Living with someone who suffers with any mental illness can be a challenge. Even if you don't live with them, but are a close family member or friend, it can be tough. You may feel lost, confused, frustrated, perhaps even angry, All your efforts seem to be met with a brick wall. You want so desperately to help, but you're running out of ideas. You feel helpless and don't know where to turn.
It really isn't an easy task. It can be very daunting, maybe even scary to see the person you love and care about break into a thousand pieces. That's OK. We know, it's scary, it's scary for us when we break, but we do appreciate you being there, even if we can't show it, or tell you.
So here, we'll give you a few Do's and Don'ts (please note I am not a trained professional, but I am a mental health sufferer)
Let's start with the top 5 Don'ts:
Don't tell someone to man up/ pull their socks up - you just put more pressure on them
Don't tell them to think positive/ change their mindset - depression is a convincing liar
Don't tell them it's all in their head - well yes it is, in so much as they have an unwell mind
Don't tell them there are people worse off - this adds to feelings of guilt
Don't blame them or get angry at them - they really can't help being ill and will already feel like a burden
Now for the Do's
Do be honest - if you don't know what to do or say , tell them
Do offer to attend appointments - this can be a massive support, especially for someone with anxiety
Do let them know how much you care - mental illness makes you feel worthless and insignificant
Do listen - this can be difficult, but if someone is ready talk, just listen, then if necessary, offer to help find help with them
Do be there - it may seem obvious, but many sufferers find themselves completely alone. Your presence can make a huge difference, even if you just sit and drink tea with them
Mental Illness is a genuine illness, like any other, the difference being, that because everyone is unique there is no one size fits all cure or care plan. That makes it difficult for the sufferer and those around them. However, as well as my personal do's and don'ts, their are organisations which will help you to help your loved one (links provided below) and please don't forget to take care of yourself. As sufferers we know the importance of exercising self care, but as a carer, you need to do the same because it is a difficult task.
So, to all the friends, family and carers, thank you. You are more amazing than you know.
The following websites offer help, advice and support to carers:
Mind - A really helpful page explaining conditions and with links on how to help as well as caring for yourself
Rethink Mental Illness - Comprehensive list of advice including links which have a sample emergency plan
Samaritans - Tells you how to look out for signs someone needs help and has tips on how to listen