Recently my grandmother passed away. I received an outpouring of support from all sorts of people.
I was overwhelmed by all of the people who told me, “Call me anytime you need to talk.” “Let’s get together sometime this week.” “Talk to me anytime. Is there anything I can do for you?” It was nice to feel all that compassion, though I mostly wanted to grieve alone.
But then I thought about.. how do people respond when I am having a mental health crisis?
Mostly they get weird and distant.
I had two mental breakdowns in 2016. When I was really struggling, I found people who would listen, but no one reached out to me.
I told people I was dealing with mental illness, and they seemed to drift away.
I wish people responded the same way as when my grandmother passed away.
When I was depressed, when I was manic, when I was having panic attacks, when I was dissociating… I would have loved it people had said the same things they are saying now with my grandmother’s passing. They are simple things, but mean so much.
Next time I get mentally ill, I would love if people reached out and said:
“Call me anytime you need to talk.”
“Let’s get together sometime this week.”
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
Those words would be so powerful and healing.
People know how to be supportive. My friends know that they can’t bring back my grandmother, but they can support me.
I believe that if we continue to educate people on how to support us when we are mentally ill, then they will start responding in a more helpful way.
Mental illness has been in the news lately. I see people posting on Facebook crisis hotlines and affirmations of their alliance with people who have mental illness.
But instead of just sharing a Facebook status, what about calling your friend who has been distant recently and may be struggling? How about reaching out to a relative with chronic mental illness?
Often when we have a mental illness it is hard for us to get out and articulate our needs.
I have written articles on how to support someone with a mental illness. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are most helpful.
I was at a volunteer training and someone said, “Mental illnesses aren’t casserole illnesses. No one brings you a casserole when you are sick with depression.” That is so true.
Next time I’m sick with depression, bring me a casserole because I’m too sick to cook.
Volunteer to spend time with me.
Reach out to me.
Communicate to me that you care about me and I have worth.
Sit with me. Bring over movies that we love. Pick up a pizza. Show that you still want me around.
Right now you have an opportunity to make a difference in my life.
I will always remember the people who came to me, in the darkest hours of my mental illness, when I desperately needed a friend. I will be so grateful for you.