Last Updated on 9 months by Isreal Olabanji DST RN
When a loved one is struggling with mental illness, you may find it difficult to understand what they are going through. You may also find that learning ways to support them healthily can be very challenging. Dealing with a loved one’s mental illness can be emotionally and physically exhausting. While it can be challenging, there are ways you can love someone with a mental illness while providing them with the meaningful support they need to get help. Learn more
Learn All You Can About Mental Illness
Mental illness is a complex condition that has many facets. You need to learn as much as possible about your loved one’s specific condition so you can help them as sensitively and compassionately as possible. Talk with mental health professionals in your area. If your loved one is currently seeing a therapist—and if you get permission from your loved one—consider meeting with them and learning more. You may also gain a lot of information from reputable Internet sites. Learn about the common symptoms, how it affects daily life, and the available treatments that may help.
When you are helping a loved one with a mental illness, it is essential to practice empathy. Simply defined, empathy is the ability to understand someone’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions from their point of view and not your own. When you can put yourself “in their shoes” and not interject your personal experiences, your loved ones will not feel alone and may feel more motivated to seek the help they need.
Along with empathy, you also should embrace validation. Validation is simply acknowledging that someone is experiencing feelings and emotions, even though you may not feel those are appropriate for you in a similar situation. When you validate a loved one’s emotions and feelings, you are saying that you understand what they are going through is difficult. When you acknowledge their feelings and accept them, your loved ones will know that it is ok to feel what they feel, which can be essential to their recovery.
Understand There is no Timetable
While there are many effective treatment options available for those suffering from mental illness, it can ebb and flow for many years. To help a loved one with a mental illness, you must throw the whole notion of a timetable out of the window. If you feel that someone “should” get better by a certain time only creates frustration. Make an effort to support, love, and respect your loved one in good times and bad times. Let your loved one know that you will love them no matter what, and they will be loved even when they feel unloved.
You Can’t Help Your Loved One on Your Own
When a loved one struggles with mental illness, your first instinct is to try and play the role of Superman. You want to fix their issues and be their support system. While that is hugely honourable, mental illness is a condition that requires outside assistance. You must learn to help those you love by surrounding them with positive and supportive people. Whether it is therapists, support groups, or family and friends. Your loved one will greatly benefit from a healthy support system that will help them come up with healthy ways to cope with their condition. Most importantly, a healthy support system will provide the emotional validation with your loved one needs to feel loved.
It is important to remember the mental illness is an illness. While mental illness changes the way your loved one feels about themselves and the people around them, it doesn’t change who they truly are on the inside. It is your number one goal to show your loved one they are loved for who they are.
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