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How to cope with someone with serious depression

(19 Posts)
SPARKLER1 Mon 01-Aug-05 16:38:58

My MIL has suffered with depression badly for years. Over the last few days she has gone downhill again. I have never seen anyone like this before. She has had to be admitted to our local mental hospital a few times and even had to go through ECT.
We are waiting for the doctor to get back to us to see if their is a bed for her to go back in this afternoon.
She is very up and down with her moods, one minute very tearful the next aggressive. She can't remember anything. Keeps falling asleep and then waking up confused. She is hearing voices telling her not to do stuff. It's really horrid. It's got to the point where she needs medical help and none of the family can do much more.

SPARKLER1 Mon 01-Aug-05 16:48:00

I know she is in the right hands but it's so hard when there is nothing else we can do

novadandypowder Mon 01-Aug-05 16:56:28

sparkler, i know exactly what you're going through - my mum has been suffering with this for as long as i can remember but is currently going through a bad patch and is in a mental hospital, although she is allowed out for a few hours during the day with supervision. She also has voices but unfortunatly they tell her the only way she can stop feeling bad is by killing herself which she has tried to do on several occasions.

Sadly there is nothing you can do for your MIL, but your DH is going to need a lot of love and support. It's difficult to see your parent go through this and very hard to talk about, so be patient with him. It made me very angry rather than sad so expect a wide range of emotions.

novadandypowder Mon 01-Aug-05 17:03:19

It's also difficult not to take it personally when a parent has depression, but you have to remember they are not thinking straight or acting like a rational person. It is a chemical imbalance, and/or the result of a deep personal issue, and it's not your fault. I deal with it better by not being around my mother, whereas my sister has taken over a lot of the care. Try not to feel guilty if you don't want to be around it, it doesn't make sense for it to bring you and your family down as well. Saying that, it does help to talk to the psychiatrist/ nurses/ key workers looking after your MIL as they may be able to help you understand whats going on.

SPARKLER1 Mon 01-Aug-05 17:47:05

MIL has to stay home tonight and probably tomorrow too. There are no beds available at present. She has a friend who will be staying with her for company. It's difficult as all of my in laws have kids like us so it's difficult to be there.
I can't believe that they can't admit her. She is in such a bad way.

novadandypowder Mon 01-Aug-05 21:09:39

i have found the quality of care available pretty bad. When the local hospital was short of beds they took her to another one in a different catchment area, and she really began to respond to the treatment. Then a bed became free in her area and they transferred her and she went back downhill again. Now she's in the situation where she's too scared to leave the hospital but she's not getting any better. They keep altering her medication but she doesn't like to take a lot of the stuff they prescibe.

Our whole family gets very frustrated at the lack of care, esp. when my mum is on 24 hour suicide watch and we're the ones that have to do it.

Please don't feel bad if you can't be there, I've found that calling at a particular time of day helps with my mum as she waits for the call and looks forward to it, even if it involves talking about the weather. Is that a possibility?

SPARKLER1 Tue 02-Aug-05 13:27:50

MIL is now in hospital. She had a bad turn during the night last night and the doctor had to be called out.

essbee Tue 02-Aug-05 21:07:52

Message withdrawn

SPARKLER1 Wed 03-Aug-05 10:47:14

Just tablets at the moment. She has been through ECT before - don't know if it will come to it again though.

flowerfairy Sun 07-Aug-05 22:43:56

i've been to visit my nan today who is on a geriatric mental ward. She's jus tbeen weaned off one lot of tablets and now starting on some more. But it was the worst i've seen her for a long time.

I'm finding it increasingly hard to visit & have aconverstaion as it goes around in a circle that she claimns she hasn't got depression, it's her body that is making her the way she is. She can't see that it is her mind and her reaction to circumstances that have made her change. Is it normal for manic depressives not to admit to having depression?

It's really made me feel down mys elf having seen her in this downward spiral she ahs created over the years. Am really worried about parents who return from holiday and see her like this again. Any words of wisdom out there.

novadandypowder Mon 08-Aug-05 11:18:41

IME it is normal for them to deny that anything is wrong. Tablets can treat but can't cure, and are reliant on the patient taking them - my mother often refuses her tablets as she is also anorexic and thinks they make her gain weight.

I often feel that i just want to shake my mother and tell her to get a grip on herself and get over it, as she really is the only one who can make herself get better.

I actually now try to avoid much contact with my mother for the reasons you describe. As i see it, her condition will stay the same whether i am there or not - when i told her i was pg she said she had something to get better for, and then promptly tried to kill herself a couple of weeks later. It's best to try not to take her actions personally, she is not thinking as a rational person. As i said to Sparkler, have a discussion with someone who is treating your nan maybe to make things a little clearer about her condition/treatment/future. Maybe find support group, or a book based on other's experiences? I'm always open to CAT, i've lived with my mother being mentally ill (depression/self harm/ OCD/anorexia) for as long as i can remember so i'd like it if i can be of any help to anyone

snafu Mon 08-Aug-05 12:10:27

Sparkler, I can truly sympathise with what you're going through. It's very hard. Today represents something of a triumph for us as for the first time in weeks my mum got out of bed, got dressed and actually walked round to the local shops with me. It was half-an-hour out in the fresh air and this is what counts as a really good day.

She has been through every kind of treatment over the years. Drugs of all sorts, therapy, hypnosis, CBT, ECT, hospitalisation. She is being labelled as treatment-resistant. They won't hospitalise her at the moment either, yet she is considered enough of a suicide danger that we have to keep her medication under lock-and-key. I don't know what the future holds for her. It is an utterly miserable situation and is putting almost-intolerable strain on us as a family.

I don't have any words of wisdom - I am struggling with it all too much myself to be of much use to anyone else, I think! - but just wanted to let you know that I share your frustrations and worries. Try to do what you can to relieve the pressure off yourself - easier said than done I know, but you need to keep yourself together and as strong as possible. I hope things improve soon for her and you.

expatinscotland Mon 08-Aug-05 12:14:39

The first struggle is going to be getting her a correct diagnosis. Someone who is depressed generally doesn't hear voices. Also, her rapid and violent mood swings suggest something other than depression as well, ditto a confused state.

I hope she gets the care and treatment she deserves!

flowerfairy Mon 08-Aug-05 20:18:33

Thanks novadandypowder. It's the first time really that my nan has referred to herself as not ahving depression. As a child you don't realise what is going on, but my nan has always been prone to these bouts of neurosis. Then she had a breast removed, which she now claims is the cause of her body falling apart(which it isn't for an 83 year old she's quite physically able. Then when my grandad died she was fine to begin with and then gradually stopped looking after herself and refused to let people in, etc.

Then she moved in with my parents and has attempted suicide twice. My mum had reached the end of her tether when she asked for help from psychiatric services. I know the change in her medication is not going to make her into the nan I remember as a child. But I don't know how my parents will cope or for how long when she is discharged. I will mention to my mum about seeking out a support group or something similar.

Sorry this has been such along post I just had to get some of it off my chest. Just abit premenstrual and it's playing on my mind.

novadandypowder Mon 08-Aug-05 20:35:25

I totally understand where you're at Flowerfairy and Snafu.

I wish it wasn't just down to families to do the primary care taking, although i know a long term carer would put an awful drain on NHS resources. My mums tried to commit suicide 4 times in the past 9 months, and all she gets it's a key worker who comes round once a week, and a weekly visit to her psychiatrist who isn't very good. She doesn't like seeing new people, but the staff turnover seems to be very high. She likes to pretend that everything is ok and even her psychiatrist has never really seen the 'true' her and thats after over a year. She's currently on a weeks release after being in hospital for 5 months, but i have to say this is the only time where i've never been able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope i can be of some support if anyone needs it - it helps just to talk about it sometimes

flowerfairy Mon 08-Aug-05 21:03:56

I sometimes wonder is there a solution in the NHS. Because if they don't want to get better then they have no impetus to carry on. Sometimes I think I understand and then like at the moment, like you say N, I can see no light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm glad i've got osme of this off my chest, since the birth of ds I think my mum has hidden alot from my sister and I and not told us much.

novadandypowder Tue 09-Aug-05 12:47:54

I only found out by chance about my mums first suicide attempt, my dad tried to hide it as it was only a week before my birthday. I think they also try to keep a lot from me as i'm 27wks pg, but to be honest i'm glad to not be too involved at the moment for my own sanity.

It's split our family, i'm not very close to my mum and sister any more, but i have got a lot closer to my dad - we think on the same level about things, and are a lot more open about our feelings.

Sadly i don't think there is a 'cure'. I think they want to get better sometimes, but the process is scarier than being depressed, and reality may be harder for them to deal with.

If you ever need to get anything off your chest, my email is my musnet name at

snafu Tue 09-Aug-05 12:50:08

<<I think they want to get better sometimes, but the process is scarier than being depressed, and reality may be harder for them to deal with>>

Couldn't agree more, and that's the kicker, especially for the family...

flowerfairy Tue 09-Aug-05 20:06:14

Thankyou for your thoughts and wisdom, it has been good to talk about this with others outside the family.

Parents have returned from holiday and my mum is going to visit on Thursday. She knows that progress will probably be very llimited and cannot see that any changes in medication will make any difference. It's just what will my mum do about the care of her, I really don't know.

Anyway thanks again.

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