Friends understand, family :(

Hi, Newbie here - I've suffered from anxiety for years, off an on - more on than off though have had long periods without it. I have a few very supportive friends - the two most supportive I met on the internet, the other I'm not so close to any more. But my "family" - which basically means my two older sisters (we're all in our 60/70s) either just don't get it, don't want to get it, or act as if they don't get it. One just doesn't discuss it, but then we hardly discuss anything except the weather lol! The other - the one, conversely, who I'm closest to, believes/seems to believe/gives the impression of believing (I honestly don't know which) that anyone who suffers from anxiety/depression etc etc etc is "weak", that it's a "personality" failure. I tell myself that they can't/won't understand or try to understand, and that I just have to accept that - but tbh I haven't, not really. They are my only "family" as I've never married/been in a relationship/had children, and it would mean so so so much if just once they said "I understand, love" or put an arm round me and said "It'll be okay!" But they won't - well, they haven't, in all these years.

I know I HAVE to accept this - I often tell other people that one thing I've learnt is you can't change other people,only your reaction to them - but putting that maxim into practice is so hard sometimes. Does anyone else have a similar problem and, if so, have you found a way of coping with lack of understanding, not to say being subtly "blamed" for something you didn't ask for, don't want, and puts you through hell anyway?

Thanks.

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  • Hello Briar rose, I can relate to you in every way it seems. I am not very articulate so will speak plainly. I have suffered from whatever torments me , feeling totally on my own. So I don't mention any new symptom or struggle to my family. I have tried in the past to make myself heard but they will not even try to understand . They just make allowances for me or pretend there is nothing wrong at all. I know I have to accept it as well...so I am with you there. It just does not get talked about. I had a breakdown earlier this year and all I could do was cry. My 2 grown up daughters came to see me together every time they came and never came near me. My Grand daughter put her arms around me, but they never brought her again for fear of scaring her. They come now...and act as if nothing happened. My Mother, sister and brother in England are the same. A sister abroad does seem to understand more and we write and speak on the phone regularly. I live alone and can't work so the days are long and every one is a struggle of " keeping up appearances". Sorry for being so down on it but I know things won't change. I have tried many times to change them. I don't think we will ever accept this illness. I still strive to be like everyone else..... Hope this doesn't bring you down. x

  • Sorry I didn't make it clear I have been ill for 34 years but for the majority of that time have managed to keep up appearances : ) but now I find it harder as I get older x

  • Hi Ellabella - sorry things are so hard for you too! Yes, I understand, my sisters always visit together - safety in numbers - although I've never tried to "pour my heart out" to them - no point. They are both better off in a better social situation than I but never include me, so they just visit and go on and on as if we're all living the dream, when i'm living the nightmare.

    Have you tried to find any local support groups/therapy groups, Ellabella? Your local MIND might know of any - it might help if you could meet other people who DO understand and aren't scared to talk about it. Without my internet friends I think I'd be in a padded room at the moment! Might be worth looking into.

    Bless you, and hope things improve for you. xx

  • Bless you both. I am 59 and have had anxiety and depression to some extent since my late teens (though there were periods of my life when I felt OK and it only came out at times of stress and difficulty - also, as I now realise, I have almost certainly got an additional personality disorder, currently being diagnosed and assessed, which accounts for some of the dramatic mood swings and loss of hope).

    I've struggled on for years and it's got worse since our daughters have left home. I daren't confide some of the thoughts and feelings I have to my wider family - dad, brothers, etc - because they'd be horrified and I fear they would despise me as I despise myself, because my thoughts and feelings can be quite horrible - and I don't want to have them and would do anything to feel differently. My husband is the only person who really knows - and our two daughters who are living independent lives, which I'm pleased about but I miss them a lot. I don't want to be clingy or needy and I feel I live behind a mask most of the time, pretending I feel OK when I am screaming and crying inside. It's lonely even if you do have people round you, because you feel so isolated with it.

    So I can well understand what you are going through even though our circumstances are different.

    I agree that we can't change others, but it's still important to keep trying because it's too easy for family and friends to 'pretend' it away because they don't understand. You could try to let them know how much their support and love means to you, for instance; that might make them feel better about how they can help and inspire them to go further. Just throwing in some occasional comments, such as saying 'I really love it when we can chat and share our feelings, it really helps!' with a smile, You could also ask them how THEY are feeling, you could point the way to programmes which feature people like Ruby Wax and the saying that 'Depression is the curse of the strong' - all in a light hearted way if possible. Ok, it might fall on deaf ears, but you have nothing to lose: all you want is an acknowledgement that you have a depressive illness and that it's nobody's fault, any more than getting a physical illness is. That is education, and if you stop talking and trying, you definitely won't get anywhere!

    I apologise if you've been there and done that already, but I just feel it's important never to give up but be realistic about what you are trying to achieve. In addition you can work on yourself and your own acceptance of the situation (which doesn't mean 'be passive and give up'!). If you haven't already come across it I'd recommend finding out about Mindfulness. it's gaining ground nationally, and its key phrase really is 'being in the moment' or 'learning to live in the moment' rather than worrying about the future or past as we generally do, with anxiety and depression. I am in the process of learning Mindfulness techniques but it's best to try a short course of mindfulness meditations which I did a few years ago and it made so much sense. It's not religious, though the philosophy is related to Buddhist thinking. I would recommend buying or borrowing a book about it - any book by Mark Williams and/or Danny Penman (the one called Mindfulness has an accompanying CD with it). Check out Amazon for others. There is another called The Mindful way Through Depression - equally good.

    I can't go into it all here as it would take ages but practising it would help you to look on your situation with a non judgemental view and bring you a little peace - which, in the end, is what all of us want. Good luck. xxx

  • Thank you Hedgecrone for that fabulous answer, which I have JUST read this minute!!! I do hope you are well and do appreciate this so much xxxxxxx

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