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In the last few years, mental disorders have gradually become less stigmatized; however, there’s still work to be done. The mental health stigma still exists as does a lack of understanding, which leads to a lack of support. The way to increase our understanding is to educate ourselves and talk about these issues as much as possible.
When I first was diagnosed, I had absolutely no idea what I did wrong to deserve being categorized as having a mental disorder such as bipolar. Later on after my boys were born and I went through horrible postpartum depression, I was then diagnosed with depression, anxiety and mild obsessive compulsive disorders.
I went through at least 5 different medications over the years. A couple of which worked for about a year or so, then I was maxed out on the dosage so I couldn't take them and moved to a different medication.
I had really a hard time keeping relationships going. I battled, fought, cheated, and more. When I was manic, I would have a super high sex drive, but when I was in my depressive state I didn't want to eat, drink, take care of the kids, etc. There were days that I wouldn't shower.
How I was able to raise my sons, is beyond me. Thank goodness my mom was there and noticed when I was going into my depressive state.
I still have my highs and lows, but I'm medication free. I was having such a hard time staying awake, doing anything productive that I told my Doctor that I couldn't keep taking the meds unless he knew of something that would help balance me more. At this time, we don't know what would help so I remain unmedicated for the time being.
Mental Disorders: When a Loved One Suffers
If you have a loved one who is suffering from mental health problems, it can be challenging to know what to do. It may be that your loved one does not yet have any diagnosis, but you’ve noticed that something is wrong. In this case, reach out to them to talk. Here are a few tips for talking about mental health.
Acknowledge & Accept boundaries
When you are talking to a loved one about mental health, it’s essential to respect their boundaries as much as possible. Try not to put them under pressure, just allow them to share; however much they wish. Over time, they may be ready to share more, but often opening up is a process.
When it comes to mental disorders, it’s better to ask the person what they believe is wrong and ask how you can offer support. A medical professional will be able to offer a diagnosis should it come to that stage. For now, it’s best not to try and label their experience without being certain.
Help With Self-Care
With many instances of mental health, proper self-care can help the person to feel better. Enough exercise, healthy food are sleep are vital. Calming practices like meditation or yoga can also be helpful. For those finding it hard to sleep, suggest supplements like chamomile or magnesium.
Talk to a Professional
Offer to support your loved one in seeking further help via a doctor or therapist. As much as possible, try to guide them without telling them what to do. In some cases, however, the problems may already be too serious for you to do this. When you cannot solve the issue alone, call in an interventionist to help. When the issue becomes a matter of safety, seek medical help right away.
If your loved one already has a diagnosis, it’s essential to educate yourself about it as much as possible. A proper understanding of their diagnosis will provide you with a better foundation to talk and support them. Websites like Verywell Mind offer a plethora of resources which can help you to gain information. It’s also a good idea to talk to your loved one's doctor or therapist to ask them for advice.
Be as patient as you can be, sometimes it’s easy to mistake mental disorders for deliberately negative behaviour. It’s important to remember that your loved one is not purposely causing any conflict. Luckily, resources are available to support mental health; from cognitive behavioural therapy to different medications. The most important thing is that your loved one knows that they are not alone.