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Helping my depressed partner engage in conversation - Carers UK Forum

Helping my depressed partner engage in conversation

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Hi all

I care for my partner who has depression and I'm finding it really tough to cope.

Some background, he has been hospitalised twice now and after the first time, we both bounced back relatively quickly. This time however, he has just drifted further away from himself and therefore me by extension.

He is having problems recalling/retaining information (possibly due to medication but no one will help investigate) and he can't hold a conversation with anyone about anything. The most I can get is occasionally a few sentences but it's usually just a sentence or less

I just don't know what to do now because I'm starting to feel like I'm disengaging with him and that this will be the beginning of the end for us

Anyone got any ideas on how to coax someone into a safe conversation or more direct help for him to help himself with conversation tips

Does anyone else find that because they care for someone with mental health issues that we are treated as if we have chosen this? I'm finding it really tough to balance my wants needs/partners and then various MH teams, GP etc and then on top of that I have to work because a) our rent is too high and b) despite fact that I need spare room for respite, it is still 'spare room' and therefore no help with rent.... If only mental health came with a hoist....
Hi Mew,

You could try joint activities, then the conversation would be about the activity. Going for a walk, going through magazines/catalogues/ books, a new or old hobby, looking through the family albums, clearing some clutter etc It needn't be a taxing activity, doing something together can be companionable.

If this isn't what you mean, and you mean talking about how they are feeling, there are some websites offering advice on supporting someone with depression and survival strategies for the carer too. I just googled, talking to someone with depression or something similar.

Hi Mew,
I don't have any tips but I am in a very similar situation to you and really just wanted to let you know that "I get it". My severely depressed husband also has problems retaining /recalling stuff and it's something that has never really been addressed, either during his stay on the psychiatric ward or by his community team. I can't find a way to motivate him to do or say anything and am starting to feel very lost and lonely. Unfortunately , he is so poorly at the moment that there are no activities I can engage him in and on the very rare occasion that I do manage to get him to sit up and watch TV or walk to the end of the street with me, it is like being with a zombie - no words or a few words which have to be dragged out of him like blood out of a stone. It's exhausting and soul destroying. We've been through so much together but right now, I feel like we have nothing but our children in common and I am really struggling to hold on to any notion of 'togetherness'. I'm sorry not to be able to offer any practical advice but I wish you well and if you find a suitable hoist, please let me know!!! xx
You say no one will investigate whether this is due to medication. I'd try and pin someone down on that because if it is a side effect and it's making him withdrawn/isolated then it's likely to make the depression worse.
May I just add that if verbal communication is difficult or impossible, please don't neglect 'physical' communication. My husband had Asperger's (mildly) so he was very 'chatter-free' (Unlike me!), so conversation was seldom sparkling anyway and he could go for (very!) long periods of time without talking (!). But we could sit in 'happy silence' together while I read or gazed out of the window (assuming we were driving!), and I always ensured that we were often in physical contact, whether that was 'cuddling' or 'holding hands' or whatever. That kind of 'low key' and 'reassuring' physical contact is, I think, vitally important in any relationship.

When he went into end-stage cancer, and couldn't talk at all, but could only lie in bed virtually unconscious, that kind of 'casual closeness' was essential. I would sit beside him and read, and hold his hand, and whether he was aware of it or not, it surely must have been comforting, if only to me.
Hi Mew,
I understand where you're coming from and how you feel. My partner goes through spouts of depression, and I find it hard to get him to do anything. However, he tends to force himself into a "bubble" where he can hide away from people,and will spent that time excessively gaming.

If you can find something that he has always enjoyed doing, like reading, swimming, walking etc. then it may help to begin the track back to himself. You can also begin to get involved with some of those things, even if only in a small way which may give him the motivation to spark up conversation.

It's difficult but you're not alone in it. And they will always make it back to you.
Rachael x
My partner also has bouts of depression and like Jenks (I hope I got the name right) he spends time with excessive gaming and I find it hard to get him to do anything. Conversation is also very differcult as he will snap at me unintensionally or ignore me completely. I admit I am a very sensitive person and at first took it to heart but now understand its all part of his illness and medication. It isn't easy but I still persist with the conversation otherwise he withdraws completely. As we are relatively new to the area we don't have anyone else to converse with either so I just keep plugging away with trying. I also agree with the physical side of things and without fail always give him a kiss goodnight and cuddle up together. This at least gives me some reassurance and hopefully helps him to know I am there for him no matter what.