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Posts Tagged ‘how to help mentally ill’

I recently responded to a request for experience strength and hope in dealing with toxic families who have mental illnesses and possible personality disorders. This is what I said:
 
“I have a fair bit of experience with mental illness as it runs in my family of origin (depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia) plus I have depression and anxiety & mild agoraphobia and was wrongly treated for bipolar disorder for 2 years and my partner has depression and mild anxiety.
 
I also run a mental illness support group.
 
Firstly I don’t know how your husband’s family of origin act (if it is manipulative or aggressive for example) but I have found that dealing with people who are manipulative/aggressive,  I need to stay away for my own mental wellbeing. I have dealt with around 4-5 people in 2 years with Borderline Personality Disorder and I swore never to do it again for they have issues with anger and I would often be the butt of it. To me, those types of behaviours can be destructive to my mental wellbeing and I choose to distance myself from people who have personality disorders, especially ones who have not done D.B.T to help them control their emotions.
 
On the other hand depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and bipolar sufferers are somewhat “normal” and I find it easier to converse with them possibly because I understand how they feel and I can often make allowances for their behaviours if I know they are acting out of character.
 
My grandmother has schizophrenia and when she is not herself I feed sad for her and my mother helps her to ensure she gets the right medication to make her well again as the effects of her illness are apparent to my mother and her sisters and they accept it as part of life.
 
My counsellor on the other hand told me stay away from mentally ill people because they can “zap” me of my energy and serenity and are very needy however if I wanted to continue with the support group then I would need to learn to distance myself or not absorb the negative energy mentally ill people can give off. I chose the latter and being a “fixer”, it is very hard not to want to “fix” everyone who is sick and close myself off to their internal pain.
 
I do have a friend who is very negative when she emails me (she has bad depression/PTSD) and through this Program I learnt to stand back and let her go her on own journey for I was unable to convince her that I had already been there and done that and it became very frustrating for me. Now if she asks me questions I give her honest answers but I let her travel her own mental illness path. I also talk positive to her (and quite often repeat program talk to her) for I feel that is the best way I can keep encouraging her to move forward.
 
I have learnt that a lot of mental illness sufferers have their illness because of difficult experiences in their childhood and a lot sufferers would benefit greatly from 12 Step Programs. I don’t think it’s their fault (for it’s not mine that I was brought up in an alcoholic home) but understanding where it stems from helps me feel compassion for people who are in the same boat as me.”
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