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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Overthinkingpartner How do I support my depressed partner when he keeps pushing me away
  • replies: 3

Hi all, I would really appreciate some advice. My boyfriend and I have been together about 18 months now. He was up front and honest about his depression from the start. Throughout the relationship, I have seen glimpses of his struggles; he would oft... View more

Hi all, I would really appreciate some advice. My boyfriend and I have been together about 18 months now. He was up front and honest about his depression from the start. Throughout the relationship, I have seen glimpses of his struggles; he would often get down due to feeling as though he has a lack of career direction and the pressure of having 2 kids to 2 different (demanding) mothers. During those times, he has gone quiet for a few days but it never really affected our relationship. Around 4 weeks ago I began to notice he was started to isolate himself. Sex was lessening, he stopped texting me throughout the day, after dinner he would get straight on to his phone and watch netflix with headphones in until it was time to go to sleep. Obviously this concerned me greatly and I asked if he had had a change of heart about our relationship. He said no, but that he had a lot going on in his head at the moment and struggling to pinpoint the cause. He said he just needed to work through these struggles on his own. I struggle with this as I am an extremely affectionate person and love being intimate and love when he says he loves me. Now it's like pulling teeth trying to get anything remotely 'boyfriend-ish' out of him. I can see that my constant pestering wasn't helping and I've pulled back to give him his space. We are currently living with his parents while we renovate our new place - I offered to go stay up at the house on a mattress on the floor for a few days if he wanted me to, but he said no. I'm at a complete loss as to how I'm meant to act or what he wants from me. I love him so much but it feels so one sided at the moment. I've since done some research on depression and know it's common for one to isolate themselves and that I should lower my relationship expectations for the meantime. It such a struggle though, because the insecure side of me still wonders if this is just a lead up to him breaking it off. I'm in a constant state of anxiety and feel like I'm walking on egg shells. He's already on anti depressants and has been for years. I suggested that perhaps he should seek out therapy, and he just brushed it off. I think the hardest part of all this is not knowing when (or if) this depressive episode will end, and when the man I know and love will come back to me. Thanks in advance

vulgarwolf Help with supporting my female partner
  • replies: 2

My partner has a myriad of mental health illness...such as PTSD, anxiety, depression bi-polar and many others. Sometimes i struggle with communication as i am black and white, and she is multiple shades of grey...i try to understand things from her p... View more

My partner has a myriad of mental health illness...such as PTSD, anxiety, depression bi-polar and many others. Sometimes i struggle with communication as i am black and white, and she is multiple shades of grey...i try to understand things from her perspective however my logical mind cant seem to follow where she is going. For example..when she drinks...its 50/50 how the night will go, sometimes its amazing and we have a great time...other times it can take her to a dark place...where she will verbally attack me, accuse me of things that i have not done and just seem to provoke an argument. When this occurs i disengage and tell her i'm not speaking with her when she is treating me like this....if she continues i will leave the house for an hour or 2....sometimes when i come home she has calmed, other times she will sleep in the spare room...yet the following morning she will apologize for her behaviour. she admits she has a drinking problem, however if i do speak about it with her she claims i'm controlling. Recently she has been harassed online by a person who was in a relationship with a friend of mine....when their relationship went sour he was accusing her of cheating on her with me.....from that time, this other person found my partner on social media...and continually makes contact with her telling her that i cheated on her, making up complete random accusations....which then my partner turns on me with...i'm just not sure how to fight a battle where you cant see the opponent....i'm unsure why she believes him over me. I have brought this up with her to no avail. She is an amazing woman and i am just looking for advice on how to deal with some of the situations that arise....i have a diploma in drugs alcohol and mental health...yet it seems the toold i learned during that course are for a practitioner and not a partner....and its not recommended to try and treat a partner. Anybody have any advice or suggestions

Sad_carer Struggling living with husband with mental illness
  • replies: 19

My husband & I have been together 36 years, married for 32. I was 16 when we started dating & knew I met my soul mate. Our life was really great, we were best friends, never fought & we were so in love. My husband had a couple of bouts of depression ... View more

My husband & I have been together 36 years, married for 32. I was 16 when we started dating & knew I met my soul mate. Our life was really great, we were best friends, never fought & we were so in love. My husband had a couple of bouts of depression which he recovered from with counselling & medication. Then in late 2010 he suffered severe anxiety & melancholic depression which was treatment resistant. Our wonderful doctor (who specialises in mental health) helped my husband through his previous bouts of illness sent him to a psychologist & psychiatrist. After counselling & changes in medication failed to work he was admitted to hospital for ECT. After 10 rounds we decided to stop as he was hallucinating which was distressing. He spent 7 weeks in hospital having the ECT, counselling & medication changes but was still very unwell when he came home. I went to hospital every day, went to almost all of his counselling sessions & psychiatrist visits for 5 1/2 years & during this time I had him on suicide watch twice. My life changed so much & then he finally started to come back. We took a trip overseas which was amazing but when we returned things started to change. It was gradual so it took me until things became really bad that I went to our doctor & explained everything to her. She advised me to go to the psychiatrist again with him who diagnosed bipolar. Once again my husband was not the man he used to be & I struggled to come to terms with another mental illness, more medical visits & more changes in medication. It's now been about 9 months & although he has improved a lot, things between us have changed. I still care for him but my feelings aren't the same & I don't love him anymore. Our marriage has deteriorated so much that it's close to being over. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought this would happen to us. We were an almost perfect couple. Last Friday I went & had a good talk to our doctor & she has strongly suggested we have some relationship counselling which my husband & I have both decided to do. I feel so bad though because it's his illness that has changed him & therefor causing the issues so it's not his fault. But I have been through so much, I am extremely unhappy & I'm scared about the major change that could happen in my life if we don't get our marriage back on track. I'm feeling very confused & no one I can talk to really understands my situation. Just wondering if anyone has been through something similar & what the outcome was?

TRC Seeking advice
  • replies: 3

Hi...not really sure this is the right place but i need help....Miss 13 was being badly bullied at school. My husband and i "found" and read her diary and it talked of self harm and suicidal thoughts. We talked t her over a few weeks about these thin... View more

Hi...not really sure this is the right place but i need help....Miss 13 was being badly bullied at school. My husband and i "found" and read her diary and it talked of self harm and suicidal thoughts. We talked t her over a few weeks about these things and counselling (without revealing that we knew about her diary). Told her if she every wanted to talk to someone outside of us she could go to a counsellor. She decided she did want to see someone. We took her and she has been seeing a counsellor for a few months now. We also changed her schools. We thought she was doing better, she seemed happier, made new friends and was coming out of her shell more. The counsellor has even pushed her sessions back leaving a bigger gap between them. Last night hubby "found" another notebook with entries from this week.... talking again about suicidal thoughts and completing actual acts of self harm. I am not sure what to do. Do we confront her, speak with the counsellor, take the doors off....i do not know where to go from here

Guest_366278 My friend has PTSD and trauma from childhood S/A (trigger warning)
  • replies: 1

My best friend has recently come to myself and her family about a S/A she suffered at the hands of a family member as a child. After revealing this her mental health has dramatically deteriorated. She has become an addict. She is addicted to anything... View more

My best friend has recently come to myself and her family about a S/A she suffered at the hands of a family member as a child. After revealing this her mental health has dramatically deteriorated. She has become an addict. She is addicted to anything and everything that stops her from being remotely ‘sober’ through this process she has abused all kinds of drugs, including most recently, ice. she has abstained from the ice for a few months now and has instead replaced this with alcohol, drinking everyday. Sometimes it’s just 2-3 drinks to take the edge off and at other times it’s benders mixed with cocaine. recently she has confided more details about her abuse and how she is struggling to me. this has been horrific for me to hear. she has also told me that she has been thinking seriously about suicide. She told me that she has even been planning to access people who she knows have weapons at their houses. I am so worried for her. I have spoken with her parents at length. they have gotten her into counciling but she refuses to speak or attend after the first session. she recently lost her job and is now working casually on a farm. she has no money to pay any of her debts (which have accumulated over the years from impulse spending) and it’s looking like her car will be repossessed.She spends the little money she has on alcohol. I don’t know how to help her. I feel so helpless and my heart is breaking. This is not who she is. I am mourning the person she was and I am so worried that we have already lost her. what should I do?

Kopiko Partner has anxiety and I need help!
  • replies: 3

My gf and I have been together for almost 3 years now. During that time she develped pretty severe anxiety symptoms due to overworking herself. Now she struggles with managing it, and they come quite often with symptoms like hyperventilating, shaking... View more

My gf and I have been together for almost 3 years now. During that time she develped pretty severe anxiety symptoms due to overworking herself. Now she struggles with managing it, and they come quite often with symptoms like hyperventilating, shaking, unattention, headaches, irritability, etc. I love her very much and want to support her the best I can but its difficult facing the verbal abuse that comes with the anxiety attacks and just brushing it away. She always feels very guilty afterwards so I know she dosent mean it and it's her anxiety causing her to act irrationally. I also understand that it's not her saying these things but it still hurts and I just have to keep silent and take it. My way of coping is to have some space alone to recharge. We currently live in separate places so that is when I am back at my place. However, I get the feeling that she has become too dependant on using me as an emotional punching bag and whenever we go back to each others places, she gets very very upset and blames me for making her anxious. Just recently we had spend two days together and I told her i needed space and I would see her tomorrow and she blew up at me and and started crying and said dont even bother coming over. I really want to help and support her but I also need space or I risk damaging my own mental health. We have tried speaking about boundaries before but my need for space always makes her upset and she says she dosent need space and wants to see me all the time. Basically she dosent accept my need for space and it feels suffocating. But I always feel guilty for asking for space because I feel like I am asking for a bad thing and she always gets upset. I don't know how to make her understand that I need space sometimes but that does not mean I care any less about her. I also want to let her know that although she yells and snaps at me when shes anxious and I understand that it's not really her talking, it still affects me and I want her to be more mindful (if she can) I'm struggling to do it though because I am scared that she will get upset but I still really need to talk to her. I've spoken to her about therapy but she is unwilling to get professional help. Any advice is appreciated

Rotorex Concerned Dad
  • replies: 3

Hello everyone, I have a 15 year old Daughter who has been difficult to deal with for many years now, we have sort the help of therapists and councilors before but we are always left feeling like nothing has changed. My daughter is failing school and... View more

Hello everyone, I have a 15 year old Daughter who has been difficult to deal with for many years now, we have sort the help of therapists and councilors before but we are always left feeling like nothing has changed. My daughter is failing school and is not interested in study at all, she says she does not understand and does not want to make the effort to try because she knows she will fail. I have to do something soon to stop this way of thinking otherwise she will end up with no future possibilities. She has often said she wants to be medicated saying she has ADHD but none of the professionals we have been to want to even look at that, they spend months just talking and she gets out of the sessions and just says its a waste of time. We had these referrals from her GP a few times. But I need to do more for my Daughter. Any advice would help.... how can I make this process of helping her happen faster?

Stillsurfing 39 son, severe alcoholism, nightmare , stole and sold my wifes jewelry
  • replies: 7

My 39 year old son, has had major drug problems all his life. Early on it was cannabis and alcohol. . For 10 years it has been mainly alcohol but for a brief stint with methamphetamine. As soon as he has any money, he buys alcohol and wipes himself o... View more

My 39 year old son, has had major drug problems all his life. Early on it was cannabis and alcohol. . For 10 years it has been mainly alcohol but for a brief stint with methamphetamine. As soon as he has any money, he buys alcohol and wipes himself out. He has admitted to numerous psychiatric hospitals, paid for psychiatrists and psychologists. We have rented houses in our name for him so he's got somewhere to stay . He fails to pay rent and wrecks the houses. About 3 years ago he came home for six months. After he had been at home for 6 months I found out he was secretly taking my wife's credit card and stealing cash from ATMs. ..1000s of dollars When confronted with this, ( I was away at the time so I rang him) he then drank all the alcohol in my house including all the wine that have been given to me as a present to put in the cellar. He has had a partner for the last 2 years, and she has gone through a similar hell with him. Tired of his drinking and abusive behaviour she asked him to leave and he is now on the streets. Mind you he is in a car that I bought for him last year and he is sleeping in that. He was supposed to pay me for the car but never did. The police rang me the other night saying someone had seen him and was concerned for his welfare so he was taken to the emergency department of a public hospital. He was completely intoxicated.. there were 4 of 5 casks of wine in his car. I was concerned the car I had given him plus the $700 worth of carpentry tools I bought two weeks ago which were in the car could all get stolen. I bought the tools because he just started a new job and had worked for months prior to this . So while he is in the psychiatric unit I got up at 4:30 a.m., retrieved his car and safely stored the tools. I washed all his stinking clothes and cleaned the food and wine casks out of the car . I have told him he cannot come home, that he must find a room to rent or go somewhere else. 3 years ago when my son was staying at my house, my wife's jewellery worth about $15,000 was stolen. We suspected it was a girl my son knew. Today I found out from his current partner that it was in fact my son who stole the jewellery and sold it to bikies. I'm going to be harsh with him. He's an adult. No more bailing out. My wife will find this hard but agrees.

sunnydaysahead Son with suspected anxiety won't leave his bedroom
  • replies: 4

Hi all, I am a single parent with a son who completed year 12 in 2019. Since then he has barely left the house. He has caught up with his school friends only few times. He keeps to himself in his room and watches Youtube all day/night. He only comes ... View more

Hi all, I am a single parent with a son who completed year 12 in 2019. Since then he has barely left the house. He has caught up with his school friends only few times. He keeps to himself in his room and watches Youtube all day/night. He only comes out for meals or to help with chores. He doesn't work/study and when I try to talk to him, he shuts down the conversation. I've asked him several times if he was feeling depressed or suicidal and he's always answered with a strong no. My son and I lived with my parents. My dad suffers from a chronic illness, and my mum hasnt been well either. I tried caring for my parents whilst raising my son and working fulltime. But I'm afraid I may have given my parents more attention than my own son and admit this may have caused/contributed to my son's current state. During school my son had friends and was active in sport. He struggled in school academically. Every teacher spoke of how respectful/polite he was, but found him quiet in class, he would never ask for help. I tried to assist with homework and assessments but he'd quickly shut me down, as I would in his words "stress him out". During high school, he often complained of stomach pains and would either arrive to school late or where I was concerned, I'd keep him home for the day. I always thought he was just sensitive to dairy (How stupid I was). Fast forward to today, our conversations don't last longer than a few minutes. He refuses to talk about work, study or future, he gets angry with me when I try to talk to him - he says he cant talk to me because I stress him out too much. Until now I believed I was dealing with a teen who was "maybe" lazy but definitely lacking in confidence. But then we had a conversation a few months back that finally opened my eyes. While in the car, I asked him if he had stomach issues like he did in school. He said no and I asked why that would be, he said "well I was always anxious about school". I asked him if he thinks he may have been and still suffering from anxiety and he said yes. Since then, he agreed for me to email him info from beyond blue, but no to seeing a GP, psychologist etc. I'm finding that he is increasingly frustrated with me and/or my approach or just my general way of talking! Anyone been in this situation? Where should I start? Maybe I start with me first i.e. how to communicate better? I've messed up terribly by not recognising the "signs" but am focused on helping him as he deserves a great life... Thanx

Vsellen Husband's undiagnosed OCD upsetting me more than him
  • replies: 1

My husband thinks he has OCD but is yet to seek a formal diagnosis and I'm worried he never will. Before we started dating he told me about his issues (won't eat food other people have cooked and stops having sex a few months into a relationship). He... View more

My husband thinks he has OCD but is yet to seek a formal diagnosis and I'm worried he never will. Before we started dating he told me about his issues (won't eat food other people have cooked and stops having sex a few months into a relationship). He was going to get help before we started dating but instead, after waiting 6 months we decided to start dating and deal with the issues as we go. We're now 11.5 year on, married with a toddler. About 5 years ago he saw a GP about anxiety at work but didn't discuss the other issues. He was prescribed anxiety medication but stopped taking it after a week because he didn't like the way they made him feel. About a month ago he agreed to go back to the GP, discuss all his issues including his aversion to sex, talk about his suspicion that he has OCD and ask for a referral. He went but needs to get a blood test and decide what specialist he wants a referral to and he hasn't done any of that. I'm worried he doesn't have enough to motivate him to get help. He doesn't exhibit compulsive behaviours because he just avoids situations that trigger the obsessive thoughts. He has gotten so used to this I don't think he cares about not being able to share food with friends and he is used to the lack of sex, it hasn't affected his work, he has a very good job that he thinks his OCD helps with and has lots of friends who don't know what's going on because he is very good at hiding it. It does affect me though, I hate lying to our friends and family and avoiding eating with them and the lack of intimacy in our relationship is impacting my mental health and making me question if what there is in our relationship is enough. Even if he does seek help I'm worried he won't improve. He saw a therapist many years ago and had a bad experience, we have seen a relationship counsellor and that went well but mostly because she had a very similar way of thinking to him and I can't see how that would work with OCD. He thinks his anxiety about eating food others cook is justified and while he says he wants to want to have sex its been 2 years sincewe lasthad sex and beforethat it was only every 3 months so that isn't a big motivator. I just don't think he sees his thoughts as being wrong or intrusive and is only mildly inconvenienced by avoiding triggers. How can I help him/is there any point when he says he wants to get better but doesn't follow through.