17 ways to support family or friends living with mental illness during covid19, Part II

“We are in this together,” has been an emotionally provoking statement for a lot of people as we are not all really in this together! Due to many socioeconomic factors we are definitely not experiencing this in the same way. And for those who live with mental illness, I can 110% tell you they are not experiencing this global pandemic in the same way as you. As someone who has been dealing with mental illnesses since 15 years old, I’ve learned a lot about what is helpful and what is extremely unhelpful when people are trying to support you. Let’s focus on the positive though!

9. Be patient. One thing my friends and family had was a crap ton of patience. Yes, supporting your loved one can be exhausting but you have to strengthen and practice your ability to be patient or all of these suggestions aren’t going to work. If you feel your patience is getting short, take a break! Take a day or so for yourself and practice self-care. There is nothing wrong with taking time to step away and breathe. You have your own mental health to consider as well.

10. Make jokes! You have to be careful with this one. You must know you have that kind of relationship and that they aren’t in the frame of mind to be hurt by what you say in any way. The Internets is really killing it right now with quarantine and working from home jokes. I’ve laughed through tears and it can be the best kind of laughter.

11. Recommend apps. Headspace (my favourite), Calm, The Fabulous etc. If you think they don’t have the wherewithal to use an app, offer to download it together and make it an activity you do together. You could also both download the same book on Kindle, Nook or Kobo and discuss what you’ve read weekly creating your own little book club. This can be something you both look forward to. Don’t forget to make the reading a small one! Sadly, the ability to focus can be difficult when you are dealing with mental illness – this was one of the harder things for me as I love reading books.

12. Refer them! If you know a mental health professional you think would help, refer them. It’s very difficult to find the right therapist, it can take years. I was lucky as many of the mental health professionals I saw were via referrals. And let’s be serious when someone refers someone else, they are likely to now treat that person as special and perhaps also offer a price on a sliding scale.

13. Random texts & phone calls. This is a no brainer during covid19, perhaps lay off on the video calls though. We’re all Zoom-ed out. Ask them at some point what they prefer, video or audio only. The random factor is just a nice pick me up to show that you’re thinking about them.

14. “I love you,” is a nice reminder and people don’t say it enough! My girlfriend started telling me I love you at the end of our calls maybe 8 years ago. At first, I was thrown but then I started responding with, “love you too,” and it’s just such a nice moment. I now say it to my other girlfriends! Sometimes I will make it a bit more jokey so it’s not as intense/awkward. I sometimes say, “Loveeesss you,” or text “lubs you.”

15. Help them name it! People tend to tip toe around this! If they’ve been diagnosed just call it what it is!!! “How’s your “insert mental illness”? This helps with the stigma and helps the person process what is happening and the fact that they are ill. After 20 years of major depression, anxiety and OCD, let me tell you this is powerful.

16. Go through the statistics. Many of us are dealing with health anxiety regarding our own health and those of others. Our current situation is the perfect environment for anxiety and OCD to flourish. By outlining the statistics of the situation and how likely you could get sick could be very soothing. Focus on the positive stories as well! The patients who survive covid19 and get to go home! The mother who finally gets to take her newborn home with her. All the positive that is happening all over the world right now.

I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to live with a mental illness. Imagine all the things you struggle with and multiply that and add covid19 on top. Try some of these suggestions and let me know how they work for you and your loved one. Best of luck. Stay safe. Stay at home and stay washing your hands!

“We rise by lifting others”

Read part I of 17 ways to support family or friends living with mental illness during covid19.

Other great reads on this topic: Psychology Today & PsychCentral.

Read about my book here. Coming this spring!

Read “Why I wrote A Hidden Life” here.

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17 ways to support family & friends living with mental illness during covid19, Part I

Today I thought I would go over a list of things you can do for your loved ones who struggle with mental illness and what was helpful for me. We are in unprecedented times because of covid19 and we are all vulnerable to mental health issues. For those of us who already live with mental … Continue reading 17 ways to support family & friends living with mental illness during covid19, Part I

Tall, short, black, white, old, young: What different Types of Therapists are Really Like

This is going to sound outrageous but if you’ve ever sought mental health services in Toronto you will not be shocked by what I am about to say. I’ve been going to therapy since I was 15, that’s a total of 18 years and in those years I’ve seen maybe 20 different medical professionals including … Continue reading Tall, short, black, white, old, young: What different Types of Therapists are Really Like

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