It’d been a long week for me with school and work so I had planned to go out with a couple of buddies last night, get some dinner, go play some darts. At dinner one of my friends started talking to me about some struggles he had been having recently with anxiety. He had made a mistake at work a couple months ago and since then he has felt a lack of control of his career, worrying about job security.
It was difficult to hear parts of what has been going on for him, he’s been having physical symptoms along with trouble sleeping and just kind of felt stuck and not himself, and that he was unable to be himself because of his anxiety. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how difficult normal functioning is when you have an ongoing battle with mental health issues. Another aspect of mental health that I don’t think a lot of people consider is the comorbidity that goes along with it. More often than not someone will be battling more than one mental health issue, making it all the more difficult to overcome.
The reason that I bring this up, internalizing behaviors like anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms- are not obvious and can go unnoticed and unchecked for so long and at times to the extreme detriment of those who are suffering.
It is our responsibility as friends, family, and loved ones to be aware and vigilant when we notice changes in those around us, especially if we know there is a history of mental illness for the individual or in the individuals family. I take on the responsibility of being a supporter willingly and I will admit it is not easy to help sometimes. I have run into a couple of brick walls in my life when I have tried to help others, but I still will not give up, and I strive to be more helpful in the future.
I have been told that I can be somewhat parental, and not as patient-centered as I should be which is an important lesson to learn as collaboration is more effective for long-term care and not “band-aiding”. There are times when those who are suffering don’t know how to help themselves and they may need extra help and support and even some coaching, but then there are times when individuals understand their illnesses far more than someone who is not suffering and those are the ones that you need to listen to when you consider “how can I help?”
This is so important because if you think about it, having a mental illness doesn’t mean you are a child or are incapable of making your own choices, it just means that it can be a lot harder to do so and to handle certain situations.
Even if you do not personally know someone who is suffering from mental illness, you can still be a voice for those who do. Remember, not everyone who is suffering is obvious, and a lot of times it isn’t until it is too late. Sharing information on ways to get help and support is one way, but also just showing that mental health is important to you. Social media spreads far and wide and if we all can spread the message of support, those who suffer won’t feel so alone.