How To Deal with a Family Member Suffering from Mental Illness

Mental illnesses do not only affect the people who are afflicted with the actual condition. Mental illnesses can also be very difficult and challenging for the family and friends of people who are suffering from the diseases. If you have a family member how is experiencing these kinds of illnesses, here are some ways for you to deal with the condition.

  • Sensitivity. First of all, you should exhibit extreme sensitivity when it comes to the family member’s mental illnesses. There is a stigma that is usually attached to people with mental illnesses, and in most cases, these people are well aware of the stigma. When you talk jokingly about the illness, you risk embarrassing or even angering the family member. Once the family member has been diagnosed, you should also do what you can to inform other close friends and family about it, so that they will know better than to make jokes about the illness in front of the family member with the mental illness.
  • Communication. People with mental illnesses will sometimes act as if they do not need you or as if they do not want to talk to you. In reality however, many mentally ill people are very lonely, especially because there are very few people with whom they can talk. Because of this, you should do your best to communicate with the mentally ill family member, even if you do not find it easy. Naturally, communicating with the mentally ill can be challenging, especially because they may look at the world differently, or may have experienced manic and depressive moods that can change their perception. Nonetheless, you should try to initiate conversation whenever possible. If they get angry at your attempts at conversation, simply drop it off and try again at another time.
  • Patience. You should also stock up on patience when dealing with the mentally ill. Mentally ill people can be very stubborn, and they can easily get fixated. One type of mental disorder is obsessive compulsive disorder. You might find yourself losing your patience over their antics. When this happens, keep in mind that their brains are wired a little bit differently from yours. They have certain rules and a certain logic that applies only to them, but which you must respect nonetheless.
  • Research. When it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, knowledge is really powerful. The more you do your research on the particular disease that the family member is afflicted with, the more you will know about it and the better you will be with dealing with the problem. While there are some reading materials about almost all types of mental illnesses that can be found on the Internet, you should still visit the doctor and get advice straight from the professional. The doctor does not only have generic information about the diseases, but can give you specific tips and advice that is tailored for your situation.

Finally, do not be afraid or shy of joining support groups. The strain that a mental ill family member can bring is great. You do not have to face it alone. With a support group, you will gain strength from the experience of other people who have been in the same situation as you.


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