Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.
The mental health struggle can be incredibly tough. We often focus on how it is for the person suffering, but what about you, dear reader? I’m aware that you might not be the person with the condition. It might be your friend, family member, or spouse who struggles.
What about you?
There is some advice on how to cope and help, but how much of it is centred around your own well-being too?
You are so special. Someone who helps and isn’t judgemental is a rare and beautiful person.
You are also more than that. You aren’t just a carer. You have your own needs to.
So here’s my top 5 tips for people who help and support their loved ones.
You don’t have to do this alone. Please liaise with your own GP and other services. You are one person. You have your own health to think about, and that’s understandable.
Creating a support network can also help. This can include you, the person you’re aiding, and others, so you all support each other. This may take the weight off by spreading the help rather than having one person shoulder it all.
Make time for enjoyable activities
Just because your loved one is going through a tough time doesn’t mean you can’t do enjoyable activities.
Go out for ice cream. Get your nails done together. Do something you all enjoy.
This will help you help them. Getting out or doing something that gets you out of your head can make such a difference.
In the past, people have dragged me out to do something I enjoy. I’ve grumbled about it but it has helped. So much.
Make time for you
Yes, you want to help your loved one, but you can’t be on call 24/7. You need to look after yourself too. It is okay to step back, tell the person you need to focus on yourself, and make sure your own health is secure. You can’t help someone if you are struggling yourself.
Make a plan
With the person you’re supporting, create a plan. This can involve what you are willing to help with as well as what they need to do to aid themselves.
It may sound cruel but you can’t do everything for them. They need to be pushing to aid themselves too.
Do what you must
If the person is struggling too much, beyond your level of help, then you may need to gain extra help. If the person is at risk, to themselves or to others, then you may need to call a Doctor or crisis team. Be warned, this may cause anger or resentment from the person, but that is far better than them potentially being hurt or even you being hurt.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for looking after people with their mental health struggle. It’s wonderful that you are supportive, but helping others should never come at the cost of your own health.
If you, or someone you care about, is in crisis, please remember to check the HELP page for a list of professional contacts.