Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can be rough. I know because I have one and supporting myself is hard enough, let alone the challenges I see others face when trying to support me. And that makes it harder–because when you care about people, you don’t want to be cause for stress in their lives.
But, as I have come to find out, a mental illness is a medical issue and no more avoidable than other medical conditions which can be debilitating. So, as we say where I’m from when something might just suck but wishing it away won’t don’t anything: it is what it is. And since we can’t control if we or our loved ones have mental illnesses, we have to focus on what we can control: both preventative and reactive actions to reduce the negative impact of the mental illness on the lives of the patient and loved ones.
In my experience, this comes down to awareness and understanding of the condition and how it influences behavior, resources and lifestyle changes to try, and communication, particularly paying attention to how we communicate concern and support, both from the loved one for the individual and for the individual with the mental illness for the loved one.
I didn’t choose PTSD. Things that happened to me that, if I could have controlled it, wouldn’t have happened, are what exposed me to the risks of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I live with it every day. But so does, for example, any friend, significant other, or close family member who has to go through it with me every day. And chances are, there is one person in our lives who goes through it with us the most. That person didn’t choose it either but, hopefully, appreciates that by being involved in your life, they are accepting something you cannot control and, in the process, you always want to support them through it when you are able.
This page is going to be a homepage for resources and articles I will begin compiling to give people with mental illnesses resources to express differences with loved ones or for loved ones to better support them. If you know of any resources you think are essential, please let me know.