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Ask Me Anything Discussion (6/11/19-7/11/19): Caring for someone with a mental illness

The MixThe Mix Posts: 2,507 Community Managers
edited October 2019 in Anything Goes
Hey everyone,

Molly is a Peer Support Officer at Bipolar UK and she'll be answering any questions you have about caring for someone with a mental illness.

Here's a bit of information from Molly about herself and her role at Bipolar UK:
I am a Peer Support Officer here at Bipolar UK, for the Peer Support Line. I started off as a volunteer, and I became interested in the charity as my father has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He has had a diagnosis since long before I was born, and I lived with him for 20 years. This means that I had lots of first-hand experience of being a family member of someone with a severe and enduring mental health diagnosis, and experienced all the trials and tribulations that come along with this.

When will this discussion be happening? 

Molly will be online on Wednesday 6th November and Thursday 7th November 2019 from 5-6pm to answer any questions you may have.

When can I ask questions?
If you have any questions you'd like to ask, post them below anytime from today and Molly will start answering them next week. Also, if you'd like to ask a question but don't feel comfortable posting, drop us a PM and we can post it for you. :) 

Aife & the team :star:
We're Mike, Italia and Ed - the staff team here at The Mix. We don't provide support via this account, but if you have any questions about the boards or need a hand finding your way around, feel free to drop us a message. Alternatively, you can head over to the Help Desk.

Comments

  • Kasa2103Kasa2103 Ugly Snake South EastPosts: 2,414 Mega Poster
    As it is about anything to do with mental health issues in the family, do you have any ideas how to help a person with anxiety?
    I am ugly no matter what they say. Nothing but a burden is what I am. 
    The MixJade09
  • AidanAidan Potato Posts: 1,357 Fanatical Poster
    How can someone struggling with their mental health help their loved ones to help them?
    The MixJade09
  • AifeAife LondonPosts: 2,169 Moderator
    Thanks so much for your questions @Kasa2103 and @Aidan.  

    Molly will be online on Wednesday so there's still time to submit your questions :) 

    I also have a question, do you have any advice about how to you look after your own mental health when caring for someone?

    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
    Jade09
  • ShaunieShaunie England 🏠Posts: 7,166 The Mix Elder
    Ahh im so Sorry this is not a question about how to help someone with Mental illness. @The Mix  can delete this if totally off topic lol but just interested. 


    how did you become a peer supoort officer? Is it from your own mental health expereince or experince of a family member? Also do you use "recovery language"

    ive done training to be a peer support worker & that was needing to have your own mental health expereince so was just wondering if they have branched out in other areas and allowing people who care for someone can be a peer support role. And in my training learnt recovry lanaguge but didnt know if thats in all peer support roles
    “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care” Marvin J. Ashton
    The MixJade09
  • Lauren223Lauren223 Posts: 32 Cool Newbie
    Hey Molly! So I grew up caring for loved ones with some mental health conditions, something I wish I knew then was how do you create a conversation in your family about your boundaries or your limitations?

    It can be tough saying no to loved ones, or to ask for help when something is just too much, so what's the best way to do it without causing offence? 
    The MixJade09
  • ItaliaItalia Posts: 109 Staff Moderator
    Hey Molly, 

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Another question we have had from young carers is how do you tell people about your caring situation? 

    "Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do" - Brene Brown
    Jade09
  • ShaunieShaunie England 🏠Posts: 7,166 The Mix Elder
    Also in my peer training we learnt that its okay for people to self harm if its done safely and should not discorage it, if they dont want to stop it and helps them to cope & so should actually encorage the fact theyre in control of that and using a coping skill that works for them..... im wondering what youd do if caring for someone & if you was trained the same sort of thinking around self harm and if you was caring for someone who self harms & doesnt want to stop self harming.... would you tell them to stop it  and try a healthy coping skill? .....Or would you just suggest other suggestions without telling them to stop.? 
    “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care” Marvin J. Ashton
    The MixJade09
  • Jade09Jade09 EnglandPosts: 304 Moderator
    edited November 2019
    Thank you for your questions so far everyone, they have been really good! 

    I have one question I’d like to ask too, when caring for someone with a mental illness when do you feel is the right time to step away and take time for yourself? 💗
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Hi @Kasa2103!

    Thank you for your question.

    It can be really tough helping someone who has any mental health condition, particularly when they are someone who you care for. I've popped some tips below, but I would also recommend contacting organisations who specialise in anxiety to speak to them about not only the way anxiety affects the person you're caring for and to learn more about anxiety, but also for support yourself!

    The first tip I would say is to speak to them about their anxiety and ask how you can help. They may not be ready to do this face to face, so you can ask them if they would be more comfortable having the discussion in another way, such as over the phone, via email or online messenger, text or by writing it down.

    Once you have spoken to them about the way they are feeling, you can get a better idea of the types of things that make them feel more or less anxious, and can work with them and support them on their journey. It's important to note that, as much as you may want to (and I know I did when caring for my loved one), you cannot push them along their journey alone- they too must take an active part in their own wellbeing, but speaking about what is going on can help you understand best how to support them whilst they are doing this.

    The second tip I would give would be to encourage them and do things with them! By 'things' I mean activities that are outside of their current routine- these can be activities that they enjoy or find relaxing, or activities that make them nervous or anxious but that they would like to try, but aren't ready to do alone. It can be easy when you're anxious to avoid things that make you worried but that you might really enjoy, and knowing that there's someone with them doing these things can be a real source of comfort. You might also want to think about offering to do relaxation activities with them, such as mindfulness, meditation, and light physical exercise.

    The third tip I would give would be to encourage them to seek support options outside of your relationship. The most important lesson I learned when supporting someone with a mental health condition was that it's okay to support someone within the boundaries that you are comfortable with. This might be a friend, family member, partner or loved one, but knowing that you can be this person for them without having to be the sole person responsible is really important for your mental health and wellbeing, as well as theirs.

    Lastly, I would always recommend making sure you're looking after yourself! Caring for someone who has a mental health condition of any kind can be challenging in lots of different ways, and it's important that you also have a source of support; this can be anyone from friends and family to mental health professionals. You can seek out support groups and chatrooms like this one to speak to other people who understand what you've been going through and share experiences in a safe space.

    I hope the above is of some help, and best of luck with your journey.

    Molly
    Jade09
  • Kasa2103Kasa2103 Ugly Snake South EastPosts: 2,414 Mega Poster
    edited November 2019
    Molly1414 said:
    Kasa2103 said:
    As it is about anything to do with mental health issues in the family, do you have any ideas how to help a person with anxiety?

    Hi @Kasa2103!

    Thank you for your question.

    It can be really tough helping someone who has any mental health condition, particularly when they are someone who you care for. I've popped some tips below, but I would also recommend contacting organisations who specialise in anxiety to speak to them about not only the way anxiety affects the person you're caring for and to learn more about anxiety, but also for support yourself!

    The first tip I would say is to speak to them about their anxiety and ask how you can help. They may not be ready to do this face to face, so you can ask them if they would be more comfortable having the discussion in another way, such as over the phone, via email or online messenger, text or by writing it down.

    Once you have spoken to them about the way they are feeling, you can get a better idea of the types of things that make them feel more or less anxious, and can work with them and support them on their journey. It's important to note that, as much as you may want to (and I know I did when caring for my loved one), you cannot push them along their journey alone- they too must take an active part in their own wellbeing, but speaking about what is going on can help you understand best how to support them whilst they are doing this.

    The second tip I would give would be to encourage them and do things with them! By 'things' I mean activities that are outside of their current routine- these can be activities that they enjoy or find relaxing, or activities that make them nervous or anxious but that they would like to try, but aren't ready to do alone. It can be easy when you're anxious to avoid things that make you worried but that you might really enjoy, and knowing that there's someone with them doing these things can be a real source of comfort. You might also want to think about offering to do relaxation activities with them, such as mindfulness, meditation, and light physical exercise.

    The third tip I would give would be to encourage them to seek support options outside of your relationship. The most important lesson I learned when supporting someone with a mental health condition was that it's okay to support someone within the boundaries that you are comfortable with. This might be a friend, family member, partner or loved one, but knowing that you can be this person for them without having to be the sole person responsible is really important for your mental health and wellbeing, as well as theirs.

    Lastly, I would always recommend making sure you're looking after yourself! Caring for someone who has a mental health condition of any kind can be challenging in lots of different ways, and it's important that you also have a source of support; this can be anyone from friends and family to mental health professionals. You can seek out support groups and chatrooms like this one to speak to other people who understand what you've been going through and share experiences in a safe space.

    I hope the above is of some help, and best of luck with your journey.

    Molly

    Thank you so much for your answer. Very helpful and informative. It definitely was a lot of information but that is absolutely fine. :)
    I am ugly no matter what they say. Nothing but a burden is what I am. 
    Jade09
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Aidan said:
    How can someone struggling with their mental health help their loved ones to help them?
     Hi @Aidan,

    Thanks for your question!

    This was something I found really difficult. I was struggling with my mental health for a long time without speaking out, and so I can completely understand the difficulties surrounding this.

    I think that the first step is communicating with them. This is very often easier said than done, but is the key to helping someone understand what is going for you, and the way that it makes you feel. You can do this in any way that makes you feel comfortable; you can write letters, message them online or speak to them over the phone, or have a face to face conversation about the things that you have been feeling, and the ways that they can help you. If you do decide to have a face to face conversation about things, you may find it helpful to bring some notes with you too, as these types of conversations can sometimes be really nerve-wracking.

    I found this easiest to do in a therapeutic environment, and that is an option that is also available to you should you find this of interest. I received family therapy through the NHS, and you can speak to your GP about what types of options are available to you, or speak to external organisations such as Relate about what types of support are available to you locally.

    It is important to note that though communicating about the difficulties you are having is something that only you can do, education around the diagnosis or symptoms that you are experiencing is not something that you have to do alone. A significant proportion of the enquiries we receive here at Bipolar UK are from loved ones who want to understand what someone else is going through, but recognise that it is not the person's responsibility to educate them on every aspect of the diagnosis, and this is something that many, many organisations will be more than happy to do. We also offer a printed leaflet specifically for loved ones, and other organisations will offer this type of resource too, so you may like to print out things to give to them to help them better understand what you are going through.

    Once they understand the things that you are going through, it can be really helpful to draw up a written plan together that you can all refer to when things become more difficult. This may be a plan that reflects behaviours that they should look out for, things that are warning signs of something more serious, how to respond in certain situations, and behaviours or emotions that may be displayed that people find difficult and alternatives that all parties agree to. Having it written down can make it more concrete, and doing it together helps it feel more like a joint endeavour, and less like a direction from one party to another.

    I really hope this helps, but I will be online tomorrow if you have any more questions!

    Thanks, Molly
    Jade09
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
      Aife said:
    Thanks so much for your questions @Kasa2103 and @Aidan.  

    Molly will be online on Wednesday so there's still time to submit your questions :) 

    I also have a question, do you have any advice about how to you look after your own mental health when caring for someone?

    Hi Aife :)

    Yes I do!

    The first and most important thing is to set boundaries. These don't have to be boundaries that are discussed, but may be decisions that you make with yourself. You can be caring, loving and supportive and still operate within boundaries, and it's okay to say that you're not ready to be someone's sole source of support. That's a huge amount of pressure to put on yourself, and can be something that can end up having a big impact on your mental health. A quote I really like about this is that you can't support a stable building with an unstable foundation, and I think this is something that is really, really true.

    I think educating yourself about what your loved one is going through can be really helpful- my dad has a complex and difficult mental health diagnosis and sometimes his behaviour would make me feel that I had done something wrong, or that I was being difficult or unhelpful in some way, when in actuality he was just having a really tough time with his own mental health and didn't know how to express it. I think understanding what might be happening, without assuming that everything they do is because of their mental health condition, can help you differentiate between times when you might be in the wrong and times when the person you love is finding things really difficult and isn't able or willing to vocalise what's going on.

    I think also it's so important to be aware of the support that's available to you, and to use as much of it as you can. These can be in all sorts of forms, such as charity services, council or local authority services or statutory services.

    Something I was not aware of was the services that would be there for me if I needed to take a break, and I think this is something that really needs to be emphasised sometimes. They are someone you love and it's so, so admirable that you're looking after them, but you don't have to do it alone! I would recommend speaking to someone who knows about what's available in your area, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or your GP, and let yourself have a break or share the load without feeling guilty, or like you have abandoned the person you love. It's natural to miss the relationship that you would otherwise have without the caring responsibility, and it's okay to want to have that back sometimes!

    Lastly, something that can seem obvious but I think is something we all sometimes do by accident, is not to bottle things up! Talk about things with someone you trust, because not only can holding things in impact you but it can also build up a lot of frustration that can lead to you saying things to the person you're caring for in the heat of the moment, and in some cases can make a relationship more difficult.

    I hope this helps!

    Molly


    JordanMillie2787
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Shaunie said:
    Ahh im so Sorry this is not a question about how to help someone with Mental illness. @The Mix  can delete this if totally off topic lol but just interested. 


    how did you become a peer supoort officer? Is it from your own mental health expereince or experince of a family member? Also do you use "recovery language"

    ive done training to be a peer support worker & that was needing to have your own mental health expereince so was just wondering if they have branched out in other areas and allowing people who care for someone can be a peer support role. And in my training learnt recovry lanaguge but didnt know if thats in all peer support roles
    Hi @Shaunie!

    That’s okay- I was always really interested in how people got their jobs, so I’m happy to answer :).

    I became a Peer Support Officer by volunteering! I did Peer Support voluntarily with Bipolar UK, and I also do Occupational Therapy voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital, which has given me insight into supporting people in both the third sector and statutory services. I think gaining as much experience volunteering is really helpful- its low pressure, can be altered to fit around your needs and gives you a chance to try different things out without having to commit to one career path in particular.

    With regards to my experience of mental health and its fit for the role- I have my own mental health experience that has affected me, as I have a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, and have had treatment since childhood for these disorders, and for some roles this is the experience they are most interested in.

    However, for Bipolar UK they were most interested in my experience of bipolar disorder, and so in my application I talked about my dad, who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with co-morbid schizoaffective disorder, and this was the experience that got me the volunteering role. It’s really all about the role and what the person who is hiring is looking for, and so I would say if it’s an area that you’re interested in, looking for things that best fit your experience is the best way to start!

    Recovery language is not something that is focused on in all Peer Support roles, but I know is something that some organisations focus on more than others. I think recovery language is something that for some people comes naturally; I think having your own mental health experience and understanding the way that being referred to by professionals may have made you feel uncomfortable was not helpful can mean that you end up using language that would fit the recovery language idea by accident! We always focus on speaking to people as people and not defining them by their diagnosis, but this is something that often comes naturally to many of our staff and volunteers as so many of them have been affected by bipolar, and so they understand the way to speak to and about people almost subconsciously. I think this is something that is reflected in many organisations and roles which ask you to have experience of mental health conditions. However, I do think in many statutory services, and in particular in situations where people are profoundly unwell or in services which do not specialise in mental health, it can be so valuable to have training such as this, as it gives you guidance to constantly refer back to and means that you do not end up stigmatizing people further.

    I hope that answers your question!

    Molly
    Shaunie
  • PoppyBPoppyB Posts: 152 Moderator
    Hi Molly,

    It's great to have you on The Mix. Thanks for your insightful answers - there were some really interesting questions posted yesterday! :)

    I was wondering through your work with Bipolar UK if you knew of any common myths surrounding bipolar disorder that you could dispel?
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Lauren223 said:
    Hey Molly! So I grew up caring for loved ones with some mental health conditions, something I wish I knew then was how do you create a conversation in your family about your boundaries or your limitations?

    It can be tough saying no to loved ones, or to ask for help when something is just too much, so what's the best way to do it without causing offence? 
     Hi @Lauren223!

    Honestly this was something that took me a really long time to figure out, and can often still be something I struggle with.

    The best way that I found personally was to talk about it in family therapy. I think I was really nervous about pushing my loved one away or causing an issue within the family, and so having a safe space with a neutral party present and guiding the conversation was so helpful. It’s something that I recommend to anyone, with any issue, but I do think that when you are caring for someone with mental health difficulties or if it is a situation that is complicated or surrounds a more specialist issue, having that person there to be an intermediary is really helpful.

    You can do the same thing with a person you both trust who is comfortable and able to remain neutral, as I understand that therapeutic interventions can be difficult to access in some areas. Relate is an organisation that can offer tips and advice in this area too, if you want to do it between the people involved but aren’t sure how best to do so.

    I think too it’s important to pick your moment. If someone is going through something difficult or is in a space where they are likely to be reactionary or explosive, it can be harder to get your point across in a suitable way.

    If you’re not ready to talk about it, but want to access support, you can speak to your family members about other support- sometimes it can be easier to talk about the things that someone else could do better than you than the things that you find hard. For example, if your family member wants specific support or information you could say that you could help but you’re not sure if you’d know the most about it, so suggest that you contact another organisation or service together. Accessing some types of support can be nerve-wracking for those with a mental health condition, so you might want to offer to go with them for the first session or first few sessions, and then talk to them about withdrawing yourself so that they can have the support all for themselves. That way you know you haven’t left your loved one without support, but it allows you to relieve some of the pressure that you may have been feeling.

    Lastly, I think talking to organisations for carers can be so helpful. Organisations such as Carers UK provide support, both directly through telephone and email contact, but also indirectly with available information sheets and other remote services. They can provide advice, support, and also the feeling that you’re not alone, which can be more valuable than anything else often!

    Thanks for your question!

    Molly
    PoppyB
  • ItaliaItalia Posts: 109 Staff Moderator
    Hey Molly,

    Thank you for taking so much time and care to reply to our questions. It's been really helpful. A question we often get from people is about practical help available to young carers - in particular those who are caring for someone struggling with mental illness. 

    Where are the best places to reach out for support? 
    "Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do" - Brene Brown
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Italia said:
    Hey Molly, 

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Another question we have had from young carers is how do you tell people about your caring situation? 

     Hey Italia :).

    I think I was lucky (in a weird way), that the difficulties I was having with my own mental health highlighted the other issues I was having, and so I didn’t have to tell everyone who was in my life, as often they were aware because I had been highlighted as vulnerable.

    However, speaking to my school and my friends was something I found really difficult. I realised when I started this job a year ago that I hadn’t ever really told any of my friends about the full scale of things that were happening, which was a surprising realisation! I think this came from a place of shame more than anything; that people would think of me and then automatically think of the pressures I was under, rather than thinking of me as the person I was growing to be. I think too that sometimes you don’t want tell everyone, because that way you have an escape from talking about everything that is going on. Though this is natural, I think that this escape can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help, because people can’t support you with things they don’t know about. I think starting with a friend you trust is a good first step- I always found it easier to tell people in a low pressure way, like mentioning something on the way home from school, university or work, but some people prefer to organise a little get-together or meeting with their peers to talk about it so they can tell everyone at the same time. You might like to try telling them over the phone, via text or messenger services, if you’re not ready to tell them face to face.

    Having a caring responsibility is a big, big pressure, but can sometimes be one that is so integral to your identity that it can be hard to talk about without feeling guilty or mean, or like you’re betraying someone you love so much. I think it’s helpful to first investigate things and understand what your rights are, what other people have done etc.- this is something that may be personal to me, but knowing what to expect and what types of things people might ask me helped take away a lot of the stress and fear involved.

    I do think sometimes that adults, particularly those in roles that involve things like safeguarding, find it hard to understand the emotional nuances of the role of a young carer, so sometimes it can be hard to get your voice heard. To tackle this some people find it easier to write out their full story, so that the people they give it to have something to reflect on. It also takes a lot of the pressure out of telling people; I was always embarrassed to talk about things because getting emotional or crying in front of someone like a teacher was something that, particularly as a teenager, was completely horrifying to me.

    Other ways that I know have worked for some people are keeping a diary of the things that they are responsible for, but also the ways that they feel. This means that the people responsible for helping support you know what you have to do, how it makes you feel, and can form a plan to make sure you’re being supported as fully as possible without you feeling like someone else is trying to push you out of a role or space that you are accustomed to, and in some cases will value.

    I would say speaking to someone you trust can be a really important first step. I do think though that sometimes your peers, though often caring and understanding, are not always in the best position to help, so as well as sharing with them sharing with an adult, like a teacher or after-school club leader, or someone like your GP, can be a helpful step forward. I had a teacher who I liked and who I felt comfortable around, and so I would sometimes stay after lessons and talk to her about things. This meant that when I was referred to the more specialist team in my school, it wasn’t something that I had to explain all over again, but was also something that I felt more ready and comfortable to talk about with an adult.

    Caring as a young person can impact so many areas of your life, but I think the focus on its impact in school can make it easier to access support for the things that you’re feeling through school.

    I also had my mum with me through all the meetings with the school and social care services; she was there through everything, and knowing that there was someone there fighting my corner and supporting me was amazing. If you’re not ready or able to have a parent or carer involved, you can see if one of your friends wants to come with you and support you. Being the involved friend is also a role I have had in my life, and was one that helped my friend talk about things that they otherwise wouldn’t have mentioned.

    Lastly, I would recommend, as always, reaching out to other organisations who can connect you to young carers, such as The Children’s Society, Childline and your local authority who may help run young carers groups or clubs.

    I think the most important thing to remember is even though it can be so tough to talk about, nothing that’s going on is your fault, and that you deserve the chance to be supported and feel safe and happy!

    Molly
    ItaliaPoppyB
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Shaunie said:
    Also in my peer training we learnt that its okay for people to self harm if its done safely and should not discorage it, if they dont want to stop it and helps them to cope & so should actually encorage the fact theyre in control of that and using a coping skill that works for them..... im wondering what youd do if caring for someone & if you was trained the same sort of thinking around self harm and if you was caring for someone who self harms & doesnt want to stop self harming.... would you tell them to stop it  and try a healthy coping skill? .....Or would you just suggest other suggestions without telling them to stop.? 

    Hi again @Shaunie,

    Self-harm can be a tough subject, and with regards to using these skills in work I would recommend talking to your line manager or safeguarding lead, as there will be specific policy in your organisation with regards to this.

    In your personal life however, it can be a whole different ball game, as it were. I think you’d need to assess how serious the self-harm was with respect to their safety and wellbeing. I have cared for someone who self-harmed quite seriously, and would cause significant harm, and so I encouraged them to seek help not just from me but also from a qualified medical professional, as the risk of infection and serious illness was quite high. However, as with all aspects of mental health it’s really important to do this in an open, non-judgmental way. This can be really difficult to do when you love someone, as your instant reaction is to be really worried and scared for them.

    Having an open, honest conversation about this can help you understand better what is going on, and can often take away a lot of the fear that comes along with finding out that someone you care about is self-harming. It’s really important to try and focus on the reason that the person is self-harming, and not the self-harming itself entirely, as it can sometimes feel like that becomes the only thing that anyone cares about. People tend to self-harm for a reason, and so if they are finding it hard to communicate their feelings I would also advise adjusting your communication style to fit them, and speak to them about how they’d feel comfortable talking about things. Being flexible is a really important part of having conversations such as these, and can help people feel more willing to have a conversation with you that is often very hard for them.

    There are definitely safer ways to self-harm, and you might find it helpful to suggest these to them. There are lots of examples, like biting into a hot chilli, chewing ice, snapping a rubber band against your arm etc., but suggesting things to help minimise the risk to them can be a good thing to do. It is, of course, relevant to the type of self-harm they are doing- there may be an alternative to cutting, for example, but it may be more difficult to suggest alternatives if they self-poison, so seeking advice from organisations that specialise in this can be a good way to find things that work well for the person you care about.

    Even though not everyone who self-harms is suicidal, some people who do may want to end their lives. This can be an incredibly tough conversation to have, and organisations like Papyrus have some really good resources about how to talk to someone who you think might be suicidal, and so they might be something that you find interesting.

    It’s important too that you emphasise that you love and care for them whether they self-harm or not. Setting up a safe place or a way for them to access you or emergency services if they are worried can be really helpful.

    Helping them access support is really helpful too. You might want to speak to them about whether or not they’ve thought about talking to someone, and offer to go with them to appointments and help them with the admin side of things, like appointment letters and other paperwork. It can be really difficult seeing someone you love in distress, but it’s important that they’re supported to seek help, but not forced. Unless someone’s life is in danger, I think it’s always best to give them the options and tools and let them decide how to use them.

    I think the most important thing is that when someone you love is self-harming, it’s not something that you or they have to deal with alone. You can access support for yourself too, and reaching out to mental health organisations like MIND and Rethink for support and information is really helpful!


    Thanks for both your questions!
    Molly

    PoppyBShaunie
  • Molly1414Molly1414 Posts: 8 Newbie
    edited November 2019
    Jade09 said:
    Thank you for your questions so far everyone, they have been really good! 

    I have one question I’d like to ask too, when caring for someone with a mental illness when do you feel is the right time to step away and take time for yourself? 💗
    Hi @Jade09,

    This can be a really difficult thing to tell, particularly when you're in the situation yourself.

    I think that you should receive support and the option to take time away the whole way through your caring experience ideally.

    However, I know that this is not always realistic, and some people may not wish to access support the whole way through even if it's offered to them. I think the time to access support that leaves you able to step away is when your caring responsibility starts to affect your life negatively. It can affect all aspects of your life, and I think when it starts to impact on your ability to do things you used to be able to, or that your comparable peers are able to do, it is something that you need to find support for.

    I think an area that people can sometimes neglect, including statutory services, are the huge pressures a caring responsibility can have on your mental health. I think, in hindsight, that I should've taken a step back and accessed support as soon as it started to affect my mental health, but I think when you're in the situation this is more easily said than done.

    I think if you're thinking of accessing other support and taking a step away, you know it's the right time. If you're finding things difficult or you're experiencing physical, mental or emotional ramifications from your caring responsibility, you need to take a step back and give yourself space. As I said in one of the earlier comments, you can't build a stable house on an unstable foundation and I think in order to be the best support possible for someone in need, you do have to give yourself the chance to have some time away to work on yourself.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to tell when it's time, and so speaking to other carers and your loved ones can help you and them realise when things have become more difficult for you. I think listening to the people who care about you can be a really good thing, because they often will be able to tell when things are becoming more tough before you do!

    Look after yourself, give yourself regular breaks even if it's just an hour every week, and reach out as soon as you think you'd like to talk to someone.

    Molly
    PoppyB
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