A GUIDE FOR THOSE WHO HELP OTHERS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
If you’re a fan of the Batman movies you’ll have heard this: A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulder to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.
There are so many people who are silently suffering from mental illnesses and are scared to come out in the open because of the fear of being judged or being told to ignore or suppress it.
The heroes on the sidelines are the people who support these people, who help them get better and stick with them through their bad days and make their good days come faster. They may be family, friends or colleagues.
As harsh as it sounds, supporting someone through their mental instability is no cake walk and it just becomes more and more difficult with each passing day. But it is also one of the most satisfying, relieving feelings; to play a small positive role in someone’s life and make it better.
It is tiring and tedious but then again, the end result also makes you feel like you have never felt before. Taking care of person who isn’t in their best mental state is a huge responsibility to hold on to. With this huge responsibility, there is very less or no space for the supporter to ever feel like he/she is all over the place.
The strength it takes to gather for yourself to fully support someone else is one of the bravest things one can do. Making someone even smile when they aren’t in the right place mentally, is a huge achievement. At the same time, while supporting a family member or friend during their difficult time, it is important to take care of your own well-being also.
1. Practice self-compassion
With the responsibility of taking care of someone else, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Self care is the most important aspect for having a stable mental health and happy life. If you can’t love yourself and take proper care of yourself then it is nearly impossible to pass it onto someone else.
Make yourself a priority. When you are by yourself, read the books you love, watch the movies you enjoy, eat the food you like and basically do the things that make you truly happy.
Step by step, learn to love yourself, every part of you and then everything will fall into place. You will also find it much easier to support others on their mental health journey.
2. Talk about your feelings
When you take care of someone else’s mental health, you exhaust and drain out the time for yourself, your feelings, your concerns, and your life.
Find someone that you fully trust in your life, your confidante; share your feelings with that person, let out your worries, vent out your frustrations, you deserve to feel light, calm and composed.
If there isn’t someone like that in your life, don’t worry, eventually you will. Your guardian angel, your support system is around somewhere, you just haven’t met the person. If talking doesn’t do any good, write out your feelings, that is time-tested and reliable therapy.
3. Take some time out to laugh
As it’s rightly said: ‘laughter is the best medicine’, everyone should get a taste of that medicine. With all the overwhelming emotions around you which you have to handle of the person/people you are taking care of, you need to take out some ‘happy time’.
Talk to friends who make you laugh in the saddest moments, watch a funny movie, listen to/watch standup comedy shows. Do something which always makes you happy and gets your stomach to ache with endless laughter because those are the only pains which people long for.
4. Make a proper sleep schedule
Sleep is one of the most important things which one needs, to lead a healthy, happy and stress-free life. Concentrate on your sleeping patterns for a week and observe how much sleep you get and when is the approximate time when you sleep in the night, if it’s lesser than usual, make a conscious effort to try to sleep on time. Reading a book, listen to calming songs, or try and use the sleep music/mediation on our app. Avoid watching videos or TV to fall asleep on time.
5. Try something new
Keep your hobbies and passion doors open. To distract yourself from stress, boredom or anxiety, or any overwhelming emotions, try any new activity once in a while, something you have never tried before.
Develop a hobby so that in your free time you can do something you truly and genuinely love and it will be for you, and only you and no one else.
Here’s to all those people who have silently had the backs of people who were suffering from mental illnesses. It’s okay to not be strong at all times. I can’t think of something that is more selfless than pushing someone to get better and making them rise out of something that is toxic or unhealthy for them.
To all those heroes on the sidelines, what you do is commendable and absolutely admirable.
Have you ever supported someone through a difficult time? What was your experience?