We are all affected by mental illness in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s you or someone you love who is struggling with depression, anxiety, OCD, BPD, etc. it’s something that’s very difficult and sensitive to deal with. At times we find it difficult to find ways in which we can best support those around us who struggle with these illnesses and often times when we ask how to help, we’re met with the answer “i don’t know” or “you can’t”. So, as someone who both struggles with mental illness and someone who has loved ones struggling as well, here are some suggestions as to what you can do to help those around you.
Be conscientious of triggers
Different things trigger different people and being respectful of those triggers is the best place to start. Triggers aren’t “cute” or “funny”, it’s not playful to do something you know triggers someones anxiety or OCD, don’t be a dick and respect their boundaries.
Show that you’re there for support
Vocalizing that you’re there for someone is one thing, but actually taking the steps to physically show support is another. It could be as simple as lending a ear to someone who says they’re having a hard time, or seeing a friend post something disheartening and going to pick them up for a drive. Showing support doesn’t have to be elaborate, just enough to show you’re there.
Send a text saying you love them or you’re thinking about them
Even if you already talk everyday and you’re pretty sure they know how you feel for them, let them know again. Often times those of us with mental illnesses, we feel as though we’re annoying or burdens and it’s a task for people to be around us. Just letting someone know how much you care for them without being prompted means the world.
Don’t push them too far out of their comfort zone
If someone is having a bad day, or a bad week, the last thing they want is to be cornered or pushed outside their comfort levels. It could be an event, a date, or a family gathering, don’t guilt them into going into a space where they’ll be anxious or uncomfortable. Find some way to meet in the middle, stay home for dinner and a movie, reschedule, fake sick, whatever it is, find some sort of middle ground
It could be as simple as dropping off a coffee to them at work, having supper prepared for when they get home, getting home a little early if you know they’ve been having a hard day. Once again it doesn’t have to be anything big, just enough you show that you care.
Don’t make them feel crazy
They already feel that way about themselves, the last thing they need is to think those they love feel that way about them too. Just reemphasize that you’re aware it’s not them but their mental illness and that they are certainly not crazy.
Help keep their mind off things
It could be poking gentle fun at them to make them laugh, going on a car ride with the music loud, or just talking about other things; it’s better than what’s going on their head. If you can take their mind off the bad and focus it on something else you’re helping a lot more than you realize.
Don’t belittle how they feel
The WORST thing is when people play “my problems are bigger than your problems” and try to invalidate the way someone is feeling. People go through different shit, and we all handle our shit differently, but NO ONE is going to benefit from the invalidation caused by those who believe their problems beat everyone else’s, we got to be there for each other.
Remember what helps
When I’m really anxious i rub my hands together, my boyfriend recognized this as my way of “coping” and now offers his hands for my to smoothe over. Knowing how to comfort someone is a BIG way to help.
Take care of yourself
You’re not able to help anyone if you’re not helping yourself. If you’re not in the right mind state to be helping, then you don’t have to; it’s okay. While it’s great to be able to help those you love, you’re your number 1 priority and if you’re not helping yourself, you can’t help those you love.
So, there are 10 ways you can best support someone struggling with mental illness. I hope you find them beneficial and you can start supporting those you love without a doubt that you’re doing a good job and for anyone who needs to talk I am ALWAYS here.