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

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.

Eepyka My husband has schizophrenia and smokes marijuana
  • replies: 4

Hi everyone! I’m new into this site. I just want to express how I feel as I am really going through tough times. I am married for 8 years with my husband who has schizophrenia. He has been stable most of the time and takes his medication. Early this ... View more

Hi everyone! I’m new into this site. I just want to express how I feel as I am really going through tough times. I am married for 8 years with my husband who has schizophrenia. He has been stable most of the time and takes his medication. Early this year I notice some changes on his behaviour and he started to smoke cigarette, drink a lot of alcohol, and other things... I tried to encourage him to seek help but he does not want to. My marriage is breaking because he does not want to give up smoking, and does not even care when i said I will leave. I cant have a proper conversation with him because everytime I tried, he will just smile or laugh and not talk at all. Sometimes he gets aggressive towards me and verbally abuses me. I dont know what to do

Sunflower62 BPD son in prison, I’m over it
  • replies: 123

My son has been arrested for the second time. He was arrested in 2015, trial and sentencing in 2016, released 2018. I believed him when he said he didn’t do it. He has BPD. I thought he had turned the corner and was getting his life on track. Had sta... View more

My son has been arrested for the second time. He was arrested in 2015, trial and sentencing in 2016, released 2018. I believed him when he said he didn’t do it. He has BPD. I thought he had turned the corner and was getting his life on track. Had started studying, got a job, seemed to be ok. Then last week he was arrested again. He went before a judge, remanded in custody until end of April, no bail. His name suppressed. I don’t know what he has been charged with but have been told it’s serious. I don’t know what to think or what to do. I don’t think I know my son at all. I know longer trust him, I really don’t want to deal with it but there is no one else. I’m angry and sad. Other than my partner nobody knows. I’d rather he just didn’t exist anymore. I’m a terrible mother for thinking.

Violet12 Partner struggling to quit cannabis... We can't afford it... Not sure what I should do in this situation
  • replies: 4

My partner has been using cannabis to cope with feelings of frustration and depression. I believe this is the 5th time he's tried to quit, he's never made it a full 3 days. Day 2 right now and his temper is short, he's saying he doesn't want to quit ... View more

My partner has been using cannabis to cope with feelings of frustration and depression. I believe this is the 5th time he's tried to quit, he's never made it a full 3 days. Day 2 right now and his temper is short, he's saying he doesn't want to quit anymore, I said we can't afford it anymore, he is trying to figure out some way to get money for it. Every time he goes back on it, he says he doesn't enjoy it anymore, he says it makes him unmotivated and anxious and that he's ashamed of it and he feels bad for how much it has affected us financially. A few days later and he says it'll be the last time. Then, every time he quits it, within 48 hours he says he can't bear how he feels, he can't stand the boredom and sadness and frustration, and he doesn't care about the consequences because anything is better than feeling that way - so he gets more. Repeat. This has been going on for nearly 5 months. Today is the first time I admitted him the financial aspect affects me negatively and that I'm not OK with it anymore. I think it sent him into a panic, and I wonder if I shouldn't have said it - Maybe knowing he 'could' get it was helping him cope with quitting, and I pulled that rug out when I said I wouldn't be OK with him getting more. But it's true. In the beginning I was OK with it because he didn't use much at all and only late at night, and it seemed to help him relax which he rarely does. But after a few months of it, his tolerance went up, and he used a lot more which not only meant he was smoking it from afternoon to night, but it also meant we were spending hundreds and hundreds a month on it, borrowing from friends and family and causing tension with them and between each other. I never pushed him to quit - he came to that on his own. I supported him. He's tried to quit I'd say fortnightly for the past month and a half or so. I said nothing when he caved, I supported him and respected that it was his journey, I made appointments with doctors and therapists he didn't go to (in the process of trying to find him another therapist he might not go to), I didn't tell him how much it was affecting our relationship - maybe I should have. I'm just... Over this. I know it's an addiction, and I know he feels powerless. But... I'm sick of there only being 2 sides of him lately: High and vacant or sober and angry. I respect that he's trying, and I know it takes people a lot of tries. I just don't know. I'm considering suggesting rehab but I don't know the cost.

K_Ley Support People
  • replies: 2

Hi. I have 2 amazing ladies who I work with that have offered to be support people for me. They are there for me when I need to chat, when I am feeling down, or just when I need to know that someone is there and just to hang with. They have been ther... View more

Hi. I have 2 amazing ladies who I work with that have offered to be support people for me. They are there for me when I need to chat, when I am feeling down, or just when I need to know that someone is there and just to hang with. They have been there for me at my lowest points and shared in the positives. I could not have got to this point without them. Only problem is I feel like I am being a burden and I hate that. They say that I am not a burden and I have every faith in them, but I am forcing myself to try and not contact them as often just so that I don't feel like a burden. Problem is with severe levels of depression, anxiety and stress at the moment I am putting extra pressure on myself that maybe I don't need to. I just don't know how to make the most of the support without feeling like I am abusing their support.

faith13 My husband has OCD and I can’t do it anymore
  • replies: 2

My husband has OCD and I have known this since we met. But in the last few months it has got out of hand.since the beginning I have done whatever possible to help him and make his life a little less stressful. From cleaning to doing his nightly ritua... View more

My husband has OCD and I have known this since we met. But in the last few months it has got out of hand.since the beginning I have done whatever possible to help him and make his life a little less stressful. From cleaning to doing his nightly rituals.I am now at the end of my patients, I have been encouraging him to seek help as it causes a lot of stress on our relationship but he always has an excuse. It makes him so miserable so even though I am burnt out with it I just want him to be happy.the final straw has now come from a phone call I received from him at 11pm that so happened to be on a night I wasn’t at home the first time in months I’ve been out with friends. He spilt a tiny bit of oil and he spiralled that he now needed to clean it and he is panicking that it is on his stuff and it’s going to be all over the house and he is going to have to spend hours cleaning it. Begging me to come home, saying I don’t care ignoring anything I say to help.The worst part is in 14 weeks pregnant and exhausted, we ended up being on the phone for 2 hours for a clean up that in the end only took him 10 minutes.I understand OCD I’ve done my research but I’m at the point where he is so uncaring and unhelpful for me and he can be very nasty when I don’t bend to whatever he wants, countless sleepless nights for me over this and so much stress.but now it’s not just me it’s our baby too that he begged for and wants so badly but I dread to think what the babies life will be like and I don’t want this for our child.I’m exhausted and I don’t know where to turn

WorkingOnBeingOkay Partner with disability
  • replies: 2

Hi everyone, so my partner of 2 years has a intellectual disability. I love her to bits. sometimes I get frustrated, as she needs hearing aids, but hasn’t got them from NDIS yet. I work in disability and am currently working on a Cert 4 in Community ... View more

Hi everyone, so my partner of 2 years has a intellectual disability. I love her to bits. sometimes I get frustrated, as she needs hearing aids, but hasn’t got them from NDIS yet. I work in disability and am currently working on a Cert 4 in Community services and Diploma of CS next year. the topics have been quite sensitive and that has been making me be more moody. I have seen a psychiatrist or psychologist this week. her current support workers aren’t the best. And I’ve just found out she hasn’t been taking her depression medication for the last few weeks. are there any peer support groups I can contact to help, when I feel like it’s getting too much?

sarahl How to help husband who says he is just a shell and doesn't fit
  • replies: 1

My husband has been 'flat' for quite some time now - years in fact- but last night he opened up to me about how he was feeling. He does see a psych and has a medication (although he tells me this is more for sleeping than depression) but there have b... View more

My husband has been 'flat' for quite some time now - years in fact- but last night he opened up to me about how he was feeling. He does see a psych and has a medication (although he tells me this is more for sleeping than depression) but there have been a number of factors over his whole life that has led to now (childhood trauma, sexual assault, long term injury pain, among others). He voiced feelings that I deserve better, that he doesn't 'fit' into our family because our young children prefer me and that he doesn't want to hold me back. I know they last years have been difficult - we were separated through circumstance and location during covid when I had to solo parent and this has also really affected him. He needs to work on himself a lot, he told me is very unhappy and feels like a shell and gets no enjoyment from anything. We really have been pretending everything is ok and I know Ive very much noticed he never smiles or laughs or get enjoyment from anything.I feel shattered by last nights conversation - particularly his revelation that he thinks our family would be better off if he wasn't a part of it. I don't think this is a suicide thing ... I think it's more that he feels if left, we could thrive.But now what next. He already sees someone. I wonder if his medication is not quite the right one, but when I mentioned this he said there was no magic pill. I offered to go to his doctor with him. What else can I do, or suggest? My younger brother suffered depression for much of his life, and I feel like I should have been prepared for this but I feel woefully underprepared. I also have to manage the children and working. I have my own psych for anxiety but my appointment isn't for another 10 days. Thanking you all for your experiences.