Supporting wife with anxiety

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hello Ng and welcome to the forum.

I'm sorry but I can't really offer any advice for your particular situation. However, I believe that MIND do have a support group for those caring for someone with a mental health issue as well as offering support and advice to those suffering with such issues.

We have a number of members who are caring for someone with depression and anxiety issues and I'm sure some of them will be along later with some suggestions.
I'm no expert at all, but two members of my family have depression and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), and it's hard to support them because they are very 'needy' and simply can't be 'reassured'.....

One key aspect of caring for someone with any kind of mental illness however, is to differentiate between whether you are SUPPORTING someone, or simply ENABLING them!

it's very hard to distinguish sometimes. It means that sometimes, being endlessly 'sympathetic and cossetting' is not actually supporting them - it is enabling them to go on being depressed/anxious etc etc.

Support always seeks to move the person FORWARDS, to help them get BETTER - not to enable them to stay where they are in the depths of their despair and fear and anxiety.

But it's a long, long road ahead. I too, recommend specialist MH forums for you, and also, if you can, for YOU to get counselling yourself on how best to (a) support your wife effectively and (b) not get too worn out yourself (because caring for someone with MH is exhausting!)

Personally, I like the phrase 'firm love' - (tough love sounds too harsh!), because you are like a 'bridge' under them, over which they can walk to a happier place. That's as opposed to simply being a lifebelt to keep them afloat while they flounder and drown......

Wishing you all the best possible. Have you/her counsellors/herself identified any 'root causes' as to why she has these disorders? I know that depression CAN simply be a shortfall in brain chemicals, but of course it can also be 'caused' (or at least exacerbated) by 'bad life events'. Personally, I would say that in the latter case, it's important to identify these and face up to them, so they are not 'ghosts' haunting the sufferer.

That said, therapies like CBT simply 'retrain' the mind to adopt a resilience that they may not feel, but can 'grow into' by habit. It can be very effective so I understand.

Finally, my own personal take is that it's essential the the sufferer is 'in treatment' of some kind - whether it's counselling or anti-depressants etc - or both. Personaly, would make my care contingent on that - that's 'the deal' they have to agree to, in order to get your support (otherwise, like I say, it can simply collapse into 'enabling'.)

Wishign you all the best, and hoping your wife, with your support, can find her way to happier times.
Hi NG
Can't offer any help but want to say welcome and send you a cyber hug and hand squeeze. The only thing I want to say is please don't blame yourself for 'doing' or 'saying' something you feel is 'wrong'. Without express directions at any given moment, how can you possibly be expected to say the exact 'right' thing? I hope there is counselling or advice out there to guide you but in the meantime surely reassuring your wife that you are there for her and that all is well ( as far as the immediate anxiety is concerned) is all you can do.
Very, very hard for you. Hope you find appropriate help.
Elaine
Hi again, I just wanted to add that on this site in respect of quite another member, I learnt of something called 'secondary gain'. I'd never heard of it before, and googled it. It's very revealing. It argues that for some folk, when they suffer problems such as depression or anxiety, they actually get, despite the downsides, a 'secondary gain' from persisting in this unhappy state of mind. The 'secondary gain' they get is the attention, sympathy, pity, forebearance and possibly even 'pandering' that others afford them. This then 'rewards' them for their depression etc.

It's a horrid thought, and maybe it doesn't apply at all with your wife, but I think it's something any carer for anyone with MH issues needs to bear in mind, in case it does apply. Just as you need to be on the lookout for if your support is turning into enablement (etc.)
I have been supporting my wife in depression states for 40 years.
The best thing I did was to get in contact with our county's Mental Health Support Team, through our GP .
This at least gives you someone to ring in a crisis. So far they gave been very supportive , though getting counselling is taking a long time.