If you’ve been dealt the job of taking care of a friend or family member that isn’t mentally healthy and/or suicidal you might have one of these thoughts:
“Why do I have to take care of her?”
“He’s being so selfish.”
“Why can’t she just get out of bed. Doesn’t she get how difficult this is. I have to do everything.”
“I feel like I should stay home and watch him. But, I have to go to work…I have a life to live too!”
“I wish she would just get better”
“I can’t deal with this anymore!”
Your thoughts might be a version of one of the above. You could be pissed off at the person or the situation. Or, sad that it’s happening. You might feel powerless to what you are dealing with. You might resent your loved one. You might be having trouble taking care of your own life.
What your dealing with isn’t easy and it sucks. It’s could be one of the most difficult times you’ll ever have to deal with in your life. And, these thoughts are normal to have.
BUT – these thoughts won’t empower you. And they won’t help your friend.
Shifting your context:
The thoughts above suggest that life right now is happening to you and you don’t have any control. It may seem that way. What’s happening to your loved one is out of your control. While some circumstances of life are out of your control, the way you deal with them will relate to how you feel and the results you produce.
An easy way to get into control of the situation (any life situation for that matter) is to shift your context. Because context is decisive. For example, If person A throws a ball to person B, person B will make the decision that 1) The ball is going to hit them, 2) They need to catch the ball. Thought 1 will produce a result of person B ducking to take cover from the ball. Thought 2 will have person B attempt to catch the ball. Nothing is different. It’s still the same ball, it’s just viewed a different way.
If you are entertaining any or a version of the thoughts above, you are viewing the situation from your situation only. It’s having you feel in more pain than power. So, the easiest way to get in power is to view it from the situation of what your loved one is dealing with.
And, just to be clear. Here is what you need to know:
- They are in far more pain than you are. Dealing with depression is physically debilitating. Not in the way a broken leg is debilitating. It’s almost harder to deal with depression because often people don’t understand.
- They feel completely alone. If your loved one has no one to relate to, they likely feel very alone. Though there are many people that deal with depression and suicide, it’s not widely talked about. And, it’s sometimes very hard to talk about, which is why he stays quite. If he feels understand it will help him explain what he’s dealing with and get it out versus being inward. If you haven’t had depression or been suicidal you have NO CLUE. So, don’t try to pretend what he is dealing with. It’s okay to say: “I can’t imagine what you are dealing with, but what I read, or what I know is…”
- Your loved one doesn’t want to be like this but they can’t help it. Your loves one is not lying in bed all day because they want to. They are lying in bed because a) they are in pain, or b) they are avoiding life because they haveno clue what to do to get help with either issues or physical symptoms. So, he’s not doing this to you on purpose.
- They are not stupid and/or completely helpless. In most cases, people with mental illnesses are very able to understand, speak and express what they are dealing with. They can easily learn new behaviors. They just need help. Many people who kill themselves actually don’t truly want to die. They feel they have no choice.
- They are not being selfish on purpose. When you’re sick you can’t physically and mentally be there for your friends and family members. So, if your loved one is completely absorbed in their own life, they are not being selfish on purpose. They are sick.
Sometimes, and especially if you’ve never had depression or been suicidal yourself, it’s really hard to empathize. But the minute you understand what he is dealing with you can really help. You can be grateful that he’s come to you for support and get you are the one who trusts enough for the role. You can get into action and produce fantastic results. Think of a time when he helped you. You owe it to this person to save them.
You can’t be empowered if you point the finger. So be on his team and get in action to help you both out of the situation as fast as possible.
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