If your loved one is receiving mental health treatment, you may feel incredibly relieved. Maybe you've been worried for many months or years about their well-being. Perhaps you've nagged at them to reach out for support, but they just weren't ready.
That said, the hard work has only just begun. But as an ally, your support can be invaluable during this time. Here's what you want to be sure to avoid saying or doing.
Don't Take It Personally That They Didn't Talk to You
Maybe you feel somewhat jealous or resentful that they feel comfortable opening up to a mental health professional. These mixed feelings are typical, but it's important to be mindful of them.
Keep in mind that mental health professionals are trained to work specifically on mental health issues. They are experts in assessing, diagnosing, and intervening. And unlike family members, they aren't riddled with biases or personal expectations about how things should go.
Consider it from this angle: you want to be the best parent, sibling, or family member for your loved one. If they put you in a therapist role, you can't be that person for them. It's impossible to suspend your own judgment or feelings. Attempting to do so will only make both of you feel worse.
Don't Keep Asking About What They're Learning or Doing
It's considerate to be attentive to their treatment and ask them how things are going. But if you're obsessively checking in and trying to get as much information as possible, your efforts will likely come across as intrusive.
Even though you care about your loved one's well-being, it's their responsibility to do the work and focus on achieving their goals. If they feel like they need to report everything they do to you, they will either withhold information or not push themselves enough in treatment.
Likewise, respecting privacy is an essential boundary to have when it comes to mental health issues. If you find yourself feeling anxious, consider that your feelings may be more indicative of something you need- rather than what your loved one needs right now.
Don't Enable Significant Changes Right Away
Maybe your loved one is coming to you telling you they need to move to a new state or quit their job or change all their medication. These needs may be entirely legitimate, but be mindful of impulsive tendencies or such intense urgency.
It's unlikely that a mental health professional will recommend making a serious life transition just after someone starts treatment. Instead, it's usually more important to achieve a point of stabilization. Change, when it does happen, tends to be better when it's gradual.
And if your loved one wants to move forward with making drastic decisions? You have a right to set reasonable limits, and you can and should reinstate your boundaries as often as you need.
Don't Talk About All Their 'Failed' Experiences
Regardless of your loved one's mental health treatment history, it's important to hold onto hope and trust that change can still happen. You are not doing them any favors by bringing up mistakes or issues from the past- doing so often exacerbates shame.
Instead, consider gently talking about what they hope will be different this time. How has their mentality changed? How do they feel about their current treatment goals or prognosis? What are they willing to do differently?
Remember that mental health issues are chronic, and it's normal to have difficult moments during the recovery process. There is really no such thing as a failed experience- instead, your loved one discovered that certain methods weren't optimal for them at that time.
Don't Make Comparisons
We're wired to compare ourselves to others, but when it comes to someone's mental health recovery, it's a losing battle. Let's say your best friend's daughter received addiction and depression treatment a few years ago. Now she's happily sober and engaged to get married. She looks happy, and it seems like the treatment considerably changed her life!
Maybe you look at your own child and feel angry or embarrassed. Why haven't they gotten sober yet? Why do they still feel depressed or lost? What could you have done differently?
If you find yourself in this negative thinking trap, label what you're doing and try to bring yourself back to the present moment. Everyone is on their own journey. Moreover, you never really know how much someone else is struggling. Just because your friend paints a picturesque scene of her daughter doesn't mean that's the actual reality.
At Resurface Group, we understand that support often requires a village. People with supportive family members tend to have better treatment outcomes.
With that, we know this road to recovery isn't an easy one. It's normal to feel frustrated, confused, and lonely as you navigate your loved one's obstacles. We are here to hold the hope for you and your family. We believe change is always possible, and we witness amazing transformations each and every day.
Contact us today to get in touch with our team!