Monday, 10 October 2016

The importance of being there (psychological first aid #wmhd)

One of the most important things when in crisis or going through difficult times emotionally is feeling that you're not alone, knowing that there's someone who's going out of their way, or not even going out of their way, just BEING, a decent human in treating you the right way. There are a few things that I've found in my long history of having mental (and physical) illnesses that matter. That make the shit days just even 1% less shit. Here's what I have to say on the things that make a difference when someone in your life has a mental illness or is going through a traumatic time...

Understanding- This doesn't come naturally to some people (a lot of people) I've encountered, but trying to have if not a level of understanding then least not a level of judgement (see below). Sometimes it takes acceptance that you won't and can't understand what's going on in someone's head to be helpful. Admitting this is ok, I'd rather someone told me they didn't understand than said they know EXACTLY what I'm going through when I know they know jackshit...
Patience- People go through different things in different ways and times. Accepting that someone's recovery is their own and may happen in their own time is important. As is being understanding if someone is not ready to let go of their illness. For some people it's all they've known, they may not want to be ill, they may not want to be hurting and suffering but they haven't found a way to move forward yet. Also mental illnesses can be lifelong illnesses, this doesn't mean someone doesn't want to get better or they like being ill, rather that some diagnoses are for life, harsh as that sounds. It doesn't mean that they will always be in a dark place but rather it's something they'll have to learn to manage.
Listen- sometimes frustration comes in not being able to take someone's pain away, in feeling helpless, but often the most important thing is just listening being an open ear.
The importance of being Non judgemental- Finding out that someone has a diagnosed mental health problem can immediately lead to judgement..... just as you wouldn't judge someone without a MH problem you shouldn't just someone with.
Individuality (not everyone fits in a box)- Just because you think you know what someone's going through or you've known someone or been through it yourself before that doesn't mean that everyone's problems are the same. For example going through a traumatic event people deal with these things differently. I can't tell you the amount of times people who've heard briefly about my history and try to proclaim that they were bullied and it's fine, it's something everyone goes through. Bitch no, you don't know my shit...Yes there are people that have been through and go through far worse shit but unless you've been inside my brain you can't tell me how I should and shouldn't feel.
Not turning away- the most important thing for me, and I think for most people, is not turning your back on someone for having a mental illness
Punishing someone for being ill is wrong, disgusting and in no way helpful to ANYONE. It may be hard to accept that someone you love or care about is suffering in their own internal prison, but you wouldn't abandon someone in their time of need if they were affecting from a physical illness (well you would if you're a dickhead) so why is it any different for mental illnesses. 

To summarise, compassion, understanding and.... not being a dickhead comprende?

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