Ways to Cope with a Mentally Ill Loved One
When you’re trying to stay sober, it’s one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do. You have to design a completely new way of living that involves healthy coping skills and avoiding triggers. Something that many people struggle with is their relationships, and sometimes these relationships can be the catalyst for a relapse. What many people find difficulty with is dealing with a loved one who has a mental illness. Whether it’s your mom, dad, sibling, spouse, or friend, if they have symptoms of mental illness, it can make recovery difficult. So, how do you manage your sobriety while also being there for your loved one?
Empathy is Key
Mental illness is the leading cause of addiction, and even if you don’t have a lifelong diagnosis, you’ve most likely struggled with symptoms. For some people, they’ve hit deep depressions in their addiction, or maybe they used substances to calm their anxiety. You may also have experience with trauma or symptoms of borderline personality disorder, so you know how difficult it can be to manage your emotions. Based on your personal experience, you can practice empathy with your loved one who is dealing with their own mental illness.
Rather than reacting, take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself questions. What do you wish someone said to you when you were depressed? How did you want people to treat you when your emotions felt out of control? What helped you, and can your experience help them? Taking even a minute to reflect upon these questions can help you create space between yourself and your emotions, and you’ll begin to realize that your loved one needs support more than anything else.
Don’t Take it Personal
Too often, we take it personally when someone shuts down or lashes out at us. We get so wrapped up in ourselves that we believe it’s something that we did that caused this. The reality is that some people are just dealing with mental illness, and often times we don’t know what they’re going through. It’s important to remember that we aren’t the center of the universe, and the person may just be struggling. Once you’re able to stop taking the actions of another so personally, you start to realize that you’re dealing with someone who is suffering from a sickness just like yourself.
Finally, you need to be able to set boundaries. As you know from your own recovery experience, there’s only so much someone can do to help you. At a certain point, the person has to want to get help for themselves. Your sobriety needs to be your top priority, so if your recovery is at risk, it’s time to set boundaries and take the space that you need. You can do this in a non-confrontational way too. You can let the person know that you’re there for them if they need your help, but for your recovery, you need to take a step back.
Whether you need help with your recovery or your loved one needs help, contact Enlightened Solutions today. We’re a holistic detox and dual diagnosis treatment center serving the people of New Jersey, and we’d love to assist you. Call us today at 866-233-7336.