I need someone to talk to

Hi, I’m new to this forum.
My husband was diagnosed with cancer nearly 20 years ago. He is currently in remission but has had many health problems due to his reduced immune system due to extensive chemotherapy.
Last year our daughter was diagnosed with bi-polar 2. She has a partner and a toddler but lives 2 hours away. She has attempted suicide twice but has had very little support from her mental health team. Her consultant in the hospital she was in briefly recommended counselling. She has currently been on the waiting list for that for a year. She has been discharged by her psychiatrist and her care co-ordinator rarely visits
We try to be with her as often as we can but I’m in constant fear of another suicide attempt

Hi Pauline,
Welcome to the forum.

It sounds like you have a lot to cause you worry and anxiety.

Mental health isn’t my area of expertise but I’m sure others will be along with advice. In the meantime if you aren’t familiar with the Mind website; https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/ it’s worth a look. As well as the main organisation, there is info on local branches and I’m wondering if your daughter could get counselling quicker via them. Does she take her meds regularly for her bi-polar?


Hi Pauline
Any time either you or she needs someone to talk to there is always 24/7 the Samaritans 116 123
Make sure she has this number handy, always
You can use it too for support

It sounds like the consultant and NHS regards her as low risk. There is always the option of private counselling. The BACP has a list by area https://www.bacp.co.uk. I suggest you get her to contact 2 or 3 to see who she feels most at home with. It may cost £30-50 per hour, but is worth if they can start helping almost immediately. We went this route with our son, and after one false start when he wasn’t ready for it, his second try prouced good results within weeks, and permanent (hopefully!) changes within about 4 months.

Make sure she knows how to access support, either online or via groups etc, but be aware it has to be her decision to move forward, you can’t push her to it.

You can best help her by modelling good healthy behaviours yourself, that emotional as well as physical. That means looking after yourself mentally and physically, taking breaks just for you, meditation and mindfulness to maintain calm, exercise and fresh air, a social life and knowing when and where to ask for support.
Let her see what you are doing, and why you are doing it. As you become calmer, so will she. Even if you think you are hiding your concern from her, subconsciously she will be picking up on your worries.

Also don’t hide your concern for hubby from her, but don’t ‘load it on to her’, show that you are dealing with it as best you can, no more no less.

By you leading by example hopefully she will see that she too can manage life, enough, and that over time it becomes easier.

Both Mind and Rethink websites and help lines are good too.

Hope this helps a little

Hi Melly, and MrsS thank you for your post.
Believe me I have approached many mental health charities and organisations.
I have offered to pay for private counselling for my daughter but she has refused it saying she prefers to wait for one from the Crisis team. I don’t want to push her.
’I have written to the complaints dept of her Mental Health authority and am waiting for a reply.
All we can do is support her.
Thank you for listening x

In my experience, just keep watching for opportunities and offer the counselling again, each time. One day the time will be right. With my boy it was after a very very low point
(However he wasn’t bipolar, I don’t know much about that sorry)
Just keep looking after yourself, you need be strong

Thank you MrsA … I hope your son is doing well x
It’s good to talk to someone who has had a similar experience … not looking for solutions, just someone who cares :slight_smile: x

That’s the trouble with caring for anyone with mental health issues, there is no carer support at all. I joined the forum 3 years ago when I wasn’t sure what I was dealing with. He wouldn’t go to doctors so no diagnosis - still dont have one- but because he wasn’t harming any one else or visibly self harming he fell through all the gaps in the system.
We’ve had to find our own way. He’s had counselling, so has his Dad and I. We have supported him financially and paying for help.
I also have a relative with aspergers and some form of other mental health problem who is in the system, ir residential home and on benefits and has been sectioned more than once so I have seen the problems in the system second hand, and don’t like what I see.

It is a long long haul that seems to take a higher toll on the carer as often the caree isn’t wanting to get well or get help and yet there could be hope of them learning to manage their condition better. It’s that hope that is galling. Most other carers care for someone with a deteriorating or enforced condition with little or no hope of recovery or improvement, yet with MH issues it hurts so much to see what could be.

That’s why we have learned that we (Dad and I) have to look after ourselves and not let ourselves be dragged into or under by it. We have had to be strong, not that that has been easy.

While we currently have hope now that boy finally has a job and his self esteem has improved that he is through what has been a 4-8 year bad patch, I still can’t quite relax as I fear relapse if something goes wrong and he can’t handle it.
It was like riding a roller coaster, on eggshells while pushing a mountain!

Have a read through some of the other threads in the Mental Health section and you will find many others in similar situations. You are most definitely not alone

“I have offered to pay for private counselling for my daughter but she has refused it saying she prefers to wait for one from the Crisis team”

Does she say why?

One of the most wretched aspects of mental illness is their own denial and refusal to cooperate with any kind of treatment - exasperating for their family. It can also make it very, very difficult for family to make the essential distinction between ‘supporting’ them and merely ‘enabling’ them.

Support is always focussed on improvement, healing, getting better …even maybe ‘cure’.

Enabling merely lets them stay as they are.

It’s perniciously difficult to assess someone with any form of Mental Illness as to what they CAN do and what they simply WON’T do…that’s why I always advocate trying to assess how much EFFORT they are making. If you feel your daughter is really TRYING to minimise the negative impact of her MI, and TRYING to ‘get better’ as best as the illness itself ever allows, then you ‘cut her slack’ and give her your approval. If you feel, at the other extreme, she is simply making no effort at all (ie, what effort CAN be made by those with bipolar), and is ‘giving in’ or ‘succumbing’ (even’ wallowing’???), (ie, in self-pity, self-focus and ‘culpable despair’), then you do NOT ‘give her slack’ (because to give her slack then is simply to lapse into ‘enabling’ which gets no one anywhere at all!).

All that said it is REALLY hard to call it accurate - IS she making ‘no effort’ or ‘insufficient’ effort because she CAN’T (eg, like expecting someone with a broken leg to run a marathon) or because she WON’T (eg, like someone with a broken leg refusing even to try walking with crutches instead of being wheeled around by someone else endlessly in her comfy lazy wheelchair!).

PS - only a thought, and chuck it out of the window immediately if it doesn’t resonate at all and simply upsets you or makes you angry…but…

Do you feel irritated and exasperated perhaps that your daughter is making a completely ‘unnecessary’ fuss about herself when she has SO much going for her - a partner and child - and when your own husband is battling for his life and has had to do so for twenty years?

Sorry if that sounds harsh (!) but I speak for myself in that respect (a cancer widow myself, and raised by a mum with perpetual mental health issues which, quite frankly, were a pain in the neck to everyone - including of course, herself…(sigh) - ruining her marriage, tormenting my poor dad and blighting the childhood of me and my brother).

I know that sounds totally unsympathetic to those afflicted by the demons of mental illness, but I put it in simply to reassure you that IF you had any feelings of the same sort, you would not be alone!

(However, you may very well feel entirely the opposite, and extremely lovingly protective of your daughter who is clearly in despair at times…) (And I do appreciate, with my head if not my heart/experience, that mental illness is a nightmare for many, many people, even if it is ‘invisible’ in a way that a physical illness is not…)

Hi Pauline I am really sorry to hear about your daughters struggle.
MIND is the most well known group for help and support with mental health issues.

As a person who has suffered with mental health problems myself and still do to some extent, I know how upsetting it is for you, but the suffering is far worse for the person with mental health problems. I know it can be just like a living hell and all people can do around you is just to be there at the very least. One of my best mates mental health has always been poor but he holds things together very well but he does have bad spells. I have received txts in the past from him saying he is going to kill himself and he has tried a few times. There is one thing to do in that situation and that is to call the police immediately.
Suicide is not an answer to the situation and poor mental health is a hell of a cross to bear at times having fought through some desperate times in my life because of my poor mental health. I kept it a secret for many years because i felt shame at the tag I was given. I also kept it secret because I was worried i wouldn’t gain employment because of the stigma. The feelings of being a mentally ill person or the stigma of tagging does isolate the person which leads to greater problems. I can say it is a living hell and only I could sort me out. Its my life and my fight. To be part of what to most people is the normal world is very difficult when a person is mentally ill. No one else can understand because it is all inside of the person, it is an internal fight. No matter how many words Ive heard or been given, to me they were just words and often seemed to be contrite or patronising from people who were essentially trying to help.
What seemed like the never ending monthly clinics as an outpatient when they told me to carry on and keep taking the tablets were basically what convinced me to sort myself out and to move on. I was gifted with a modicum of intelligence and resilience.

The very most important thing is for them to be able to continue with their normal lives, to have that stability of normality and to feel relevant and feel needed. The only time this can change is if hospitalisation is required. Talk to MIND about this.

Make sure your daughter uses ICE on her mobile phone incase of emergency.

But please don’t struggle alone, please come and talk to us? ok :slight_smile:

Colin - eloquently and hauntingly put. And a moving testimony against my harshness.

It’s great you have found strength to battle with considerable success the ‘daggers of the mind’ that stab you so grievously.

Jenny please don’t be concerned about expressing your valid opinions which might sound a little harsh to some people but not to me. Everyone’s feelings are valid and have a place. It helps a lot to get everyone’s perspective to understand the issues more clearly.

I’ve grown to be less sensitive over the years and I have learned more about my own mental health problems. I have dealt with a lot of my inner demons over the years including alcohol, but I will always walk under the shadow of my mental ill health.

Bless you x

Hi Colin, thank you for your reply and kind words.

It’s good to have people to talk to who care and understand :blush:

Your post really jumped out at me.
We do care and I’m glad that you understand.
The internet is a great connector for people to help and support each other.
Please get in touch with MIND if you feel the need and they have a few local centres too.

“What seemed like the never ending monthly clinics as an outpatient when they told me to carry on and keep taking the tablets were basically what convinced me to sort myself out and to move on”

Colin, have you ever chanced to see an old Hollywood movie called, I think, The Snake Pit. It has Olivia de Havilland (again, I think) as a wife having a mental breakdown and things just getting worse and worse until she is placed in an ‘insane asylum’ (as it would have been called in those days, c 40s and 50s). It is only there that she finally finds the strength of mind to make the ‘turning’ she needs to do.

There is a scene filmed from on high where the camera pulls back and back from a close up of her and she is looking around at her surroundings, which are full of ‘seriously insane’ people who are, one assumes, ‘beyond hope of sanity’…and it is that that she sees as ‘the snake pit’ into which she has fallen.

I guess what is THE most essential aspect of any ‘treatment’ for mental illness is that the patient has to BELIEVE they CAN ‘get better’ (even if not ‘cured’)…and that happiness is NOT impossible for them however difficult or tortuous the upward path.

It is that sense of empowerment that is SO essential…my niece has suffered from mental illness for many years, mostly chronic depression etc, and her mum said to me some while back ‘She says she goes to the doctors and asks and asks and asks for help…but they don’t give her any’…’

Which perhaps is the other dreadful part of MI - that there IS ‘no help’ for many conditions. I don’t mean ‘it’s not available on the NHS’…I mean it is not available to psychiatry full stop…

The ONLY person who CAN ‘cure’ them is THEMSELVES. And recognising that is the first ESSENTIAL step back to a happy life…

Hi jenny, no i haven’t seen that film, sounds intriguing though. I will see if it’s on youtube.

I spent time in a Victorian era psychiatric hospital and yes parts of it were like some Hammer house of horror movie. The darkness and heavy gloss paint on the brick internal walls, high ceilings and harsh white tiling in washing areas. I remember talking to my gf on the hospital pay phone whilst I was smoking a cigarette. As I finished the call I dropped my cigarette butt on the floor and stepped on it to put it out and no sooner had I lifted my foot up when some Fagin-esque type character had snaffled the butt away no doubt for him to smoke the remnants later.
Then returning to the ward I met the character who believed she was Queen Elizabeth the 1st. It really was that surreal and convinced me never to go back in there as a voluntary admission. But that was a long time ago and the hospital has since been converted into prestige apartments… I dread to think what ghosts and ghouls might still reside there? Ghastly places tbh.

You know the very worst thing you can say to anyone with mental health issues is you need to sort yourself out or get over it. It’s very much taboo.

I found my own way out of that over a long period of time. But not everyone can. I’m not special I just had enough of feeling cr"p. That was the turning point. The drugs didn’t work, they made me feel worse. Mental health is a vast internal struggle to be overcome by the person.

My mental health changed for the better years after diagnosis when I was prescribed anti depressants. They do not work for everyone, but they helped me to level out the highs and lows. Although to me they were lows and very lows.
Time is a healer and sometimes life is a matter of keeping going and keep fighting it. That’s hard when you really want to give up. Deep down everyone has a fighting spirit and that’s what I found helped.

My original diagnosis almost 40 years ago I believe was incorrect. My neurologist at the John Radcliffe at Oxford in 2009 was a really good consultant. He said after an hour and a half of us talking, that what I have is trauma overlaid on trauma on trauma etc etc. Right from the age of 5. He said they can’t put me right, they would have to break me down and try and rebuild me, but he said they can’t do that and also he said they haven’t got the right to do that. He said I am who I am and my life has made me who I am. He said I have seen too many things that no one should have to see.
He was 100% correct! He is a good guy and amazingly astute.

No one can really say where someone’s mental ill health comes from. Sometimes it can be from external factors or past experiences which a person hasn’t dealt with. Often a brain will get a backlog of emotional issues it cannot process because of the trauma involved. If that backlog gets too much and the brain becomes blocked then like a computer it will crash. This can happen years later and what the original factors were are long forgotten. People with mental health issues tend to emotionally “beat themselves up” over their mental health which is counter productive.

I think some people find their way out of that mind maze but some people never do.
Its all about each person’s life lessons they need to learn in this life. That includes the lessons to be learned by the people who care for and support a mentally ill person.
Those are buddhist principles…

I feel the need to qualify this some more.
People can recover and return to good health for long periods of time with the right help and support from the NHS and family and friends. That is a very personal experience which will vary between people by the nature of the fact that we are all different.
Keeping a lid on it is sometimes the best we can do.
THE most important thing for any person suffering from mental ill health IMHO is to have consistent stability from the people around them. Feeling secure and being in a secure environment is very helpful.

Thank you for being so open Colin.
We have muddled our way through with our son as he rarely voices what he thinks so this is useful to see it from the ‘other side’.
I hope stability helped him. I also believe keeping him occupied, building on tasks that would build his self esteem and confidence helped. I don’t think it helps anyone to be aimless (whether thats unemployed, jobless or unable to work) , there are just too many hours in each day to fill. Volunteering, exercise, helping or caring for others really do work, over time. At his lowest he couldn’t even go to post a letter unsupported, but we didn’t let him not do it, we supported him to do it, and then again, and again the next week until he could do it alone. Now, looking back that seems ridiculous but at the time it was huge.

Thank you for noticing.
I try to give an insight from my perspective as a person who has mental health issues. You sound like fantastic parents.

I don’t think you are ever cured but you find your way of dealing with it so you can progress. It’s hard for anyone to imagine they have a future in that position, but as I say it’s about keeping going and time is a great healer. Took me a few decades. :smiley:
But there is still an amazing life to be lead despite mental ill health.

The truth is for many people, alcohol is a problem for their mental ill health. Not in your sons case obviously.

The NHS is starting to wake up and realise that alcohol even at what some might consider to be moderate levels of consumption is a major player.

This is something that not many may have considered. But I came to a realisation a while ago that some people might be allergic to alcohol and the allergy manifests itself psychologically. Just a thought.

I had a good friend die of alcoholism related issues. :cry:
I truly believe her brain cells were damaged systematically. She was an intelligent professional woman when she started using alcohol as pain relief for a physical condition. Then it took hold and it was like watching someone commit a slow slow suicide over 10 years.

Alcohol, and drugs, are, I believe, very dangerous when combined with mental health issues, especially in the young. Trouble is at that age its difficult to know which, if any, lie lurking underneath ready to pounce. One issue may be mangeable on it’s own, but when combined with one of the others, disaster strikes.