Supporting Family Members - Tips to help

Discussion in 'The Hens' Nest' started by T-Rex, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    I wanted to start a thread about tips for helping family members suffering from mental illness and other struggles.

    My dad is officially moving up this weekend. We (with the help of my Aunt) bought him a house. Original plan was to put him in one of our apartments, but it required kicking out a really good tenant at the end of his lease, my dad living on our couch for up to 3 months, and the apartment that my dad would be moving into is a tiny basement studio requiring him to give up almost all of his stuff.

    The house needs work, but my dad used to enjoy that kind of stuff and he did express interest in the idea of being able to work toward something (making this little house a home). It also of course offers my dad much more space, more windows, even a little yard to get outside.

    Here is where I need help. Obviously just buying a house and then handing my dad a paintbrush isn't all the therapy he needs. Whether in our apartment or in this house he would have had to pay, none of us are able to financially support him fully. So no matter what, he has to re-enter the workforce. I can tell this is going to be a REALLY hard transition for him. I am trying to help him rebuild his life. His depression is definitely hurting him in many ways.

    I know depression isn't a "just change your attitude and you'll feel better!!!" But I still think there are lots of ways we can help him AND he can help himself. He has to - there isn't an alternative, he has to find a way to live.
  2. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    So, here are a few more specific things I could use some brainstorming on....

    1) My dad is SO out of shape. For the past 4 years, his actual paying job was to sit at home with my grandma (his mom) and take care of her. This means he was mostly sitting and watching tv. HOURS AND HOURS per day. Thanks to Elle Woods we know the benefits of exercise. How can I encourage him to get more exercise without, well, nagging him? Or do I nag lol.

    2) Therapists. He hasn't had great luck with therapists, I think the last one was a really bad fit. He is pretty burnt out on trying to talk to someone. But like, just because you don't care for your doctor doesn't mean you don't see ANY doctor anymore when you need to. Tips on encouraging him to try talking to someone else? Finding a good therapist?
  3. CoolWife

    CoolWife Chicken

    I don't have a lot of advice, but maybe you can check out therapists for him? Someone who does family therapy would be great - the support will help you as well. You can do a session or two to see if you vibe, then bring in your dad and just come with him once a month or something like that. But finding a good one is such a crapshoot, which sucks.
    I wouldn't nag him to workout, that's not going to help. Focus on getting him to feel better - whether that's eating healthier, being more active - whatever he needs. Just moving and working on a house is a workout, you can encourage him to do as much as he can. Mowing the lawn, etc.
    Your dad is lucky to have your support. <3
    Lh718, T-Rex, Tumnus and 1 other person like this.
  4. Comet

    Comet Instigator

    Maybe try to encourage him to be active in subtle ways? Like asking him to go on walks with you & C-rex. It might be motivating to come up with active ways he can hang out with C (go to the park, go swimming, etc), and that quality time would likely also help with his depression. Also, I think CW's advice re: a therapist is dead on.
  5. HBC

    HBC Chicken

    Behavioral activation is something families and friends can help do! Depression only get worse with activity and interactions limited, and since that’s a frickin symptom of depression you can’t win!! Loved ones are key at providing some extra horsepower to get folks unstuck from the mental mud.
    Lh718 and T-Rex like this.
  6. calicat

    calicat Queen of the Eggs

    You mention he used to enjoy projects. Couple that with @HBC 's comment about loved ones being a great help, what if y'all initially start helping with projects around the house (when you can of course) and then transition it to "hey dad-rex, maybe when we are done with this, you can come over for dinner/join us for a walk?". That way you're coming to him and providing social interaction and "coaxing" him out of the house by using that established interaction as a segway.

    It might motivate him to go for walks on his own? That would be a start. As for the therapist, that is harder, especially since he is so reluctant after his last experience. I don't blame him honestly. It is hard to put yourself out there over and over again to find the right one. I think that is a discussion that could be had once he has moved and has had some time to acclimate. Set small goals first and see how he does with that then transition to the "scary" stuff down the road. Trying to do it all at once could end up being overwhelming and make things worse.
    T-Rex, Lh718 and Comet like this.
  7. Lh718

    Lh718 Chicken

    Another therapy option is a depression support group. He isn't forced into a 1 on1 with a counselor he might not like, and it gives him the option of just being an active listener on days he isn't feeling it. It also forces him to interact in a meaningful way with others that isn't dependent on you working on the interaction. Finally, it can be so empowering to have the chance to help someone else with insights or just support.

    One option for exercise that also opens up job possibilities is dog walking.
    T-Rex, Tumnus, Fitz and 1 other person like this.
  8. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    Thank you guys! I am really very interested in the idea of a family counselor that could possibly see us both. I admit I really probably need to go talk to someone about everything as well. I'm in a very weird spot where of course I love and care about my dad, why else would we be doing all this? But I can also tell I am much more emotionally detached about EVERYTHING. I haven't mourned Grammy yet - I just seem to understand that now is not the time for me to do that. Like, I don't have the energy to mourn?

    I think you're right, the house will, for awhile, be a lot of good activity and motivation for him. Rooster and I both work and have a baby (OMJG toddler) and all that. Right now the carpets are yuck (just old and worn out yuck, not like, stinky animal pee yuck) and he should paint before removing them and laying down the laminate. So its like, its in his control to get step 1 done and then we can help do the floors and then BOOM he can be proud of his work and the house will be so cute!

    I told Rooster we are now on our way to being the redneck, budget version of Chip and Joanna Gaines - its sort of our first flip! But instead of like, "lets pick out marble countertops but we want the the subtle tones of the veins to pick out the gray undertone of these lovely subway tiles"... its "laminate at .59/sq. ft.? Who cares what it looks like, we'll do the whole damn house that way. Hell yeah."
    shiba shake, Lh718 and DaleBrennan like this.
  9. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    So dad is definitely not doing well. I mean, we knew the move would be rough, but he is really, really not in a good place.

    I typed out a book but I want to refrain from overloading this thread with just "woe-is-me". I called around to therapists yesterday, but in the meantime....

    I need to walk the fine line between encouraging him AND helping him, but not doing it all FOR him. I am going over today to try and make a lot of progress on the house. I mean, he is lost in there. My husband doesn't want to see me killing myself trying to balance my already busy life and my time with our son with literally doing everything for my dad. It became clear to me yesterday that it would be really easy to fall into the trap of "well if I help him with this then he can do that...." and then he WON'T do that and I will go "well he needs to do that to make any progress, so I will do that too and then maybe he can...". It will be never ending.

    I really think that its been that way where he has been almost enabled in a sense by his mom, past therapists, etc. and he never really HAS had to try working through these things, he just gets an "out". Where is the line though? You can't just pull yourself out of depression but he also has to be present and participating in his own recovery.

    For now, I hope to make a lot of progress on the house so he can finally start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Also moving sucks and we all could use help whenever it happens, so that makes sense to help him there. But I will draw the line at, say, cleaning for him. I know he can do that.

    Whenever he has negative thoughts, I find myself trying to be encouraging and uplifting. "We will never get this sorted out". - "Yes, we will dad, we just have to take it one box at a time". Is that helping or being annoying?
  10. Fitz

    Fitz Leslie Knope Monster

    @T-Rex is your father a person of faith? Given all that has happened to him in the past several months, maybe he also needs to find some community. I suggest a church because they often have robust infrastructure in place to welcome new folks into a community. If he is a veteran maybe there is a VFW post or something similar, or a cultural organization or a rotary club. Maybe he needs a community and purpose that is outside of this house?
  11. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    He is not a veteran and he is a rather bitter athiest... music would be his community though, so I should try and help connect him with the theatre and places that play live music!

    He is rather reluctant to "get out" and be among people but if I can either go with him or convince him to go that would be great.
  12. Lh718

    Lh718 Chicken

    @T-Rex the line is where ever you need it to be for your well-being and life. Just because "it makes sense" to help him as much as possible with the move doesn't mean you have to include it as part of your work. Maybe what you want to give is an hour each day with the agreement that he do work in between times with you. Your oxygen mask first and all that.
  13. T-Rex

    T-Rex Chicken

    Tried to get dad to go to crisis last night - that did NOT go over well. But he at least agreed to call the phone line, and they said that he could go to our local "home nursing agency" and they could help expedite the process of getting him seen by a psychiatrist. He still has his old insurance this month, I guess, but he applied for medicaid, and obviously we are waiting on that, but the rep said HNA can help us navigate that and get him seen for little to no cost.

    He is willing to go to a psychiatrist and he is totally fine with me being there for the session(s) and encouraged me to be honest in the session. But damn is he in a dark place. And damn am I tired.
  14. ClamJam

    ClamJam Chicken

    I hope that therapy ASAP helps him get to a better place.
  15. Lh718

    Lh718 Chicken

    Hugs @T-Rex . Hopefully he can be seen very soon and that it helps him.
  16. Chevere

    Chevere Chicken

    Hugs @trex. That's rough and I hope he is able to get the help he needs soon.

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