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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taya87 I can't move on
  • replies: 1

Hi there! I know this has been a topic many times already, but I guess I just need to share my story and hear some affirmation. So my boyfriend for 2 years suffered from depression after he got separated from his ex-wife. It was a rocky start for bot... View more

Hi there! I know this has been a topic many times already, but I guess I just need to share my story and hear some affirmation. So my boyfriend for 2 years suffered from depression after he got separated from his ex-wife. It was a rocky start for both of us but the second year was really good. I thought he was actually doing okay. A few months ago he suddenly told me that he was moving out because he was being too dependent on me and just wants to be alone. The relationship was still okay for a few days after he moved out, but then the communication dwindled. I asked him what’s going on. He said his depression was coming back and he just wants to be alone at the moment. He then told me that he is not sure where this relationship is going because he won’t be able to commit to marriage because he still wasn’t sure. But I never really talked to him about marriage knowing that he had a traumatic experience with his ex-wife. I tried to tell him to go back to his therapist but he was adamant not to and he doesn’t want to go back to his meds. He thinks he knows what to do already to get over his depression, which was going to the gym, eating healthy, travelling, etc., which is good but only temporary. I gave him space for weeks, just occasional texts to check-up on him. I learned that he would talk to some of his friends and family, but just not me. I felt sad because I was very supportive of him but he was shutting me out. After weeks of being in constant battle of “should I text him or should I give him space?”, I decided to break it off with him and just be friends with him coz I felt that our relationship was actually causing him more stress. I don’t know if what I did was right. He didn’t really break-up with me, he left me the choice to do it because I think he still wants me around when he’s figured things out. Also he’s from overseas so his family and his close friends are not here, so basically it’s just me. If I was given a choice, I would stay in the relationship if only he would open up to me as well. I still love him but I felt like it was a dead end for us. My problem now is that I find it hard to move on. I'm still being a good friend to him by calling him and showing up to his place occasionally. I felt bad coz he has no family or close friends around. But the feelings are still there. In my mind, when he gets better, we’ll be okay again. Which is not good for me because we never really know when he’s gonna be okay. I don’t know what to do.

SsyL Need desperate help for reclusive young lady
  • replies: 13

Subject: My aunty's daughter, early 20s, Sydney Problem: recluse, non-social, no work or study, odd quirks and behaviours Possible cause: incident of bullying/betrayal from friend during schooling that wasn't addressed, compounded by being an adopted... View more

Subject: My aunty's daughter, early 20s, Sydney Problem: recluse, non-social, no work or study, odd quirks and behaviours Possible cause: incident of bullying/betrayal from friend during schooling that wasn't addressed, compounded by being an adopted child and a migrant as well as moving between countries. Background: Aunty married later in life, no kids of her own. Adopted daughter from within the family in Malaysia, brought her here. Spent some formative years over there before returning to Aus. Incident with friend occurred mid-high school, details unclear. Stopped school, sought initial counselling with psychologist. Issues may be worse due to realisation of adoption and not getting along with step father. I'm seeking advice on what to do in this situation. How to address the issue/s affecting my niece, help here come out of the home and do normal activities and look after herself. Ultimately the hope is for her to be a functional member of society and have a job and be independent. My aunty is running out of ideas, strength and time as she's getting old. She is also not very cluey about such matters and by this stage is in denial believing it will fix itself. I'm limited by what I can do, as I'm not personally close to my niece (she responds better to females) although she attends family events. Also, as not being her immediate family I'm not privy to any details. Having said that, we both are restricted to information as there is confidentially between Dr and patient as she was over 18 during treatment which makes it very hard. Even if we don't know the details of what is discuss, no advice is given on what to do to help in the home environment. After some time of attending session with no to little progress, they let it slide. She has tried psychology, Headspace etc to no avail. To start again, the advice is that she needs a mental health plan. But she won't leave the house so how to get her to a clinic? Don't know if a home visit is possible but not sure how she'll respond. I've called all manner of organisation, hotline, support but have not practical solutions. Is there anyone who is in a similar situation with family member who is reclusive? What did you do? It might help if she has someone like her to talk to and relate to. Despite no progress for many years, she still has youth on her side and I believe there is still time to do something. She is an smart girl who is very lost. My aunty won't be around forever and I don't want her to be alone.

KatherineW How do I keep moving forward with my life without adding more pressure to his?
  • replies: 1

My neighbour has been a wonderful gentleman for the 5 years of knowing him. He does my gardening once a month and has helped me with various maintenance jobs. I pay him for his time with meals or money, depending on his situation. We both have expres... View more

My neighbour has been a wonderful gentleman for the 5 years of knowing him. He does my gardening once a month and has helped me with various maintenance jobs. I pay him for his time with meals or money, depending on his situation. We both have expressed our stories of past trauma and became good friends. However of late, he has been declining his clients help and pushes out requests to do some tasks. Gardening is his livelihood and it keeps him moving forward. His behaviour is changing, he’s not bubbly like he use to be. He looks unkept and starting to smoke again. Recently he said he cancelled all his jobs for the week because he couldn’t be bothered. Yet, that day he cut his own lawn and did his own gardening before the rain set in. I’m not sure how to respond to him when he complains about his health as part of me feels he is going through something undiagnosed. He’s witty though! He knew to get his lawn ready for the rain. But didn’t feel the importance for the rest of the community. He once told me his daughter is selfish and only thinks of herself. They live together. I know her well and his information gave me closure as I tried creating a friendship with her but failed as she did infact always put herself first, even before her father’s and child’s needs. My request today is “how do I keep moving forward with my life without adding more pressure to his?” I want to help him financially but I feel the constant let down I’m witnessing may start to make it harder for me to cope with. It’s probably time I book in a professional or save up for my own equipment. But I feel bad for him because he’s a great guy and just needs some sort of help to get back on track. It’s not about the money. He doesn’t care about that. It has something to do with his mental and emotional state. I have to be careful though because I can get myself in to a pickle if I care too much. Boundaries is something I am thinking may need to be addressed. He may just need to be my neighbour again instead of a friend or personal gardener. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Macaz Lost
  • replies: 4

I have a 12 yr old son who last year was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. He’s seeing a psychologist who says she doesn’t know what to do with him because CBT hadn’t worked and everything else she’s tried doesn’t work. He’s not receptive t... View more

I have a 12 yr old son who last year was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. He’s seeing a psychologist who says she doesn’t know what to do with him because CBT hadn’t worked and everything else she’s tried doesn’t work. He’s not receptive to any of it. He’s seeing a paediatrician who just seems to say , go on this tablet, that doesn’t work try this one, then up that one and it’ll all take over 6 weeks with every change so just stick with it. He is worse than ever. He feels like he’s drowning and I can’t do anything to help him except tell him that it will get better, but I don’t see how. I don’t know what to do.

Em_Louise Helping friend/ partner
  • replies: 4

Hello! I became super close friends with someone last year over and recently we started dating and it’s going great, the only thing is they’re struggling a lot with depression, anxiety and I believe ADHD too. It’s so hard to see them at a low and I h... View more

Hello! I became super close friends with someone last year over and recently we started dating and it’s going great, the only thing is they’re struggling a lot with depression, anxiety and I believe ADHD too. It’s so hard to see them at a low and I have no idea how to help them, any advice would be great I so scared that I’ll lose them. Also they briefly have mentioned that high school was really hard but never went into specifics I do know that they struggle with body image a lot and just generally traumatic sort of high school time, and while I know they’re making progress and are talking to me, and getting help it’s still so scary when they stuff about how hard it is or how tired they are, I’m just really afraid basically and it’s out of my control. I should also mention that I am also trying to seek help for some of my own mental health issues but they aren’t quite so severe, and in some messed up way I almost use my partners experience as a way to invalidate my own problems, which I know is bad but I can’t help thinking how much worse it is for the, and other people I know. any replies would be amazing, thank you in advance xx Em.

LunaLily1 Supporting partner with paranoia, anxiety, and depression
  • replies: 2

Hello, I am needing some advice on supporting my partner of 2 years with depression, anxiety and paranoia. We have been together for 2 years and even in the beginning of our relationship he stated that he suffered from paranoia and at times felt it w... View more

Hello, I am needing some advice on supporting my partner of 2 years with depression, anxiety and paranoia. We have been together for 2 years and even in the beginning of our relationship he stated that he suffered from paranoia and at times felt it would be easier if he was not alive. However, he has said he would not act on this as he would never want to put his family through a situation like that as it is something they have had to deal with in the past. The paranoia takes a huge toll on our relationship as a lot of the thoughts he has are directly related to me. As an example, he thinks that I do certain things around the house to send messages to him. Another is that he believes that I am cheating on him with people from my workplace. This makes me very frustrated and uncomfortable because the act of going to work to pay for us to live together means he is thinking these thoughts about me. Or me sitting on my phone for a vrief moment gives him the thought that I am texting with someone. Covid lockdown was very tough for us but I thought that we did a pretty good job of getting through it, however, recently he has gone into a depressive sort of state and only wants to play video games all day and night. Sometimes he does not even go to sleep all night and if he does decide to sleep he will occasionally sleep in the spare bed. I have mentioned that I feel lonely and don't know what to do and he suggested I find something to do with my time or find some friends to do things with so that I don't worry about him. This is very hurtful for me and feeling extremely lost on how to improve this situation.

TiredMum77 Who helps those caring for their depressed family member?
  • replies: 2

I have just come from a mental health unit at the public hospital with my 18 year old and while the staff were amazing with her, no one offered me any advice at all. I was made to feel guilty for not noticing earlier and then told well done for comin... View more

I have just come from a mental health unit at the public hospital with my 18 year old and while the staff were amazing with her, no one offered me any advice at all. I was made to feel guilty for not noticing earlier and then told well done for coming in which felt all too patronising. I was told to keep being supportive and love her but isn’t that what I’ve already been doing? It isn’t enough. I have been told to monitor her but again, that is what I was doing, that is how she got there in the first place. Where is the practical help? I’m exhausted. I still have to work and raise three other children. Everyone in the family is going through this, but no one is listening to us. Her depression is so draining on everyone. She is so angry that we don’t understand and I get that. But I am only human. Please help....

Outburst92 Toxic Ex with mental health concerns won’t stop reaching out
  • replies: 3

Hi All, My toxic ex who I ended things with in early 2017 will not stop messaging and calling despite being blocked on various platforms. He says his mental health has taken a turn for the worse and that he wants to talk to me about his mental state ... View more

Hi All, My toxic ex who I ended things with in early 2017 will not stop messaging and calling despite being blocked on various platforms. He says his mental health has taken a turn for the worse and that he wants to talk to me about his mental state because he knows it will help. Inviting him back into my life would not be beneficial for my own mental health but now I’m concerned for his wellbeing. Is there any support service in WA I can reach out to that could potentially connect with him/check on him? Other tips?

Dr_Kim Helping your child to overcome school refusal
  • replies: 17

Ok, I am going to be super up front and direct about this topic. I feel really bad for any parent in this situation as I can only imagine what they have gone through. The sadness, the dramas , the heartache , the sense of guilt, shame, anxiety about ... View more

Ok, I am going to be super up front and direct about this topic. I feel really bad for any parent in this situation as I can only imagine what they have gone through. The sadness, the dramas , the heartache , the sense of guilt, shame, anxiety about what to do, about what NOT to do. I feel 3 things need to happen pretty quickly and intensively for any child refusing to go to school because of their anxiety or depression: 1. They need their condition treated 2. They need to get back to school as school refusal is a slippery slope 3. Parents, Guardians and any other family members need guidance in developing management skills to help the child as it is really hard work. So… where to from here ? Consult a great GP who can guide you to a great psychologist and child / adolescent psychiatrist. Your child needs a proper evaluation and diagnosis and treatment plan. ( Make sure it's anxiety/depression and not aspergers or something else for example) I recommend parents find someone ( GP or therapist or case worker) to manage their child’s back to school plan. This involves managing the logistics of exactly how this happens - looking at the timing of when they go and for how long each time, and who they report to at the school in case of this that or the other… Check if there is a Headspace centre near you, please drop in there and see what they can offer as they usually have some experience with this sort of thing: https://www.headspace.org.au/ If you don’t have a GP, you can find one here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/find-a-professional Whatever you do, just start doing it now and keep going . DO NOT GIVE UP! Keep searching for help as getting your child some relief from their anxiety/depression is really important and getting back into education is such an important goal. Ring helplines - Beyond Blue or kids helpline (1800 55 1800) if you get stuck. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you, I want to reassure you that the parental instinct that has lead you to research this is 100% spot on !! Here is another helpful link: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/school-refusal Do you have experience in helping a child overcome school refusal? Share your tips and experiences below!

Sammy_123 Heart broken
  • replies: 2

I am a mum to a beautiful girl who has attempted to commit suicide several times now over the past 12 months most recently last week while she was in hospital, i am devastated and cant stop crying, it gets so hard because i have to hold it in all the... View more

I am a mum to a beautiful girl who has attempted to commit suicide several times now over the past 12 months most recently last week while she was in hospital, i am devastated and cant stop crying, it gets so hard because i have to hold it in all the time and pretend that everything is all fine and go about my life. I feel lost and alone, my husband and I are trying the best we can to get through each day, but the strain of this is killing us. I am watching both my best friend and partner dying as well as watching my daughter go through all this as well she has mutilated her body and it is hard to see, when I tend to her wounds I feel shell shocked they are so severe and she is still my baby, I try not to feel anything but the numbness is also killing me on the inside. I don't know what else to do. I go to work because I have too but lock myself away and cry because it is the only time I have to myself. My life is a constant stress, I am scared to sleep yet I am scared to be awake. I used to be a strong woman vibrant and determined, i look at myself now and I don't recognize the person looking back at me, i have aged exponentially and i am constantly afraid of the next drama to come my way. I think if i told anyone what i am going through they would distance themselves from me, and i would loose my job and reputation but i cant keep going like this. I was an important executive, we had everything now I feel like a worthless, useless person, at times i am resentful that my child has done this to me and that just makes everything worse.