Family and Mental Health

When I first saw this comic, I couldn’t help but to laugh and post this here! I mean, anyone who has lived with mental illness, has had to live family or a family member who is reluctant to accept your condition and your journey and treatments you have to undergo to attain optimal mental health. I know my mom often sees my mental illness as an excuse for why I don’t achieve things and is totally against me using my meds.

I always have to remind her mental illness is not an excuse, because is an excuse is a choice! I didn’t choose to be mentally ill! And I am the most determined person I know and it really pisses me off that I can’t exceed the limits that is needed to be my best and when I try, I get screwed over! I have to accept that I cannot function like “everyone else.”  The last 6 months of this year has been hell for me! I had to juggle two jobs and go to school while trying to pay for my studio, utilities, bills, gas for my car, laundry, food, toiletries… Then on top of that I got in trouble with my mental illness at work and because of that I had to be transfered to another department! Also I ended up not showing up at my other job and eventually I lost my studio.

My mom thinks it’s the meds, but I’ve been telling her it’s all the responsibilities I have undertaken while living on my own in the past year and a half. It upsetting she doesn’t understand the fustration while living with mental illness. And mind you, I have been living with it my whole life (unknowingly till 3 years ago). I wish I could run and cry to my mom about my mental illness the same way I would run to her about a sprained ankle, boys, friendships, school and work. But I don’t because she will not listen to me and yet if I don’t tell her what’s wrong—even though it’s written all over my face—she gets all worried and concerned and asks, as the picture depicts, “What’s wrong? Why are you not talking to me?” Ugggggggggggggggh!

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Unfortunately, I had to accept my mom, my family may not be able to give me the support I want to get from them while battling mental illness. It’s sucks because I feel my family could at least give me support and by support I mean not feeling sorry for me, but in a way that gives me the fight I need to get through the day. I remember talking about this with my therapist sometime ago and she said there are other ways for me to get support. One could be through, of course through therapy as she stated. I was frustrated, cause I always felt in addition to therapy, home should be the place you should be receiving support when you’re unable to meet your therapist. But let’s be real here…I wasn’t going to get it at home. I am lucky I have a friend and boyfriend to help me deal with this. But there’s this aching pain I wish, my family could be apart of this too. So how am I coping with this? By accepting I might not get that support I am looking for in my family. And you know what? I am okay with it. I actually have peace with this and in an ironic twist there’s more peace (???). Hey, I have to deal with my anxiety and depression and that’s hard enough to control.

So what other ways can you help yourself if you are not getting the support you want from your family? Here are some suggestions that the University of Illinois Counseling Center’s booklet, “Coping with Mental Illness in the Family” makes:

  1. Acknowledge that you have a mental illness and how it will affect your family
  • acknowledge previously unacceptable feelings such as anger, shame, guilt, etc.
  • grieve the parental or familial support you never received.
  • remember that you are not responsible for causing your parent’s problems or for fixing his/her condition.

2. Develop new ways of relating to others

  • recognize your own legitimate needs and begin taking care of them
  • recognize the stressors in your life, and learn ways of managing them.
  • replace negative thoughts with more positive statements: “I am a worthwhile person. This truth does not depend on my successes or failures. My life has ups and downs, by my worth does not change.”

       3. Develop new ways of relating to others

  • recognize old unhealthy family patterns of communicating, and practice new ways of relating to parents and other family members. This may include setting and enforcing new boundaries and being respectful  of your own limits.
  • recognize the difficulties you have with relationships, and learn new ways of relating to others.
  • appriciate and enjoy stability in your relationships, recognize that relationships don’t have to be defined by crisis or dependency.

 4. Explore other resources (e.g. support group)

 

Other Stories/ Resources for Family Member/Friends/Partners and Individuals Living with Mental Illness

Coping with Mental Illness In The Family

Kognito At-Risk Suicide Prevention Training

Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How To Cope

For Friends and Family

When Your Family Doesn’t Support You Or Your Mental Illness

Parents Need To Understand The Growing Problem of Mental Health In Their Children

Although my family may not understand my situation with mental illness, I am glad at least they have helped me out with other aspects of life. And you know what? I am okay with that.

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