Seeing our loved ones suffering with addictions and mental health issues can be difficult and painful. One of the hardest parts is not knowing how to help them. Here are a few suggestions.
Sometimes what people need most is simply to feel heard. They don’t necessarily need advice, just a listening ear. It can be therapeutic to get things off our chest. Keeping things bottled up inside of us can contribute to our depression and anxiety. Providing the safe space for your loved ones to process their emotions is a real gift. Allowing our emotions to flow and expressing ourselves is important for our mental health.
Call, text, email, stop by. However you can get them to respond to you so you know they’re ok, do it. They might not be able to express their appreciation if they’re in a very depressed place, but know that you are helping them by checking on them. You might be helping them through a panic attack. You might be giving them much needed relief from their anxiety or diverting them from their suicidal thoughts. Just knowing someone cares means a lot to us when we are struggling.
Release judgment. We might not be able to understand why our friend can’t get out of bed, or go to work, or why they’ve given up on their passions- but we can try. We may not have experienced addiction in the ways our friend does, but we can try to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine what kind of sadness and fear they might be feeling. Have compassion and empathy. Be patient with their struggles.
Addiction and mental health issues can contribute to our having codependent and/or toxic relationships. Sometimes when a loved one is actively using or struggling emotionally, there can be extra conflict and turmoil. You may feel disrespected, controlled or manipulated. You might feel hurt or uncomfortable. Create boundaries for yourself and commit to them. Don’t allow yourself to sacrifice your own peace of mind.
Think about whether anything you’re doing might be enabling your friend’s addictive or toxic behaviors. Are you making excuses for their behavior? Are you allowing yourself to be manipulated in any way? Are they taking advantage of your kindness and help, being dishonest, or using you? When we allow our loved ones to involve us in these patterns, we are enabling them, even when that is not our intention.
At Enlightened Solutions we offer intervention services and recovery planning. Call (833) 801-LIVE for more information.
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