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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Guest_3847 Need help with a suicidal wife which refuses to get help
  • replies: 12

Hello All I need help or advice on how to deal with my suicidal wife who refuses to get mental health help We have been married for 22 years and she has had major bouts of depression with suicidal tendencies she is well educated and is in the medical... View more

Hello All I need help or advice on how to deal with my suicidal wife who refuses to get mental health help We have been married for 22 years and she has had major bouts of depression with suicidal tendencies she is well educated and is in the medical profession we have two older boys who are nearly self reliant now but I don’t think I can hang in any longer and I’m worried what she will do if I say I can’t

kacey Therapist shame
  • replies: 3

I am exhausted caring for my wonderful daughter. It's a thing I feel shame to admit. It's been 2years and its been at the point for tge last 6months that I can't pee without her at the door. I can't go get milk without her calling to threaten suicide... View more

I am exhausted caring for my wonderful daughter. It's a thing I feel shame to admit. It's been 2years and its been at the point for tge last 6months that I can't pee without her at the door. I can't go get milk without her calling to threaten suicide. I tried to express this to her psychologist who told me that if I can't be team 'daughter' they would be. I love my daughter. We're in weekly therapy and I'm missing work because she's more important. I hated saying anything but I am at breaking point and I got shamed. I have heard look after yourself- how? That's what I was asking. What now?

Aloof1912 Advice needed!
  • replies: 3

Hello everyone! Thank you for your time reading this. Thought I'd reach out to you all as this is my first time really and could do with some help/assistance regarding my partner of almost 2 years next week. Out of the blue, on Tuesday last week, my ... View more

Hello everyone! Thank you for your time reading this. Thought I'd reach out to you all as this is my first time really and could do with some help/assistance regarding my partner of almost 2 years next week. Out of the blue, on Tuesday last week, my partner took a turn from being happy to depressed unexpectedly. This has left me feeling lost and clueless as to "what changed?" Anyway, she has been riding this wave for over a week now and it is starting to take a toll on me where I feel useless and emotional as all I want to do is be there for her. She seems to still cuddle me at night and I hold her, but when it is outside of this, she is struggling. I know recently, her parents' had COVID and thought she was struggling with that, but since they are free from it, she hasn't really bounced back. When I have tried ask, "what is wrong?" she says "work is stressing me". I really do not know what it is and want to get to the bottom of it as all I want to do now is cry. I said I wouldn't leave her after her saying, "please don't leave me" last Friday, I am feeling sad that I want to be there for her as well as to get over this darkness as I miss her old self. I have tried writing her notes, give her little things like chocolate, but feels now, it's a dead-end. Any advice or wisdom, would be greatly appreciated!

Peta81 13 year old w/- anxiety
  • replies: 1

Hi everyone I am a mum to two beautiful children. One who has recently been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He gets caught up with things he has done or said in the past, has he broken laws, what if this what if that. Things that the average p... View more

Hi everyone I am a mum to two beautiful children. One who has recently been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He gets caught up with things he has done or said in the past, has he broken laws, what if this what if that. Things that the average person would laugh off but he is so in his own head I am very quickly losing my little boy. he Gets angry and lost in his own anger and void- so much so he said he was hearing voices. I read that voices is surprisingly normal with severe anxiety. He is on SSRIs and seeing a psychologist but I feel we are actually going backwards. We are actually trying to make appt with doc this week though to try different SSRI as he is having increased suicidal thoughts. He just got a job and wants to work more over school holiday but I am worried that will stop us addressing the issue at hand. Or would it be good for him He was bullied at school last year and this coming term we are looking at Distant Education. He has also lost his Gran father about two years ago which has been a lot for him. i Would love some positive advice or direction moving forward. I am breaking and I know he is to. I feel he is trapped and can’t get out of his own head

concerned_daughter My mom is 'grieving' and I don't know what to do
  • replies: 5

Hello this is my first post here so I'm not sure if it's the right place to ask but i hope it is. A little backstory: my mom married an Australian and we both moved to Australia late 2019, just before the pandemic starts and have been here since. My ... View more

Hello this is my first post here so I'm not sure if it's the right place to ask but i hope it is. A little backstory: my mom married an Australian and we both moved to Australia late 2019, just before the pandemic starts and have been here since. My mom have other kids but they couldn't come with us as they're all over the age limit and i was underage (at that time). We lived in Australia for almost three years now. At first, I thought my whole world was crumbling because i have to leave my old life and start a new one here. But with my mom's support and the encouragement from my teachers, i manage. I thought that was it. I have new friends and have the best moment of my life, and i thought that was the same case for my mom... She cried to me last night. She said that she doesn't want to be here because she felt like she lost everything in her life and have to start all over again. She feels lonely, and the pandemic didn't help too because of the lockdown. She doesn't have any friends or family other than me. Her kids can't visit her because of visa problems and whatsoever. Her husband also didn't really help her, as he expects my mom to be just like how she was back in our old country, cheery and independent. She said she doesn't have any support system and she survives purely because she wants me to have a better future here. I feel so guilty because i feel like I'm the reason why she's suffering. I told her we can go back anytime she wants because she is the most important person to me, but she doesn't want to because she wants me to have a better future here. The truth is, I wouldn't have a bright future back in my country if i go back because i dont have even a highschool certificate to help me get any jobs. Part of me also blames her husband because he didn't help her at all in adjusting in this new place. She sacrificed her life just to be with him, and he can barely do the bare minimum to my mom. He doesn't comfort her when she's sad, he doesn't listen to her concerns at all, It's not fair to my mom. At all. It's up to me now to cheer my mom up, the least i could do in exchange for her sacrifices for me. But i don't know what to do. I always look for my mom when I'm feeling down but when she's feeling down, i dont know what to do. Im confused and scared but i really want to do something for her.

Haurice Living with an alcoholic partner
  • replies: 28

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?

Jane88 BPD Son
  • replies: 1

Hi We have an adult son who we have suspected for a few years now that he suffers from BPD. He refuses to acknowledge that he has an issue and has recently been evicted from his home of 5 years and is currently renting. He cannot live with us as he i... View more

Hi We have an adult son who we have suspected for a few years now that he suffers from BPD. He refuses to acknowledge that he has an issue and has recently been evicted from his home of 5 years and is currently renting. He cannot live with us as he is too verbally abusive. Any words of wisdom to try and get him to accept help. Folks tell me he has to reach rock bottom but I am not so sure.

sixthinline How to co-parent/talk with with a negative thinker with BPD & clinical depression?
  • replies: 1

Ex diagnosed with depression many years ago. Fleeting moments of therapy over the years-is on medication. Situation today: 18M son wanting to go to a concert, asked friends if anyone wanted to come. 5 said yes. He offered to get tickets. Dad wants to... View more

Ex diagnosed with depression many years ago. Fleeting moments of therapy over the years-is on medication. Situation today: 18M son wanting to go to a concert, asked friends if anyone wanted to come. 5 said yes. He offered to get tickets. Dad wants to go to, no worries. Max tix allowed 6. He asks dad to buy his own as he can't in the allocation, GA so doesn't need to be bought together. Dad says can't as at work, son asks me to buy on his behalf-not a problem and lets him know. Dad says no, don't worry, he doesn't feel welcome now. Then tonight he is sending messages: I'm kicking him when he is down and have rubbed of on "son", {I asked what?} We have all hurt him more than any of us understand, the last person he thought would has torn his heart in 2, {I asked how has son torn heart in two?}, I wouldn't believe him, what difference does it make {I replied it obviously makes a difference to him, suggested getting someone else's perspective on it}, I have taught them well, the total humiliation is complete, {I asked what he meant by humiliation is complete}, the 4 of us have completely humiliated and broken him, destroying his self worth and his own being, We have done more damage than we have solved, {I replied with I have no idea why he is thinking this in regards to son. Again suggested getting an unbiased opinion from someone and see what they say}. I try to keep things logical and take emotion out of situations, particularly when it comes to ex. However I am at a complete loss as to how to respond to these types of situations. We are no longer together as his behaviour was out of control and he would not seek professional treatment. I could not have that around myself and our children any longer. 1 child has gone virtually no contact, the youngest is verging on the same. Son is the only one still in semi regular contact and he struggles with various aspects of their relationship. He has been on a knife's edge for some time and I don't know how to approach him. It seems like he takes these types of situations as a personal attack against him, where I see them as a slight inconvenience with a feasible solution. Any suggestions as to how to approach this with him?

Sunflower62 BPD son in prison, I’m over it
  • replies: 122

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.

Possum18 I need a new tactic - nothing is working to communicate to my husband
  • replies: 5

Need Help! My husband has been battling with depression for a few years now, and it seems to be getting worse. We have day on end when he wont leave the bedroom, will watch TV from sunrise to sunset, won't shower and orders unhealthy takeaway food. I... View more

Need Help! My husband has been battling with depression for a few years now, and it seems to be getting worse. We have day on end when he wont leave the bedroom, will watch TV from sunrise to sunset, won't shower and orders unhealthy takeaway food. I have tried so many way to communicate with him and nothing seems to work. It always ends in a huge and heated argument with 99% of the blame pointed in my direction and I am the one who is always accused of "baiting" him or "pushing his buttons". We follow the same pattern, I try to raise a concern, he blows up, I argue back to defend myself and then he either checks himself into a hotel because he cant stand being around me -or he ignores me for days on end. He threatens weekly to leave me, for me yo pack my things, find my next doormat of a husband, etc. He accuses me of trying to change him and I can't make him do anything. I know he says these things to get a reaction out of me, and when I do react, its my fault! My question is: how do you as a supportive partner, not allow this to get to you? How do you not argue back? How do you let this not affect you?