When dealing with and facing mental health difficulties, one of the most important things I have learnt from my own experiences is that you can’t face it alone. Facing any mental health difficulty alone intensifies and amplifies the pressure to keep up the brave face, the isolation, loneliness and severity of the impact upon you which your mental health difficulties may have.
In order to help with this, it is important to have a strong support network around you. Whether your’e fortunate enough to have family or friends, and if not, then a supportive mental health professional team can also be useful. However, the expectations and limitations we put on these support resources is as important as them being there for us when we need them most.
You see, not everyone ‘gets it’ and there are some aspects of mental illness such as anxiety and depression that are very relatable. This doesn’t make it easier on those supporting you to handle the challenges that come with seeing their loved ones suffer, however, it is easier to explain. When talking about mania and psychosis however, things can become more tricky and complicated.
It is important that as those who experimented mental health difficulties we don’t put unrealistic expectations on those supporting us: whether it’s expecting them to be free 24/7 in the event of a crisis, whether it’s expecting them to get something they have simply cannot relate to or whether it’s just expecting them to say the perfect thing all the time and to never get a word wrong. No matter how sensitive, desperate or in need you are at any given time one consistency between every human being other than birth and death is exactly that, we are all only human.
Sometimes someone caring for you may try to take on the world of your mental health difficulties but one things I have learnt is that soon they too will burn out- and unfortunately this can lead to detrimental effects on your relationship with this person be they a significant other, friend or family member. This however, is not to say that they can’t support you but it is important for supporters to also be supported, looked after or allowed by us who experience mental health distress to take a step back should they require it- and to not take it personally.
I will use an example. I have a friend. She is extremely supportive and always has been since school days about my difficulties and mental health problems. This time around though, when I would talk about annabelle being buried alive, and my needing to save her, she did not know how to respond. She took a step back. Our code word banana went out the window and although I was in need of support at that time, it was important for her to take that step back for her own self because she has her own life outside of my issues and can only support me for as much as she can. As for myself, it was my responsibility to use and rely on the support I had in place, from other people but mainly from the people trained in helping people like you and I who have mental health distress, services.
This was very difficult for me. Especially as services can be very hit and miss. Sometimes they can be difficult to trust, at other times difficult to communicate with whilst at other times, to be frank, pretty damn useless however we must persist. Services are currently under the constant threat of funding cuts, which although shouldn’t affect the care we sometimes receive it does. However, in taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions, it is important to know that a part of that taking responsibility for ourselves is to use the professional support out there rather than relying on friends, partners and family 24/7.