How To Love Someone With A Mental Illness

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Having a mental illness can crippling at times and even terrifying. But I’ve learned from personal experience that there is hope and a chance to recover. Depending on the disorder, the process of recovery is a slow and often painful one.

Arguably the hardest thing about recovery is having to learn how to love and take care of yourself. Which is why we often need the ones we love to help us embrace life again:

Be as patient as you can. It’s easy to sometimes lose patience with them because you want them to get better, but it seems like they’re getting much worse. It’s important to have some patience because most likely, they’re just as impatient with themselves.
Be honest about your frustrations. On the other hand, its okay to sometimes admit that you’re confused and not sure how to help. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to them because they will let you know the subtle ways you can help like holding them or wiping away the tears from their face.

Give them more hugs than you feel they need. A hug truly takes away some of the pains and aches, so hug them whenever you can even though they look like they don’t need or want it because those are usually the times they do.

Let them talk out their thoughts. A mental illness includes a daily fight with your own mind. It helps to talk out the thoughts raging within the brain and those thoughts can be rather disturbing. But keep in mind that they are the same person you fell in love with and those thoughts are not a part of them but the core of the illness itself.

Just listen. The temptation to give them advice is so strong because you want nothing more than to help them get better. But they’re not always looking for advice. What they truly need is for someone to listen and understand where they’re coming from. And sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Don’t try to be their therapist. They probably already have one and it doesn’t help to burden yourself if you can’t carry it. You’re meant to love them, not fix them.

Don’t panic, just be there. When they have a break down whether it’s sobbing uncontrollably or threatening to hurt themselves, do your best not to panic. Try to comfort them in their moment of pain. Take them to a quiet place where they can calm down and know that you’re here with them.

Don’t let them blame themselves. They will blame themselves for the way they are, especially if they know its affecting you. That blame can fuel their self-hatred. Try to encourage them to understand that it’s not their fault and that they will get through it.

Find celebration in the small things. If they tell you that they went to the grocery store without having a panic attack, or that they cleaned up their room, or even ate a meal, congratulate them. They may not see it themselves, but just being able to wake up in the morning and start the day is a sign of courage in itself. It helps to let them know that so they can continue to heal.

It’s okay to break up, but don’t give up. Let’s face it. Sometimes things go downhill and you have no choice but to let them go. But try not to cut them completely out of your life. Do your best to be there for them as a friend. Let them know that although they feel like it, they’re not alone in this.

By: Marie Cyprien
Nerdy Brooklynite who enjoys the art of writing from articles to weird sci-fi stories. Also plays guitar and cooks gourmet pasta on spare time.

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