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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Freffles Income Protection for parent unable to work due to caring for teen
  • replies: 2

Hi, first post. It's a long story but I'll try to keep it short. I am 58 and caring for my 14yo daughter. She's had a rough few years due to bullying at school etc and then last year we puller her out of school to homeschool. My wife was diagnosed wi... View more

Hi, first post. It's a long story but I'll try to keep it short. I am 58 and caring for my 14yo daughter. She's had a rough few years due to bullying at school etc and then last year we puller her out of school to homeschool. My wife was diagnosed with cancer in July last year and passed away in October. We've been struggling since. We have basically no family or support system in place in Melbourne. My daughter was lashing out a bit so I took her to the GP got a mental health plan and had about 12 or so sessions with a psychologist. Probably borderline personality. In March she started some dangerous behaviors. These behaviors have continues and we've now been to the ER 15 plus times including about 6 or 7 trips with Ambos and police. Most of these behaviors have been not serious suicide attempts, rather more intended to attract attention / cry for help. I did try to go back to work in January for two days a week in the office and three at home but I've effectively been unable to work since just before easter. I cannot leave her alone for 5 minutes even or she's up to something to self harm. I have my own mental health plan sitting on my dresser since March but I cant do anything with it because I can't leave her. We've been in the ELMHS system for a while now and she's been to Stepping Stones 5 or 6 times. I'm at the end of my rope, worn out, helpless and hopeless. My employer has been accommodation but I'm getting close to the end of the line regarding income. I have "income protection" as part of my super but I suspect that would apply if I was unable to work due to my illness rather than being unable to work due to the illness of my daughter. I wonder if there is anyone out there with knowledge of these issues. I'm afraid that I will lose everything.

Shenae Getting it wrong
  • replies: 3

My Husband has had depression for as long as I have known him. Over the last couple of years both depression and anxiety have caused him much grief. He is on meds, sees both a Psych and GP regularly but nothing seems to help. He doesn't have a job, o... View more

My Husband has had depression for as long as I have known him. Over the last couple of years both depression and anxiety have caused him much grief. He is on meds, sees both a Psych and GP regularly but nothing seems to help. He doesn't have a job, our relationship is suffering and I dont know what to say to him without sounding critical. I try to be positive for him but I think everything I say comes out wrong. I sometimes think it's best I say nothing at all . I am at a loss.

Bulletin_Board_Archive Perfectionist wife is constantly tired and angry
  • replies: 10

Originally posted by:Matt on 9 December 2012 I love my wife of 10 years dearly but dont know where to turn. We have 2 wonderful kids aged 5 & 2 who can be a handful from time to time - as most can. She loves them a lot but is unfortunately very short... View more

Originally posted by:Matt on 9 December 2012 I love my wife of 10 years dearly but dont know where to turn. We have 2 wonderful kids aged 5 & 2 who can be a handful from time to time - as most can. She loves them a lot but is unfortunately very short tempered and seems to yell at one of us every day. She is a self confessed control freak who says she gets anxious and is always tired and stressed and on the go. She has been on antidepressants in the past but doesnt want to use them long term. I am over the constant anger and yelling and swearing and controlling behaviour that she exhibits where nothing I do is good enough and she gets very annoyed when she doesnt get her way. She wont talk about it with me as she views this as me overreacting and nagging. She doesnt have any real close friends to talk to and her family is interstate. I miss the fun times we had and the smile and laughter from years ago. She has no interest in intimacy, and gets annoyed with me if I am not there at the drop of a hat to help when she is stressed out - I am patient by nature and can deal with these situations better. I give her time out every weekend where I look after the kids and she goes out alone, but she will still come home and find something to get annoyed with. Any advice would be most grateful Interested in replying to this thread and not already a member of our forums? Join up here. RELATED THREADS My wife has anxiety but won't seek help My wife suffers depression and is nasty to me My wife isn't coping with our 3 year old Cannot abandon my wife BPD sufferer Help me to help my depressed wife If you love someone with depression, you need to watch this

WD101 Narcissist aged father refusing care
  • replies: 3

Hi, I'm looking for advice on a stressful situation. My father has narcissistic personality disorder (not officially diagnosed, just obvious), and has controlled and manipulated people all his life. He is now 87, and losing his memory. Sometimes he c... View more

Hi, I'm looking for advice on a stressful situation. My father has narcissistic personality disorder (not officially diagnosed, just obvious), and has controlled and manipulated people all his life. He is now 87, and losing his memory. Sometimes he can't remember to cook, he leaves the stove on, and can't remember what he needed at the shops. His partner of more than 10 years is suddenly leaving him, selling the house they live in and taking everything, threatening to leave him on the street. I can't blame her for that, but he needs care and she's too angry with him to help organise it. The path of least resistance for her is also to just accept it when he says he's fine to live alone and doesn't need her. He currently needs somewhere to live, but will not admit he needs help. He gets extremely angry when the topic is discussed, I've tried to raise it several times and he hangs up on me and tells me not to call or visit. Then he forgets we had the conversation, but each time I try he has the same reaction. I don't believe he can or will ever admit he needs help as that would be admitting weakness. He tells people he's cured cancer in several people and has constant delusions of grandeur. We had a NSW aged care person visit, but he lied to them about how capable he was and they believed him. I called them to fill them in but they said without his consent they can't organise any care for him. I'm worried he'll go to live on this own, not remember to pay his bills, leave the stove on or forget to cook and either have an accident or get sick and decline further. He doesn't have any money, can't save it (he spends compulsively) and doesn't have any friends. I don't live anywhere near him and travel a lot and can't help much, also for my own survival I'd rather stay low contact or no contact. He left my mum and our family over 20 years ago, but there is no-one else to look out for him. Thanks for any help.

BookNerdNelly Father with Depression that Leads to Anger
  • replies: 1

Hi, I am posting because I have no idea what to do. My Dad has had depression since I was born. However he has episodes where he becomes really angry, and begins threatening my Mum and swearing. He also starts punching himself and stuff around him. H... View more

Hi, I am posting because I have no idea what to do. My Dad has had depression since I was born. However he has episodes where he becomes really angry, and begins threatening my Mum and swearing. He also starts punching himself and stuff around him. He also takes off in his car, and doesn’t come back for hours. He basically blames everyone around him for his problems, and makes all the rest of our lives miserable. I have always been worried about my Mum as she always gets the worse of it, but I am worried for my brother as well. He takes a concoction of medications for numerous health issues. Apparently last night he tried to overdose, but was stopped by my brother. So I just want some help on how to deal with this to improve our lives and his? The problem is he doesn’t think anything is wrong with him, and it is all my Mum’s fault and she is ruining his life. I don’t know everything about their marriage but I know his reactions aren’t normal. So I need some advice on how to approach the situation or at least help my Mum do it.

Lizzie01 How do you determine whether someone is mentally ill?
  • replies: 7

I am having difficulty with my husband's step daughter. She has recently had a relationship breakup and is now the sole parent of a 3 year old. While she has always been somewhat difficult, and has never liked me or accepted my presence in my husband... View more

I am having difficulty with my husband's step daughter. She has recently had a relationship breakup and is now the sole parent of a 3 year old. While she has always been somewhat difficult, and has never liked me or accepted my presence in my husband's life, she seems to have deteriorated recently. Of course, she is having a tough time, and we are trying to help her, by babysitting her son, and supporting her. However she is surly, difficult, selfish and ungrateful. After perfectly normal and respectful encounters, she sends my husband text messages saying the visit was unpleasant. It is confusing and upsetting. I can't tell whether she is having some kind of a breakdown, or if she is just behaving badly. She has had mental health problems before, and has taken anti-depressants in the past, although I am not sure if she is currently taking them. I don't know how to help her.

RaspberryRhubarb Feeling hopeful after counselling, beginning my husband's psychotherapy journey
  • replies: 2

We went to joint counselling yesterday with an excellent psychologist. She really laid it on the line and it was a hallelujah moment for me! Being heard and understood was so freeing for me after five years of trying to get through to my poor husband... View more

We went to joint counselling yesterday with an excellent psychologist. She really laid it on the line and it was a hallelujah moment for me! Being heard and understood was so freeing for me after five years of trying to get through to my poor husband. She told my husband that he needs to "go deep" and commit to a course of psychotherapy over a long period, up to two years. She told him that he was a victim of childhood abuse and neglect and that the trauma of those early experiences has affected his personality. She told him (and he HEARD her) that our marriage is not going to survive if things don't change. I had kind of bundled up his issues as "anxiety" or maybe "anxiety and depression" but she was able to see through the anxiety symptoms and realise that actually he has a personality disorder brought about by his incredibly controlling father and a childhood of being bullied, repressed and emotionally manipulated. She also said that while he is not abusive towards me, the pattern of behaviour he observed between his parents is highly abusive and that he is subconsciously re-creating those patterns in our family. I don't respond in the way he expects (the way that his mother responded to his father) and that creates lots of frustration and anger in him. I'm so glad my boundaries are still firm after five years and that there is some hope he can learn to recognise and change his patterns of behaviour. I'm under no illusions that this will be an easy process for either of us but I'm feeling hopeful as we take the first step together. Considering that this time last week I was making appointments with divorce lawyers, it really feels like a break through! I'd be really keen to hear from others who may have been through this too! I have posted to other forums and been really buoyed up by the support from complete strangers RR

Rick68 Teenagers
  • replies: 2

I'm looking for a physicist who deals with children. Mainly my 16 yr old daughter. She is having mood swings, high then low, panic attacks, forgetting even the simplest of things. I myself suffer from depression, and there Is bipolar and depression i... View more

I'm looking for a physicist who deals with children. Mainly my 16 yr old daughter. She is having mood swings, high then low, panic attacks, forgetting even the simplest of things. I myself suffer from depression, and there Is bipolar and depression in her mothers side of the family. I want someone to look at her and possibly give me a diagnosis of what could possibly be going on with her. We live in eastern Victoria, and have been given 4 different places to try and each one say they dont deal with children. The only place is just way too far to be practical. Can anyone suggest where we could find something suitable? Regards Rick

Guest_294 Worried about best friend with depression...
  • replies: 9

Ok so my friend and I met a few months ago and since then he and I have become really close. I already knew he suffered from quite severe depression and social anxiety but as of late, it seems to be getting worse. He is really unmotivated and has bee... View more

Ok so my friend and I met a few months ago and since then he and I have become really close. I already knew he suffered from quite severe depression and social anxiety but as of late, it seems to be getting worse. He is really unmotivated and has been taking a lot of time of uni. I’ve just been talking to him tonight and he was talking about “just wanting to die a little” but then saying “I’ll be fine”. He is seeing a therapist at the moment but I feel like it’s not enough. I know he has been feeling so overwhelmed wth his relationship and upcoming assignments and feels like everything is moving too fast for him to keep up. What can I do to support him???

Toshie Dealing with anxiety as a family
  • replies: 2

I have a 12 year old daughter with anxiety. I also have suffered from anxiety all my life, but learnt to deal with it. I want to know if there are support groups for families dealing with anxiety. She is seeing a psychologist, but nothing seems to wo... View more

I have a 12 year old daughter with anxiety. I also have suffered from anxiety all my life, but learnt to deal with it. I want to know if there are support groups for families dealing with anxiety. She is seeing a psychologist, but nothing seems to work. I have asked for help where ever I can. I welcome any advice.