I've talked in the recent past about my struggle with mental health and my biggest struggle lately has been my mental health treatment or lack thereof.
The past month has been a struggle for me. Going into 2020, for some reason feels much different than any year previously. It's almost an ominous feeling for me. I have yet to figure out why.
While It's started off to a “good start” blogging wise, I still can't shake the feeling that something is going to happen. All of this fear has since put my anxiety and depression into overdrive. I haven't been sleeping at night, only sleeping for 3-4 hours after the youngest goes to school and my husband is at work, which further throws off my daily schedule.
As a matter of fact, just yesterday I posted on my personal Facebook page about how I've been struggling lately. While I don't want to go back onto meds because of the many problems I've had in the past, that's my decision and it's not the best decision for everyone.
While society is pushing for more acceptance, coping with mental illness can be incredibly isolating and scary. Telling someone you are struggling with can feel like the biggest deal in the world.
But what happens when the person struggling isn’t you, but someone you care about?
With the possibility of the person withdrawing more or shutting you out, how do you suggest to someone you love that they should consider looking into mental health treatment programs? How do you encourage someone to take that path? Here are some key points to keep in mind.
Mental Health Treatment: How to Help a Loved One Seek Care
Know the Signs
Knowing the signs is the first step in helping someone cope with mental illness. How can you distinguish whether someone just needs to talk or is in need of professional intervention?
The American Psychological Association suggests some of the serious signs include: social withdrawal, falling behind in work or school, apathy, concentration issues, mood swings, and lack of sleep or appetite. Once you’re sure something is wrong, dive into a little bit of research before approaching them. This way you can come to them with information that is accurate without trying to diagnose them. Get them to understand that you see something serious and want them to get some more support.
Create the Dialogue
Once you’ve established that some outside support may be necessary, what do you do?
It is important to approach the conversation as a dialogue and not a lecture in order to gain a more positive outcome. Consider starting with a statement of love and then mention that something has seemed different from them. Instead of saying, “You’ve been bailing on me a lot lately, what’s wrong with you,” try “You’re my friend and I love you. I feel like you’ve been pulling away from me lately. Is there something you want to talk about?” This is likely to yield a much more positive outcome.
Don't Get Frustrated
Watching a loved one suffer in any way is hard. And all you ever want is the best for them. However, when trying to help a loved one, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. It can be hard to help someone you love through mental illness, and it is important that your health is taken just as seriously. Care for your people, but care for you too.
It may frustrate you and your loved one, but this way you’ve set yourself up to be there if necessary. In his book, You Need Help, Mark Komrad tells readers to “be prepared to put the relationship at stake” if all else fails. Though it may sound extreme, sometimes these measures are necessary for your loved one and you to get through this.
Know When To Back Off
Helping a loved one get the mental health treatment they need and deserve is important. If your loved one doesn't want to seek help, remember, it's probably not that they don't want to seek help, chances are, they are scared of the help they will receive, they are scared of the judgment and also scared of the medications.
It is important to understand that just because you’ve approached them with love and made informed decisions, there is a chance that your loved one will refuse help. Don’t push it. If they don’t want to talk about it, the conversation likely won’t be very productive. This doesn’t mean you have to give up forever, rather leave the door open for a better time to talk. If they still say no, make it clear without being pushy that you will bring it up again at some point.
If they agree with seeking mental health treatment. Be the one who goes with them to the appointments. Even if you just sit outside in the waiting room, going with them shows them you support them.