Supporting family and friends

Share tips on supporting a partner, family member or friend with a mental health condition, and seeking support for your own wellbeing.

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Carmela Are you supporting a depressed partner? My tips from 18 years of experience
  • replies: 41

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel s... View more

This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources. 1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel supported - this also covers support groups - online or face to face. Don't let stigma stop you from reaching out. 2. Relationship boundaries - identify what is acceptable and not. My general platform is that physical abuse is unacceptable as well as regular demeaning/berating comments. Communicate this openly so everyone understands. 3. Coping tools - this could be exercise, meditation, reading a book, meeting friends, etc. They are important for your mental health. 4. Knowledge is power - research to understand about depression. The more you know, the better care you can provide. 5. Remember your partner in the good times - this is their true selves, not the darkness. 6. Listen and show receptivity - without judgement or anger. If communicate becomes strained, the timeout can provide clarity. Encourage communication gently and try not to push. 7. Seek counselling - sharing your feelings can provide an opportunity to off load the heavy stuff and identify resilience and coping strategies. 8. Work as a team - don't let mental illness be in the driver's seat. Offer to go to the Dr's and support them. Understand medication and side effects. Be understanding that some days are harder than others. 9. Words are powerful - remember what you say cannot be taken back. 10. Carer Self-esteem and self-worth - if you compromise these for the sake of supporting your partner, you are likely to live with resentment towards your partner and the circumstances you find yourself in. 11. Don't forget the children - challenging circumstances at home can affect them mentally and emotionally. Speak about mental illness (COPMI.com.au - has some great resources) and be a strong foundation toward maintaining normality in their daily activities. 12. Intimacy - there are many variables here, so from my experience - keep communication open and make couple time to connect. When my husband was depressed, daily hugs or holding hands wherever possible worked for us. Some carers I have spoken with said their partner would demand intimacy. My personal position is that intimacy is about love without demands or attachments relating to expectation. Demands only deplete the goodness in the connection and sharing a a loving experience. [Moderator's note: this thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supported a loved one with a mental health condition. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you are seeking support from the community around how to best support your loved one.]

All discussions

scat my daughter is an alcoholic
  • replies: 5

my 29 year old daughter is an alcoholic. She moved back home 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer because she was having trouble with one of her flatmates who was a drug addict that had been in jail. She was belting the bourbon down pr... View more

my 29 year old daughter is an alcoholic. She moved back home 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer because she was having trouble with one of her flatmates who was a drug addict that had been in jail. She was belting the bourbon down pretty hard and it is slowly getting worse. She doesn't qualify for the HAPS program because she is still working. She takes days off work every week because she is too hungover to work. Today she drank nearly a litre of bourbon and talked about suicide because she sees no future for herself. I can't sleep because I am so worried about her. Now I am going to be tested for secondary cancers early next year because of our family history. This is the 3rd generation of alcoholics I have to deal with. My father was and also my husband still is. Because of the booze culture in my family I was in my 40's before I realised not all men were drunks. I really have no idea where to go from here

DotG Husband Depression, affair and left .. how to get help
  • replies: 1

My husband of 25years recently left me. We have 4 children 22yrs -15yrs.He is a functioning alcoholic which I believe stems from childhood trauma he refuses to recognise.His Pop who raised him recently passed away and since then he was pushing us awa... View more

My husband of 25years recently left me. We have 4 children 22yrs -15yrs.He is a functioning alcoholic which I believe stems from childhood trauma he refuses to recognise.His Pop who raised him recently passed away and since then he was pushing us away and drinking down beach longer.We had been talking less as I was not home much due to work and then his drinking in the afternoons. So communication was via text .. it was mostly me saying I love him and he needed to prioritise us and our marriage. A month before he told children (to my surprise) that we where separating we had been on two family trips to the snow and me and kids in reflection thought it was happy and fun and loving.We have since found out he has had an affair (still seeing this person) which happened within the month after we went on family trip (from what it seems she may have take advantage of his depressive state and said things to make him feel happy but it wasn’t based on truth.. the messages and discussion I had with her she seemed like this was a competition between me and her and I have no idea who she is). He has since told kids he had left the marriage before he physically left and hence no affair .. and he was unhappy for a long time, and this has nothing to do with them it is between him and me.Kids and I don’t believe it as our marriage was very sexual, he is a non communicator and doesn’t express his emotions … until he started talking to this other women down the beach..He told me he started using words he never used before and me and kids felt like he is a different person ..kids are not talking to him (their decision) I think since his Pop passed his depression has spiraled and he is now living in a detached reality.he certainly is not any happier and isn’t taking on any parenting roles for the younger kids only to ask if they want hang out and surf (like a friend not a dad) I love him and want him back with his family were I know was happy loved and cared for .. how do we help him ?

Help_Me_Rhonda BPD
  • replies: 4

Hi, my partner has BPD and because of this she can drive me "crazy". Any other partners out there that maybe in a similar situation?

Hi, my partner has BPD and because of this she can drive me "crazy". Any other partners out there that maybe in a similar situation?

Haurice Living with an alcoholic partner
  • replies: 31

Hi, this is my first post. My partner is an alcoholic. While she’s always had issues with drinking, they’ve become overwhelming and all pervasive in the last four or five years. She drinks to get drunk every day and I’m just devastated. When she drin... View more

Hi, this is my first post. My partner is an alcoholic. While she’s always had issues with drinking, they’ve become overwhelming and all pervasive in the last four or five years. She drinks to get drunk every day and I’m just devastated. When she drinks we can’t communicate at all. The only thing that matters to her is making sure she has enough alcohol. It makes her depressed, angry and argumentative, and I’m the one who wears it, night after night. She only rarely hides her drinking from me, but she does hide it from everyone else. I’ve confided to a close friend, but other than that I don’t think anybody knows - maybe her workplace has guessed, but it hasn’t been raised with her. It makes me feel so alone and isolated. This is the main reason I’ve come to this forum - I don’t want to be the only one carrying this knowledge and stress. My other purpose is to seek advice. She doesn’t want to stop and is currently at the stage of believing it gives her an escape from a life she is dissatisfied with. I feel like I’ve tried everything to help her but she doesn’t want to stop. The burden on me is huge. We both work full time, but after work she just sits around drinking and getting more and more depressed and angry, while I do everything else for the household - cooking, dishes, walking the dog, laundry etc etc. I guess I’m just at a loss for what to do. My mental health is starting to suffer now too. I love her as much as ever, but I’m also angry and frustrated. I’d love to hear from people in similar situations. How do you cope? How do you look after your loved one, while still looking after yourself?

M_M_87 Support for partners with PTSD
  • replies: 4

After a workplace accident my partner attempted to revive his colleague but he tragically died almost instantly. He developed PTSD after this and we’re still living with the impacts 8 years later. Together we’ve explored many many options for ptsd. H... View more

After a workplace accident my partner attempted to revive his colleague but he tragically died almost instantly. He developed PTSD after this and we’re still living with the impacts 8 years later. Together we’ve explored many many options for ptsd. He’s undertaken EMDR, group therapy, 1:1 therapy, medication and natural therapies. it’s made a difference for him personally but he still can’t be open emotionally with me. He shuts me out and can’t be affectionate with me. He also doesn’t really see how the ptsd impacts me and doesn’t acknowledge just how much his diagnosis has impacted me too. I love this man, I understand it’s the PTSD, he’s a great father and I see him hurting - but I am so incredibly lonely in our relationship. I feel so shut out, so unloved. Irritability is one of the symptoms of ptsd, I know that, but it leaves me feeling like all I do is irritate and annoy him. Because of the ptsd he’s constantly scanning for threats, always looking at the negatives, I understand why but it’s still leaves me exhausted.I’ve seen various psychologists for myself over the years and I’ve found them almost invalidating, one encouraged me to leave because I deserve better. I stopped seeing her after that because I felt she didn’t truely understand our situation - but I question now if maybe I am just not seeing things clearly? We have done couples therapy in the past to try and understand better how ptsd was impacting our relationship- I helped with understanding but didn’t really change anything. I often felt like my feelings weren’t valid because of my partners ptsd, anything I raised I struggled with felt dismissed because it was linked back to the diagnosis so it felt very hard to see a solution. Our kids both have health conditions that require regular tests, medication, cardiologist appointments, I manage all of that to try not to add more to his plate, so I have a lot less left in the tank for our relationship- where as I had a lot more time and energy to invest in supporting his recovery a few years ago. I’ve read ‘loving someone with PTSD’ and tried joining partners of people with ptsd support groups, the book was helpful but support groups were really negative about their partners and left me feeling worse about our situation. I guess I’m just looking for shared experiences, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I’m looking for hope or clarity I guess I feel so lost and alone.

Gem8 Adult son anger issues
  • replies: 1

My 26yr old son, has a speech learning impairment, he looks and is quite bright, but has slow processing, this leads to confusion. He comes across initially intelligent and confident, carrismatic as well, this is all short lived when expectations ove... View more

My 26yr old son, has a speech learning impairment, he looks and is quite bright, but has slow processing, this leads to confusion. He comes across initially intelligent and confident, carrismatic as well, this is all short lived when expectations overwhelm him, and his go to are anger outbursts which result in breakingthings. He blames me for my poor life choices, which have made him how he is... Condensing a lifetime of trying to survive and navigate this existance, I find I've let him down, I don't plan well clearly. How to help him ???? Currently living in rented property took a few years of homelessness to get to this point, re inventing myself to have a permanent job, functioning enough to provide safe environment, so he can get himself together. Which I struggle to maintain myself, his siblings avoid him as they see him as a selfish and dope smoking basically. atm I am fearful of his outbursts, he just lost another job due to a rage incident. He doesn't listen to me, hasn't for years. He has not harmed a person or me but, I feel totally lost and bewildered that this beautiful person has this out of control terrifying side. It's a cry for help and I don't know how. I've not done life well.

CC-067 How to support my adult son who doesn’t want help.
  • replies: 3

I have an 18 year old son who seem to have difficulty talking about his feelings. He is always in bad mood or angry towards me and my partner.He says that no one was there for him when he needed emotional support in the past. He had to deal with it a... View more

I have an 18 year old son who seem to have difficulty talking about his feelings. He is always in bad mood or angry towards me and my partner.He says that no one was there for him when he needed emotional support in the past. He had to deal with it all alone anyway. He does not want to talk about it and be left alone. I said that I am sorry he feels that way, I just wanted him to know that I love him no matter what and I am here for him. I want him to talk to someone if he does not want to talk to me. He said that what would be use talking to anyone. It is not going to solve anything that he just got to dealt with it himself. I am really concerned and don't know what to do

Tigermoth My husband is addicted to online tarot sites
  • replies: 5

Does anyone have any experience of addiction to online tatrot sites. My husband was daignosed with PTSD in 2014. He wont make a decsion until he consults one of these oneline tarot sites and uses what it says to guide his actions. He is using up the ... View more

Does anyone have any experience of addiction to online tatrot sites. My husband was daignosed with PTSD in 2014. He wont make a decsion until he consults one of these oneline tarot sites and uses what it says to guide his actions. He is using up the entire household data alloawance sometimes on the site for 4-5 hours a day.

ChristyL Can’t stop crying
  • replies: 2

My husband has major depression and has been off work for some months now. This year has been the worst year for his depression with the last few weeks just terrible. He cries from the moment he wakes until he goes to sleep. He works in our local pub... View more

My husband has major depression and has been off work for some months now. This year has been the worst year for his depression with the last few weeks just terrible. He cries from the moment he wakes until he goes to sleep. He works in our local public hospital and I believe he really needs to be admitted for treatment but he refuses to even think about it as he says he knows all the staff. I have spoken to his GP and psychologist in the past but nothing ever happens and he is not improving. A change in medication hasn’t even been discussed. I don’t know what to do as he has told me how degraded he would feel going to hospital where he works.