It seems that the subject of mental illness generates more interest and opinion than a rowdy Parliamentary debate. With so many voices to listen to when you are seeking answers and guidance things can get confusing. This can be on many subjects: What medication should I take? What therapy should I do? Should I listen to their advice? All I can advise you through my own experience is to listen to your own voice. Only you understand your body and mind better than anyone else.
Loved ones often struggle to support those with mental illness purely based on the fact that they do not understand. They often over react protectively, blaming themselves and wondering where it all went wrong. Or you may have experienced the opposite end of the scale, a loved one who is very strong and comes from a generation of putting things in a box. I myself have experienced both. I love my parents dearly- but they both have very different ways of supporting me with my mental illness and at times it has been more damaging than helpful. My dear father is very protective, and has often blamed himself. Where as my loving mother is a very strong lady who puts together an action plan and moves on quickly. Both have been amazing supporting me, but with so many different voices advising me how to cope with my mental illness it has left me very confused and frustrated.
I was in a recovery house recently for my depression, and spoke to a psychiatric nurse about my ever growing confusion and frustration about my recovery plan when he asked me, “I understand what your loved ones are saying, but what do you want to do?” This simple question empowered me. It allowed me to recognise that I was so worried about pleasing others that I forgot the most important voice; my own.
Only doctors and nurses can advise, loved ones can only support us, but only you can speak for yourself, because only you truly understand how you are feeling and what you need. Take the advise of others, but do not forget to listen yourself. Discuss with others medication and therapy but realise that everybody is different. What works for someone else may not work for you.
And to those that want to support loved ones with mental illness, we do not need to hear your opinion and we do not need you to understand, we need you to listen.