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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Lillybell My son has been diagnosed with severe depression
  • replies: 3

Hi everyone, my 18 year old son has recently told me that he has depression after me basically having to drag it out of him. He came to this realisation after breaking up with his girlfriend and talking to some trusted adults. He was given the name o... View more

Hi everyone, my 18 year old son has recently told me that he has depression after me basically having to drag it out of him. He came to this realisation after breaking up with his girlfriend and talking to some trusted adults. He was given the name of a doctor and received the diagnosis and is beginning anti-depressants. I have noticed changes in him for some time but didn't put it down to depression. What I noticed was an increase in anger and anxiety. Because the changes seemed to coincide with beginning his relationship with his girlfriend, I put the mood changes down to problems with the relationship and them maybe not being suited to each other. Anyway at this point in time my son has pretty much stopped communicating and is very easily angered and defensive with me and my husband. I had some initial concerns about him being put on medication so quickly and without any counselling. He was told by the doctor that he isn't ready for counselling. On top of all of this I've just found out that I may have an inflammatory bowel disease. It just feels like life is piling one thing on top of the other. I worry about my son which causes my symptoms to worsen. There has been multiple stresses put on the family over the last year, but the problems go back several years. I've mentioned a few on other posts. Basically the reason I'm posting here is to get some advice on how to support my son but to also give him the space he needs. It is so difficult feeling like the enemy when all you want to do is help. It just seems that everything I say to him is the wrong thing. Is it normal for an eighteen year old with depression to alienate himself from family and shut them out as part of their depression? The one bright spark is that he has others that he can talk to and he continues to work and socialise. It is just hard for me being shut out. I want my boy back.

Violet_Smiles Partner with depression and I don't know what to do
  • replies: 1

My husband was diagnosed with depression roughly 18 months ago. He takes medication and saw a psychologist for a while in the beginning, but he didn't find it helpful. He self medicates as well with ********* and alcohol. The carers handbook says try... View more

My husband was diagnosed with depression roughly 18 months ago. He takes medication and saw a psychologist for a while in the beginning, but he didn't find it helpful. He self medicates as well with ********* and alcohol. The carers handbook says try to discourage him from doing that. But how? sometimes I think that's the only thing keeping him together. I hate it when he drinks, he turns into a belligerent loud mouth ****. I prefer it when he smokes, at least that way he's calmer. He's angry most of the time unless he's self medicating, he's not physically dangerous, but I don't feel emotionally safe around him any more. This last month he's been a lot worse. His family don't know about his depression and he refuses to tell them. He says it's none of their business and I can't help but agree. Only my mother knows out of my family because I broke down in front of her. He doesn't consider the friends we made together as friends anymore, he says he has none. This makes socialising very difficult as he just doesn't want to. I tend to take the kids out to gatherings without him. It's easier for me and him. We eat fairly healthily and he exercises because he knows this helps. I can't talk to him about it, he constantly asks me what I'm thinking and I won't say because I'm terrified of confrontation. (my parents constantly fought until they got divorced so I'd rather say nothing than start an argument.) Plus I don't want to make him feel worse, I'm starting to realise this is not healthy for us but I just can't bring myself to discuss it. I'm so afraid of making it worse as he suffers so much already. Do those suffering with depression or who have partners with depression have any ideas about how I can make it better for him? I hate seeing him suffer so much, I understand that these things take time but I'm starting to lose hope that we'll ever get past this. Should I becoming to terms with the idea that we will always be managing this, is depression a life sentence? Thanks for reading Kathryn

lismith25 I don't know what to do
  • replies: 3

Please forgive me, this is all new to me so I will try not to ramble. About 4 months ago my husband took voluntary redundancy from work, a decision made because he was unhappy with the job and working away every other week. He wanted to be home more ... View more

Please forgive me, this is all new to me so I will try not to ramble. About 4 months ago my husband took voluntary redundancy from work, a decision made because he was unhappy with the job and working away every other week. He wanted to be home more and more engaged with the family. Since then he has only picked up little bits of agency work but ironically it has meant that he away from home even more. He has been incredibly stressed over the lack of work and his need to earn money, but I work part time and we are not destitute. I am trying to be supportive but everything I say ends in an argument. He is so defensive that everything is an attack and its starting to wear me down. I am trying to not let this affect family life, but I am tired of trying to hold everything together. When he is away I am normal mum and when he comes home, he isn't engaging with the children. He just goes on his computer or xbox and hides. And when I try to talk to him we end up having a massive argument and i cant protect the children from hearing it. Yesterday was a crunch day, another outside issue pushed him to breaking point and he snapped. He just walked out, no phone, no word of where he was going and for the first time I was afraid he wasn't going to come back. When I eventually found him, he started screaming at me which reduced me tears, in front of the children, but I couldn't leave him. He then just burst into tears and we were able to talk a little bit about it. He seems ok today, not angry just uninterested and unengaged and has now gone back to bed. I have never doubted the strength of my marriage until now and I wont give on without a fight, but I wonder. I feel that I am drowning at the moment, I cant save myself never mind anyone else. How do I help him? Thanks for listening/reading

BDF62 Husband won't get help
  • replies: 5

I'm not even sure what my aim is in posting this. I guess I just need to get it out there in front of others who can empathise. And apologies in advance for the long and probably rambling post. My husband has recently admitted to me that he has been ... View more

I'm not even sure what my aim is in posting this. I guess I just need to get it out there in front of others who can empathise. And apologies in advance for the long and probably rambling post. My husband has recently admitted to me that he has been suffering depression for about 30 years, since his late teens. We've been married for nearly 20 of those years. He admitted it after a big confrontation about his drinking when I told him to either sort himself out or we (son & I) leave. Looking back at our early marriage, I can see some of the signs of depression but it wasn't something I was aware of at the time. Depression wasn't something anyone talked about. He didn't have much of a problem with drink in those days either. We were both busy with uni, travel, friends etc. I can't pinpoint when the drinking started, but I think it was around 2000. I remember a couple of episodes around then where alcohol was a factor. Since then the drinking has gotten worse and worse to the point that I would say he is a functioning alcoholic. He said recently he drinks to deaden the pain. Depending on how much he drinks he can go from jolly, to argumentative, arrogant, taunting. While drunk he has said some quite nasty and hurtful things to me. He has never been physically abusive though - I would walk without a second thought if he was. He says he still loves me, wants to fix things, has apologised for hurting me etc. He has been slightly better since our big blow up earlier this year but still has depressive episodes. He refuses to see anyone to talk about his issues. He says it won't help - he has a few friends who have gone on medication and are no better. Not being a huge fan of medication myself, I can understand his reluctance to not go on anti-depressants but he won't even help himself by doing natural things like getting outside and going for a walk, meditation, eating healthily etc. From the minute he gets up, to the time he goes to bed (when he doesn't sleep on the lounge), he has the TV going - I think it's so he doesn't have to listen to his thoughts. He has worked from home for the last few years which in some ways is good - he was in a very toxic environment where he was and his drinking escalated there. But in some ways it's worse - he only showers if he's going out (which can be days), doesn't leave the house, works all hours of the day and night etc. If I am not home to prepare his meals, he goes and buys takeaway. In 2002 we had a child and things went down hill rapidly from there. It was as if he couldn't cope with the demands of growing up. Our son was a dreadful sleeper and I was left with full responsibility. Husband rarely, if ever, got up to him through the night or took much responsibility. I found it hard to cope and was close to PND but I pulled myself out in time. Starting doing yoga, taking walks, getting out of the house etc. He has never really bonded with his son. If I leave them together, he either ignores him, yells at him over something minor or sends him to his room to clean up. I can count on one hand the number of times he has taken him out to do something or even played with him - and when he does, it usually ends up in tears. He used to smack him, but I don't think he has done that for a while. When son was little, we would sit at home and not go out because I had the vision that we should do things as a family. That's how it was for me growing up. But husband would never want to go out or do anything, so we'd stay at home. I still remember when I finally thought "stuff this" and took son out on my own to the park. He was about 3 or 4 and I sat there by myself, miserable, because everyone else seemed to be in a family unit. I was losing my identity more and more until about 5 or 6 years ago when I started to wake up and examine what *I* needed to be happy. A lot of reflection, self-help books, talks with friends etc and I have now found myself - well, its still a work in progress but I'm pretty happy with myself I lost weight, took up exercise - have tried various things until I found what works for me, I have outside interests and friends who don't see me as "mum" but as a real person. About that time I also realised how broken our marriage really was but after so long of being the one to reach out and mend things, I've had enough. Son and I are quite close because we do a lot of things together. In some ways that possibly exacerbates my husband's depression as he feels "left out" - but he doesn't want to get involved in anything. He has few friends - and won't put himself out there to join in anything. He has a golf membership that he bought 6 months ago that has never been used because he doesn't have anyone to play with. Just going along and joining in with people he doesn't know is too scary to him. Over the years he has come up with "plans" to fix things which I now recognise as part of the depression - he would come up with grandiose plans of moving to the country, going travelling for 12 months, buying an investment property, moving overseas, starting another business etc. I guess a way of him trying to run away from reality. And each time, the "mania" would subside, he'd lose interest and in many cases, then blame me because "I didn't support him enough." I'm no longer committed to saving my marriage. I've been hurt too many times, made too many attempts. We haven't been intimate in over 12 months - I just can't bring myself to make love with someone that I don't really care for anymore. Now my aim is to protect myself and my son from his toxic fallout for the next few years. Financially I'm not in a great position to leave - if push came to shove, I could and would have family support, but I'm trying to stick it out for a couple of years to be in a better position. And part of me still hopes things will get better. I don't hate him - although I do hate his behaviour. I feel sorry for him and helpless because he has to want to help himself. Sorry for War and Peace. As I said, I just had to get it out there to know that I'm not alone.

Bella19 16 year old sister suffering from depression
  • replies: 1

Hi, my name is Bella and I'm 19. I live with my parents and my sister, Lucy. For the past couple of years (not sure how long exactly) Lucy has been suffering from depression. We started to realise towards the end of year 8 (she is about to finish yea... View more

Hi, my name is Bella and I'm 19. I live with my parents and my sister, Lucy. For the past couple of years (not sure how long exactly) Lucy has been suffering from depression. We started to realise towards the end of year 8 (she is about to finish year 10 now) when my dad found photos she had taken of her self harming. I only found out about this a couple of months later when they told me, but around the same time I noticed some self harm. I was younger at the time and didn't realise what they were. Since then some progress has been made, but not a lot. She started at a new school which was great in the beginning. She got to make some new friends which she really enjoyed. However, she has recently been distressed as her new school is very academically focused and puts a lot of pressure on her. She is not coping well in this situation, and considering the fact that two of her best friends are leaving this school, she has decided to return to her old school. The main issue there was the "bitchiness" that often occurs in years 8/9 (I went to the same school so I know what goes on) so hopefully now that she is going into year 11, things will be better. However, I am still worried about her. She constantly lies to my parents about things like drinking and is always moody and angry. This is really upsetting my mum in particular. I don't know how to help her. She is a stay at home mum so she deals with my sister a lot. She cries a lot and although she tries her best, I can see it getting to her. I feel like my sisters illness is tearing our family apart. Although my dad is very supportive, he works a lot and finds it difficult to confront the issue. Recently, my sister has started seeing a psychiatrist and has started on antidepressant medication. To be honest, I have not seen an improvement and I hope the the psychiatrist will decide to change the dosage or medication. I know I have to do my best to support my family, but it feels hard when I can hear my mum crying in the next room, and every day I wake up hoping my sister hasn't killed herself. I have tried talking to them about it but they shut me out every time. I just don't know how to help them anymore and I am getting more and more worried that my sister will never recover. Sorry for the lengthy explanation but I really could use some support. Xx Bella

How_do_I_grow_up How do I grow up, with a mum who I think has bipolar mood disoder
  • replies: 2

Hi my name is Belinda im 26, years old and my mum I believe my mum has bipolar mood disorder.. From a young age I grew up with my mum having some form of depression. As a young child I know my mum was abused by her father, and to this day she "hates"... View more

Hi my name is Belinda im 26, years old and my mum I believe my mum has bipolar mood disorder.. From a young age I grew up with my mum having some form of depression. As a young child I know my mum was abused by her father, and to this day she "hates" him and tell me when she was young she wanted to kill him. He is no longer with us, due to ill health. As the years pasted by my mum and dad immigrated to Australia and made a life here, where my older brother and I were born.. When I was born my mum had post-natal depression and suffered a lot, and as a result my uncle and father bought me up because my mum couldn't until I was 3 or 4.. Later on she was told by doctors that the depression or some form of the disorder will come back.. now 26, how do I grow up?? and create a life of my own?? and include my mum into my life?? I am currently in a serious relationship with a man I love, and looking to the future and one day marrying this man.. I have struggled to grow up over the years.. Now I want to create my own family life, I do approach telling my parents bout staying over my boyfriends place for the night?? Letting him look after me?? Help me I just want my "mum" to show me how to have a relationship

enlighten Anger management
  • replies: 1

My brother is a very angry and aggressive person. He becomes defensive and irritated when conversations take place in which he simply does not have an interest, and loses his temper easily and quickly such as when we ask him to do / not do something.... View more

My brother is a very angry and aggressive person. He becomes defensive and irritated when conversations take place in which he simply does not have an interest, and loses his temper easily and quickly such as when we ask him to do / not do something. It is almost as if he throws 'adult' tantrums, as he can be quite childish and impressionable. He is not violent, and he does not use illicit substances. I have suggested anger management therapy to him in the past, to which he did not respond well at all. I am concerned about his mental wellbeing, and the way he treats the other members of my family. I am not sure how to manage to continue to live with him until one of us can afford to move out.

Mummyhunny Is it "normal"?
  • replies: 2

Hi is it normal to be constantly depressed when you have bipolar 2? My daughter was diagnosed 3 years ago and her moods are pretty stable, we really notice it if she hasn't had her meds.. For the last 10 of her 18 years she has been depressed, howeve... View more

Hi is it normal to be constantly depressed when you have bipolar 2? My daughter was diagnosed 3 years ago and her moods are pretty stable, we really notice it if she hasn't had her meds.. For the last 10 of her 18 years she has been depressed, however every 3 months or so she goes into a deeper depression. Her meds have changed a couple of times but unless she is manic, she is never happy. I'm thinking maybe I need a 2nd opinion or perhaps that is the way it will always be?

justmeplus4 Helping partner who refuses help
  • replies: 1

Firstly hi, and secondly I apologise in advance if I offend anyone with my words as I realise this is a forum for those suffering, and that us family and friends can also post. My partner refuses to seek any treatment and I am at my wits end. About 8... View more

Firstly hi, and secondly I apologise in advance if I offend anyone with my words as I realise this is a forum for those suffering, and that us family and friends can also post. My partner refuses to seek any treatment and I am at my wits end. About 8 years ago (before I knew him) he was hospitalised after a manic episode and diagnosed with bipolar II. His condition was poorly managed (so he tells me) and he was referred to a second psych who diagnosed him as having had a "bump in the road" (as partner tells me), or an alcoholic (as partners family tells me). Once he 'got better' he sought no further treatment. It sounds like he has struggled all his adult life, and is now early 40's. Over the last 7 years of being together I've watched him go up and down. On the positives, when he's fully functioning he's great, he's held down a senior level job for years, and has more friends than anyone I know. Close and social friends. On the downside, he has up and down cycles that are coming closer and closer together....but they are always concurrent with binge drinking. In this time he is aggressive (not violent with me but gets in fights, verbally abusive to me), can be paranoid, can't sleep, has little or no insight into self or effect on others, is moody and unpleasant, idealises certain people and seems to display narcissistic behaviour (or at the least looks like he has a massive ego), lacks appetite, drinks constantly, attention seeks (e.g. starts drinking and then starts relentlessly calling people on the phone). This will be followed at some point by a few days not getting out of bed and great sadness. In good times and bad he always drinks - would be drunk 4/5 nights a week - sometimes tipsy, sometimes falling over. I don't know if he is bipolar or 'just' an alcoholic - with behaviours that mimic bipolar symptoms. I've researched BPD and he fits a lot of that criteria (ex he doesn't look like he has a fear of abandonment at all - but the other criteria he displays). Maybe a label doesn't even matter? How can a psych diagnose when he's drinking so heavily? He's having a 'crisis' at the moment (I don't know what else to call it) where he's behaved in a way that may see him lose his job, he's been aggressive with friends, his family have had enough. He's saying he has thought about suicide. Over the last 7 years I've begged, nagged, empathised, stepped back, cried...tried everything I can think of to get him to seek some help. I just don't know what to do anymore. He just plain refuses. Says he'd rather die than go through any sort of treatment again. Wont even just go and see the psychiatrist to 'prove us wrong'. My life is so unpleasant....I am scared of him (I HATE being yelled at), I hate walking on eggshells, I hate being constantly anxious and worrying over what state he'll be in when I get home/ he gets home, hate being alone and responsible for everything, hate the thought of our kids seeing this, and as they get older thinking it is their fault. Once before I told him I couldn't live like this anymore and wanted him to get help or I needed to make choices for myself and our children and two days later he said that was fine because he no longer loved me anyway and hates our life and blames us for the way he is. This is despite at all other times telling me that the kids and I were the one thing keeping him alive. I just don't know what to do anymore. Is there ANYTHING left for me to try? ANYTHING? I managed to get him to a GP, he has a referral, but wont make the appointment. Wont let me make it either. I am trying to make an appointment for myself with his psych, and I have an appointment booked with a psychologist for later this month. Now I've got him to the GP he has started in again with the "I'm sick of you, I'm sick of the kids", which usually means he's headed to tell me he is leaving us. Do I "let" him just go (usually I play the game and beg him to stay and he does). I love him dearly and with all my heart, but I am also feeling resentful, scared and manipulated. And so exhausted. Please anyone...any ideas....I want him well (and when he is he is a FABULOUS person)....but I can't break myself in the process.

D___J we need help
  • replies: 5

Our son is 16 and over the last 18 months has had 3 people commit suicide, last only a few weeks ago. He gets very angry and has smashed holes in doors, tipped furniture over, fights his sister calls me a f old c and his mother a f s, he is very angr... View more

Our son is 16 and over the last 18 months has had 3 people commit suicide, last only a few weeks ago. He gets very angry and has smashed holes in doors, tipped furniture over, fights his sister calls me a f old c and his mother a f s, he is very angry and we are at a loss to what to expect next or how to help. Yesterday he was expelled and are concerned he will do something he is drinking and we know is taking drugs. He will not sit and talk as well as wont allow us help him in anyway with counselling. The program he was in was a sports program rather than school and they although pretended to help, have not. He continues to threaten suicide. Does anyone have some advice...