Supporting someone you love who struggles with mental illness can be quite a challenge. Unlike physical illnesses that exhibit their symptoms openly, mental illness often hides from the public. However, those close to someone suffering from a psychiatric condition know how debilitating and painful mental illness can be. Unlike other diseases, the drastic mood swings, unpredictability, and hidden symptoms make supporting someone difficult. Fortunately, education, compassion, and professional assistance ensure that you are able to support your loved one while staying well yourself.
Learn About the Illness
Before you can provide help to someone with a psychiatric condition, you have to understand their illness. Learning about their particular disorder will allow you to see what the person is going through, including how the condition presents itself to the outside world. In this way, you’ll be readily prepared to handle any challenges that present themselves. While educating yourself, remember to separate fact from fiction. Holding onto stigmas associated with mental illness will only prevent you from giving your loved one the support they need.
Go to Therapy
Therapy isn’t only for the mentally ill. If you are close to someone diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help. Doing so will not only equip you with adequate coping skills when circumstances become complicated but will allow you to sort out your frustrations that could be a stumbling block to helping them stay well. Attending therapy sessions with the person struggling can also be beneficial. By going with your loved one, they will see that you are interested in their wellness and will provide an opportunity for you to navigate through the hardships of the condition together.
Find a Support Group
You can’t support someone if you don’t have enough support yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who are going through similar situations, as well as friends, mental health professionals, and spiritual leaders who can provide guidance and encouragement when you need it most. When you are emotionally stable, you’ll be better able to care for your loved one who is struggling. Your needs are important, too!
Many people with psychiatric disorders can push their loved ones to their limits mentally and emotionally. They often have no regard for healthy boundaries or personal space. Then, they will manipulate those close to them however they can to get what they want. Even if these are symptoms of their diagnosis that they have a difficult time controlling, you don’t have to tolerate negative or dangerous behavior. A therapist can assist you in establishing clear boundaries, so you are able to support your loved one without being taken advantage of in the process. It may be challenging at first, but not giving into manipulative behavior is a critical step in not making an unfortunate situation worse.
Living with a mental illness can be extremely frustrating, exhausting, and isolating. While you may feel worn down from caring for someone suffering, remember that it isn’t easy for them either. Do your best to be compassionate and sensitive to their personal struggles. The way that you react to their feelings and actions can have a tremendous impact on their overall well-being.
Have Realistic Expectations
Managing a mental disorder can be a life-long endeavor. There is no one-size-fits-all, clear cut guide for how the treatment process. This means that patience is key. Understanding that setbacks will likely occur along the way but doesn’t mean that you or the individual is failing will ensure that you stay motivated to helping them stay well. Even if you feel like your support isn’t making a difference, your loved one likely feels differently. While they may not know how to express their gratitude, your presence and encouragement comfort them.
Learn More About Supporting a Loved One With Mental Illness
For more tips on how to support a loved one with mental illness, Fairwinds Treatment Center is here to help. Contact us today to learn about how our compassionate team can help the person you care about to conquer their mental illness once and for all.