Supporting a loved one: Am I doing this right?

For many of the three million people in Australia living with anxiety or depression, there are people who support them. They are partners, friends, relatives, colleagues... they are parents.

When Caroline’s son began withdrawing from social activities and things he’d previously enjoyed, she presumed something wasn’t quite right – physically. The notion of a mental health condition didn’t seem quite real to her in those early days. They had a loving family. He was a popular, high-achieving kid. How on earth could her son have a mental health condition?

As time passed, Caroline’s preconception came crashing down.

Caroline’s story - the highs, the lows and everything in between - is an incredibly moving account from someone who has experienced the spectrum of emotions that comes with supporting a loved one with a mental health condition.

 
Not Alone. “I realised that what could hurt my child wasn't necessarily something physical. It was in his own mind.”
 

Remember to subscribe to the series in Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts to be notified when the next episode is released.

Transcription

CONTENT WARNING
Just a heads up: this episode of Not Alone contains references to suicide and self-harm. If you or someone you know need support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467, and if it’s an emergency please call 000 immediately.

NARRATION
Hey there, I’m Marc Fennell and from Beyond Blue, this is Not Alone, remarkable stories from everyday Australians about their mental health, to help you with yours.

And this episode is all about supporting a loved one through a mental health condition.

(music - Sense of Home by Harrison Storm)

MONTAGE

MALE VOICE 1
I get tired and frustrated with how hard it all is…

FEMALE VOICE 1
Watching her in so much pain is heart-breaking.

MALE VOICE 2
The hardest thing…?

FEMALE VOICE 2
I don’t know what to do.

MALE VOICE 2
…is knowing how to support him when he’s pushing me away.

FEMALE VOICE 3
Every time he has an anxiety attack he goes MIA.

MALE VOICE 3
I’m just not sure how many more arguments I can take.

MALE VOICE 4
How can I help her when she’s not willing to let me in?

FEMALE VOICE 4
I can see him going deeper and deeper into this rut.

MALE VOICE 5
Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.

FEMALE VOICE 2
I don’t where to go for help.

MALE VOICE 6
I’m scared of asking the wrong questions…

MALE VOICE 7
I don’t where to go for help.

MALE VOICE 6
…of setting boundaries…

MALE VOICE 5
I don’t where to go for help.

MALE VOICE 6
…of just making it worse.

FEMALE VOICE 2
I don’t where to go for help.

(music - ambient drones)

CAROLINE
I was talking to him and he eventually fell asleep. But he was so agitated when he was awake, I was worried that he was going to hurt himself and so I had to stay awake and I laid at the end of his bed because I figured that he couldn't get past me and he couldn't reach anything.

So yeah, it was my job to keep him safe.

NARRATION
In Australia right now, there are approximately 240,000 people who care for a loved one with a mental health condition. It is a massive undertaking. And because there is this continuing stigma around mental health, often the stories of those support people, they tend to go unheard.

MARC
Did you have an imagination about particular things you wanted to do? Particular ways you wanted to raise kids? Anything in that vein?

CAROLINE
I just wanted to get it right.

MARC
Yeah?

CAROLINE
I didn't want to stuff it up.

NARRATION
This is Caroline. She’s a social worker by trade, she has a PhD from Melbourne Uni, and is the mother of two boys. 19 years ago, her eldest son, James came along.

CAROLINE
As a baby, he was unsettled. So we had like sleep charts and apparently his dummy was an issue.

MARC
Like it's the wrong shape for his mouth?

CAROLINE
No, he was just, he was just literally doing a dummy spit every 20 minutes at night and I would go in there and pop it back in.

MARC
Did you ever end up doing that thing where you just put like a dozen dummies in a cot and then just grab one?

CAROLINE
Oh, you know I did.

MARC
I remember one time, my son, we went in the middle of the night and it's just like, “is there a child in the pile of dummies?” It looked like the ball pit from IKEA.

CAROLINE
Yeah, of dummies. We’ve all done that.

(music - Caroline’s theme - upbeat indie rock)

CAROLINE
He was an easy kid, you know, you just made his lunch and off he toddled. He was super popular, super sporty, engaged and engaging. Just no trouble. A phenomenal kid, really.

(music - Caroline’s theme continues to conclusion )

CAROLINE
I suppose it was between Year 6 and Year 7, so 12 and 13, he developed migraines and arrhythmia. So his passion at the time was soccer, absolute phenomenal soccer player. And the heart arrhythmia would only kick-off when he was playing soccer, which just seemed like this really cruel kind of twist.

NARRATION
At the same time that his physical ailments started to appear, Caroline and her husband started to note changes in James’ personality, his mood, and behaviour.

CAROLINE
I noticed around that time that he became very rigid in his expectations around what he should be able to do. We noticed that he was withdrawing from friends and from us and we noticed that he would spend more time in his bedroom. He would often skip dinner and say he wasn't hungry or had eaten earlier. It was a change from having been outgoing, engaging kind of kid, who was up for most things.

And I kept saying to him that as my eldest child, I've never been the parent of a 12 year old. I've never been the parent of a 13 year old before. So I don't know if that's normal. I know when I was that age, and that's all I could reflect on that I was pretty moody.

NARRATION
Caroline and her husband would chat about James’ mood and behaviour, and they agreed that it was all connected to his migraines and heart arrhythmia. That what was happening in his body, was impacting on his personality, and it was nothing more.

CAROLINE
He had a couple of heart ops and they fixed the arrhythmia and his cardiologist said, “it's just like a broken arm, it’s fixed now.”

And we were like, “yay!” Within probably a week of his physical ailments being fixed, he just was unable to get out of bed. And it sounds kind of dramatic, but he had something that weekend that he was really looking forward to. And he just was like, (sound of shrugging shoulders). There was nothing wrong with him physically, but he was just, he said, “I just can't do it.”

MARC
And so when he says that to you, knowing that you've had this, you know, really bright, bubbly, easy kid, sporty, and he's also just, you know, fended off a heart condition and surgery, which is a not an insignificant thing to deal with at that age. You’re looking at him and he's in bed, saying “I just can't get out of bed.” What are you thinking?

CAROLINE
I can't say what I'm thinking because it's rude. I was going, I was just like, “oh my God.” I don't know.

MARC
Was it scared or angry or annoyed?

CAROLINE
It was a confusion. It was frustration. I'm annoyed because I don't understand it.

MARC
Yeah, fair enough. (Caroline laughs) No, no, that's totally fair enough, of course it’s fair enough.

CAROLINE
And we're like, “and this is your moment and you're saying you can't get out of bed.” Like, I just didn't understand it.

(music - high ambient drones)

CAROLINE
So that kind of not being able to get out of bed had rumbled along for a bit. And I'd woken up, I don’t know, it was one or two, it was like late. And I went down to his room and I saw him sitting at his desk, which was an odd place to be at that time of night. And I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was feeling something that he didn't understand and that it made him scared, and he couldn't explain it beyond the feeling of fear that it was coming from his own mind.

There was nothing else around him that could have contributed to that. There was no nightmares, there was nothing physical. There was just this sense of having big feelings and feeling distressed by them.

It was a turning point for me because I realised that what could hurt my child wasn't necessarily something external. It wasn't necessarily something physical. It was in his own mind. His own mind had kind of turned on him, and I didn't know what to do with that.

MARC
It’s a terrible thing to see your child scared. What was going on inside your head at that point?

CAROLINE
I felt, you know, fear and panic and terror and confusion, but also enormous responsibility because it's my job to know what to do.

NARRATION
Caroline started to shift from the belief that James’ problems were all linked to the physical. But it wasn’t until he started refusing to go to school that she realised that they were going to have to seek out help.

CAROLINE
Initially I would drop him at school and he would call me. By the time I got home, he called me to say, “come and pick me up.” There were some days when he masked it well, and then other days when it was just… he'd get a look in his eyes and it was like, you know when you see - and this sounds so awful - when you see an animal that's been trapped and they're terrified and they're in deep pain, like deep physical pain. And you'd look into the eyes of your child and see that, and you'd think, “how can you continue and get up and go to school? How can you continue to function with that level of pain?”

(music - low ambient drones)

CAROLINE
It morphed from the physical stuff at 12, 13 to seeing a GP, seeing an educational psychologist. I was hoping that they would fix the problem. I was like, “all right, six sessions, we've got this. I'm going to come in here, have a nap and you're going to go and get fixed.” Right?

MARC
What was he like when he came out of the first few sessions?

CAROLINE
The first therapist he saw, the psychologist, he kind of maintained him for a little bit and he came out, he wasn't terribly agitated. He was fairly calm, but it didn't last long.

MARC
At some point you did get a diagnosis for him, but you guys don't like to talk about that too much I understand. Why is that

CAROLINE
It's just one facet of a person. I think for some people labels might be terrific, but for us we're less interested in it. It strikes me as odd that when he had a diagnosis that was a physical condition, we were able to take that in our stride a lot better than when he had a diagnosis that was a mental illness.

And I was kind of offended. There was an implication that something fundamental about him was broken and that's offensive as a parent. It kind of took me back. Like it was shocking in a way that being told that your child has a physical ailment didn't have the same level of shock or blame attached to it perhaps, or stigma attached to it.

There was something extra.

It hadn't entered my mind, despite knowing, clearly, that mental illness was a thing, it hadn't entered my mind that my child could be experiencing mental distress. And I'm super embarrassed about this, but it doesn't stop me from saying it, that I'd believed the press that your child had to have experienced significant trauma somewhere to develop mental distress.

And so I knew that I loved my children and I knew that they had all the trimmings of our nice family. That sounds gross. It sounds so gross, but it's true, it's true. You know, that mental illness happens to other people and that's just bullshit. I'm sorry, but it's true.

MARC
It is true.

NARRATION
As the years tick by, James’ mental health condition takes hold and it starts to have this impact on the family environment, particular Caroline and her husband.

CAROLINE
Andrew and I would often have to take breaks, like physical breaks from being in an environment that was super stressful. If we didn't take a break, as in physically getting out and having a walk, we would bicker over who had done what ‘wrongest’. That’s not a word.

MARC
No, I get that. I get that.

CAROLINE
Or who was, alternatively, ‘betterer’ at doing what needed to be done for James.

MARC
So it's all coming from a place of we just want to do what's best.

CAROLINE
Absolutely. And second guessing ourselves. So the really… one of the horrible things about loving someone with a mental illness is that as a parent or guardian you second guess your skills all the time. So as a parent you second guess what you're doing anyway, because you've kind of got an idea, right? .

MARC
Literally.

CAROLINE
When there's an overlay of mental illness you really second guess what you're doing. “Is this the right thing to do? Did I do something that was really wrong? No you, actually you did something that was really wrong.”

So there was a lot of bickering over silly things, but at the time it felt like it could be the key to understanding what was going on.

NARRATION
Despite all of that, home was still very much James’ safe haven. However, outside of those four walls, the perceptions of others meant people start distancing themselves from him. And actually not just him: the entire family.

CAROLINE
I think people were as confused as we were about what was happening. I think he's got some terrific mates and there were some terrific mates that helped him through, but not everyone understood what he was going through.

MARC
Could you give an example of something that might've been said that was hurtful? The reason I ask you is very specific, because lots of people when they know somebody's going through a mental health, a period of ill health, do not know what to say or if to say anything. And I think it's helpful to understand the sorts of things that were hurtful to you and your family. So what were the sorts of things that were being said that were hurtful?

CAROLINE
I think the part around implicating your parenting skills is really super hurtful as a parent. I can't speak to what hurt James the most, but I can certainly speak to what hurt us as a family the most. The kind of subtle, “have you looked at your own family tree” stuff. That's not subtle.

MARC
No it’s not really that subtle, no.

CAROLINE
That hurts. The exclusion.

MARC
How do you mean “exclusion”?

CAROLINE
You know, over the years when your child goes to school, schools can be cliquey. Parents can be cliquey. And you've got a child who is presenting in a way that people love to “other”, right? His behaviours can be confronting. So you know, it's just a few less invitations. I think they were scared that their kids were going to catch up.

MARC
What's better saying the wrong things with the right intention or saying nothing at all?

CAROLINE
Oh, take wrong things with right intention, I think.

MARC
Why?

CAROLINE
Because mental illness isolates. It isolates the person going through it, it isolates their support people. And when you start, when people start moving away and not saying anything, it just compounds that sense of loneliness and isolation.

So I'd rather people just blundering around saying dumb shit to be honest. Then not tackling that.

MARC
Treating you like a leper.

CAROLINE
Treating me like a leper. Worse still, I can deal with that, right. But my kid does not deserve to be treated like a leper. Like ever.

(music - low guitar picking, low ambient drones)

MARC
When did you first realise that James was self-harming?

CAROLINE
It was daytime and I had gone down to check on him in his bedroom, because I guess I was just checking in to see what was up. And I noticed that he pulled down his sleeve on his school jumper and he was hiding something. Which as a parent that sends off red flags. “What are you hiding?” You know?

MARC
You also spend your entire life as an adult, protecting them from things outside of them. The whole notion that you have to then protect them from themselves…

CAROLINE
Is unfathomable. And the idea that I'd have to protect him from his mind was just life changing.

NARRATION
With this new reality, Caroline became ever-vigilant. Maybe a little too vigilant…

CAROLINE
He has a song that when he's feeling particularly depressed or anxious or ‘self-harmy’, that he would play. And I could hear this song playing in his room and I knew what it meant. And I heard the song and then I heard the shower go on. And that was often where he would be his most miserable.

So I went in there, I was like banging on the door and I was like, “you were right in there?” And then I was like, “I know what you're doing!” And it was just like, “right, I can't cope with this. There's going to be no self-harm on my watch today.”

MARC
Just pause for a second. How old was he?

CAROLINE
(laughs) Yeah, 15 maybe.

MARC
So 15 year old boy in the shower.

CAROLINE
A long shower.

MARC
You're knocking on the door, saying “I know what you’re doing inside there.”

CAROLINE
Yeah, I know, I know. Welcome to mental health.

MARC
Yeah, wow.

CAROLINE
Because what every other 15 year old is doing in a long shower was not necessarily what my 15 old was doing. So basically what he was doing was shampooing his hair. And I was crying then. I was doing the laughing and crying. And he's looked at me and said, “mum, I think you need a hug.”

And so we just had this wet, shampooey hug. Where we just held on tight cause he knew that I was worried that he was self-harming and that I just love him so much. You know, I just didn't want him to hurt.

MARC
Was there every time when you thought that James would not survive his illness?

CAROLINE
Yeah. And those times, even though they're in the past, stay with you as a parent and it is, it feels like it was something that happened yesterday.

(music - low rhythmic pulses and drones)

CAROLINE
We were desperate to get away and that's what other families do, right? So why couldn't we have that? And that's what I felt, you know, it was like, really important to try and keep the wheels turning on our family. And so we'd booked a holiday to Queensland and when we got there he became increasingly unwell and he was feeling suicidal. So we actually ended up a couple of days into the holiday booking flights to get home because we didn't think we could keep him safe.

MARC
What sort of impact is a moment like that have on you?

CAROLINE
I don't know whether that impact can be kind of a summed up in a few words. It feels like a part of your brain is just forever changed by the trauma and every moment of an illness kind of alters your expectations. And this was just another moment where my expectations of a holiday, something that I thought was kind of simple and kind of doable was just kind of altered.

There's a kind of a before and an after. And the ‘after’ is I'm kind of mistrustful of the universe. The most assumed experiences have just changed

(music - low rhythmic pulses and drones continues)

NARRATION
Caroline eventually chose to leave her job and spend more time supporting James, all the while trying to finish off her doctorate. But the pressure and strain the family was under? It was intense.

CAROLINE
It just felt like an overwhelming catastrophe of proportions that you weren't equipped to deal with. And I'd come in from, I don't know where, and I just could not stop crying. And I just like, I actually kind of collapsed in this weird super dramatic, collapsed to the floor and I just thought, “James can't see me like this.” You know?

MARC
Why was it important that he didn't see you like that?

CAROLINE
Because I knew how much pain he was in and I didn't want to add to it and I had to be there for him. He shouldn't have to look after me. So I managed to kind of crawl to my bedroom and I just thought, I've got to just pull it together. “Come on, Caroline pull it together.” And he came in and he said, “mum, its okay. It's okay.” Then I heard him ring my husband and say, “mum won't stop crying.”

I remember just thinking like, your whole world just collapses. Your world order collapses. And I thought, I've got this kid who's super unwell and self-harming and suicidal and he's ringing his dad to say, “mum won't stop crying.” It just felt, “I'm supposed to be the strong one. I'm supposed to have this, right?”

MARC
But this is the really complicated thing about this, which is in that moment he still thought very much to take care of you. And I think this is one of those things that people don't understand that the mixture of responsibility and care and love is more complicated than people imagine.

CAROLINE
Of course. He is a phenomenal kid. Everyone's kid is phenomenal. And just because he might be, his behaviours might be the source of my distress, he was also the source of my comfort.

(music - low ambient drones)

NARRATION
Caroline spent a lot of her time trying to find a solution for James. But the truth is what often helps isn’t someone trying to offer up solutions, but rather someone who can provide love and support. Someone who is just there.

CAROLINE
I mean there's a lot of stuff that as a parent of someone who is experiencing mental distress, you have to live with, you have to accept. Accepting it and not trying to fix it, not trying to change, because that's not going to work.

MARC
So when did you decide that you would change the way you approached the self-harming? How you reacted to it as a family?

CAROLINE
I think it was probably quite subtle. So our horror and outrage at the self-harming we could see wasn't doing any good. It added to his shame and what we didn't want to keep doing was adding to his sense of self loathing. And it was exhausting.

MARC
Yeah. I can imagine.

CAROLINE
So when we least feel like hugging him - this was our thing - when we least felt like hugging him, we knew he had to have one. “Come on here for a hug.”

MARC
Love it. Absolutely love it.

CAROLINE
When he was at his most angry or miserable or just nasty or vicious, because we knew what was happening in his head, like, “I don't feel like hugging him, but I've got to hug him. I've got to love this kid. I've got to dial it up to 10”, you know?

MARC
So you've got this angry, sullen kid in front of you and you're just like, “I'm going to bear hug this out of you.”

CAROLINE
“I am coming in, knocking doors down, loving you, even if you don't want it.”

NARRATION
This became known as the Love Bomb strategy. Just hugs, acceptance and support. And actually not just that: Caroline busted out her water colours and painted these A3 sized affirmations which she would just stuck around the house. And they would say things like “FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO TODAY AND TRY AGAIN TOMORROW”, and sometimes just really simple stuff like “YOU’RE ENOUGH”.

And honestly, this just sounds like one of the hardest things a parent can do. And this strategy in someways just goes against a lot of your instincts. But it seemed to have a positive impact, because soon, James was self-harming less and less.

MARC
When he went through periods of not self-harming, how would you as a family react to those periods?

CAROLINE
Yeah. “Awesome! Bloody brilliant!” It's like, forget VCE. You know what I mean? Let's get rid of that as a way of celebrating your ATAR score, this kid hasn't self-harmed for a week or two weeks, three months, six months. That is the big deal.

MARC
Would you commemorate those moments?

CAROLINE
Yeah, yeah, dinners, yeah, celebrations.

MARC
How did that, just describe to me what a ‘Not Hurting Yourself for a Period of Time’ dinner goes?

CAROLINE
You got your favourite dinner, you got your dumplings, your dumpling scenario. So it was probably mainly just the small things and that sense of accomplishment that he got. Like he felt that we could see this was something that he'd achieved. So we're just support people. He's the main deal.

NARRATION
Soon, the family had cause for another big celebration.

CAROLINE
When he finished year 12.We actually went to a year 12 celebration, which we never thought we'd ever get to do. We'd started celebrating the weirdest shit, to be honest. We’d started celebrating, I don't know, you know, made it through, I don't know, February.

CAROLINE and MARC
Woo!

CAROLINE
We really started to celebrate the small stuff. So a Year 12 thing, celebration was huge.

MARC
How did you feel when you finished school?

CAROLINE
To be honest, enormous relief.

MARC
I can imagine.

NARRATION
The long years had taught Caroline to celebrate the little wins, but never to get ahead of herself; to never let a good moment define the way she saw the whole picture. And while finishing school was absolutely a massive achievement, it didn’t necessarily mean that James was out of the woods.

But, he kept on improving. And soon after graduation, James packed his bags and headed off overseas for eight months to teach in Mexico, he also worked as a summer camp counsellor in California.

Caroline said he returned with enormous pride in what he had accomplished. He also returned with a bunch of tattoos. One of which is some roses, and at the heart of them, the word, “MUM”.

(music - Caroline’s theme starts )

MARC
What made it more manageable to do day by day for you?

CAROLINE
Being kinder to myself, accepting that at the end of the day I always do the best I can do and stop fighting against what's happening.

MARC
Was that hard to come to that realisation?

CAROLINE
Yeah, it was reached with no dignity at all. It was me kicking and screaming against the unrealness of it all. But James, his journey has also been incredibly enlightening. I feel incredibly, see now I'm going to cry, I feel incredibly grateful that I, that we all got through this.

MARC
When was the moment you realised that you had?

CAROLINE
It’s moments. And there are some days where I still think “I'm not going to get through this.” And then there's other moments where I go, “oh my God, we are winning.” And so it's in those moments where I kind of go, “he's alive and he's freaking awesome and we have a beautiful relationship and he's a good sort.”

MARC
It’s a very specific phrase isn’t it, it means something very specific in people’s minds. “He’s a good sort.”

CAROLINE
Yeah, he’s a good sort. And that’s when I know, we've done okay.

(music - Caroline’s theme continues to end)

NARRATION
Honestly, as a parent, I am quietly in awe of Caroline’s ability to mum. And there are so many complications that comes with raising a child through puberty, and that’s why we wanted to reach out to Beyond Blue’s Lead Clinical Adviser Dr. Grant Blashki just to work out how you handle those years.

MARC
Dr. Grant, lovely to see you again.

DR. GRANT
Good to see you.

MARC
I think one of the really telling parts about Caroline’s story is that James’ mental health really sharply declined around the onset of puberty. I reckon a lot of parents listening to this are going “I don’t know how to differentiate between normal pre-teen angst…” and we’re talking about a possible mental health issue here. So how, if you’re in that position as a parent, how can you tell the difference?

DR. GRANT
Now there’s not one clear guideline, but a couple of things to look out for is: are those changes across the board? Like are they just moody at home, or are they going out with their friends and happy as anything? “Ah it’s great to see my friends!” Is it pervasive, is it in all aspects of their life? And if they’re withdrawn at home and they don’t want to go out with their friends, and they don’t want to see their cousins, is it across the board?

MARC
Pervasive. Interesting.

DR. GRANT
So that would be the first thing. The second thing is more of a subjective thing, but the intensity. You know, there’s “angry” and then there’s “ANGRY”. And how often is that happening. You know, is that a very intense upset, or is it just the occasional getting a bit moody. So I think the intensity is very important as well.

And the other thing I’d say is “how long has this been going on for?” Is it a week, or has it been going on for months? Is this like a big change?

So, no simple tick-box answer, but these are some of the things you can look out for.

MARC
One of the things that was really vivid in Caroline’s story was the stigma that she experienced, that in fact the whole family experienced. Do you hear a lot of stories like that?

DR. GRANT
I do, and I think she articulated so well how stigma can be quite subtle. So there’s the obvious stigma: someone saying something rude or discriminatory. But there’s the subtle stigma that she talked about, how there’s sort of a judgement. And in her case, she could really see the different reaction in people to a physical condition and a mental health condition.

So it might be you’re not invited to the parties, or the mums or the fathers are telling their kids to “steer clear a little bit from that kid, he’s a bit of trouble”. You know, so it can be quite subtle, and I think we’ve still got a long way to go on reducing stigma in the community.

MARC
Just as a really practical tip, if you’re the parent of teenagers and you think mental health help might be required, what’s the first thing you do to get support?

DR. GRANT
Lots of support out there. So, you could contact the Beyond Blue phone line - 1300 22 46 36. Be aware that throughout Australia, there’s excellent headspace centres that are youth friendly. You could go along to your GP. Heaps of stuff online as well. So, there’s lots of help out there for young people. And of course, if we can get in early before things unravel that’s much better.

MARC
And lastly, what is it about Caroline’s story, well I guess Caroline and James’ story really, that’s going to stay with you?

DR. GRANT
I think I related, as I think many parents will, just that pain of having one of your children unwell. And honestly as a parent, you’d think “oh gosh, I’d prefer it was me. I don’t want my child to go through this.” It’s a very painful time. And, you know, I think a very open sharing of her story will be something really interesting and supportive for people out there.

MARC
I hope so. Dr. Grant, lovely to talk to you as always.

DR. GRANT
Great to talk.

(music - Sense of Home by Harrison Storm)

MARC
If there are other mums, dads, parents out there listening to this that might be looking after a child experiencing mental ill health, what would you want them to know?

CAROLINE
That when they're awake at 2:00 AM - and I know they will be - fretting about what it is they may have done or what's going to happen, or what could they do differently, that it's not their fault.

And that they're not alone.

NARRATION
And I do just want to say a huge thank you to Caroline and her family - James as well - for sharing their family’s story.

You can join the conversation anytime you want, you can also share your story at beyondblue.org.au/forums

A lot of stuff covered in this episode, so if you know someone who needs support, you can visit our website or call our Support Service on 1300 22 46 36. There’s also quite a few resources the show notes.

Not Alone is a Beyond Blue podcast. It’s hosted by me, my name has been Marc Fennell, it’s produced by Sam Loy, and executive produced by Darcy Sutton, Sarah Alexander, and Tom Ross.

This podcast was recorded and produced on Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Gadigal Country, and we pay respect to the traditional owners of these lands.

Thank you for listening to Not Alone.

Not Alone is hosted by Marc Fennell, produced by Sam Loy, mixed by Saskia Black, and executive produced by Darcy Sutton, Sarah Alexander and Tom Ross.

Our theme song, Sense of Home, is by Australian artist Harrison Storm.


The Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service provides information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helpful resources

Suicide and crisis support:

  • The Beyond Now suicide safety planning app helps you stay safe if you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings, distress or crisis.
  • The Suicide Call Back Service provides professional 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people who are affected by suicide. You can access this service by calling 1300 659 467.
  • Lifeline provide crisis support and suicide prevention services – they can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 13 11 14.
  • If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000
 

Crisis support

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Other services include:

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