When someone you love or heck— a similar person from you has mental illness, it can be hard to know what to say them. However, if the love is shown in the wrong way, it can cause a rift between you and them, even you have good intentions on wanting to support them. But the thing to realize is:
- Saying presumptuous things on what you think about the person and especially mental health in general, well… is a boneheaded move to make
- Even if you have mental illness or even a mental illness similar to the other person, what must be realized is that not all recovery journeys are made equal. Trust me, I am kinda guilty on that one.
So can we show love to someone who is battling a mental illness? Okay, for starters:
- You don’t have to “know everything” especially with mental health.
- Respect each individuals recovery journey.
- You don’t have to talk to them all the time to show you care.
- Have patience
You’re probably wondering, “Then how do I do it with out talking all the time?” It can be as simple as being there for that person (e.g. listen them –because sometimes that’s what people simple ones– or give them a hug). And let me tell you, even though you may not think such a simple gesture helps especially when your loved one is experiencing a meltdown or psychosis or depression, it helps. And never goes under noticed nor appreciated. However, if you feel you are going to react inappropriately to a person’s mental health condition, walk away and cool off, before meeting back with the person. Or even better, seek mental health organizations to better understand mental health and how to cope with your loved one’s illness. There are many out there that can help you find better and more efficient ways on how to cope and deal with your loved one’s illness. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers educational classes such as “Family to Family” that provides families and friends appropriate coping mechanisms to better handle their loved one’s mental health.
So don’t give up on that special someone’s mental illness; just find better ways to show the love and fondness that you have for them!