practical tips for caring for mental health

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
can anyone give me ideas that i can try and use to help monitor my fiancees mental health? are there any free apps or anything i can try? Also are there any techniques that i can use to get her involved in housework and day to day tasks? She really responds well to simple routines and praise. It's somewhat similar to autistic behavior. How can make her feel involved with day to day routines and provide mental and physical challenges for her? Any ideas would be amazing thanks
David hi again over here on this thread!

Two thoughts - you're probably doing this already, but just in case - do check out the mental health forums that specialise in your fiancée's problem areas, and whatever else is up on the internet (quite a lot on personality disorders up there as I've discovered!). Some of the forums are for the sufferers themselves, some for their carers/family/friends etc,

MH is SUCH a 'tricky' issue, but I think if you read around on this forum, especially in the MH section at the end of the index, you will see, time after time, a key phrase emerging when it comes to caring for anyone with MH issues.

it's to understand the vital difference between 'supporting' someone with MH, and merely 'enabling' them.

It can be tricky to know when the forum slides into the latter. The former is always focussed on 'improvement' on 'moving forward to a better place' in 'progress' (even with backsliding allowed for) on believing that MH can 'heal', etc etc.

The latter - ie, enabling - merely 'keeps the person where they are'. It 'allows' them to continue to have MH without them having to do anything to change themselves at all. It's like ' carrying a dead weight' so to speak.

Of course we want to be supportive of someone with MH (My neice, now in her thirties, has had MH 'all her life' - and this is why in my other post I'm so keen to emphaisise the 'sorting it out as much as possible now while your fiancée is young', as the longer people have MH the more 'normal' it becomes for them, the less able they are to imagine being 'well in the head' etc etc)(it becomes, grimly, a 'way of life'.....)

But, if that support simply 'indulges' the MH itself, that is not helpful at all - but it can be hard to know just when 'sympathy and kindess' turn into (for want of a better word perhaps) 'infantilising' - of keeping the MH person just in their 'safe' mode where they have to make no effort, do nothing 'nasty' and they can huddle under the MH 'duvet' knowing that 'someone else' is going to look after them....it's a kind of 'malign helplessness' so to speak, as it does the sufferer no good at all long term.

BUT, again, just how 'bracing' one should be in true Support Mode is the tricky bit! The 'MH persona' will seek to 'stay safe' and not be challenged, to hunker under the MH duvet, secure (as secure as an MH person can be!) that 'someone else '(you!) will 'play daddy' etc and 'make everything all right' etc etc etc.

Again, speaking only personally, I think the key factor is 'responsibility' - because 'responsibility' is the obverse face of 'empowerment'. We cannot be 'empowered' about our lives until we take responsibility for them. Now, responsibility can grow little by little, and that, I would surmise, is what your fiancée needs now. You mention normal everyday things like housework, and that is key - 'little responsibilities' that are hers, and hers alone, and if SHE does not do them YOU DO NOT.

She must 'pull her weight' according to her abilities. This is way way way before a baby arrives (!), and needs to be started now, and extended in a fashion she can cope with. Yes, you'll need to have 'expectations' because if you don't, she'll collapse back under the duvet.

And yes, praise by all means, but not endlessly! She can become, sadly, a 'bottomless pit' of need and that isn't healthy either!

Why not sit down with her on a 'good day' and make a list of 'tasks that need to be done in the house' and then agree which are hers and which are yours. Hers are HERS, and if she doesn't do them it's essential YOU DO NOT - if she thinks you will, then she won't have to bother (or can feel, perhaps, she's just having a bad day'.....)

Grown up life consists of doing things we don't want to do! That's basically what being a responsible and empowered adult is. We get up and go to work, we do the washing up, we buy the food, we clean the house. Yes, we don't want to, but we make ourselves do things we do not wish to do. And that is that.

That is why it is essential for your fiancée to have responsibilities that are hers, and hers alone, and to take the consquences of not doing them. And that can mean, and you may even have to 'push' it that far, that if it's her turn to make dinner, and she doesn't (or says she can't.....)(she's not up to it!) that YOU make a sandwich for YOURSELF, and she goes without.

It's not 'tough love' it's 'firm love' and it can become an essential way of lessening the grip of the MH in her head that is telling her she is 'helpless and useless' (and that therefore 'someone else' has to 'do everything'......)

This is only highly fragmentary, and you may well disagree with it, but do, do, do beware the danger of sliding into 'enabling' rather than 'supporting', which is what you so clearly and courageously want to do.

Wishing you all the best, kind regards, Jenny
Thank you Jenny, i sat with my fiance and she volunteered to make a list of household chores on a weekly rota, 2 or 3 a day to start and she has been really good at using it. I think because she printed it out and stuck it up on the wall the visual clue is really helpful as it allows her to see what she has achieved. We also came up with a simple agreement in which she specified which things she was finding really difficult and the things that she can manage. It was a really good opportunity to discuss how things she can now do solo were once un-doable for her at all so i actually got to see her praise herself which i think is really amazing. She really wants to take a more active role in helping out and by having her on board with planning the chores it gave me a sense of relief that she was understanding and taking some tasks off my my shoulders and at the same time it gave her clear control over elements of her life. We also made a list of simple non expensive "couple ideas" and "dates" so that we can spend more time as a couple so that i can be her fiance instead of just her carer. I think that planning these things out even simple ideas like "play a board game" or "watch a film with popcorn" it means she doesn't panic about arranging something difficult and again it lets us enjoy being a couple before our baby arrives. I've spoken to the local council about getting a carers assessment to see what support i can get for myself as well, so things are looking up.
That sounds really positive. I know you have said she doesn't like going out and about much, but she needs to look after herself and getting as fit as possible before she goes into labour (the fitter she is the easier it will be) and plan for when the baby arrives. I'd suggest that one of the "couple" things can be going for a walk regularly.
Obviously I don't know where you live or your local network of roads/footpaths, but it's surprising how quickly your walking speed increases if you do the same walk regularly, without any real effort. Maybe plan to walk in any direction for 15 minutes, and then back? I'm not suggesting speed walking, just a normal stroll slow enough for you to be able to have a chat. If you time it, you can see how much further you can go in a week or two.
Not only will this get you both fitter, it's really good to be away from all the distractions of home (no phones allowed!!) and have proper together time.
It will also mean that your partner will be very used to going out and about with you to support her. Hopefully it's something you can continue after baby is born to get rid of the baby blubber. I'm sure that once she's out and about with a pram lots of people will recognise her and say Hello.
We would always go out if the weather was nice, every evening, before or after tea depending on the weather and daylight. Now I'm widowed I so miss our walks.
Has she signed up for ante natal classes? These are the very best way of meeting other girls and making new friends. 40 years later and I'm still in touch with some of the girls at the classes when my eldest was born!! In turn, they and their babies will be at Mother and Toddler Group, Playschool etc. etc. Your baby will need to make friends too, it all starts at ante natal classes. If your OH doesn't feel like going alone, then perhaps the midwife could discreetly find a "buddy" for her amongst the group.
oh we love our walks. We love taking the camera out and exploring some of the country lanes round where we live. She loves dogs so we often cut through the dog walking park and have a few locals that she talks to and pets the dogs. We have been getting slowly further forward, when we go shopping in one of our regular supermarkets she now will offer to go down an aisle on her own to grab a specific item and meet me at the other end. It's really positive and it makes shopping a lot quicker. I feel like she has really taken more control recently, she has seen that she has been really low so is building herself back up. I feel like we are really balancing out our relationship and that i no longer feel like just a carer. We have a lot more support in place for both of us which instantly helps us individually. I am taking a course in mental health online and she is taking one for her creative writing so it's nice that we both have an individual goal as well as goals as a couple. I know that there are going to be good days and bad days but i feel like we are slowly getting the tools in place to cope with the bad days. It's just hard sometimes when you reach out to people and they offer advice that i know won't work for my fiancee. She has been passed around from so many mental health teams that have tried all sorts of techniques with her that haven't worked. I would love to find something new to try just to see if we can find an approach that works.
the only ante natal classes in our are run from a church so that's a no go for us. and the others are too expensive. I hope that we can find some support for my fiancee but we are lucky enough to have a few contacts with young children including her sister who has a little boy.
David, she MUST go to the antenatal classes, what is the problem with them being in a church hall? You really mustn't let anything get in the way of going to these classes, they are absolutely vital for your wife and child's future.

Really good that she's happy to go for walks etc.
The church where they are run is very anti other religions. She was asked to leave when she was younger as she has a tattoo of a pentagram on her wrist so if i take her anywhere near she remembers how rude they were and it sends her into melt down. Her sister doesn't help as she didn't do any antenatal classes and neither did her friend that has a baby so they both tell her not to bother.
Surely it isn't the church running the classes, but someone using the church facilities? I just think it would be so helpful for her to share experiences with the other girls, both during pregnancy and afterwards, as previously stated.
She is sharing experiences with her few friends with kids. The group that run the antenatal classes are the same churchy people that gave her a hard time. We have spoke to the midwife in the hopes that she can recommend something.