Supporting family and friends

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

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

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

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

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BigSisof3 Help us help him
  • replies: 2

My 32 year old brother has suffered depression and anxiety for a number of years and his symptoms have overwhelmed him in the last few months. After many years of talking to him about his symptoms he has started taking anti-depressants for 5 weeks. H... View more

My 32 year old brother has suffered depression and anxiety for a number of years and his symptoms have overwhelmed him in the last few months. After many years of talking to him about his symptoms he has started taking anti-depressants for 5 weeks. He feels his depression and anxiety have increased in this time. He has no motivation, can't get out of bed, has lost weight due to no appetite, sleeps only 3-4 hours a night and had admitted to having "dark thoughts" of harming himself. My brother also drinks a lot of alcohol and has experienced a number of blackouts during these drinking sessions. Sadly, my brother also works interstate from our family and has no support when away. Yesterday, I took the opportunity to take my brother to see a GP who prescribed a sedative to relieve the anxiety symptoms that were crippling my brother as a stop-gap measure. We need to find some professional help for my brother as we don't have to skills to help him out of this. He has a loving and supportive family but he needs to be in a clinic or some care to cut this cycle and help him. Where do we go? My Dad rang the Assessment and Crisis Intervention phone number and as my brother wasn't suicidal or psychotic we were advised to see a GP.

tybay22 Please help...I'm at a loss
  • replies: 0

My sister suffers from bipolar and we are at a loss on how to help her. She is married, 32 and has 4 kids. She has had depression for the past 4 - 5 years and is showing no signs of improvement. She is on anti depressant tablets, has sleep apnea, obe... View more

My sister suffers from bipolar and we are at a loss on how to help her. She is married, 32 and has 4 kids. She has had depression for the past 4 - 5 years and is showing no signs of improvement. She is on anti depressant tablets, has sleep apnea, obesley overweight, and high blood pressure. She is a shell of her former self, no energy to do anything, she just wants to sleep her life away. She won't help herself or let anyone else help her. She won't go to councelling. I just want my sister back, the one that was full of life and always happy. Please give me a clue on how to help her, because I'm at a loss...I don't know what to do

T_ Husband with depression
  • replies: 4

My husband was diagnosed 8 months ago with depression by his local GP and has seen a psychologist a few times. He is not on medication. He is not a big talker about feelings at all. We have been together since we were 19, married at 25 and had our se... View more

My husband was diagnosed 8 months ago with depression by his local GP and has seen a psychologist a few times. He is not on medication. He is not a big talker about feelings at all. We have been together since we were 19, married at 25 and had our second anniversary this year. Our life is good, we both have good jobs, though quite stressful and we travel regularly. Our friends are starting to have babies, but we are not yet considering this. Just recently my husband thought that maybe the depression was getting worse. After a big emotional discussion he spoke about not feeling happy with me, with questions such as how do I know you are the one that I should be with and statements such as I don't love you enough, you deserve better. He questions now whether it is depression that he has, or whether he just doesn't love me and this is causing this unhappiness that might be mistaken for depression. He has booked in again to see his psychologist and I have booked in to see one too. I have become quite anxious that my marriage is going to end and there is nothing I can do about it. We would both say that we don't have any problems in our marriage as in we haven't had problems and do get along well. Has anyone else experienced this with their husband or wife? I would not usually join these sorts of forums, but I am at a loss as to how to help him.

DiaryOfHer My Lovely Girlfriend..
  • replies: 1

I love my girlfriend with all my heart, she has been through so much! She has lost a close friend to suicide and another in a car crash. she has been sexually abused and put into hospital and has been decieved and lied to more than anyone I know. She... View more

I love my girlfriend with all my heart, she has been through so much! She has lost a close friend to suicide and another in a car crash. she has been sexually abused and put into hospital and has been decieved and lied to more than anyone I know. She is a lovely person. I don't know how she can care for people as much as she does with what's happened to her. But she is there for anyone when they need it. Unfortunately she is the one that I think needs help. She puts on this brave face to everyone else but I know what she's really like. She has really bad days where she doesn't want to get out of bed or do anything. She use to hurt herself to make it feel better but from my understanding she has stopped a while ago. I try and help her as much as I can but I think she needs to get some sort of professional help. She hates the idea of talking to anyone other than me about it. How can I convince her that it's the right thing? Is anyone in the same position? Does anyone have anything to say that will help her or comfort her? I'm running out of ideas. I just want to fix it. -DiaryOfHer

Serena Help please
  • replies: 0

Hi I'm a single mum with 2 boys aged 5 and 3 on a pension. I'm not coping with their behaviour at the moment and with my depression things seem worse than they probably are. I'm looking for someone who can help me with my boys and my mental stability... View more

Hi I'm a single mum with 2 boys aged 5 and 3 on a pension. I'm not coping with their behaviour at the moment and with my depression things seem worse than they probably are. I'm looking for someone who can help me with my boys and my mental stability that is covered by the pension as I have little to no money left after rent and bills are paid. I sometimes feel like I want to give the boys to their father, but I know I can't do that as he is an alcoholic and I don't want to put the boys in that situation.

Scotty2013 Fam Dynamics
  • replies: 0

Why is it so hard at times?? keeping everyone happy! or getting everyone together and it turn out relaxing?. Yes we have our own lives, Where did those Sunday dinners go to ?. Can i make an Appt now maybe by Facebook if lucky.... I cant handle the Dy... View more

Why is it so hard at times?? keeping everyone happy! or getting everyone together and it turn out relaxing?. Yes we have our own lives, Where did those Sunday dinners go to ?. Can i make an Appt now maybe by Facebook if lucky.... I cant handle the Dynamics of late well make it the last year...and well I don't really want to carry it anymore..Why cant things just flow for a change???over n out TC.