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Topic: Opening up to Family About Mental Health

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. claire9371
    claire9371 avatar
    5 posts
    31 August 2020

    Hey!

    Would just like to start by saying I'm very new to this - I've only been diagnosed/on medication for depression for about 3 weeks.

    My current problem is telling my parents - I'm 19 and I lied to them about where I was going when I initially went to my GP for a mental health care plan. I really need their support for what's to come - I can't keep up a facade when I start regularly seeing a psychologist - but am struggling to find the right time to open up to them and tell them I'm not doing well.

    I think it comes from mental health never being spoken about growing up and also just their judgement of my low moods and thinking I'm lazy when I lie in bed all the time, unable to get out.

    I want them to know there's a reason but I'm actually really worried about their response, just because I think it'll be really judgemental and not understanding.

    I'm sure some of you have been in the same situation - how did you go about bringing it up? And should I prepare by gathering information about my condition? I know they have no understanding/concept of mental health issues - or maybe they just hide it really well? Honestly I'm just really confused.

    I think that by not telling them it's like this barrier between me and booking an appointment with a psychologist and just getting better in general.

    I totally recognise I'm lucky to have parents at all and I should just be honest but I think my anxiety is definitely stopping me.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Claire :)

  2. White Rose
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    White Rose avatar
    6313 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to claire9371

    Dear Claire

    Hello and welcome to the forum. I hope we can support you.

    I think you are right about being more informed. Beyond Blue has a number of fact sheets about depression. Browse under The Facts at the top of the page. It will also be useful to browse Get Support, also at the top of the page.You can download the fact sheets which makes it easier to refer to them. There are several booklets, one of which is specifically for family friends. You need to send away for these booklets. There is no charge.

    Growing up with no knowledge of mental illness is hard. Sadly many people do not understand depression and think it's just an excuse for not doing anything. Most definitely untrue. May I suggest you complete and print the K10 checklist. Your psychologist may not need it but it may help your parents to see how depression affects you. You could always ask them to complete the checklist and see the difference in responses.

    Do you have any siblings? If there was someone who understood how you feel or who would not pooh pooh the idea of depression, it may be useful to try out telling them first. Get some tips on how to approach your parents.

    Perhaps you can give them the family and friends booklet plus one of the fact sheets and ask them to read these publications because you would like to talk about them afterwards. Do you think this would work? You can ask your psychologist for some ideas when you meet.

    There is nothing to be ashamed of in being depressed. When I became depressed 20 years ago it hit me like a ton of bricks. Sure I knew about depression in a general way but personal experience is totally different. This may be true for your parents who may not have come into contact with someone who was depressed. So go slowly and make sure you ask them for their help and support. One common characteristic in people with depression is pushing away family and friends, pretending there is nothing wrong. It is hard to tell those who care for you what is happening. Disbelief, skepticism, denial are common reactions so try not to get upset. Your parents will need time to process their feelings.

    Please write in here as often as you wish.

    Mary

    1 person found this helpful
  3. missep123
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    missep123 avatar
    318 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to claire9371

    Hi Claire,

    First of all I think that you've shown so much strength to go to the GP and look after your mental health. How have you been feeling since you have been diagnosed/on medication?

    I know that it can be so challenging to bring up the topic of mental health especially if it hasn't been really spoken about while you are growing up.

    From people I have spoken to they like to find informative and 'easy to understand' youtube videos about Depression for example to really educate others about what you may be going through. Others have told me that they like to write a letter so they can really communicate how they feel and what they have been going through. TED talks can also be a good informational tool also.

    Like Mary has mentioned above Beyond Blue has a number of great fact sheets that you may find useful as well.

    Please keep us updated on how you go. We're here for you

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Gambit87
    Gambit87 avatar
    519 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to claire9371

    Hey Claire,

    It takes alot of strength to get help - Good on ya!

    I hid my depression and anxiety from everyone for about 15 years. Growing up mental health wasn't really a thing, you kinda just 'got on with it' - so I did. I never told my parents, siblings or anyone, I just put the happy mask on and got on with it.

    Long story short - opening up to everyone was such a liberating experience.

    My advice would be to arm yourself with facts if you feel your parents wouldnt understand and have an open and frank conversation.

    you're not alone here!

    1 person found this helpful
  5. claire9371
    claire9371 avatar
    5 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hey Mary,

    I've been starting to feel better actually - not so exhausted during the day and I actually get tired at an appropriate time at night - what a wild concept!

    I have a sister and a brother - I've told my sister and she has encouraged me to tell my parents. My brother is 12 with Autism and wouldn't understand whatsoever but telling my sister definitely helped!

    I think the fact sheets are a great suggestion so thank you! I'll update you on what I decide to do - maybe a combination of the great things you've suggested.

    Thank you so much for your support :')

    Claire

    1 person found this helpful
  6. claire9371
    claire9371 avatar
    5 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to missep123

    Hey missep123,

    Thank you! It was definitely hard - I've known something wasn't quite right for over a year now, but I think being in self isolation from COVID definitely made it very apparent, which made it seem easier to explain since I couldn't just distract myself and seem fine, if that makes sense? In terms of medication and being diagnosed, as I said to Mary above my energy has changed a lot in just the last few days actually - things are still hard but it's easier to get out of bed and I've been starting to enjoy cooking for myself and be inspired by things I witness, which is honestly such a weird feeling after so long of being interested by absolutely nothing.

    I'm sorry to hear you had to hide your depression for so long - that would've been so hard! But i completely understand growing up with the 'dust yourself off, pick yourself up' mindset - seems very outdated to me.

    I will absolutely take your advice - if I can use facts then when explaining myself it won't just be me saying this is how I have felt - it'll be, me and one in seven other Australians have felt...

    I love the sound of that.

    Thank you so much for your support!

    Claire :)

    1 person found this helpful
  7. claire9371
    claire9371 avatar
    5 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to Gambit87

    Hi Gambit87,

    I got yours and missep123's posts mixed up - so I might just conclude my thoughts here hahaha.

    Thank you both for your suggestions - I'll be armed with facts and TED talks and FAQs and all that good stuff. Just writing here makes me excited for the prospect of what it might feel like to have an open and honest dialogue about it - a bit freeing? Shows the medication's working I guess !

    Thanks again for your support, I appreciate it immensely.

    Claire :)

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Gelati
    Gelati avatar
    80 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to claire9371

    Hi Claire,

    You mentioned you are interested to know how others have informed their families, so I thought I'd tell you my story.

    I've been a perfectionist and have suffered from some level of anxiety for as long as I remember - even at a time I didn't realise, in hindsight I'm sure that was part of who I was. It was 2010, when I was in my mid-20s that the anxiety turned into debilitating ruminating and catastrophising, to the extent that it interfered with my ability to work and drive my car, complete my tax returns - all the adult stuff we need to do! It wasn't until 2013 when I saw a local GP, with whom I had no previous relationship, I saw them for 5 mins and they gave me a referral to a psychologist and I felt such relief at the thought I could get this sorted out! When I called to make an appointment, I was told there was a 4-month wait for this psychologist. I lost hope.

    I felt I could no longer fight my battles alone. I texted my mum and said, "Can I tell you some time this week about an OCD thing?" We'd never talked about medical things before and Mum and Dad have never had mental health problems that I' m aware of, but she wrote back straight away, "Of course." She didn't ask for any details. I was taken aback at how accepting and non-judgemental nor inquiring my mum's response was. They invited me over for dinner the next night and asked me to tell them. When I started talking, I told them I was excessively worrying, I was scared to go to work, I was running over my car trips in my head out of fear of having run a red light, etc etc. the tears came almost straight away. I sensed at that time that it all clicked for them as to why I had acted in certain ways at various times in the past, in circumstances where they quite possibly had assumed that I was being purposely difficult.

    Claire, as long a journey it was that lay ahead for me back in 2013 when I spoke to my parents - I've since had many setbacks but each time they are smaller in their severity now - I can't tell you the relief I felt when I shared my struggles that evening.

    I think Mum has since spoken a few times to a counsellor to help her understand and perhaps also work through her frustrations, but I see that as a positive in that there is better understanding now. We have a significantly improved relationship now and they know to give me time when I need it and not judge.

    I also cannot speak more highly of finding a GP who you trust to develop a long term patient relationship with.

    G

  9. mocha delight
    mocha delight  avatar
    341 posts
    31 August 2020 in reply to claire9371
    Hi claire9371 I’ve had not a great experience trying to talk about it with 2 family members one completely ignored me and the other family member I talked to it didn’t go well
  10. White Rose
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    White Rose avatar
    6313 posts
    1 September 2020 in reply to claire9371

    Hello Claire

    Thanks for your reply. It definitely seems your meds are working. Is it about three weeks? It can take up to six weeks for the ADs to fully kick so you are off to a good start. I had a giggle at your comment, "I actually get tired at an appropriate time at night - what a wild concept!" Keep your sense of humour, it is so valuable in the fight against depression. When something is upsetting me and I can see the funny side it makes it easier to manage. Keep giggling.

    So pleased you could talk with your sister. Probably best not to involve your young brother at this stage. Twelve years old is not a good time to share your depression. It's great your sister is supporting you and I hope all goes well. Thank you, I would love to know how it all goes.

    Mary

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