loved one with mental illnessI’m probably gonna say something a lot of people don’t want to hear, but when it comes to helping a loved one with a mental illness, if they’re not ready to get help there is really not much you can do about it.

I had lunch today with a friend’s friend who has been in and out of psych wards, and she read my book, so thought I could be of some assistance in the matter.  I was useless.  But I didn’t feel bad about it. I sat there, saw the look on her father’s face, and felt bad for HIM.

People try to help the ones they love but often times, depending on the type  sickness a person is experiencing, all the love in the world won’t do much.  It’s a terrible situation.

It has been my experience that the only thing that helps is hitting some sort of rock bottom. I say some sort ’cause I believe there are a lot of rock bottoms when you have a mental illness that you’re not ready to address.  And while friends and family do suffer, if they knew that there is really nothing they could do, there may be some peace of mind for a mom who worries in her pillow at night.

If your son, daughter, nephew, friend, lover –whoever — doesn’t want help then they don’t.  It has to come from them or else you’re just worrying your brains out and losing your own mind — literally.

I think back to the times I was at a deep low and would avoid my friends and family.  I did it ’cause I didn’t want them to see me like that and didn’t want the burden of knowing that I was worrying the people I love.  It almost made matters worse; carrying around the weight of knowing you’re sick, knowing you’re not in a place to address the issue and knowing all of it is hurting the people you love.

My advice is to let them be.  However, it is tough and a fine line ’cause you want to be there with love and support, but sometimes it just makes matters worse.

I went to the salon today to fix my hair ’cause I’ve been living in a pseudo-depressive state for weeks, going on months, now and thought cutting my hair would help things.  It was a step and an accomplishment.  I realized I’m not happy and did something vain and small to make myself look better so I could feel better.

Is a haircut gonna change things?  No.  But it is a small step.  I’m showering, I’m driving outside of my comfortable zone to Beverly Hills.  I am interacting with the salon people and fronting okay. It’s a step.  I haven’t been all that social with my circle of people but I’ll get there.

And that is the disease of mental illness and the plight those who love someone with a mental illness bares.  Surrender yourself to being an answer or crutch or be a voice of reason. There is no reason.  He or she has to come to it on his or her own.

That’s the key to the crime of a disease.

YOU have to reach a place where YOU don’t want this anymore.  Whatever this is.  Then, and only then, will things change. For those outside — don’t pull your hair out.  Be loving but know that sometimes you may not be the solution to their mess and you may have a fine line to walk as you try and let them know you are here for them, but know that sometimes that can cause more stress to a situation.

It’s sad, but true.  Know when to back off, and know when to give yourself a break. It’s hard but necessary.

Defiant man photo available from Shutterstock