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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kaws2022 At a tipping point with my partner
  • replies: 2

Hi everyone, I have been in a relationship with my partner for over 8 years now, however the relationship has weathered the unfortunately familiar storm of depression. My partner has had depression and low self esteem since childhood. I have seen her... View more

Hi everyone, I have been in a relationship with my partner for over 8 years now, however the relationship has weathered the unfortunately familiar storm of depression. My partner has had depression and low self esteem since childhood. I have seen her through the highs and lows of the depression, the most toughest period is when she suffered burn out from a demanding job and being disowned by her own parents after they found out she was bisexual and same sex partnered. I know this would be a tough emotional circumstance for anyone, let alone someone who also has to battle depression. Over the years, in order to counter her depression, she has sought intermittent counsel from a therapist, but only does so "when things get really bad" i.e. managing her depression by crisis. She was also on medication for a short period of time, one which worked really well (this needed to be discontinued for physical health reasons) and the other which didn't. She has told me she doesn't want to go back on medication and this isn't an option she can offer engaging with again since the latter medication she tried made her symptoms worse. I am unfortunately at a point (and I've been in this same position before over the 8 years), where I have had to continually step up in the relationship and ensure that there is momentum, organisation and a direction we are heading in. I am frankly getting to a point where I just cannot continue to see a future like this with my partner should something not drastically change as it feels one sided. I have spoken to her about it, and it seems to have only made matters worse, with her depression spiralling. Noting her support system is very small, which makes me feel (even though I know this is not right) a huge amount of pressure to "make the relationship work" seeing as she makes no conscious effort to build anything else outside of it. I know the latter is a symptom of depression, but it feels like a constant weight that is getting harder to carry. I own that I am hyper empathic and tend to want to help make tough situations easier for people, however this cannot be the baseline of an intimate, romantic relationship. It is not sustainable nor healthy. I am at a point where I am unfortunately thinking of walking away for my own mental health, as this pattern has repeated over the last 8 years and am feeling hopeless about it changing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sally007 My daughter aged 30 just diagnosed with BPD
  • replies: 10

If I were smarter I would have seen her behaviour as a teenager was not normal. We managed to get her through that alive, not in jail and not pregnant (just). She hit a wall last year when she decided to go full time studying a degree as well as doin... View more

If I were smarter I would have seen her behaviour as a teenager was not normal. We managed to get her through that alive, not in jail and not pregnant (just). She hit a wall last year when she decided to go full time studying a degree as well as doing shift work. She lives about 1000km from us so we were not much of a support for her when she first went to the doctor and began a round of psychologists and psychyotrists and various medications. Study has been dropped and she has trouble getting to work with her mental health. Last week she rang to say she had worked enough to afford a trip to a friend's birthday and I was not enthusiastic, instead questioned her decision to spend the money. I realise now that I probably should have just gone along with it but I was annoyed because she owed me money and I thought she should have been more responsible. Bad mistake. She said I was trying to teach her lessons instead of just being happy for her and perhaps I was but I am still her mum. She exploded of course and I am now a the pit of despair. Not much anyone can do, I know. My question is, if she ever talks to me again, do I just go along with everything she says to keep the peace?

BPscully Early Onset Dementia - Caring
  • replies: 2

Hi there, It's been a while since I've posted. Firstly, thank you to everyone for your help on previous posts. I've been mostly coping a lot better, my mum and I have gotten into a better place coming to terms with further deterioration but better ro... View more

Hi there, It's been a while since I've posted. Firstly, thank you to everyone for your help on previous posts. I've been mostly coping a lot better, my mum and I have gotten into a better place coming to terms with further deterioration but better routine! Mood wise (for the both of us) we're in an unpredictable territory now, where some days are great- we sing and harmonise in the kitchen to Abba and have a bit of a dance. Or I'm trying to find ways to distract or avoid mum because she's uncontrollably crying for hours and it can be impossible to stop this no matter how much diversion is tried. Sometimes I have days where I feel like giving up, I can't take it any longer, then the next day rolls around and things are better. My partner worries I may be suffering some PTSD from a few of my mums behavioural issues and recommends to see a professional, it's just so hard to find the time for myself. The only person I really talk to is my partner, I'm worried this is having a toll on our relationship. I assume this is why he suggests this too. I really need to demand more time for myself for the sake of our relationship, and even the relationship with my mum. My fuse has gotten less short, but occasionally it can come back. I know when my headaches start becoming regular and I get easily irritable and short, I know I'm about to burnout. This is kind of starting to happen now. I'm not really sure if many family or friends are aware of how things are, or whether they really understand what being a caregiver is like, or being a person with Dementia. I really appreciate the locals in our area though, we live in quite an elderly area surrounded by parks. Last week a lady down at our local shops saw my mum and i holding hands like we always do, and stopped to tell me how much of an excellent job I was doing and that she often sees us walking- that she had spent 8 years of her life doing so as well and she didn't regret a moment. This made me feel really appreciated and understood.

Jm10 Bipolar husband with delusions
  • replies: 4

Hi all, I’m not sure how to start but I am having and extremely difficult time with my husband who I have been with for ten years. He was formally diagnosed with bipolar 6 months ago and ADHD. He also has OCD and is a recovering alcoholic. His psychi... View more

Hi all, I’m not sure how to start but I am having and extremely difficult time with my husband who I have been with for ten years. He was formally diagnosed with bipolar 6 months ago and ADHD. He also has OCD and is a recovering alcoholic. His psychiatrist recently called me after he had a concerning appointment with my husband to discuss if I felt safe and if my kids were safe, which at the time I really didn’t understand why he was asking. He told me that my husband was having extreme paranoid thoughts and is on different medications. yesterday, I found a notepad my husband had written some thoughts down in. It was about 8 A4 size pages about our relationship and said the most hurtful things i have ever heard. In this book he blamed me for everything and basically thinks I have been controlling him for our entire relationship. There were some extremely delusional thoughts in there that made me beside myself with grief that he would feel such contempt towards me. He also said, I don’t know if I love her anymore. I have not been able to bring myself to tell him what I have read and I have told him I need some space away and I staying with my mum atm. I am battling with trying to understand what is the paranoia and what is his true thoughts. If he really thinks all those things he wrote about me I just can’t even fathom how he is still with me and I feel like my world is upside down. I see now why the dr was calling me, and I have a app this afternoon to talk about what I have read and how to try and understand it. I have become concerned about our relationship as he is dressing diff, got a new hair cut he used to have when in 20s, has taking up smoking, is talking about other recreational substances, reaching out to past girlfriend and spending as much time away from me as he can. if I talk with him about how I’m feeling he denies all my feelings and says “I’m just living my best life” . Well, I’m not and I’m not sure where to go from here. I am feeling very vulnerable atm and would really appreciate some kind of understand or support around this. thanks in advance.

romantic_thi3f My friend is finally out of a mental health clinic, and she barely remembers anything.
  • replies: 7

Hi, One of my closest friends has Bipolar and I've known her for years and years. For the first time, it got really bad and she was so manic she was hallucinating things. She told me people were watching her from the air vent in the bathroom, and the... View more

Hi, One of my closest friends has Bipolar and I've known her for years and years. For the first time, it got really bad and she was so manic she was hallucinating things. She told me people were watching her from the air vent in the bathroom, and the nurses were drugging her through her meals, and there were private rooms she wasn't allowed to see. I'm grateful that she wasn't scared, but it was the hardest thing to watch. At the time, I was kinda struggling a little bit, but I'd visit her on weekends and sit with her. Every time I went she'd share the same things and asked the same questions that she did the time before. Even if there was a part of her that was here, there was so much of her that wasn't. She ended up staying there for a while. Now, she's out, and she's asking the same questions, but remembering the answers. She doesn't remember much and I know she doesn't really remember me coming along. It's almost like it's 'normal' and 'all good now' but for me, she has no idea how hard it's been. I did try talking to her about it, but she (understandably) doesn't really get it. Is there anyone else that's kind of experienced anything like this? Thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

gloria10 Concerned that neighbour is drinking a lot
  • replies: 6

Hi, I used to get a long with an elderly neighbour well. Over the last 6 months he has become more aggressive, snide with any remarks towards me and he is drinking a lot during the week at night (I can hear the sound of bottles and he is outside at n... View more

Hi, I used to get a long with an elderly neighbour well. Over the last 6 months he has become more aggressive, snide with any remarks towards me and he is drinking a lot during the week at night (I can hear the sound of bottles and he is outside at night). I've also noticed slurred speach. I am trying to avoid him more as his mood gets to me, I don't appreciate when he has a go either. Is this change in personality common with alcoholics? My neighbour has also made a comment.

HojuCakes Any advice? Supporting suicidal partner.
  • replies: 10

My boyfriend experiences intense feelings of hopelessness and talks about ‘giving up’ often. He has seen a psychologist and is on medication but these feelings still come up. He has expressed feeling suicidal and won’t go back to see a therapist as h... View more

My boyfriend experiences intense feelings of hopelessness and talks about ‘giving up’ often. He has seen a psychologist and is on medication but these feelings still come up. He has expressed feeling suicidal and won’t go back to see a therapist as he feels he doesn’t have time. I have experience with depression myself but what works for me doesn’t work for him. Other than begging him to not hurt himself, and to go see a therapist again, what can I do? How do I know if he is actually going to hurt himself or just saying these things out of pain and frustration?

Lioness_Nebula My partner with depression has started drinking
  • replies: 3

Hi everyone. I am struggling atm with my partner who a week ago told me his depression is troubling him. We've been together two years and live together, he is ex defence, and this is his first flare up since We've been together. He used to go to cou... View more

Hi everyone. I am struggling atm with my partner who a week ago told me his depression is troubling him. We've been together two years and live together, he is ex defence, and this is his first flare up since We've been together. He used to go to counciling and was on medication for a time but hasn't felt the need for these. The same day he admitted his depression is affecting him he also confided in a close friend of his. They advised him to grab a bottle and gin and they two could have a drinking session playing computer games. I have no idea how to approach the topic this friend gave him horribly irresponsible advice as they are very close and I don't know how to sound like I'm not attacking her for her poor support of him. He finds is hard to talk about his depression which he's admitted to me but won't really say more than that. I ask him how he's feeling and he says fine and that's it. I can tell he isn't fine though. Since his first drinking session he usually has at least one drink a night, (he never previously drank) has been dishonest to me about drinking, and got more excited when I suggested we have a few drinks together tonight than at anything we've said or done all week. I'm worried the long weekend is now just an excuse to drink. I don't know how to get him to realize his drinking, while not excessive, seems to be a self medication for his depression. I can hardly sleep at night and it's starting to affect my own mental health too. If anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it

TiredGirlfriend Depressed, alcoholic self harming boyfriend. Need support
  • replies: 3

Hello I have been with my boyfriend on and off for10 years. We were together for 8 and broke up for a bit because he was dealing with mental health issues and pushed me away. We got back together and have been together around 1.5 years again and we m... View more

Hello I have been with my boyfriend on and off for10 years. We were together for 8 and broke up for a bit because he was dealing with mental health issues and pushed me away. We got back together and have been together around 1.5 years again and we moved in about 4 months ago. He always had a drinking problem since his dad died quite young. He never dealt with his emotions and drank and smoked a lot of marijuana. since we got back together, the drinking was less but still an issue. I didn't realise how much until we moved in together recently. Since then we have had multiple fights about his drinking which blow up and he yells and throws things and I yell back. 2 weeks ago I woke up to him on the phone to triple 0. He had injured himself. He kept saying it was an accident. The police arrived and he immediately became aggressive and disrespectful to the police. He had been drinking and while waiting for the paramedics, the police had to push him to the ground and handcuff him. I have never gone through something like this so was in shock. I know he was putting on a tough guy act for the police because once the paramedics arrived he burst into tears. I also had to clean up the blood. He went to hospital and he had to have surgery. He was kept in hospital all day on mental health watch, he and I both spoke to the mental health team and I told them everything. I wanted him to stay in hospital to get the help he needed but they decided he was safe to go home. He has spoken to a psychiatrist in the past but it only ever lasts a couple of sessions so I was really hoping this incident would push him and the hospital to get help but they let him go. Fast forward 2 weeks to today, he took his own cast off and refused to go to the hospital for his follow up appointment. Blew up at me over a video game we were playing. And has been drinking all night again. Things had been good since the hospital visit until tonight. I'm at my end, he won't listen to me, he won't get help, he won't stop drinking and his anger scares me. I'm ashamed to tell my friends and family what's really happening because most of the time he is a really nice, charming guy. His mum is no help and just tells him what he wants to hear and he has isolated himself from most of his friends. I just don't know what to do anymore and want to leave but I am scared he will hurt himself again.

Charleigh Adult Daughter won’t see a GP for Mental Health Issues
  • replies: 6

My daughter is 23yrs old and will not see a GP for mental health issues. My husband and I have noticed severe mood swings and very low feelings and hopelessness. She has been to several professionals in the past when she was younger however it stoppe... View more

My daughter is 23yrs old and will not see a GP for mental health issues. My husband and I have noticed severe mood swings and very low feelings and hopelessness. She has been to several professionals in the past when she was younger however it stopped as she didn’t feel the need to continue and was taking medication for BPD and ADHD for a few months when she was younger, a visit to the psychiatrist when she was 17 and she told them medications weren’t working and they told her to come back when she is an adult so she could get properly diagnosed. It’s so painful to see her go through so much emotional pain and we are so concerned for her well being and safety as in the past she has self harmed and we are trying to do everything we can to prevent her from hurting herself. She is living with her partner and he is going through depression and tries his best to support her however it has been escalating to a point when she has anger outbursts and starts to break stuff around her and screaming hysterically, she opened up to me and told me this and I was very proud of her because it must have been hard telling me this and she said she cant go on like this and is scared but she doesn’t want to be on medication and see heaps of doctors. I stayed strong and thanked her for opening up to me and told her when she felt that anger coming up in her to call me and she said I don’t want to talk about it, so I said now that you told me you don’t want to talk about it I understand and want you to call me or text me to come pick you up and we can go get a coffee and just go for a drive with me asking no questions. She was comfortable with that and called me 4 days ago to be picked up, we drove and spent 7 hours togather. I didn’t mind dropping her home at 1am in the morning because I could see she was worked up and for her to call me was a very brave step for her and I will continue to support her in every way I can ti help her from doing harm to herself and others around her. I have my boundaries and have taken steps to self care for myself so I can be there my daughter but now I am stuck and don’t know how to bring up the conversation with her about taking steps to book in to see a doctor