Living with a person with a mental disorder

mental disorder

Mental disorders don’t just affect the lives of those who have them. They also lead to upheavals in the daily life of their family and those around them.

You can also feel these emotions if you support someone without living with them.

You may sometimes feel helpless about the symptoms or the consequences of the mental disorder on the person’s state of health or living situation. Everyone reacts differently.  For example :

family members may fear developing the same disorder;

loved ones may feel impatient or discouraged when the person’s condition does not seem to improve;

those around them may worry and wonder about the new responsibilities they will have to assume.

However, if you are in distress, do not wait until you are in a crisis situation to act. Find out now about what you can do and what resources are available if you need it.

Tips for helping someone with a mental illness

If you want to help someone with a mental disorder or related symptoms, you can follow these tips:

Get informed

To feel confident and better understand mental disorders and associated symptoms, you can, for example:

read books, documents or articles from reliable sources on the subject;

listen to programs or podcasts on the subject;

participate in meetings with support groups for relatives of people with mental disorders.

You can also consult the About Mental Disorders page .

Several attitudes can help you establish or maintain a good relationship with the person, for example:

Try to put yourself in her shoes and understand what she is going through. Show empathy. Avoid lecturing her, minimizing what she’s going through, or telling her what you would do in her place.

Praise her for any positive changes she makes in her life, such as lifestyle changes, and encourage her efforts.

Be patient. Remember that the journey of recovery can sometimes be difficult and involve setbacks.

When you want to speak your mind, use your own feelings to talk about your opinions or reactions. Speak using “I” rather than “you”. Thus, the person you are talking to will be less likely to react by denying or defending themselves. For example, you can say, “I’m worried that you’re always staying in your room and barely eating. I’m sad about what’s happening to you” rather than “You hardly eat anymore, you always stay in your room, what do you think will happen to you? “.

Encourage the person to seek help if needed

A person with a mental disorder or associated symptoms can sometimes experience periods of instability during their recovery journey. If necessary, encourage her to consult self-help groups, organizations or associations related to mental health. She can get information, help and support there. If the person is already accompanied by a health or social services worker, you can encourage them to contact them if they feel the need.

If the person refuses to consult, be patient and stay tuned. You can discuss with her to better understand her needs and try together to find ways to meet them. If you feel comfortable, offer to accompany her. This might encourage him to seek help.

It may happen that other relatives or you notice that the person has reactions and behaviors that differ from their usual attitudes. This could be a sign that she needs to see a doctor or another health or social services provider.

Here are some examples of changes you might notice in the person:

1. she isolates herself more and more;

2. she has trouble sleeping or eating;

3. she uses more alcohol or drugs;

4. speaks poorly or differently or has difficulty concentrating;

5. she seems absent to you (her gaze is empty);

she says things that seem unusual to you or that do not make sense (feeling of being spied on, of having magical powers, of receiving messages through the television or radio, etc. );

she hears voices or sees things you don’t.

If your loved one’s situation is worrying or deteriorating, it is important to seek help. See the  Mental Health Help and Support Resources page  for available resources.

Tips to help you

Living with a person with a mental disorder or supporting a person on their recovery journey is not always easy. Here are some tips to help you manage this situation:

1. Express your emotions

2. Take care

3. Solve one problem at a time

4. Respect your limits and seek help when needed

5. Express your emotions

Those around a person with a mental disorder can experience emotions such as anger, sadness or guilt. Avoid suppressing or ignoring how you feel. Try to find people capable of listening with whom you can share your emotions without constraint or guilt. This could be, for example, good friends or an organization that helps relatives of people with mental disorders.

Take care

Your physical and mental health is important. Being healthy will help you maintain balance and live better with your loved one. Follow the  tips for maintaining good mental health .

Solve one problem at a time

Living with a person with a mental disorder or accompanying them on their journey of recovery can be challenging and even cause interpersonal tensions.  In conflict situations, avoid trying to solve all the problems you are experiencing at the same time. Instead, tackle them one at a time and try to find a simple solution for each. Reach out for help, support, and guidance when needed.

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