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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DB91 My wife has been diagnosed with Bipolar after having our baby, how will our lives change?
  • replies: 4

Prior to having our baby, my wife had never experienced any mental health issues, I mean none that required intervention. However, after having our son my wife was diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis. She would suffer extreme highs and lows, hear voi... View more

Prior to having our baby, my wife had never experienced any mental health issues, I mean none that required intervention. However, after having our son my wife was diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis. She would suffer extreme highs and lows, hear voices and would forget we even had a baby at times. It was awful. This was eventually treated with mood stabilising medication and she began to recover. A few months later she relapsed and became very depressed, she was then readmitted to hospital and the medication was adjusted. After this we enjoyed six months of stability. unfortunately, she has relapsed again after the psychiatrists began to reduce her medication as she began to exit the post natal period. Since this admission to hospital, they have now confirmed a diagnosis of Bipolar. As her husband and now also a father to an almost 1yr old I’m feeling lost. I find myself unsure of how to act around her just in case I say the wrong thing, guilty about devoting time to our baby over helping her accept this diagnosis, and worst of all I feel almost annoyed at how this is affecting our son. Even though I know it’s not her fault, she didn’t choose to have this happen to her. has anyone else experienced their spouse suffer Postpartum Psychosis? And are there any other husbands that have had their wife receive a bipolar diagnosis? Also, has anyone started a family with someone with bipolar and has any advice on what to expect?

FaithandHope App to alert family and friends of your wellbeing
  • replies: 1

HiDoes anyone know of an app or other resource that a person who is feeling depressed or suicidal can complete about their mood, that can then immediately alert (with their consent) their family and/or friends about how they are feeling? Do others th... View more

HiDoes anyone know of an app or other resource that a person who is feeling depressed or suicidal can complete about their mood, that can then immediately alert (with their consent) their family and/or friends about how they are feeling? Do others think this would be helpful?

Morechilli Struggling with my mums mental health.
  • replies: 4

Hi, I am currently going through the process of my Mum who had attempted suicide. She has mental health issues (depression & an ED). I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with my first child and can’t help but blame myself. We saw each other earlier in th... View more

Hi, I am currently going through the process of my Mum who had attempted suicide. She has mental health issues (depression & an ED). I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with my first child and can’t help but blame myself. We saw each other earlier in the week and had a disagreement and she gave me the silent treatment afterwards. I tried to talk to her, asking her to talk through it all. I said some things that clearly upset her and she did too. She left and a day later and it happened. This isn’t the first occasion and she has been in and out of hospital throughout my life for her mental health concerns. We have throughout the years had our disagreements, as most Mother's and daughters do. I feel so many emotions, I keep replaying every single moment. My partner has been a great support and was here when we had the disagreement and is at a loss that my Mum took so much offence to what I had said. My mum is in hospital in another town, over 1.5 hours away and it’s not recommended that I travel due to being heavily pregnant. I have been speaking to my Dad on the phone daily to see how she is. But I feel so much guilt, sadness, anger about this and also how much stress I feel under this late in pregnancy. I love my Mum endlessly and want the best for her. However, her mental illness has caused quiet a bit of trauma to me over the years. Seeing her in many states has been very difficult and I have tried to put boundaries in place for my mental health. Often this is met with her not respecting that or again giving me the silent treatment after I try to communicate that with her. I have seen a gp for a mental health plan because I wanted to be able to deal with my own mental health before it got any worse. I have struggled to find someone I ‘gel’ with so far. She has now awoken and won’t speak to me. I can’t comprehend how she could be like this during what is meant to a happy time for myself and our family.

busy-bee Setting boundaries
  • replies: 3

Hi all, I have been with my partner for 8 years and I believe he is really struggling with his mental health. We had to put our dog down due to cancer 2 months ago, and since then I feel he has lost control. He quit his job without notice, and since ... View more

Hi all, I have been with my partner for 8 years and I believe he is really struggling with his mental health. We had to put our dog down due to cancer 2 months ago, and since then I feel he has lost control. He quit his job without notice, and since then spends most of his time in bed, only to wake up for a few hours at night and repeat again. He says he feels hopeless and doesn't see the point in life. He feels he can't cope with the responsibilities of life. Looking back he has always been a very existential person, and has struggled with completing things such as university or holding down a job for more than one year. He has often cycled from periods of apparent happiness and vitality, only to crash after a few months and seclude himself. This is the worst episode I have ever seen. He acknowledges that he may be depressed and should seek help. However, I feel this is all talk and no action. After years of this cycle, I am feeling I have nothing left in me. I am wondering if anyone has any advice on setting boundaries for myself and respecting his boundaries. I am a healthcare worker but I feel as if I am dealing with this terribly. On one hand, I understand it is not his choice to feel this way, but I am under significant financial pressure to support us both and be understanding of his low mood and irritability - all on top of the stress I deal with at the hospital. I have tried to step back and let him make his own decisions only to find each day he has remained in bed. He told me he has not booked to see the doctor yet as he doesn't feel like doing anything and doesn't trust himself to show up for the appointment. I am wondering if it would be appropriate to set up an appointment for him and take him to the doctor, or if this would be too disempowering or infantilising for him. I want to be supportive but I feel helpless myself, and am wondering to what extent I am enabling him. Is it possible to enable someone with these patterns if it is not their choice to feel this way? Any other advice would be appreciated.

Lemon Zest When Should I Call It Quits? I Feel Like Just A Carer.
  • replies: 7

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 10 years. For the last 5 years, it feels like there is little left of our partnership. I feel like I am only a carer now, and it doesn’t look like things will ever change. We don’t live together. I never moved... View more

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 10 years. For the last 5 years, it feels like there is little left of our partnership. I feel like I am only a carer now, and it doesn’t look like things will ever change. We don’t live together. I never moved in with him as he was always financially irresponsible and high maintenance. As we went along, I could see a really self-destructive pattern develop in his behaviour. He has since been diagnosed with bipolar. He also has multiple chronic health conditions, and since having open heart surgery 5 years ago, he has been unable to recover from depression. i Have always looked after him, as his self care capacity was low. But over the last few years, any reciprocal relationship has almost entirely disappeared. He eats, showers and hangs out at my house, only going home to sleep. I wash all his clothes at my home. His children visit at my home and I do the work to take care of them, feeding them, making up beds, washing, with no input from him at all. His house is a hoarders mess, which I have stopped cleaning for him, as he shows no interest in trying to maintain it. When he comes to my house, the arguments that it takes to just get him to pick up after himself are beyond ridiculous. The more I do to help him, the more he expects. There is no boundary, no point where he thinks, she has enough to deal with, I won’t ask that of her too. We have no physical relationship left, he no longer seems to even see my emotional needs, let alone respond to them. And if I bring up anything in our relationship that is upsetting me, he says I am inconsiderate of how he’s feeling and making it harder, that I don’t make allowances for his mental health. Most frustratingly, when I’ve spoken at length with him about what upsets me, he minimises down to the most insignificant point raised and says I’m blowing things out of proportion, being unreasonable, over reacting. I am not an impatient or uncaring person. I have raised 3 children, 2 of them autistic. They are wonderful, we’ll adjusted, emotionally aware people. Everywhere I look online for support, everything centres on caring for the person with mental illness first and caring for yourself only as part of that. I’ve been doing that for years. I’m ok with caring for and supporting him. I’m not ok with having a one way relationship indefinitely. I want to be a partner in our relationship, not just a carer. When do I give up hope of things getting better?

Sapphira Bipolar rage - how to deal with husband’s melt-down
  • replies: 13

My husband was diagnosed with bipolar 2 a couple of years ago. It has been a journey. Getting meds right, keeping him going to a psych...there are many challenges but mostly things are vastly improved since before diagnosis and medication. Last night... View more

My husband was diagnosed with bipolar 2 a couple of years ago. It has been a journey. Getting meds right, keeping him going to a psych...there are many challenges but mostly things are vastly improved since before diagnosis and medication. Last night our adult daughter was over and an argument got out of control. He totally lost it. He had been drinking (he doesn’t usually drink more than a couple of wines) and I’m wondering if that was the trigger, combined with his BP meds. His violent shouting was so full-on and abusive that we are all upset and in shock today. He threw things and also shoved me when I challenged him. I’m angry at him but also know that it’s his brain and the condition. Does anyone have experience with bipolar rage, and how best to handle the aftermath? I think he needs a trip to the psychiatrist ASAP, but we all know how hard it can be to get an appointment. Also wondering if an inpatient stay would help. Does anyone know how I could make that happen? A normal person would ‘just leave’ but instead I would like to use this terrible event to push him to getting more intensive mental health support... I’d like to hear from bipolar carers or maybe people with BP2 on what approaches worked to persuade them to get help when things went bad...

kaws2022 At a tipping point with my partner
  • replies: 2

Hi everyone, I have been in a relationship with my partner for over 8 years now, however the relationship has weathered the unfortunately familiar storm of depression. My partner has had depression and low self esteem since childhood. I have seen her... View more

Hi everyone, I have been in a relationship with my partner for over 8 years now, however the relationship has weathered the unfortunately familiar storm of depression. My partner has had depression and low self esteem since childhood. I have seen her through the highs and lows of the depression, the most toughest period is when she suffered burn out from a demanding job and being disowned by her own parents after they found out she was bisexual and same sex partnered. I know this would be a tough emotional circumstance for anyone, let alone someone who also has to battle depression. Over the years, in order to counter her depression, she has sought intermittent counsel from a therapist, but only does so "when things get really bad" i.e. managing her depression by crisis. She was also on medication for a short period of time, one which worked really well (this needed to be discontinued for physical health reasons) and the other which didn't. She has told me she doesn't want to go back on medication and this isn't an option she can offer engaging with again since the latter medication she tried made her symptoms worse. I am unfortunately at a point (and I've been in this same position before over the 8 years), where I have had to continually step up in the relationship and ensure that there is momentum, organisation and a direction we are heading in. I am frankly getting to a point where I just cannot continue to see a future like this with my partner should something not drastically change as it feels one sided. I have spoken to her about it, and it seems to have only made matters worse, with her depression spiralling. Noting her support system is very small, which makes me feel (even though I know this is not right) a huge amount of pressure to "make the relationship work" seeing as she makes no conscious effort to build anything else outside of it. I know the latter is a symptom of depression, but it feels like a constant weight that is getting harder to carry. I own that I am hyper empathic and tend to want to help make tough situations easier for people, however this cannot be the baseline of an intimate, romantic relationship. It is not sustainable nor healthy. I am at a point where I am unfortunately thinking of walking away for my own mental health, as this pattern has repeated over the last 8 years and am feeling hopeless about it changing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sally007 My daughter aged 30 just diagnosed with BPD
  • replies: 10

If I were smarter I would have seen her behaviour as a teenager was not normal. We managed to get her through that alive, not in jail and not pregnant (just). She hit a wall last year when she decided to go full time studying a degree as well as doin... View more

If I were smarter I would have seen her behaviour as a teenager was not normal. We managed to get her through that alive, not in jail and not pregnant (just). She hit a wall last year when she decided to go full time studying a degree as well as doing shift work. She lives about 1000km from us so we were not much of a support for her when she first went to the doctor and began a round of psychologists and psychyotrists and various medications. Study has been dropped and she has trouble getting to work with her mental health. Last week she rang to say she had worked enough to afford a trip to a friend's birthday and I was not enthusiastic, instead questioned her decision to spend the money. I realise now that I probably should have just gone along with it but I was annoyed because she owed me money and I thought she should have been more responsible. Bad mistake. She said I was trying to teach her lessons instead of just being happy for her and perhaps I was but I am still her mum. She exploded of course and I am now a the pit of despair. Not much anyone can do, I know. My question is, if she ever talks to me again, do I just go along with everything she says to keep the peace?

BPscully Early Onset Dementia - Caring
  • replies: 2

Hi there, It's been a while since I've posted. Firstly, thank you to everyone for your help on previous posts. I've been mostly coping a lot better, my mum and I have gotten into a better place coming to terms with further deterioration but better ro... View more

Hi there, It's been a while since I've posted. Firstly, thank you to everyone for your help on previous posts. I've been mostly coping a lot better, my mum and I have gotten into a better place coming to terms with further deterioration but better routine! Mood wise (for the both of us) we're in an unpredictable territory now, where some days are great- we sing and harmonise in the kitchen to Abba and have a bit of a dance. Or I'm trying to find ways to distract or avoid mum because she's uncontrollably crying for hours and it can be impossible to stop this no matter how much diversion is tried. Sometimes I have days where I feel like giving up, I can't take it any longer, then the next day rolls around and things are better. My partner worries I may be suffering some PTSD from a few of my mums behavioural issues and recommends to see a professional, it's just so hard to find the time for myself. The only person I really talk to is my partner, I'm worried this is having a toll on our relationship. I assume this is why he suggests this too. I really need to demand more time for myself for the sake of our relationship, and even the relationship with my mum. My fuse has gotten less short, but occasionally it can come back. I know when my headaches start becoming regular and I get easily irritable and short, I know I'm about to burnout. This is kind of starting to happen now. I'm not really sure if many family or friends are aware of how things are, or whether they really understand what being a caregiver is like, or being a person with Dementia. I really appreciate the locals in our area though, we live in quite an elderly area surrounded by parks. Last week a lady down at our local shops saw my mum and i holding hands like we always do, and stopped to tell me how much of an excellent job I was doing and that she often sees us walking- that she had spent 8 years of her life doing so as well and she didn't regret a moment. This made me feel really appreciated and understood.

Jm10 Bipolar husband with delusions
  • replies: 4

Hi all, I’m not sure how to start but I am having and extremely difficult time with my husband who I have been with for ten years. He was formally diagnosed with bipolar 6 months ago and ADHD. He also has OCD and is a recovering alcoholic. His psychi... View more

Hi all, I’m not sure how to start but I am having and extremely difficult time with my husband who I have been with for ten years. He was formally diagnosed with bipolar 6 months ago and ADHD. He also has OCD and is a recovering alcoholic. His psychiatrist recently called me after he had a concerning appointment with my husband to discuss if I felt safe and if my kids were safe, which at the time I really didn’t understand why he was asking. He told me that my husband was having extreme paranoid thoughts and is on different medications. yesterday, I found a notepad my husband had written some thoughts down in. It was about 8 A4 size pages about our relationship and said the most hurtful things i have ever heard. In this book he blamed me for everything and basically thinks I have been controlling him for our entire relationship. There were some extremely delusional thoughts in there that made me beside myself with grief that he would feel such contempt towards me. He also said, I don’t know if I love her anymore. I have not been able to bring myself to tell him what I have read and I have told him I need some space away and I staying with my mum atm. I am battling with trying to understand what is the paranoia and what is his true thoughts. If he really thinks all those things he wrote about me I just can’t even fathom how he is still with me and I feel like my world is upside down. I see now why the dr was calling me, and I have a app this afternoon to talk about what I have read and how to try and understand it. I have become concerned about our relationship as he is dressing diff, got a new hair cut he used to have when in 20s, has taking up smoking, is talking about other recreational substances, reaching out to past girlfriend and spending as much time away from me as he can. if I talk with him about how I’m feeling he denies all my feelings and says “I’m just living my best life” . Well, I’m not and I’m not sure where to go from here. I am feeling very vulnerable atm and would really appreciate some kind of understand or support around this. thanks in advance.