Trying to help your loved one?

Have you ever known someone you love dearly who is mentally unwell or are suffering with addictions, but they don’t accept help? You help them, hold them, support them, you may have even taken them to see a health professional, but they don’t follow through with either taking medication or therapy.

Accepting help and totally ‘running with it’ has to 100% come from the person who is unwell. This may seem fairly straightforward but it’s not always so easy when you are in the depths of darkness.

Prior to my decision to getting sober, I remember talking to therapists and I would quietly think to myself, if she tells me I need to stop drinking in order to get well then Im out. I desperately didn’t want to ‘be that person’. That person who didn’t drink. It didn’t fit my life. All of my friends and family were drinkers, how would I cope? This decision in the end came from myself. I was never told by any professional that I needed to stop, they helped me see it for myself.

Sometimes the decision to get well is a much bigger picture than you think. Part of it for me was all of these people in my life who were drinkers, and I knew things would never be the same again. My life changed a lot when I made that decision. And that decision was only a small piece of my puzzle of stuff I needed to sort, yet that small piece was a big deal to me. I’m telling you this so you can see how accepting help can be a big deal for some people, bigger than you think. Some of the changes that may need to be made are life changing. For me it was life changing in the most positive sense, but it took years to feel that way. It took time to find my place in the world again.

I get quite upset at times with how much of a big deal some people make about our mental health system failing. No it isn’t perfect, but they also have to deal with people who are not ready to accept help, but they still offer it.

I have been in many different types of mental health facilities and seen people just biding their time rather than learning and taking it all on board. In the psych hospital I stayed in for a month there was a good portion of unwell people telling doctors lies about how they were feeling much better in order to get out. They thought they were smart, and cheating the system.

Addictions come into play a lot in these circumstances or non acceptance of their mental illness. It’s a shocking place to find yourself, in hospital with a whole raft of other unwell people, but its also the best place to be. These hospitals have specialist doctors, therapists of all kinds, nurses, social workers, and kind volunteers to wrap support around people. Those “system cheaters” missed out on the treatments and care available in there, but they simply were not ready. I have often wondered if the doctors also knew that person wasn’t ready for help and can see through their rubbish. My annoyance comes from the people who don’t understand this reality, and fight the system saying it’s not working, when these resources could’ve gone to another person. But there is no system of screening, and so there shouldn’t be, to know who is going to step up and do the work or those who choose not to.

My heart breaks for the families of these loved ones. The helplessness of the situation is palpable. Supporting an unwell loved one can be draining and heartbreaking, depending where they’re at in their illness. I can suggest you ask them how you can help, but it is common for unwell people to retreat and say they don’t need help. Hang in there and find some support for yourself. The link below takes you to a website purely designed to help families through mental illness in New Zealand. If you are outside of New Zealand I urge you to see what you can find in your area, the value in the support from others experiencing the same as yourself is powerful.

http://www.supportingfamilies.org.nz/

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