Like it or not, most people in this world are struggling with some form of mental illness. It doesn’t mean they are insane. It doesn’t mean they need to be locked up. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t lovable. So don’t treat them like they are children. Don’t treat them like you’re their parent. Just love them for exactly who they are.
Don’t think that their mental health is your fault. You didn’t cause them to have depression or anxiety. You didn’t cause the eating disorder or the bipolar disorder. You didn’t cause the manic phases and the depressive phases. It is not your fault.
Know that it isn’t their fault either. It’s not like they woke up one day and asked for this. It’s a chemical imbalance in their brain. It’s not like a broken elbow that can be fixed with a cast and time. It’s an ongoing battle that could potentially last a lifetime.
Be empathetic. Realize that you have no idea how they are feeling. Realize that you could never imagine how their mind works and how they get through their day to day lives. But please, let them know that you are there. That you are always going to be there when things get tough.
Let them know you’ll be there through the good and the bad. Sometimes, that’s all they need to hear. Sometimes, it’s just the little things that help.
Be patient with them on the days where they are struggling the most. Don’t lose your compassion whenever they feel like they are lost or sad or anxious. Don’t take your anger out on them. Just learn how to love them on their terrible days and on their best ones.
No matter what, do not ever blame them. Don’t tell them that they are weak. Don’t tell them to try harder. Don’t tell them that they aren’t working fast enough. Don’t ever blame them for how their brain works. That’s only going to add fuel to the fire. Thats only going to make the feel worse and make them feel like they don’t deserve to be loved.
Know that you aren’t perfect and they aren’t either. But if you truly love them, you’ll treat them as a person and not as a patient. you’ll treat them with respect and with dignity. You aren’t going to walk on eggshells, but you aren’t going to stomp all over them.
Be gentle and kind, and they will be gentle and kind back to you. Know that even though they struggle, you struggle with different things just as well. Realize that everyone in this world struggles with something and their mental illness just happens to be their struggle.
Encourage them to get help when it becomes too severe and when their symptoms won’t let up. Don’t take sole responsibility for them, because if they cannot get help for themselves, no one can. Encourage them to go to therapy. To go to the doctors and to talk to friends.
You cannot do this on your own.
Let go of the need to control everything and to control their life. Let go of the need to ‘fix’ them. They aren’t broken. They aren’t shattered or stupid. They are simply human. Just as you are and just as I am.
All we are, are humans beings trying to love and be loved back. So love them with all that you have. And in return, they will do the same. No one in this world is perfect. We all have our demons and our battles we need to fight. And we all have to learn to love, despite all of that darkness.
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