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How do your family and friends deal with your mental health problems?

rollinat

rollinat

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The reason I am asking is that I am struggling to know how to cope with friendships and family relationships since being diagnosed with depression. I have told my OH (who is being very supportive, I really couldn't ask for anything better), my parents and a few friends. My mother especially is really struggling with the whole concept of depression, I think. Every few days she comes up with another theory as to what might be wrong with me, and when she asks how I am and I try to be honest you can see the disappointment on her face that I am not "putting a brave face on things". She obviously doesn't like me being on medication, and when I was prescribed sleeping tablets to get through a particularly rough patch she was relieved when I decided not to take them (but in a way which left me in no doubt that I would have been wrong - in her opinion - to have taken them).

I am also unsure about what to say to friends. I have told a few the bare bones of how I feel and what I am doing to get better (but not some of the things that I think would scare them too much).

I suppose I am finding it difficult to balance looking after myself and trying not to worry people unduly, but also to know when to ask for appropriate help.

I would be interested to hear other people's experiences of how their family and friends have reacted.

Thanks :)

Rollinat
 
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Dollit

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My family still don't accept the seriousness of things. Because my bipolar was such an early onset there is no one who knows me that has ever known any different but friends react in different ways. The ones at the moment are the keepers and stayers and they just love me whatever.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because they're family and (presumably) close friends, doesn't mean you have to tell them anything you'd rather not. Draw boundaries and keep to them and only change the boundaries if you're happy to do so.
 
rollinat

rollinat

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Thanks for that Dollit - wise words as ever :) I think you are right in that I need to work out who I tell and what I tell them, and to feel in control of that. It is certainly a help at the moment to have professionals who I can tell more to. I guess I need to stop worrying quite so much about how people react - how I am dealing with it is much more important.
 
intelgal

intelgal

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Half of my battle is that I just cant admit to my family how bad things really are there dissapointment would be two much to handle at the moment. But thats me
 
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Dollit

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I don't tell my family a lot and if they don't hear from me for four or five days they presume I'm having an episode of sorts and wait for me to get in touch. They think they're giving me space but I'd love it if they rang and asked me how I was. One particular friend I email at least once a day when I'm having an episode of one kind or another and, bless him, he reads them all and keeps an eye on me. But other people I know I wouldn't tell a thing. It's about finding the support network that's right for you and that's different for everybody.
 
yakuza

yakuza

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Hi Rollinrat,

I have found it much easier talking to friends rather than family about my MH situation.
Having been diagnozed with epilepsy fifteen years ago (misdiagnozed by the way) my mother told me that;She does'nt want to think that she gave birth to a son who was'nt born 'normal'!
The problem seems to be that sometimes family tend to prejudge 'who we are' and seem to believe that somehow our health situation reflects on their own lives which for me is a total red-herring.
Of course many people find their families totally supportive too.
I would recommend to anyone who finds difficulty in speaking about their own MH,seek others in similar situations,never be afraid to speak about YOU,join groups and always,always be proud of who you are and never be ashamed because you may be slightly different!

:)
 
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Sall1

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I've found it easier to talk to my friends about how I am than my family. My family are a big part of the problem really and they don't really understand me anyway. Like someone said further up in this thread - i'd love my family to pick up the phone and ask me how I am but that never happens. I don't think the issue is about them giving me space though, they just don't want to know for me.

Having said this however, i'm certain that there are a lot of families out there who are very supportive and that would naturally be a blessing as I see it.

My friends are great though - they just let me rant and help me to feel safe to be me. They are my rocks.

x
 
intelgal

intelgal

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That pretty much sums me up... my friends are fantastic and at the moment its working for me not telling my familly. Friends are so important and I really do treasure them :clap:
 
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Dollit

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I think when you're building a support network you really have to remember that you need the ones on board that are doing the supporting and the understanding. If I had to rely on my family I'd be dead now. I think they see everything as me just being me but since I was a young teenager when I first became ill the bipolar disorder shaped the way I behaved for a long time. My family will still not concede that the way I behave isn't to blame for everything and that I've been a model citizen for the past 17 years. I wouldn't be alive without my friends.
 
Ashami

Ashami

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Rather than try to understand what was, and is, wrong with me, my family long since labelled me as a 'miserable cow'. They never ask how I am and never phone.

The funny thing is that they all suffer from depression too.

I am the member of the family who is expected to be strong in a crisis and indeed when there is a crisis they do phone, and expect me to crawl out of my corner to aide the crisee.

My OH took ten years to acknowledge that I had depression but he does now try to understand although I'm not sure he is emotionally equipped to deal with my really deep lows.

My best friend seemed to be a tremendous support until I realised that actually she needed my depression to fulfill her own neediness i.e she needed me to need her.

This all sounds quite bleak but I do think depression and other mental health conditions are viewed by non-sufferers as infectious, a little bit like when you lose a loved one, people avoid you like the plague.

On the positive side it forces you to search out the understandings ones, which is why I am here, and I have found them too and although I have never met anyone here I've come to view certain people here as my friends and knowing they are here has been a great help for me.
 
Libra1

Libra1

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I could have written all of the above posts, they all describe my situation.

I don't just have probs with depression, but (I do not mean to moan) I have other chronic medical probs and more recently restricted mobility, and now walk with a stick.

My family often ask how I am, and comment on how well I am walking - little do they know I could cry with the pain and effort it takes sometimes, but I will not give up :)

It has taken me a long time to admit my depression and ask for help. I do not really have any close friends as I left work last year and have since found out who my friends are!

My other half cannot accept my depression, and it causes us a lot of probs at home with arguments etc. I am very forgetful, can remember things from years ago, then forget where I have put items half hour ago - OH very impatient with me.

If I am having a down day I stay out of everyones way so as I am not argumentative or upset anyone. That does not go down well with OH!! He says I am like this as I want to be. I am often called very derogative names that really upset me, to the extent of me having night terrors recently, sleep talking etc.

This forum is a godsend for me, I find it every helpful, friendly and supportive and altho' I do not always post often or long posts, I do check in regularly as in many ways I consider this community my family and my best friends :grouphug: Thank you everyone :clap:
 
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Dollit

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Libra - evertime I see a post like yours I realise how much of a success that we've all made this forum in such a short space of time. I'm glad you're here. :hug:
 
lucid scream

lucid scream

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my family and freinds deal with it roughly about as well as im dealing with it, so for me its best to deal with it. i keep myself as well as i can.
 
M

Michael

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I havn't actually told any of them except my wife (who went to the doctors with me first and occasionally since).
This is still a major problem for me as when I am with any of them I don't admit/accept any part of anything about me, good/bad or indifferent, I tell no-one 'nowt'.
It is something I think I need to tackle but don't have the motivation/courage/willingness to do it.
I would advise any other person who like me does not actually talk about their feelings to do it asap and not leave it too long where you seem to just dig a deeper hole from which you can't exit.

Hope some take note of this advise from the biggest hypocrite on the net!

Michael
 
rollinat

rollinat

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I have found it really useful to hear other people's experiences. I feel that I am in the early stages of building a support network and understanding the impact that depression is having, and has had for longer than I'm probably prepared to admit, on my life and the way I build relationships. Long way to go. My OH is a fantastic support and I can talk to him the best, but there are still some things I don't want to keep dwelling on with him (because I know it really upsets him). So this forum is fantastic - like Libra I don't post that much but reading other people's posts is a great help. My OH has just started seeing a psychologist for some issues of his own, so I am glad he has someone he can also offload to - so that he doesn't always have to be the strong one for me. Friends so far have not been that forthcoming, but mainly because I haven't allowed them to know how bad things have got at times. I'm not enjoying the "fake" feeling this gives me, though, and it does make me more inclined to be on my own which is maybe not a good thing.
 
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