Seeing someone you love cope with addiction, depression, bipolar disorder or any mental illness can be heart-breaking. There are times when you feel hopeless and helpless, wanting to make his or her pain go away. You might believe that you and your love are all they need to get well again. However, there is so much more to it than that. Mentally ill patients need professional help, guidance, support, and tools on which to lean as well your love. In a trying time, be patient with yourself as you learn and grow with your loved one. Here are 4 crucial ways to support a loved one during a mental illness crisis. Remember, this is just information and should not replace the advice of your loved one’s health care providers.
Support A Loved One During A Mental Illness Crisis #1: Love Unconditionally
Unconditional love can be hard to express and hold onto during times of mental illness. Especially when your loved one does and says things that are particularly hard to love. Caring for someone with mental illness can be a slippery slope where a balance between compassion and tough love must be found. It’s about forming a healthy relationship that serves both the patient and you. This means acknowledging when the relationship has problems. This isn’t always easy because a mentally ill person may not be processing love and information normally. Even so, being honest and, sometimes, doing and saying things that may upset them is necessary to move forward.
Support A Loved One During A Mental Illness Crisis #2: Try To Understand
No matter what type of mental illness your loved one is dealing with, it’s your responsibility to know the facts. If depression is taking over his or her life, it’s hugely important to educate yourself on depression so you can be a strong support. I highly recommend not only reading about it but connecting with communities of both patients and care takers. Mental illness can take you to some awkward places if you are not prepared… much more awkward than a support group. Of course, you shouldn’t rely entirely on other people’s experiences. Mental health issues play out differently with everyone involved. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between you and your sick loved one.
Support A Loved One During A Mental Illness Crisis #3: Be A Guide
Mental illness is a scary topic for anyone who has never experienced it. There may even be a time of denial for both the patient and his or her family and friends. Things can get really hairy if there is an adiction on top of mental illness. If you’re living with someone with an addiction, it’s important to make their health a number one priority. Information like 7 steps to help get someone into rehab is a great resource to help loved ones navigate the rocky road.
No matter how serious or mild the illness or addiction is, your loved one will need a guiding person to encourage them. And though you may want to, being forceful and controlling doesn’t normally help. As I said before, it’s a balance between compassion and tough love.
Support A Loved One During A Mental Illness Crisis #4: Have Realistic Expectations
Not only are you not the answer to your loved one’s problems, but in a lot of cases, there may not be a clear answer in sight. This is where you must carry realistic expectations along with your hope for a breakthrough. Throwing carelesss statements around that propose that he or she will be cured or not have anymore problems is irresponsible. I know it seems like these things are helpful but, ironically, can make things worse.
Anxiety or stress-related depression are conditions that may require long term counseling and even medication. No one can predict exactly how long it will take to recover or if it’s going to happen at all. Illnessness like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder are usually lifelong conditions that must be managed. Have realistic expectations of yourself as well. Acknowledging you may be coping with this problem for a long time to come, even a lifetime, can help take the pressure off your loved one to “get better.”
**** This post is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your health care provider. Women’s lifelink, it’s owners, administrators, contributors, affiliates, vendors, authors and editors do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or improve any condition or disease.