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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concernedwife123 Struggling to support my husband
  • replies: 3

Hello everyone, My husband was diagnosed nearly 10 years ago with anxiety, depression, childhood trauma and PTSD. I supported him and helped him get back on track within 8 months while parenting our 2 children so they were not aware to what was going... View more

Hello everyone, My husband was diagnosed nearly 10 years ago with anxiety, depression, childhood trauma and PTSD. I supported him and helped him get back on track within 8 months while parenting our 2 children so they were not aware to what was going on as my husband didn’t want them to know and he was coping very very well and all medications were working etc. fast forward to now with an extra child in the mix and he is on a downward spiral again, while this time really struggling myself to support him. little to why I think he is having a bad time, he was made redundant from his absolute favourite job that helped him stay focused reason being the company was going offshore, he then got another job and 3 months later again redundant because the business went into liquidation, we then lost our son through miscarriage, and he was recently diagnosed with autism (high functioning) through all of this I have put all my feelings and emotions aside to support him and make sure he is coping fine. however he has now taken to alcohol at least 3-5 times per week to get that “effect” that masks everything. I am absolutely struggling with this, he knows I absolutely hate alcohol unless it’s for special occasions. The amount of money he spends on it is absolutely ridiculous, not to mention most of time when he goes out to the beach just to clear his mind I end up finding out he has brought alcohol and is essentially self medicating, to the point I sometimes don’t know how he has managed to drive home, nor can he remember what he has said or done. I am absolutely petrified he is going to do something he shouldn’t. I’ve reached out to his gp and care team but have been told they can’t help unless he wants to be helped. I honestly want to be there for my husband but I am honestly struggling with this, I have 3 kids one of which is a toddler to care for too with 2 high schoolers having bullying issues at school. not to mention just finding out I am pregnant with possible twins. Does anyone have some advice on how I can cope with this a little better? And be able to show him that what he is doing is not good for his mental health but also that of his families? like I mentioned above I am petrified this will turn into destructive behaviour. thanks for reading

Cal03 Does my partner still love me?
  • replies: 4

For a bit of context, I feel like I should preface this by saying that up until 4 weeks ago, I thought my partner and I were going to be married in a few weeks time. I thought we were as happy as we had ever been. Since then, she has opened up about ... View more

For a bit of context, I feel like I should preface this by saying that up until 4 weeks ago, I thought my partner and I were going to be married in a few weeks time. I thought we were as happy as we had ever been. Since then, she has opened up about her struggle with a significant depressive episode. She has had less severe episodes in the past, but she says she has never felt like this. She has said she is not in the right place to get married which I am 100% supportive of given where she is at right now. Her way of expressing it was that she sees us getting married in the future, just not in the next month ( as we had planned) When she first started telling about how she was struggling, she started off saying that our relationship was the only part of her life she was confident about, and that the main issues were the enormous stress at work, and that had her questioning her identity as she feels she is not doing well at her job (even though she is amazing at her job). However over a few weeks she has started saying that started saying that she isn't sure what she wants anymore. Over the last few days she has stopped saying I love you. I have reached out to someone for some support and everyone I talk to say that "it's just the depression talking" but I'm starting to question everything. I am so scared that she is going to push me away. I have been trying to just be present for her and not ask questions about where she is at or how she is feeling as I know it is overwhelming for her to answer, but I am really struggling without any reassurance that I am still someone she wants around. I don't want to be selfish, I just want to know that I am doing enough. I am trying to be strong, but I am so worried that she will leave me. How can I navigate this?

naya_mk Any job that understand my anxiety so I can work.
  • replies: 2

Hi,I have been struggling with severe anxiety and depression, which makes it difficult for me to go out and talk to people. I fear being seen as weird, and I always feel like people are judging me. Although I can speak and understand English, it's no... View more

Hi,I have been struggling with severe anxiety and depression, which makes it difficult for me to go out and talk to people. I fear being seen as weird, and I always feel like people are judging me. Although I can speak and understand English, it's not my first language, and I have trouble understanding accents or fast speakers. As a result, I leave the house only once every three months or less, and when I do, it's usually only with my husband.Recently, my husband lost his job, and we are having a hard time. While I take care of my family by doing all the cooking and cleaning, I feel useless because I'm not contributing financially. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience or qualifications, as I got married at a very young age. I moved to Australia 11 years ago, but I've never worked or gone out on my own.My fear and depression have taken a toll on my life. I have no friends, and I even fear taking phone calls. I don't visit the doctor and delay seeking help until it's serious, and my husband is the one who speaks for me. Currently, the situation at home is bad, so I was thinking if there is any job that could understand my anxiety and not judge me.I am hoping to find a job that can accommodate my anxiety issues. I would prefer to work somewhere that understands my anxiety and can provide me with the necessary training and support. I worry that during an anxiety attack, I might have trouble understanding instructions and carrying out my duties.Is there any government training programs or jobs that could be a good fit for me? I would greatly appreciate any advice or suggestions you may have.

vp82 How can I help my obese husband
  • replies: 4

I’m really lost now. My husband is overweight and I don’t know how to help him. He eats rubbish all the time.One day something will happen, his organs won’t work properly.. I don’t know.We have a 3y/o daughter and I’m scared he know the weight is out... View more

I’m really lost now. My husband is overweight and I don’t know how to help him. He eats rubbish all the time.One day something will happen, his organs won’t work properly.. I don’t know.We have a 3y/o daughter and I’m scared he know the weight is out control but looks like he’s given up and he doesn’t care.

space2talk No Space
  • replies: 2

I'm really new to this. I've been seeing this person for 8 months, and he only had 2 good months, and has been pretty overwhelmed with work (and then life) since. How do you deal with not being able to share what is going on in your life? My partner ... View more

I'm really new to this. I've been seeing this person for 8 months, and he only had 2 good months, and has been pretty overwhelmed with work (and then life) since. How do you deal with not being able to share what is going on in your life? My partner is so overwhelmed or sad, and he shuts down... either building toy models or sleeping. When he comes up for air - once a week/every two weeks - it's only to talk about his own niche interests. Everything else is "too much."When I talk about my life - work, decisions, university (mature learner) - he shuts down. He couldn't tell me who I spend time with, the name of the school I started working at 3 months ago, or which city I am working in. When I ask him about what is going on for him, he shuts down... and despite how much I support him, he's often snappy at me.Our relationship is kind of revolving around how much juice he has, which revolves around his work satisfaction. How do you cope?

Niks85 My mums OCD is getting worse what to do
  • replies: 3

Hi therefirst of all thanks for taking the time to read this. My mum has severe enough OCD but refuses to talk about it or get help. I remember when I was a child I would have friends stay over and they would ask me why my mum was shaking the locks I... View more

Hi therefirst of all thanks for taking the time to read this. My mum has severe enough OCD but refuses to talk about it or get help. I remember when I was a child I would have friends stay over and they would ask me why my mum was shaking the locks I used to think it was the norm. My mum has always washed her hands hundreds of times during the day until her hands turn red. She washes everything before using it including the kettle. She also unplugs everything before leaving the house including the oven and it takes a long time of lock checking before leaving the house. I have bipolar disorder and last year I was having relationship problems and ended up in hospital with severe stress. It was recommended that I do a week or two program to help me cope which meant staying in a house and getting therapy like a rehab centre. I have a three year old daughter and I asked my mum who doesn’t work if she could help care for her grandchild so I could get help . She said no she doesn’t want to stay in our house and I know it’s because of her germ phobia so I never ended up getting the therapy because I had nobody else to look after our daughter. My husband had started a new casual job and couldn’t get time off I was so angry because she didn’t help because of germs. My dad often calls me to tell me he’s at his wits end she’s so miserable he wants a divorce. We both try and support her because she was sexually abused as a child so we tolerate her behaviour and support her even though she refuses help or to even recognise she has a problem. My mum is also very opinionated about everyone and just a very unhappy human being. Today I got so angry I cancelled our trip to see them. I asked if we could camp at their property instead of pay for accommodation and she said no because their other guests my brother and his partner won’t like us sharing the bathroom. I can’t take it anymore I need a break from her but I feel guilty taking a break my mum only has one friend of her own and she lives in the uk. I’m the only close friend she has left So I feel bad. My mum told me my daughter who is possibly autistic waiting on the assessment mum said she has autism because I went into hospital last year. She constantly tells me how I should parent even though I’m 110% devoted to my daughter. I love mum but is it bad that I want a break? Was thinking of writing her a letter she lives 5 hours drive away and begging her to get therapy

ConcernedDad Bipolar
  • replies: 15

Hello, I’m new to all this, just jumped on to try to get some understanding of what my daughter is going through, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been in hospital now for 5 weeks. Her mood and thoughts are way out there and it hurts m... View more

Hello, I’m new to all this, just jumped on to try to get some understanding of what my daughter is going through, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been in hospital now for 5 weeks. Her mood and thoughts are way out there and it hurts me seeing her going through all this.

Birdy2022 My grandson
  • replies: 11

Hi i need help , my grandson is 6yrs old very voilent , he is at school, he is physically violent with other children, throws chairs, and much more. at home very abusive trashes his room, dont sleep, kicks and spits etc. he is on medication given to ... View more

Hi i need help , my grandson is 6yrs old very voilent , he is at school, he is physically violent with other children, throws chairs, and much more. at home very abusive trashes his room, dont sleep, kicks and spits etc. he is on medication given to people with ADHD, suppended from school today for violent behaviour with other kids. please any help welcomed . no one listens

Dazza73 Long Distance Relationships
  • replies: 2

Hi.I have 3 adult children. I have met a woman who still has children ages 12, 10 & 7.She seems cool, however, she lives a 3 hour drive from me. We’ve been on one date and had a great time. As much as I like her, I’m starting to feel it’ll be a big c... View more

Hi.I have 3 adult children. I have met a woman who still has children ages 12, 10 & 7.She seems cool, however, she lives a 3 hour drive from me. We’ve been on one date and had a great time. As much as I like her, I’m starting to feel it’ll be a big commitment to move to her area to be a step parent & be a partner. I do want to know her better, but I’m also concerned being in a parental role for another 12 years. Has anyone else been in this situation?How does one handle such matters? Thanks….

lost-my-life Ptsd and addiction
  • replies: 5

Just wondering how other spouses cope with PTSD and addiction. We are / do see a psych and he is on medications and has gone through the alcohol abuse program and stopped drinking. He has now regressed and is lying about his abuse of alcohol and pain... View more

Just wondering how other spouses cope with PTSD and addiction. We are / do see a psych and he is on medications and has gone through the alcohol abuse program and stopped drinking. He has now regressed and is lying about his abuse of alcohol and pain killers. He has had several car accidents that I believe are medication related and recently I have had three major health issues where he just ha simply been unable to help as he has been off his face. I feel alone, abandoned by him with any conversation I try to have ends in him walking away with anger. All the psychs etc say not to be judge mental or nag or attack a PTSD person, so I have tried every suggested approach but nothing is changing. I carry the burden of running our whole house now, when I owned a business he blamed the buisness for everything but now I have sold it he is helping less than when I had the buisness, the only time he is motivated is when he wants to do something for himself. What goals we set together go out the window when this happens with the excuse of I forgot. We make weekly goals which we write on a chalk board on our fridge which he goes to all the time during the day? Im running out of ways and would welcome any suggestions that work for others.