Helping parents suffering from Mental health issues: A Perspective.

“I should be happy, but instead I feel nothing. I feel a lot of nothing these days. I’ve cried a few times, but mostly I’m empty, as if whatever makes me feel and hurt and laugh and love has been surgically removed, leaving me hollowed out like a shell.”

– Jennifer Niven, All the bright places

We all suffer from sadness and emptiness at times, these are the feelings that make us more human but, consistent emotions like these are not a part of healthy lifestyle.

Unlike physical illness mental illness can’t be explained in such a manner so that the non- professionals can understand it easily.

Due to various stigmas regarding mental illness and inability to discuss the problems of mental health many mentally ill people go undiagnosed and underreported.

According to the data by the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME), Global Burden of Disease study, around 1 in 7 people, globally suffer from one or more mental health disease (2017). This is the minimum estimated data keep in mind that the lower income nations don’t have much clear data on the mental health of people.

Mind, it’s a complicated thing. You’d never know what is going on inside a person’s head until unless they tell you the truth.

It’s hard to figure out a person struggling with mental illness and it’s the same for them as well.

It is like an endless spiral of thoughts which gets tighter and tighter, narrower as the patient tries to avoid it.

“What a terrible feeling to love someone and not be able to help them.”

– Jennifer Niven

In my last blog I talked about the signs that might indicate that your parent might be suffering from some mental health issues.

As I said before, mental illness is not age bound, it can happen to anyone and, mental health is subjective it is not necessary that the pain of one person would be same as others. It can vary drastically from person to person but what must be kept in mind is that no one is less worthy of help.

As Jennifer Niven says in her book, All the Bright Places, it is indeed painful and heartbreaking to see your loved ones go through such immense struggle and you not being able to help them.

Indeed, it is difficult to understand and help the sufferer, but it isn’t impossible. Even though you’re not a professional you can help a lot in the recovery of your loved ones.

Let’s discuss some of the ways in which you could extend your help in the recovery process of a mentally ill patient:

1. Talk to them:

Conversations are probably the most difficult part. You as not being the professional one and not being able to realize what they (the person) is going through can’t express yourself in order to show them that you care and understand them. But what you need to remember is that, something is better than nothing. You must have some conversation about their mental health with them. It may not be perfect; it could be the worst but at least it would be something. Starting the talk would make them know that someone is there with them and they are not alone. Acknowledging their mental health will have an impact on them too, maybe they would start opening and the spiral will start to loosen.

2. Express your love:

People with mental illness most often deal with loneliness. Even when there are people around them, they feel alone and helpless. Tell them how much you love them this will have a great impact on them and that goes with everyone. Think of it in this way, you are feeling really low one day and everything is going downhill, everything is falling apart you feel loosing like a complete failure and someone comes up to you and says something encouraging to you or appreciate you you’d feel some upliftment, won’t you? you will feel good just in that way your love to them can be what a branch is to a drowning man.

Tell them how important they are to you; how much you love them and how important they are to you. Tell them they matter, and you’ll be with them till the end.

3. Medication and therapy:

As much talking and giving encouraging words are helpful in recovery of the patient proper therapy and medications are equally important for successful treatment of the illness. Person who is suffering can be quite overwhelmed in that period and it’s obvious that they are likely to retaliate from going to therapy or taking medicines for the same. Another situation could be that the patient may stop taking medicines after a while because they’d feel better. Medication naturally make them feel better this shows that the prescription is working for them and they are getting better but what is important to note is that no treatment should be stopped before consulting the doctor. Early retaliation may end up in worsened condition. Push them to go to therapy and to take proper medication.

 What to do if they retaliate?

Living with a parent with mental illness can be tough. Helping them to deal with their disease can be extremely overwhelming for the the person looking after them as well.

It is here when you must take care of your health too. You must remember that unless you are not mentally and physically fit you cannot help other people.

You can give convincing conversations about how important is it for them to go to therapy and to take medications, but you cannot make them do the same. In such case you should step back and look after yourself but, make sure to keep a little door open for them always for them to come to you and feel better whenever they feel like. A little goes a long way.

If you or anyone you know suffer from such emotions constantly reach out to them and help them in getting professional consultation.

Keep faith and you’ll get through this mess. Everything goes.

References:

https://ourworldindata.org/global-mental-health

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(07)61238-0/fulltext

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Written by:

Anunaya Tandon

Helping parents suffering from Mental health issues: A Perspective.

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