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.]

All discussions

Briars Intro
  • replies: 2

Hi all, I’m an alcoholic drinking 1.5 bottles of wine a day. Have done two stints at 7 day rehab last year but nothing sticks beyond 60 days. Desperate…

Hi all, I’m an alcoholic drinking 1.5 bottles of wine a day. Have done two stints at 7 day rehab last year but nothing sticks beyond 60 days. Desperate…

pastrychef Helping a secret alcoholic who doesn't think they have a problem
  • replies: 4

Hi everyone, my husband has been a secret alcoholic for a long time. He's very creative/careful about how he purchases, drinks and disposes of the alcohol. Mostly before he gets home. Hiding his problem is huge and it's miracle he hasn't been caught ... View more

Hi everyone, my husband has been a secret alcoholic for a long time. He's very creative/careful about how he purchases, drinks and disposes of the alcohol. Mostly before he gets home. Hiding his problem is huge and it's miracle he hasn't been caught by police. Although he lost his license drink-driving before we were together. I realised we had a problem when I discovered he'd had 7 full strength cans while I was at work and he was at home looking after our baby. Now I have discovered that he recently drank-drove (over the limit) with our kids in the car. I haven't forgiven him. He says he has no problem, he's said sorry (gets angry), says there's nothing more he can do, I have the problem if I'm not "over it" and that he's not going to put up with me bringing it up. There are many, many more incidents and I'm tired of it. He is adamant he will not see a GP, psychologist or counselor of any kind, solo or together as a couple.Q - How can you help someone in the pre-contemplation phase?I've read about people having to want to change, but can I help him get there?

elf16 How to help my sister
  • replies: 4

My sister (36f lgbt) is currently going through a mental health crisis and has been suffering the following symptoms that I’m aware of since the start of December: - panic attacks - insomnia - sensory overload with sound and light - depression - inab... View more

My sister (36f lgbt) is currently going through a mental health crisis and has been suffering the following symptoms that I’m aware of since the start of December: - panic attacks - insomnia - sensory overload with sound and light - depression - inability to leave her home - withdrawing from friends and family - inability to attend work for 8+ weeks - incoherent speech - chronic pain - racing thoughts and inability to communicate coherently via voice or text or in person. She won’t talk on the phone to anyone who she has had (limited) engagement with since this all began. Initially I assisted her in putting in some boundaries with friends and family to give her some breathing space to deal with grief, trauma and stress. But it’s now at a point where she will not engage even with me beyond a simple ‘hello’ sms each day. Our mum, myself and her best friend have come up with a plan that I’d like some advice on. We’ve reached out to the CATT team and local mental health triage team but without giving them my sisters name and address (something we’ll do after we’ve exhausted gentler options) Mum and sisters BFF will attempt to visit with my sister tomorrow. Unfortunately I live 3.5 hours away. They plan to give her a few options: 1. Sister and mum go to GP to get referral for inpatient 2. Sister agrees to call CATT team for assessment with mum and bff 3. We do a family referral to CATT Team without my sisters consent. Given her disengagement with family, friends and living alone were of the opinion that an inpatient stay would be most suitable. I’d love feedback on the above mentioned plan

Worried_Wife1000 Husband struggling with toxic self-shaming / depression
  • replies: 5

I’m seeking insights/tips/advice/reassurance/anything from people that have/are going through something similar from either perspective. I’ve been with my husband over a decade, we also now have a young child and are expecting our second. We’ve lived... View more

I’m seeking insights/tips/advice/reassurance/anything from people that have/are going through something similar from either perspective. I’ve been with my husband over a decade, we also now have a young child and are expecting our second. We’ve lived a great life thus far (from my perspective), had a lot of great travels, grown personally & professionally together etc. My husband has always been hard on himself and would sometimes get down/frustrated but it wouldn’t last long. It’s quite heartbreaking just how much he is ashamed of himself and past decisions made. He overthinks almost everything and sends himself into a spiral of shame and regret. He really despises himself. Whereas I still see the great man, husband and incredible dad he is. This extends to him almost wishing our child would ‘look up to him less’ as he feels he is not worthy of the love/devotion and does not want our child to turn out like him. For the most part it isn’t impacting our daily life, as in we still do usual activities, talk & engage as a family etc. However, it peaks and this might be monthly or in a bad month weekly, or in a bad week a couple times. When this happens he becomes erratic and agitated and seems to want to fight. We ultimately argue because my patience runs thin with the negativity being spoken, I become defensive as in the moment the negativity extends beyond himself and to the life we’ve built, and me. I find it difficult to disengage and be logical as I am so emotionally entrenched in his wellbeing, and our future together. We’re gratefully past the denial stage and instead he admits he is struggling mentally and will talk to me about this with his heart on his sleeve. It’s heartbreaking to see how genuinely down he is in himself. He isn’t interested in ‘talking’ to someone and would prefer to just get on with life, tick off his todo list and be healthy in the hope he will come good. I want to support him the best I can. Is there anything I can do to help him progress through this if professional help is off the cards?

Spouse7 How to support my partner
  • replies: 1

While working in a different country I met a woman who had gone through awful experiences of abuse as a child and young adult, both emotionally and sexually. We fell in love, decided to leave the country together (as her family would not accept our r... View more

While working in a different country I met a woman who had gone through awful experiences of abuse as a child and young adult, both emotionally and sexually. We fell in love, decided to leave the country together (as her family would not accept our relationship) and have been trying to settle in Australia. We have issues due to cultural differences, I have been trying to find support, but it has not been easy (I actually feel let down by some of the existing services as we haven't been able to get counseling for her. We have been to couples counseling, it was suggested we -and specially her with her history- went to singles counseling, but with the Christmas holidays and administrative errors we haven't been able to access therapy for her in a couple of months), we are both looking for work and our financial situation adds stress, and our GP mentioned that my wife is likely to suffer from PTSD. I am no psychologist and have been trying to support her the best I can, but periodically we have episodes when the smallest disagreement ends up in a fight, and they escalate very quickly. I have been working with my counselor and I am making an effort to extract myself from discussions as quickly as possible, but it seems like an impossible task. Whence before I used to try and use logic (big mistake), or present my point of view, now I understand the best I can do is to listen and not get entangled in the fight. But even then seems like an impossible task. I try to set boundaries (I try to not accept yelling, as in the past we both ended up screaming; or to have the option of step away when upset) but I'm yet to be able to not react at all when something bothers me. As, as soon as my face "changes" it seems like she gets triggered and her defenses come up, as she believes she may end up abused as used to happen when she was a child. I am trying my best to support her, but it is so tiring. It feels like I live on a minefield. We are having many good days, but any bad day sticks in her head for weeks, and makes her feel like we are always in an awful situation, and makes her depressed. I know she also needs to go through therapy, but it is tough waiting for the system to help us, as it is not financially viable to go to a private practice in this moment. Is there anyone with experience on how we can get support? What can I do better, while avoiding falling with her in deep spirals of hopelessness? And, where to go for help that can be accessed promptly? Thanks

Audilly How do I help my friend who has extreme anxiety
  • replies: 2

I have a friend who I'll call F and I genuinely believe that she has anxiety disorder and antisocial personality disorder, or something of the sort. She's always been a bit more introverted, and only became close to me because we shared a common inte... View more

I have a friend who I'll call F and I genuinely believe that she has anxiety disorder and antisocial personality disorder, or something of the sort. She's always been a bit more introverted, and only became close to me because we shared a common interest. I've known her since we were like 5, and we've been in the same primary school and last year the same highschool. We're usually in a trio with another friend that I'll call K that has been in the same school as F since grade 2 and left to go to a science school at the end of last year. Now F has never taken the initiative to make friends or talk to people. She'll refuse to socialise unless K or I are there, and I'm already bad at socialising myself. She's also really anxious which has spiralled in recent years. She used to chat with K and me a lot when we were younger. Like almost everyday about memes and stuff. We last hung out for halloween, and it took my mum and K's mum calling F's mum for her to agree to meet up because she never responded to a single message. And I would've been fine if she didn't want to go to my house, but it was also her idea to meet up. It's been almost 2 months since we last spoke, and about a week for K and that was only after she spammed F's inbox for the past month and called F's number, only to receive what sounded like a very AI generated apology. A few months ago, K also had a sleepover with F and said that she was asking F a lot of questions about how to make pancakes since she's never made them before. While answering K's questions, she accidentally broke a pancake and completely flipped out. She started swearing, yelling and just had a meltdown because of it. K has no experience with anything mental health related and didn't know how to react so she just called F's mum down to the kitchen. K left early and received a text from F's mum apologising for her behaviour and that she's just been stressed due to exams lately. I do know that F feels a bit of resentment because both K and I left her at the same time to fend for herself in a pretty crappy school. She's expressed how much she hates that she had no more friends and gets upset if K or I even mention our new schools which are objectively better in most regards. K and I chatted about this and both agreed that it would be best for F to seek some type of therapy. Only problem is, F's parents are unaware of the impact on mental health and think its not a real problem.

scat my daughter is an alcoholic
  • replies: 5

my 29 year old daughter is an alcoholic. She moved back home 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer because she was having trouble with one of her flatmates who was a drug addict that had been in jail. She was belting the bourbon down pr... View more

my 29 year old daughter is an alcoholic. She moved back home 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer because she was having trouble with one of her flatmates who was a drug addict that had been in jail. She was belting the bourbon down pretty hard and it is slowly getting worse. She doesn't qualify for the HAPS program because she is still working. She takes days off work every week because she is too hungover to work. Today she drank nearly a litre of bourbon and talked about suicide because she sees no future for herself. I can't sleep because I am so worried about her. Now I am going to be tested for secondary cancers early next year because of our family history. This is the 3rd generation of alcoholics I have to deal with. My father was and also my husband still is. Because of the booze culture in my family I was in my 40's before I realised not all men were drunks. I really have no idea where to go from here

DotG Husband Depression, affair and left .. how to get help
  • replies: 1

My husband of 25years recently left me. We have 4 children 22yrs -15yrs.He is a functioning alcoholic which I believe stems from childhood trauma he refuses to recognise.His Pop who raised him recently passed away and since then he was pushing us awa... View more

My husband of 25years recently left me. We have 4 children 22yrs -15yrs.He is a functioning alcoholic which I believe stems from childhood trauma he refuses to recognise.His Pop who raised him recently passed away and since then he was pushing us away and drinking down beach longer.We had been talking less as I was not home much due to work and then his drinking in the afternoons. So communication was via text .. it was mostly me saying I love him and he needed to prioritise us and our marriage. A month before he told children (to my surprise) that we where separating we had been on two family trips to the snow and me and kids in reflection thought it was happy and fun and loving.We have since found out he has had an affair (still seeing this person) which happened within the month after we went on family trip (from what it seems she may have take advantage of his depressive state and said things to make him feel happy but it wasn’t based on truth.. the messages and discussion I had with her she seemed like this was a competition between me and her and I have no idea who she is). He has since told kids he had left the marriage before he physically left and hence no affair .. and he was unhappy for a long time, and this has nothing to do with them it is between him and me.Kids and I don’t believe it as our marriage was very sexual, he is a non communicator and doesn’t express his emotions … until he started talking to this other women down the beach..He told me he started using words he never used before and me and kids felt like he is a different person ..kids are not talking to him (their decision) I think since his Pop passed his depression has spiraled and he is now living in a detached reality.he certainly is not any happier and isn’t taking on any parenting roles for the younger kids only to ask if they want hang out and surf (like a friend not a dad) I love him and want him back with his family were I know was happy loved and cared for .. how do we help him ?

Help_Me_Rhonda BPD
  • replies: 4

Hi, my partner has BPD and because of this she can drive me "crazy". Any other partners out there that maybe in a similar situation?

Hi, my partner has BPD and because of this she can drive me "crazy". Any other partners out there that maybe in a similar situation?

Haurice Living with an alcoholic partner
  • replies: 31

Hi, this is my first post. My partner is an alcoholic. While she’s always had issues with drinking, they’ve become overwhelming and all pervasive in the last four or five years. She drinks to get drunk every day and I’m just devastated. When she drin... View more

Hi, this is my first post. My partner is an alcoholic. While she’s always had issues with drinking, they’ve become overwhelming and all pervasive in the last four or five years. She drinks to get drunk every day and I’m just devastated. When she drinks we can’t communicate at all. The only thing that matters to her is making sure she has enough alcohol. It makes her depressed, angry and argumentative, and I’m the one who wears it, night after night. She only rarely hides her drinking from me, but she does hide it from everyone else. I’ve confided to a close friend, but other than that I don’t think anybody knows - maybe her workplace has guessed, but it hasn’t been raised with her. It makes me feel so alone and isolated. This is the main reason I’ve come to this forum - I don’t want to be the only one carrying this knowledge and stress. My other purpose is to seek advice. She doesn’t want to stop and is currently at the stage of believing it gives her an escape from a life she is dissatisfied with. I feel like I’ve tried everything to help her but she doesn’t want to stop. The burden on me is huge. We both work full time, but after work she just sits around drinking and getting more and more depressed and angry, while I do everything else for the household - cooking, dishes, walking the dog, laundry etc etc. I guess I’m just at a loss for what to do. My mental health is starting to suffer now too. I love her as much as ever, but I’m also angry and frustrated. I’d love to hear from people in similar situations. How do you cope? How do you look after your loved one, while still looking after yourself?