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What support is out there for the families of those with mental health problems?

(10 Posts)
EffiePerine Fri 19-Sep-08 11:21:32

Was wondering. As it is so difficult to get help if you have a mental health problem, I guess the likelihood of support for others affected is pretty small. I mean, there's AlAnon for the partners of addicts, but is there anything specifically geared to families/carers of those who are suffering from various issues?

Peachy Fri 19-Sep-08 11:26:45

I've nevr ahd a moments help, no. Mind, I dont get it for the sn ds'd either- frankly I think help doesnt exist for anything unless you are beyond breaking point- and not always then.

EffiePerine Fri 19-Sep-08 11:31:31

Sigh. Maybe it's because it isn't as 'fashionale' as addiction? Though if mental health issues will affect, what, 1 in 4 at some point, surely that means most of us will be dealing with them as a family member/partner/friend.

Kammy Fri 19-Sep-08 15:02:54

It depends on where you live tbh. If your partner/relative has a serious mental health problem and is on CPA (Care Programme Approach) then there is an obligation to do a formal 'carers assessment' which should look at you and how you are affected.

If this is not the case, you will need to look at voluntary groups who might provide local support, again, depends on where you live, and in my experience, is very variable. Contact local MIND or Rethink. You could ask your local Community Mental Health Team or GP for details.

Peachy Fri 19-Sep-08 15:50:50

we cant get on any programme- gp policy is no referral to psych until after counselling; 3 year wait for counselling as counsellor on long term sick

had a carers assessment for 2 disabled kids though, just says 'mum is intelligent and wil cope- no help required' in every box hmm (at that point I was 8 months pg with ds4 and begging for respite)

Kammy Fri 19-Sep-08 18:05:20

Just got back from school and seen this angry. Sorry that this has been your experience. Have a look at anything a local MIND might offer if you have one.

undercovercat Fri 19-Sep-08 18:14:16

My brother is scizophrenic. My mum had a woman who came round and made uming noises at her while mum RANTED abotu my brother.
She came about 6 times.
Mum now, could do with her own mental health worker. Eeek, none in plae as she hasnt gone to the docs and said IM MAD. However, I have informed them and nothings been done.

Bumblelion Fri 19-Sep-08 18:44:31

My mum has suffered 'bad' depression in the past, first when I was 11 years old and the last time about 5/6 years ago (she has now been 'well' for 4 years.

When I was a child, I can remember going to see her in the psychiatric ward, I hated it and it brings back very sad memories for me of my childhood (although it only lasted 9 months and she was 'well' the rest of the time).

The next time she became 'poorly' as I call it was 10 days after giving birth to my first child. I remember her having to go into the psychiatric ward and visiting her with my dad and my new-born baby thinking that I didn't want her to be in that horrible place and wanted her to be a 'nanny' to her first born grandchild. I felt angry at her that she was not doing what she should have done (been a loving/caring nanny) when all she ever wanted was grandchildren. She was ill for 18 months and missed out on the first 18 months of my daughter's life. Luckily, for me and my DD, when she became well again, my DD was too young to 'hold it against her' and they have a fantastic relationship (my DD is now nearly 16).

She had another 'breakdown' when my dad died suddenly at the age of 56 in 2000 (work one day, dead of a heart-attack the next) but I can understand why she 'broke' that time. Funnily enough, she was only poorly for 4 months that time.

The last time she was 'poorly' was just after my second daughter (third child, son in between) was born in 2001. Again, within a few weeks, I could see she was going 'downhill' but it was only after other issues happened (lost feeling in her legs and couldn't walk) that we took her to the doctors and they sent her to (general) hospital straight away but they were more concerned about her 'state of mind' than the inability to walk.

She spent Christmas and New Year in hospital (although did come to my house for Christmas day and Boxing day - picked her up in the morning and then took her back) and then she was put into an old people's home (she was 59 at the time! and was the youngest there). The old people's home could not cope with her depression and I got a phone call from social services saying they were having a meeting about what would be best for my mum and they would call me back after the meeting to let me know what they had decided would be best for her. The phone call I got was to say that they had moved her from the old people's home to the psychiatric ward in our local 'mental health' hospital (where she was when I was 11 years old and again when I was 25 when I had my first child).

I remember crying and hating the thought of my mum being in that 'horrible' place (as I thought of it).

Me and my aunt (her sister) used to take it in turns to visit her in the old people's home - me = Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday - my aunt = Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). She was moved on a Thursday and I thought she might worry that I might not know she had been moved so I also went to visit her on that day (Thursday).

I remember walking into the hospital and feeling like a sad lonely lost child again although I was in my late 30s. I was so upset, crying, hysterical, that I thought they might have kept me in!

I saw her also on the Friday night (my normal visiting night) and also on Saturday. By Saturday I realised, as an adult, that the hospital she was in was not a 'scary horrible' place but the best place for her in the condition that she was (not suicidal but very, very down). To explain, my mum is now 63 (on holiday in August the hotel staff thought she was my sister and I am 41), she has a lovely figure, looks after herself, now has a nice life but when she is 'poorly' she doesn't have her hair done (cut or coloured), wears the same clothes day in/day out, doesn't wash, doesn't do anything, hates sunshine (normally loves it), hates everythig in the world just doesn't care basically).

By the Saturday I realised she was in the best possible place for her and I had got over my fears of her being there (not that I could do anything about it).

By April (3 months later) she became well. My mum is very 'funny' in that she goes down very slowly but coming back up is very quick, actually overnight (it really is that sudden).

She is still on anti-depressants but I say to her that if she has to take them to stay 'well', then why not? If someone had to take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, whatever, then they should and why is she any different, just because the medication is for her 'brain' rather than an illness that is readily viewed.

When she became well, although she still had difficulty walking, when they discharged her from the psychiatric unit, they wanted her to go to a rehabilation unit. At the time she had a 5 bedroom house (on her own) and wanted to go home but I could see that she probably would not be able to manage on her own.

She was discharged and came to live with me (and stayed with me from April until Christmas) when she moved back home because she had my brother, his children, my nan and my aunt staying at hers.

Now, nearly 5 years on, she has moved house (into a smaller property - only 4 bedrooms!), has been on holiday with me and my children to Tenerife in April, went to Majorca in May with my nan and my aunt, went to Kos in August with me and my children and, after being back 4 days, went off to Majorca on her own for 1 week (same hotel as she went to in May and has been there many times over the last 10 years - more like a home from home).

She flew on her own (although had assistance at Gatwick and Palma) and got a cab to the hotel. Spent a lovely week and even ventured out on her own - still has trouble walking but manages without a stick or anything - just a bit unstable - I am sure people look at her and think she is drunk (at 10 in the morning!) but when she explains they understand more.

I seem to have veered off track from my original posting but I have to say that as a daughter of a mother who suffers depression (and it can be very debilitating) I have had no support/input/offer of service from any service.

It seems to me that mental illness is a hidden illness and no-one (not even my (ex) husband, current boyfriend, family, friends) know what it is like to be the daughter of a mum who suffers bad mental health.

LAST THOUGHT - I remember feeling enlightened that I am not like my mum mentally (and I mean that nicely).

When my husband left with me with 3 children (youngest 11 weeks old, others 5 and 9) and my mum was depressed, although I was going through the 'worst' time of my life (about to go back to work and had to arrange childcare, etc.) and because I did not become depressed, I realised that although I thought my life had hit rock bottom I was glad that I did not become depressed (in the way that my mum does). My youngest DD also had many problems as a baby (now diagnosed with Sotos) but I look upon my DD (now nearly 7) as my ray of sunshine because it was her 'problems' and hospital appointments that kept me sane because I was so busy caught up in doing the best for her and arranging so many appointments that I didn't have time to feel sorry for myself. I just had to get on with it because if I didn't, no-one else would have.

Now as an adult, with my mum, I don't like to think that she would become depressed again but it seems the older she gets the more often it occurs but I know now that I am strong enough to deal with it and with her.

I am sorry to have waffled - but sometimes it is relieving to tell my own story, although it seems to have veered off track.

Peachy Sat 20-Sep-08 10:32:31

Thank you Bumbelion for sharing that.

My Mum also had depression when I was a child, although there was no chance d amitting her as my Dad was an alcoholic (now fully recovered- very proud of him) and se'd never have let us go into care. She was violent to us though, and I dont think of my childhood as a happy time.

I have been depressed in my life but reactive- about 18 months when the ds's were diagnosed in quic succession. From what I read on here, that's normal.

I don't rely on Mum for anyting emotionally- you can't, she's too matter of fact an self centred. One Cristmas we were due to stay there a week, on day 3 (Boxing day) she announced it was tiome for us all to go as she had backache. Dad was furious- adores his grandkids- and had to make us a parcel of food as the shops were closed and we had nothing at home. She gets 'ill' ofen at group holidays etc and pulls out, but Dad i very sociable so its hard to balance.

MIL is also ill- severe ocd and more- but would never seek help, appearances are everything to her. Even though it cost her a 35 year marriage and we had to withdraw all contact for years (she called asd ds1 a freak to his face). We're now in contact but its very casual indeed, Dh has no particlar interest in her now. When her marriag brke down she told the older d#s fil hit her on a particular day when dh was there- he didnt (and if he had you dont tell 4 and 5 year olds). She tried to force dh t repay the money she gave us for a wedding gift when we were on benefits (when dh was ill) and afer his suicide attempt years back phoned him up and tod him its her with the problems and he should move back, take over her mortgage and leave us behind!

Moving away from them was for Uni but I do think it done us a lot of good. We can control contact now, which helps.

EffiePerine Sat 20-Sep-08 22:04:19

Bumblelion: I'm glad you've got to the stage where you feel you can cope with your mother's mental illness. I'm not sure, as another daughter, that I can yet . We're looking at another crisis as far as I can see and I really don't want it to be happening.

I think the mother-daughter relationship is esp tricky in this area, as you slip into parent mode when you'd rather like to be looked after yourself.

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