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Mental Health

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ayekay_tdot
ayekay_tdot's picture
Mental Health

Hi everyone,

These past couple of weeks have been...challenging, to say the least. My bf has recently disclosed some mental health issues that he is currently battling. He mentioned that in all his years he finally realizes that he has anxiety and depression (lightheartedly calls himself "crazy"). He further went on saying that he tends to worry a lot and that his mind is just scattered, paralyzing him with all these fears, doubts and concerns. He hasn't elaborated on what these worries entail but he did clue in about facing the unknown after his release (in two years' time).

It really pains me to read the shift of tone in his recent letters. He tries so hard to sound positive so that I don't get worried, which made it worse for me, emotionally. Prior to this, he would discuss his excitement and hope for the future and all the fun activities (talks about marriage quite a lot) that we would do. But now, he has discounted all that aside and it breaks his heart to read about my optimism due to his issues. He wrote that he wasn't sure if I would ever want to hear from him due to him being "crazy" -- that hit an emotional chord.

As much as it really hurts, I really appreciated his honesty (he always honoured that from Day 1) and for being completely opened about how he is feeling. I told him that my loyalty is not easily shaken so he doesn't need to feel afraid of losing me, and I asked him what I could do to further support him so that he doesn't have to feel alone in this. He apologized and felt really guilty for being so behind in his letters but I told him that I understand and his wellbeing was more important to me. In terms of family support, he is only close to his sister whom I'm not sure if she knows what's happening (she still has to get her phone replaced so they haven't been in contact for awhile). Otherwise, it's just me.

I am trained and certified in providing Mental Health First Aid and after referring to my notes, I feel that I need more input and advice, given the sensitive nature of the prison environment. Any feedback and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Has anyone experienced this? I'm just so disheartened tonight...sleepless nights and hard to concentrate at work.

Many thanks.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Hi there,

wow, he made a huge step by opening up to you and it can be a big progress for your relationship, too. I don't know how long he's been in, but from what you write it seems that he lost contacts over the years. So, being afraid of the future is quite normal. Are there any re-entry facilities or programmes in the state he's incarcerated in?

I don't know much about other states, but I do know that IL has two prison facilities that serve as rentry life skills centers and I do know from one of my pp's that there are evidencebased programmes offered for exactly these kind of things.

If you contact me via email g e s p e n s t e r k n u d d e l n @ g m x . de (just leave the spaces out) I can send you a list with these programs names and the institutions that developed them, so you maybe can get more info. Besides, as for the addy, no, I'm not "cuddling ghosts" (teehee), but the name name also has sth. rto do with overcoming fears. Gonna tell you about it via email, if you wish.

Depression is a reoccuring theme in letters I get (not from everyone, but from 3 out of 5, who are really dealing with it. I can just tell you how I go about it, but, ultimately, you've got to find your own way of dealing with it.

For here and now just one thing: You're not alone dealing with it and your friend's not the only one battling with it.

Talk later?

Kirsten 

Scot_Stuart
Scot_Stuart's picture

I read your post and as someone who has suffered with mental health, I recognise the feelings that you describe your bf has described to you, especially the guilt and doubt and paralysing fear that can be felt, but on the upside he is speaking about it to you. It would be far worse if he wasn't sharing it with you. Best thing you can do is encourage him to talk but don't put pressure on him when he feels unable too. Just assure him you are there for him no matter what he needs. One of the biggest fears of anyone with mental health issues is the worry that disclosing how we feel to people for the first time will alienate ourselves. So just continue to assure him that his "crazy" makes no difference to your feelings. Don't know if that helped but just wanted you to know you are not alone.

ayekay_tdot
ayekay_tdot's picture

Good morning,

Thank you both for your encouraging and supportive comments.

Kirsten: I have sent you an email - thank you :)

Scot_Stuart: I agree, by having the courage to open up and share his personal struggles speaks volumes on the trust and open communication that we have cultivated over the months of our correspondence. I will continue to be a supportive ear and shoulder whenever he feels ready to talk more about it. I also agree when you mentioned about the fear of alienation. I'm not sure about other countries but in Canada, mental health awareness is heavily promoted all around (schools, workplace, taking a mental health day, etc.) but I still feel that the social stigma still lingers. But yes, I will assure him that my feelings has not wavered regardless. Your insight and time are appreciated and valued. Thank you. :)

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Seen it, thanks. I've got someone over here for dinner tonight, but I'll get back to you afterwards. Just gonna disappear into the kitchen right now. see you later. (It's 6.10pm here).

ayekay_tdot
ayekay_tdot's picture

Great, thanks and no rush!

carmen morantine
carmen morantine's picture

I think he is blessed to have you.  Just keep letting him know that you are there for him. Even if you dont have the words or solution, just being there for him will make a big impact.  Good luck.

FrankieBones
FrankieBones's picture

One of the things with anxiety and depression is that people are often mischaracterised as being "crazy." Unfortunately the reaction to anxiety is quite normal in terms of the thought patterns that lead to it, it often appears however as a result of excesive rumination thoughts and a lack of ability to self-manifest the changes nescessary to change the outcomes that lead to the anxiety. The thought patterns however are quite rational, so, we have a problem to begin with. Unfortunately not many people understand anxiety, unless you've had a lived experience with it. It's quite hard then, as such,  to offer the best advice other than to say that the person needs to learn how to find peace. How they go about it? There are a range of useful therapies, among the most prominent for deep seated anxiety is dialectical behavioral therapy which teaches behavioral responses that may help improve the anxiety, and of course CBT, mindfulness, acceptance theory, and psychotherapy including buddhist psychotheraphy. There are sometimes programs in prison that focus on behavioral modification and giving alternate options for thought patterns. Maybe your penpal can investigate those.