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Helping family to understand my mental health

I've suffered from anxiety and low moods for the past 5 years. In the last 3 years it's got worse, and I saw a counsellor for CBT 2 years ago now. It helped a bit, but early this year I decided I couldn't go on like it - my moods were out of control, I was getting incredibly angry and irritable by the slightest thing (totally out of character for me), my low moods affected me more than ever, and I was constantly worried about anything and everything. On top of this I have social anxiety issues too. 

Generally my husband and his family are very open and understanding about mental health as my BIL has Bipolar, and they've been through some really tough times. When I was 'officially' diagnosed earlier this year with anxiety, my MIL was a bit dismissive and kind of had the nothing really horrendous has happened to you so you shouldn't have it attitude and asked if I was sure I had it, etc. So now I try to hide my low moods from her, and most of the time I succeed and the only give away is the state of our apartment. 

I feel like my husband is getting less understanding. I was back in therapy a few months ago because I said I didn't think I was coping and he agreed with me. Yet he was apprehensive about me going back and asked if I was sure if it was the right thing to do. When I'm in a low mood, he tells me things aren't as bad as I think and I have nothing to worry about/be depressed about and to just think positively. He stands me in front of a mirror and tells me to look at how beautiful I am when I have hang ups about my body. The whole thing just makes me want to scream and cry. No matter what I say, it's like he doesn't get it. He doesn't realise I can't control these feelings, I don't just have an off switch. He also blames himself, saying he's a lousy husband, but I've explained to him it's not him, I had it before I met him, etc. It makes me feel so frustrated and guilty.

I want to confide in others but my own parents and I aren't close and we only see each other a couple of times a year as we live so far away. My family are so close-knit and I wouldn't want them all to know, but if I told my mum then I may as well announce it to everyone from the rooftops. Plus I've always been the 'strong' one... I have 3 best friends, one of whom also suffers from depression and really understands but isn't easy to get in touch with, one who thinks he can just chat to me and make everything ok, and the other who just doesn't know what to say if I say I've been low and changes the subject. I feel really alone... I don't get out much as my husband doesn't like going out and I can't bring myself to go out alone. I have hobbies such as church choir, dancing and reading group and try to fill my time with work or things like this to take my mind off my problems. But they don't go away, and I need my family at home - my husband - to understand. 

What can I do to help him or to help myself, and to get other to understand too?

Re: Helping family to understand my mental health

  • For your peace of mind, you might want to get your thyroid checked, also -- and have your general hormone levels checked. Thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances also will cause erratic mood siwings and irritability.

    You may have problems with either or both, in addition to the mood problems you've got now, caused by another factor.

    You need not inform anybody else outside of your H about your health problems --- to me, they are none of their business. From here on in, I think it is best you tell MIL or any other ILs or other family members about your health and health care issues; again, it's none of their business. They are not hella supportive anyway, so from here on in, mum is the word.

    There are support groups available for those who are close to somebody suffering with chronic conditions (and yours is chronic) --- try your county mental health association for groups your H might want to look into.

    Wishing you the best.
  • Ditto about the thyroid. I'm sorry you are going through this.
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  • I am so sorry for you and that you are going through this.  I suffer from anxiety myself and what I can tell you is that someone who does not suffer from it will never entirely understand what you are going through.  It is easy for people to say "you have nothing to be sad about" or "just stop thinking about it" but they don't understand that some people just CAN'T turn that switch off.  I think you are doing the right thing for yourself by attending therapy.  I think you have to also look at your H's side of things and realize how him seeing you unhappy can in his mind equate to he is doing something wrong.  (Not to say this is right - just a normal thinking pattern)  Someone who doesn't live in your shoes will never fully understand what you go through and this is the toughest part to understand.  I recommend trying to get yourself an anxiety or depression workbook in addition to therapy.  There are exercises in the book that really challenge you and make you think.  And since you can't have your therapist with you 24/7 sometimes turning to the book can be helpful when you are feeling really down.  I hope things start to look up for you but in the meantime feel free to vent or talk anytime.
  • Others may disagree, but we are multi-faceted beings and I think there is a spiritual side to us, which can affect our physical and mental states. I think the buzz word for this is taking a "wholistic" approach to your healing and well-being.

    Perhaps you can find a church in your community that has some support groups involving depression and anxiety. Or, even attendance In an uplifting atmosphere on a weekly basis may help.


  • I've been in the same boat as you in my past, but the only ones who know about the issues are a few select few. If I were you, I would get back into therapy on a regular basis, maybe try out some meds, and excersize regularly. All these things have helped keep me sane. When I stop going to therapy because I think I'm doing well, everything starts falling apart after awhile. I would also recomend 2 books for you. The Feeling Good Handbook (by Chris or John burns) and When Anger hurts (cant remember author, but it has a green cover). These books have helped a lot and it is a struggle to stay on track. I would also keep this personal business to yourself aside from a  few select others (your mom, husband). no one else really needs to know as their lack of understanding has angered you.  I wish you luck
  • I only understand a taste of what you are going through, but it sounds like your husband and his family really do love and care about you.  Your husband sounds like he's doing his best to help you in the only way he knows how.  Don't be discouraged by him.  Instead maybe he can come with you to some meetings or support groups to learn what you need from him when you're feeling low.

  • November42November42 member
    edited October 2013
    Thanks for recommending the books, I've ordered both and they came today - just started on the Feeling Good Handbook and already it sounds like it's going to be good!

    I had my thyroid checked a while back and it's normal, but might get it checked again to be sure.
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