hi, my best friend suffers from depression and anxiety. Over the past 8 months I’ve noticed she’s started to withdraw in ways that are different to what she often does. She seems to now get anxious with one on ones, and can’t seem to talk honestly about emotions. She seems quite absent really. I have been putting her needs before mine because I know she needs me. But I’m now feeling quite fatigued. I always check up on her, give her time and space, and always initiate all our plans and phone conversations, and am patient when she cancels etc. I never take it personally. in the past she’s always been able to address her issues, eg go to therapy, enact self care, but over the last 8 months or more, she’s kind of given up. her partner always enforces their needs over hers. When I say she’s given up it’s like she’s succumb to living the life the partner wants even if it’s not quite what she wants, and that’s resulted in my friend being absent, anxious, sleep deprived etc i recently drew a boundary by basically not being 100% available as I find it difficult to be there for her when she’s not there herself. I know this isn’t really a question - but any advice is welcome !

LateInLife Spouse with depression and my step daughters are not helpful. After suggestions on educating them.
  • replies: 1

Hi All My wife and I are coping but my spouse's Adult daughters are not helpful and are part of the problem and not the solution. They have grown up with their father who is very passive-aggressive and not compassionate and they are the same. They ar... View more

Hi All My wife and I are coping but my spouse's Adult daughters are not helpful and are part of the problem and not the solution. They have grown up with their father who is very passive-aggressive and not compassionate and they are the same. They are saying things like, you should have stayed in hospital or my time out with you is ruined because you are not talkative. Is there anything I can send to my stepdaughters to give them insight into what depression is and how it affects a person? I will also kindly ask them to show empathy and help. I heard there maybe something like the black dog book or is there anything else I can send them? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Dave

honeybee73 My daughter wants to end her life
  • replies: 8

Hi all, I am new here. I have a daughter who will be 22 this year. She is a Year 3 Psychology student and smart one too. She has been seeing counsellor for depression and anxiety since 2018, I did not ask much about the contents of her counselling as... View more

Hi all, I am new here. I have a daughter who will be 22 this year. She is a Year 3 Psychology student and smart one too. She has been seeing counsellor for depression and anxiety since 2018, I did not ask much about the contents of her counselling as she was unwilling to open up to me. Last week, she had nervous breakdown at the counselling centre and I only found out that all these while she has these thought of wanting to end her life but yet knowing she needs to seek for help. She was too ashamed to tell us. I was so heartbroken thinking to myself I am such a lousy parent that she wouldn't come to me when she needs help and it really hurts. I have been trying to think back what have I not done or care enough for her that had led her life into such an awful darkness. I hope it is not too late to start caring for her but yet giving her space knowing I am there for her anytime. She is everything to me and I want to walk her way towards the bright side of the tunnel. I am seeking for advice from parents in this forum here whom have had similar experience with their children. Thank you and bless you all.

beachgirl17 Advice on supporting my anxious and depressed boyfriend
  • replies: 5

My partner and I have been together for around 2 years now. We are both in our early-mid 20s. When I met him he came across as fun, outgoing, adventurous and very very sweet. Im happy, free spirited, very active and live a generally healthy and posit... View more

My partner and I have been together for around 2 years now. We are both in our early-mid 20s. When I met him he came across as fun, outgoing, adventurous and very very sweet. Im happy, free spirited, very active and live a generally healthy and positive lifestyle. As our relationship progressed we started having issues. He became jealous of other people in my life, possessive and not wanting me to see my friends or go out without him, not wanting to be intimate with me and leaving me in the dark when I try to talk about it and saying hurtful things especially when he would drink. He would make up far-fetched stories in his head and convince himself they were true then I would have to bear the weight and consequence. Eventually he would come right and apologise saying that he didn’t know why he felt that way or accused me of doing things he knows I would never do. After confronting him about his hurtful behaviour a few times he opened up to me about how he thinks he could have anxiety or depression. I pushed for him to see a Dr. which he eventually did, his diagnoses was GAD and depression, the doctor told him to go see a psychologist and get on medication. He wanted to try a psychologist because he didn’t want to medicate which I supported his choice. He saw a psychologist 2-3 times then stopped going because he said she didn’t understand him. I pushed him to try a different one but the wait list was 8 months. The new appointment is now coming up soon but it has taken a big toll on my mental health and our relationship getting there. I feel so alone in this because I’m young and none of my friends have dealt with this type of thing yet. I could never understand the things he says or does sometimes. I would do anything to help him, I’ve stuck around despite people telling me I shouldn’t. I don’t want to break up with him because when I see the ‘real’ him, its kind, caring, sweet, gentle, confident and so loving but it’s rare these days. I’m praying so hard that this new psychologist can give him the tools he needs to manage and overcome this. Does anybody have any advice on keeping a relationship going long term with a depressed/anxious partner? I want a future with the real him and I want him to live a full life of happiness and love and joy. Do you think it’s possible for somebody like him to be able to come out of that from such a young age? I’m struggling so much from the weight of it all but I’m so hopeful that life can get better for him and for us!

Holly289 Sister with depression
  • replies: 2

Hi, My sister has depression and anxiety. She has recently moved back in with my parents at 34, and is finding this difficult. She has an addiction to food and has put on a lot of weight over the last couple of years which I am sure is compounding he... View more

Hi, My sister has depression and anxiety. She has recently moved back in with my parents at 34, and is finding this difficult. She has an addiction to food and has put on a lot of weight over the last couple of years which I am sure is compounding her depression. She is anxious at the thought of never buying a house as house prices in her area are rising quickly. She is also single and watching her friends get married also makes her more upset. My mum is trying everything she can to help her lose weight, and using her contacts to help her buy a property. I am 5 hours away, but talk to her everyday on the phone, and go to her when I can. I have tried getting her out of the house and even have used my holidays to go house hunting for her. Our whole family is walking around on egg shells as she frequently cries when we try to help and we don't want to make things worse. My parents are worried about her weight as well. What can we do to help? She is currently seeing a counsellor. She just looks so miserable all the time, even when she is laughing and we don't know what to do to help. Thank you for any advice.

Feelinglowlow Wife possible BPD is violent
  • replies: 6

Hey guys looking for advice here. My wife has possible bpd and is extremely sensitive to rejection. Even the slightest feeling of rejection just blows her up . I have tried to control it a lot but 10/10 times my words get turned against me and I have... View more

Hey guys looking for advice here. My wife has possible bpd and is extremely sensitive to rejection. Even the slightest feeling of rejection just blows her up . I have tried to control it a lot but 10/10 times my words get turned against me and I have to hear abuse for hours and hours. There’s also been a few times where she’s physically abused me. I have been trying to get her to go see a psychologist so we have progress . Things have been very volatile over the last few years and I am worried for her. I love her and I do not want to lose my son And her. Don’t know what to do ? Very confused and stressed.

leonine "Toxic" friendships and boundaries.
  • replies: 4

Hi there, don't know where to turn so am hoping for some advice. I have this friend who is starting to make me resent everything. they don't have many friends, if any at all, and feel they are getting too attached to me and enmeshing themselves in ev... View more

Hi there, don't know where to turn so am hoping for some advice. I have this friend who is starting to make me resent everything. they don't have many friends, if any at all, and feel they are getting too attached to me and enmeshing themselves in everything i do and i'm starting to resent all the things that give me joy. I've tried to help them expanding their social circles for themselves, but get angry as i haven't introduced them to my friends, they try to put themselves into everything i do and guilt me when i try to have days to myself etc. I'm at a tipping point as I am not responsible for their life and they take no accountability. I've recently had some triggering news i had to process and only disclosed the situation at hand with my partner, but i set a boundary to not disclose everything with this friend as I feel they have to know every ins and outs about me and i find it uncomfortable to have someone know EVERYTHING. Because i have been processing this triggering issue that came up, they started guilting me and making it all about them as if i am the bad person and making them feel bad, when i'm going through my own things and needing space to process and work on myself. My partner says to just sever them but i feel as though it will create more harm than good. I have started to set some boundaries but feel they get angry and make it all about them when things have nothing to do with them, and i'm at a point i may implode. They are too dependent and don't have the self awareness or want to take any accountability or respect boundaries and it is making me feel smothered and resentful. I am sick of the gaslighting and playing on guilt trips and their skewed views and ideas and excessive need to enmesh themselves in my life.... as they wanted to see the same psych as me, do the same courses at uni as me, do everything i want to do and just not think for themselves know the same people as me. any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. thank you.

BPscully Caring difficulties - When someone refuses your help
  • replies: 5

Hello everyone, Recently I made a post about my mum that has early onset alzheimers. My mum is 68 and I am 28. Since last year things have been getting a lot worse, I guess common for many people. The support I received was great, in this post I'm as... View more

Hello everyone, Recently I made a post about my mum that has early onset alzheimers. My mum is 68 and I am 28. Since last year things have been getting a lot worse, I guess common for many people. The support I received was great, in this post I'm asking if anyone can help with a specific issue. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice/strategies on how to help get your loved one to do important daily tasks that they are reluctant to do or accept your help with? Emphasis on accepting your help if they are unable to do it on their own. I feel so guilty, this year my anxiety levels have just gone crazy. My mum has been refusing to have showers or take her tablets, I'm the only one at home with the acception of my boyfriend who is extremely kind, gentle and helpful and tries his hardest to help out where possible. Today I got frustrated because my mum refuse to get undressed for the shower, I had been trying for a solid hour and nothing was working, I got to the point where I just tried to remove the shirt for mum and she just yelled and cried and accused me of assault. I felt absolutely terrible because I was a bit forceful, I was just fed up, I told her to put her arms up and she folded them down under her arm pits. She tells me I nag her and talk too much, and reflects any agitation she has back onto me which makes me get agitated too, i try my hardest to keep calm but it's getting really hard. I feel so bad and that was not my intention and I genuinely just wanted to help her get ready like I do every morning. We talked it out, but I know it's just going to keep happening and my mental health is getting worse which is making my reactions worse. Please, what are some coping strategies with the above issues.

BPscully Trouble coping - Early Onset Alzheimers
  • replies: 6

Hello there, Since last year my mental health has been spiralling downwards. 7 years ago my mum was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers, I'm 28, my mum is 68. Mum was a very positive and happy person first 5 years, now these moments are sporadic. I... View more

Hello there, Since last year my mental health has been spiralling downwards. 7 years ago my mum was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers, I'm 28, my mum is 68. Mum was a very positive and happy person first 5 years, now these moments are sporadic. I know at some point in the day it's going to be difficult, it's unpredictable when. Moods range from happy to manicly upset/depressed/irritable. Mum defies my help a lot now even though can't do it alone, it's been such a struggle getting her to do daily necessities without becoming bigger then it is. I have to expect the worst. Everything I do is to help her, I get so upset because my help is the enemy. I'm starting to show it infront of her because I'm just really all over the place myself, becoming unpredictable with my patience. I then feel very upset because I don't want to ever make her feel like any of this is ever her fault. I have 3 siblings that don't really pull their weight, I am the youngest and they always wait for me to ask when they no I'm struggling. So I just struggle on and do my best because it's easier for me to rely on myself. My partner helps me more then my family, and I love him dearly for it, but feel guilty for it too. I don't think they know how I feel but they also know how bad mum is-they'd rather turn a blind eye. It frustrates me that they talk to me about all their problems and tell me how tired and busy they are and ignore that I have a job, I'm a full time carer, and I also have been living at home since mum was diagnosed (I also make sure to help with bills, groceries etc) . I've giving up my social life and reduced work because I love mum and I have trust issues with my siblings. Luckily on a Wednesday I have a lovely lady come over and spend time with mum for a few hours, they have built up a beautiful friendship. My dad also had a stroke last year, I'm trying to go over as much as possible to see him, but it is hard to try and be there for both of them equally. I'm trying to get supports into place so he has more avenues for help, as he is older then my mum and currently has a walker. My brother tries to go over as much as he can but struggles with his own mental health issues, and my sister and him had a fight and she was his carer (they haven't seen or spoken to each other in over 6 months). Honestly I'm just trying to be really strong and keep calm but I'm a ticking time bomb. It would be good to find some people with the same issues to support each other.

Need_support My partner says he doesn't love me anymore but I think it's his mental health doing the talking.
  • replies: 7

My partner and I have been together for 7 years. We own a business that we built from nothing that we both love and are passionate about. My partner is not a talker, he doesn't express his emotions well and never has. Our relationship has always been... View more

My partner and I have been together for 7 years. We own a business that we built from nothing that we both love and are passionate about. My partner is not a talker, he doesn't express his emotions well and never has. Our relationship has always been pretty great, we are very close as a couple and neither of us ever saw a future without each other. Around 2 months ago he randomly came out and told me he wasn't happy. He explained that he wasn't enjoying the horses (our business is training horses) and that he was burnt out and felt lost. I supported him with this and he was down but we were okay. Then he started saying things such as 'I don't treat you very well' and was concerned after a particular argument we had, where we both said things we regretted, that he can't possibly love me if he speaks to me badly when we fight. He got really fixated on this and admitted it was all he thought about and felt extreme guilt. This has now snowballed to the point where he has told me he doesn't love me anymore and that we should part ways. It has gone from him feeling extremely guilty that he treats me badly (which he doesn't) to now saying his feelings are completely gone and he has checked out of our relationship mentally. He barely speaks to me now and is sometimes quite nasty towards me. I do not retaliate when he says these things I always remain calm and am careful with my words. Through all this, I have noticed signs of depression, he still goes to work but has expressed hes not enjoying it like he used to. He doesn't go to the races unless he has to which is very unusual for him. His personality has faded, the once happy, confident 'big kid' that loves to be silly has completely gone. He gets angry and agitated very easily which is not in his nature. He doesn't smile or laugh often and has said things to me like talking to people is a big effort and he can't be bothered. He is not the person he was. He has acknowledged that there is a problem with his mental health but refuses to go to a doctor. He is getting worse with these behaviors every day. I don't know if this is all to do with some form of depression and he isn't thinking clearly or has he really fallen out of love with me? My heart and my gut feeling tells me he does still love me but I am not sure and I am really struggling to cope with this. It's all getting too much.