For time to talk day, I agreed to talk about how I have supported myself and others through mental health issues and ups and downs.
A lot of people seemed interested in this post, which made me think, instead of just talking about what I’ve done, I can give tips so others can support themselves and their loved ones.
So, I’ll start with, if you love your family and friends you should be willing to go above and beyond for them, to see them happy and flourishing. Which is what I always remember when I feel overwhelmed from helping someone.
Helping people with their mental health can be very draining and even triggering. But sometimes you have to put yourself aside, because you don’t want regrets.
Tips on how to help a loved one based on my experience:
1️⃣ always pick up the phone‼️ yes it might be a drunk call, but it might also be a cry for help. I know it’s 3am and you want to sleep but I’m sure your friend or family members wants to as well, but they just don’t feel so good. So pick up the phone, you can catch up on sleep but not lost time.
2️⃣ never say something you would not want to hear‼️ one too many times I’ve heard people say things to their friends that they wouldn’t necessarily want someone to tell them in their time of need. I’ve done it once before and I apologised greatly for it. However, this does not mean lie to your friend. If, for example they say they want to kill themselves, you can legit ask them why and if it’s a rational thought. Because you’ll help them challenge the way they feel.
3️⃣ don’t be self centred. If someone calls to talk about how they feel, don’t bring up your problems. Listen to them first. Listening is a hard skill to develop, I’m still working on it myself, but it is necessary.
4️⃣ sometimes you have to be creative. Make a bet with a friend to start therapy. Threaten that’ll you tell a sibling (even if you don’t). If your friend matters to you, you would want to do everything possible to make sure they are safe and well.
5️⃣ always get the full picture. If your friend says they feel sick, is it headache sick? Alcohol sick? Mental health sick? This helps with reacting accordingly. Don’t just go straight into call a doctor or go into panic mode. Sometimes all thy need is simple, take a nap, drink warm water or orange juice etc.
6️⃣ if you can’t be with your friend physically, after they’ve had a mental breakdown, be with them virtually. For example, FaceTime for the whole day, call them, play an iMessage game with them, as long as they are responding to you and communicating. After a mental breakdown, it can be very hard to communicate with people again because of feelings of embarrassment, shame, anger and even tiredness.
7️⃣ be ready to spend money. When I’ve cried or had a bad day, my best friend either sends me money to buy my fav food or she just buy it for me and comes to visit me. I do the same for her. I’ve done this for others too and others have done it for me also and it’s made me feel loved. Feeling loved is important.
8️⃣ sometimes you have to pretend you can’t see it. I’ve seen new self harm scars on my friends and family’s bodies and I’ve had to restrain myself from questioning. One because people are usually around and two because they’ll tell you when they are ready or comfortable. Pointing out that they have self harmed again can usually make them feel guilty or ashamed, which is not what we are going for.
9️⃣ sometimes rest is actually needed. I know people joke about sleeping your problems away but sometimes you need to. I’ve had panic attacks because I didn’t allow myself to switch off my brain. To silence your brain, just take a nap, by the time you wake up the thoughts would have rested and i can, with fresh eyes, see solutions to my problems.
🔟 services- there are apps like Calm Harm, What’s Up, Mindshift, SAM and so much more. There is therapy, counselling, the GP, church, and also amazing support systems (consisting of friends and family). If you can’t help yourself and other people, someone definitely can, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. (But of course ask for permission if it’s not you that you’re tryna help).
I hope my tips made sense and you guys could get a feel for how I’ve helped myself and others through ups and downs.