The importance of a supportive family
It’s really nice when family comes together to support you when you’re going through a rough time. I’ve been through many hard times in the past twenty years and the last thing I wanted my family to do is to judge me on that. Luckily they were more than supportive. Mum visited me every day in the hospital and my Aunties and Uncles paid me visits and took me places when they were allowed to. You see back then it was difficult to understand. It was around the early 2000’s and Mental Health was only starting to gain positive traction in social circles. The best thing my family did for me was that they didn’t pretend to understand what I was going through. They didn’t have all the answers. They had never come across this before so like anything new they tried to understand it with me. They read articles, they showed me things, and they introduced me to survivors. Stories from people that had came out the other end. That there was hope. That it wouldn’t always be bad. I needed hope in an otherwise bleak world
And that helped. It really did. The getaway breaks in Dunkeld in the caravan. Lost in a quiet wood with acres of land to scale with my Uncle. Just us two. Walking alone. Lost in our own thoughts, it was beautiful. It helped me finally come to terms with the person that I was and there was no pressure to do so. And I didn’t feel judged. I didn’t feel judged by my actions or the sometimes stupid avenues that I took. Because they knew that I would learn by my own mistakes. My own turmoil would sort me out. And that’s just fine. Plain sailing.
I remember the time I was sectioned. My Auntie and Uncle were visiting me at the time and I had in my head there was some massive plot in the ward to kill me and do away with my body secretly. Seems daft now as I say it, but the mind works in mysterious ways. I remember getting up and shouting at the nurse on charge. Screaming at her. I can’t remember what I said but I’m sure it was offensive. I didn’t get violent, verbally abusive but never violent. My Auntie and Uncle were taken back by this behaviour. It shocked them. I had never acted out in this fashion before. I was always the happy and quiet lad. Needless to say, they were ushered out in a hurry.
But that never stopped them visiting me. Oh no. They visited me more after that. And I’m thankful for that. Because when I was in a life that I could barely make sense of it was just nice to know that someone gave a shit. Or at least I look back at it that way anyway. I never felt judged. I am at the very least, grateful.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt judged by my family before. Because being highly judgemental can really hinder the progress of others. I understand it. It can be easy to slip into the habit of telling other people what they should be doing with their life because it’s always worked for you. But people are so inherently different what works for you isn’t going to work with them. Psychology is a science, but the routes we take to the end result are completely different. Take stopping smoking for example. I used e-cigs to join the ranks of the smoke-free whereas other people have just been known to throw their packets away and give up. I couldn’t do that. I did try. But I couldn’t. Didn’t make me any lesser of a human. It just means that my route would have to be different.
I’ve watched as friends swallow themselves in a pit of despair when others openly judge them. And it mostly comes from a place of misunderstanding. Not properly understanding the full stress the other person is under. But to most, harsh judgement doesn’t feel any easier on the self. Even worse when it comes from a family member that should understand you a bit better. I’ve been judged many times. But never from a person that properly understands my situation. Or at least tries to understand a bit better. It’s always easier to point the finger and give a disapproving wag, but it’s exponentially harder to look at your own self and try and figure out how to better yourself. Don’t judge. It’s not healthy.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that if you have a person in your family that is suffering from Mental Health problems then it’s always nice to be there when they need you. Move alongside them. Don’t control. Don’t dominate. Don’t tell them what to do and certainly don’t judge. You’re probably not going to have the slightest idea what they are going through at the moment. Why not read a bit more on the subject? Show interesting articles and stories from survivors to them, be there for comfort. Show them there is hope.
Then perhaps when life is turned upside down for you somewhere down the line you’ll find more support than you expect. Love your family, be respectful. Be real.