When you were a kid your mom likely stayed home from work to take care of you when you were sick. She made you chicken soup. She bathed you. She wrapped you up in a blanket. She kissed you. She was in charge of taking care of you, so you could be in charge of focusing on getting healthy.
When you’re depressed it’s the same thing. You need help and care from those around you. Though, you may be trying to do things yourself because when you don’t have physical symptoms you may think it’s up to you to “pull yourself together”.
But remember, depression is neurological disorder. You need to heal even if you can’t see that you need to heal. Give yourself time.
Align yourself with people who understand and can help with small things. It’s what friends and family are for. And when people love you they often feel it’s their job to step up when you need them. Sometimes, taking care of you will fulfill their need to feel wanted and needed.
While you might appoint a few people in your life to take on basic daily tasks that help lighten your load you will need to decide who you can give the role of health advocate. This is a person who is considerate of what you are going through and willing to be responsible for your health. They will take you to appointments, go to appointments with you, be there for support when you need it.
It’s important that you need formally ask them to do this for you. And they need to formally accept. You don’t want them to feel burdened by your needs.
Why you need a health advocate
Once you’ve been labeled with a mental illness you can seen as “unreliable” and “unstable” in the eyes of the world. Mood irregularity is a symptom and so, sometimes people think you can’t be trusted, and you may not be seeing things for what they really are. Whether it’s true or not, this is what many people think and believe. Including professionals.
So, you need someone who knew you before you were sick and can tell if you are being authentic about things and can monitor much of your daily activity so they can back up your story.
Here’s the crucial roles a health advocate will play:
Aliby: They can vouch for your character and help explain your actions. This will help professionals understand what is “normal” behavior for you because everyone is different.
Safety monitor: Your health advocate can keep an eye on you. They will call you and check in on your frequently. They’ll make sure you are safe. They’ll ensure your environment is safe. They’ll prevent you from taking your life if you feel the urge to.
Someone to talk to who will listen and be supportive: Sometimes you need to vent or share your pain with someone. It helps you get it out. And being listened to and understood can make you feel less alone.
A second in command: They can take over and perform specific tasks when you aren’t able to. They may pick your kids up and drive them to school. Deliver a meal for you. Or, take your dogs for walk.
Finance manager: When you’re sick unfortunately the bills you have to pay don’t go away. An advocate can help you reduce your costs, communicate with credit collectors and banks, or, pay bills and make trips to the back. They might also help you financially (but never expect this, your finances are still your responsibility).
Spokesperson: When you can’t talk they talk for you.
You may have multiple people handling multiple aspects of your life. But it is best to have one of these people be on top of everything. This could mean managing other people to do things.
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