The most important thing to do is to take care of yourself first. You won’t be able to help them if you get overwhelmed to the point of getting sick.
Part of this is to set boundaries with your loved one. Make sure they know your boundaries and have them agree to them beforehand. If they don’t respect those boundaries, remind them of them. Possibly come up with consequences ahead of time if they still push your limits.
These consequences could be as serious as calling their psychiatrist or cops or taking them to the emergency room. On the otherhand, it could be simply having them take some time alone where they can de-stress.
The way to deal with the stress could be predetermined and even written down as reminders. The way to deal with stress is different for everyone so make it specific to their needs. Ideas for stress management are limitless. Ideas
Here are some more suggestions especially if you are first starting out that you loved one has been diagnosed with a mental illness:
- Learn about their illness. There are many websites that deal with mental illnesses. It is important to understand the mental disease so you know what to expect and also how to help them. List with Explanations
- Help them to create an action plan. This is where they come up with things that you and others can do to help them through an episode. This should be predetermined and like mentioned before agreed to beforehand with consequences understood.
- Know who to call in an emergency. Have their psychiatrist’s contact information in your phone. Also, have the numbers of their friends who help to support them in case you need back up. Call the local police non-emergency number to see if they have CIT training and ask them what they suggest you do in an emergency other than call 911. Also, know where the local psychiatric hospitals. You might want to do some research and find out the best one as there are some that are really not helpful. The Truth About Many Psychiatric Hospitals
- Find yourself a support system. This can include people you know or don’t know. You can look up places in your area where there are support groups. NAMI DBSA Mental Health America Alcoholics Anonymous Celebrate Recovery are some places to start. Especially be aw re of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or International -You might also want to contact houses of worship to see if they have any ideas.
- Talk to the other people who are part of your loved ones support team. You should go over the action plan and it will also be helpful to have to someone to vent with, remind you of the consequences, help you with the tough love and basically just to lean on and possibly share tears together.
- Be patient and understanding. This is in an illness and in many cases they can’t help what they are doing. Encourage them to take their medications and see their doctor on a regular basis, when appropriate. In some situations, you might need to remind them to take their medications. Also, remind them of the stress tips discussed earlier.
- Be prepared that they forget they are sick and won’t accept help. This is called anosognosia.
- Be honest with them and expect them to be honest with you. Let them know ahead of time that you expect them to let you know when they are not feeling right. Encourage them to share what medications they are on and if they are taking them.
- Recognize that this is an illness just like diabetes. They are not to blame and there is nothing they did to deserve having it. If they take care of themselves, they often can lead a “normal” life. If they don’t, their illness will be a constant struggle. It is their choice.
- Know what to do in an emergency or when you know they are headed for trouble. There should be phone numbers of crisis teams that you should have handy, know their doctor’s phone number, know when you should take them to the emergency room.
- Take it one day at a time.
- Focus on the good times. Remember the person who you love when they are stable.
- Don’t show that you are ashamed of them or you feel like they are a failure. That is giving into the stigma. If you don’t already know, I am sure you will experience it at some point unfortunately. Be careful who you tell as people can say hurtful things to your loved one or yourself. Kinds of Stigma
Suggested Article to Read: Ideas of what to say to Someone who is Struggling with just About Anything (Divided by Kinds of Struggles)
TAKING IT A STEP FURTHER
If you want to take it one step further, join other mental health advocates. Start calling your lawmakers asking for better facilities, better education to the public to eradicate stigma, let them know that people need to be aware of where they can get help, and more research needs to be done. Use your own experiences and be open and honest so your passion shows through so you are taken seriously. Directory of Politicians to Contact
You can also get involved with local psychiatric hospitals and get on boards that are making things better for the mentally ill in your area.
Know the famous people who struggle with mental illnesses so you can use them as references to show that anyone can be affected by mental illness and possibly even contact them for help.
Consider joining these are look up other places on the internet of groups you can join for the specific mental illness your loved one has. There are also many support groups for all the mental illnesses.
You might also want to check out website to see how others have advocated for themselves or others.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: I know it is something you have heard many times, but Take it One Day at a Time and DON’T YOU QUIT
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. ~ Author of Poem Unknown