You can take care of yourself. You can check on your people. You cannot force anyone to get the help he or she might need.
When you suffer from a mental illness, it’s like a fog that cannot be lifted. You can’t see the way out. Or sometimes, you can see the way out but it’s too daunting to rise above. Nothing in the world can motivate you. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I can attest firsthand that no one can pull me out of my current state. It’s entirely up to me.
I’ve learned over time through trial and error what to say to people, how to talk about what I’m experiencing and how to rise above my anxiety. It can happen in hours or can take weeks – every instance is different. While you can’t see it or perhaps even notice it, I know its always there. You don’t need to treat me differently, however I do appreciate a general awareness.
And this is the situation when you’re diagnosed and openly talking about it.
Imagine seeing someone you love so sick that they don’t know they need help. This is often the case with addicts. Because they are debilitated by the disease, they are unwilling to seek treatment. So what do you do?
For starters, we’re not mental health professionals so we can’t and shouldn’t walk around diagnosing people. Instead, we can:
- Remove any judgement we have about the person or his/her situation. Because the truth is we don’t know what’s going on inside his/her mind, heart, soul, etc.
- Be open and receptive if/when the person reaches out. Try to make the time to connect with them and take their concerns seriously. Listen, hold space and do not preach.
- Pray and if that’s not your thing, send positive vibes out into the universe for that person. I firmly believe in the power of pray or good vibe sending. It can make a difference while bringing a sense of peace to a tumultuous situation.
- Keep taking care of yourself. Yes, I’m saying it again because it’s that important. Running yourself ragged worrying about someone who isn’t ready to accept help isn’t going to help. It’s actually going to make the situation much worse. If you need to, talk to someone about what you’re experiencing as the loved one or caregiver of someone with a mental illness. Support groups are another resource that could offer perspective on a pretty shitty situation.
Honestly, it sucks being powerless and unable to help those you care most about. Talking about it and setting boundaries helps and yet, there will still be times when it sucks. I’m giving you full permission to hate on it, let it suck, whatever. But, you cannot stay in the suck. Remember you can only control your reaction to the situation. Choose that reaction wisely.
I hope this month’s posts gave you some insight into my views on mental health. It’s only by continuing the conversation that we can remove the stigma.