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Friend has been hospitalised..how do I support her...?!(11 Posts)
I feel totally helpless
Having seen my lovely friend become engulfed by an episode of depression over the last couple of months, I have had a text today to say that she has been admitted to hospital. She saw a psychiatrist yesterday. I feel that this is positive as she had been feeling suicidal and hopelessly depressed/disassociated from the whole world, but for her it is awful and feels totally scary and overwhelming. This is not the first time she has been depressed or hospitalised because of it. The last time was while she was pregnant and before we were friends. She now has a three year old little girl.
Can anyone who has either been in my position (as friend) or her position (admitted to hospital with MH issues) advise me on the best, most helpful ways to be a good, supportive friend. I know I cannot change this for her, but how do I best walk by her through the journey...? All advice welcomed. TIA
HI I have been admitted because of MH I advise trying to take care of as many stressful home issues as you can. Also most friends abandon me when I am ill and do not visit. When I was 15 and admitted for months I had one visitor a week which was my mum, she had a young BF baby and the hospital was unsuitable for her. I advise visiting often but keeping the visits short as she will be tired and easily overwhelmed.
Getting out sometimes even making a cup of tea feel like a gruelling task so her house needs to be clean and tidy and close relatives sometimes forget to do this being too concerned with their relative and it really can be too much when you ahve just been discharged to come home to heaps of washing and mess.
I hope this helps, also small things like fetching me make up and doing it for me as I wont have the strentgh myself and will feel better to now you care, maybe take some nail varnish and give her a manicure? flowers also cheer me up as do chocolates. New books to read but be very careful about the content of the books I usually am a heavy dark reader but when ill I cant read more than a mills and boon or a harry potter book
Although of course I dont mean for you to do all of them I thought you could pick one that suits you the best. I also wanted to say how great a friend and how lovely what you are doing is.
I too have been hospitalised twice for severe depression, once 15 years ago for 3 months and once last year, again for 3 months and am still inrecovery from the last episode.
I suppose all pyschiatric hospitals are different - I was fortunate in that the one I was in on both occasions is a relatively new build (not a Psych unit) as part of Gen Hosp. I also had my own bedroom, which was a big plus.
As for what to do - send cards, little letters, visit when you can, flowers etc but most importantly let her cry if she wants to, don't tell her "not to upset herself" just be with her - gently, maybe a slight arm/back rub without saying anything. If she wants to talk - then listen and try to understand how she is feeling. Listening is better than giving advice. Don't make her think she has got to entertain you or be something that she can't be - just be there, and be calm and rational. You can tell her that she will get better (but sometimes this is irritating because you don't believe it, but at other times it is re-assuring) you will have to guage this for yourself.
Oh and food - the food was disgusting but there was a fridge that patients could use so long as the food was in a plastic box and labelled. So my P used to bring me ham, cheese, salad etc and I could always make a sandwich if I didn't fancy the slop that was often served up (but I am a finicky eater) also fruit, and something nice like choccy biscs if she likes that sort of thing.
This is the time when you need your friends - she may think she is not worthy of anyone caring about her, as this is a symptom of the illness. You sound like a good and sensitive friend and you need to be there after she is discharged too, cus I have discovered that complete recovery is a bit of a hill climb with setbacks along the way.
Misspolly - you sound like a great friend already as you obviously care a lot.
I would echo what Crawling and Nana have said - let her know you are there for her without pushing it, let her talk without trying to give her advice, make sure her housework etc is done (maybe you and some other friends could get a rota going?), take her kids for a couple of hours so she can rest etc etc etc.
The main thing is to let her know by what you do rather than what you say that she is still important to you and her condition does not change the way you feel about her or the respect you have for her.
I wish you both all the best, as it could be a long haul.
I have been hospitalised because of MH issues. One of the times I was there I had no idea I was in hospital for a few days. You are being the most wonderful friend that anyone can be already because you are asking what to do and how can you help. You really find out who your real friends are going through something like this. If you feel up to visiting and she is okay to see you then try and visit her. Depending on what kind of ward she is on and her diagnosis then if you take her anything as a gift you need to let the nursing staff know.
Just be there for her and accept her for who she is , it can be quite dehumanising being in a MH environment.
All the best to you and your friend.
Thanks for these replies. They have been very useful. One complication is that I live in Bristol, as does my friend, but she went to see a psychiatrist in London whom she had seen when she was ill before (which was before we were friends) and from that appointment she was admitted so she is in hospital in London and I am here in Bristol - feeling pretty helpless. That said we have been texting and it has been good to hear from thought she is clearly very frightened and totally devoid of any hope about the situation - She currently believes that life will never be good again and that if life can never be anything other than full of depression then the prospect of living is just too much to bear... What do you say when someone you love texts with something like that?! Nothing I say sounds anything other than trite. I know life can be better than that, and I know she is strong, but what can I say to help her know that too....?
There is nothing you can do about her being depressed and telling her not to feel this way will not help I have a link to cams for dealing with bipolar depression as that is what I have you might get some good pointers about dealing with your friends depression though. here you also may be able to look on this website for some pointers on dealing with your friends illness what ever it is she has. I find just having someone listen helps.
I think your friend probably needs longer on medication before she's thinking more cheerfully, and will eventually improve.
My brother is in hospital too far away for me to visit normally, but the staff have been wonderful about letting us meet when I can get there. I wonder if you could do a day-trip?
Otherwise, I think you're doing a great job being a friend to her, just carry on.
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