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Dealing with Loved Ones’ Mental Health Issues as We’re Recovering

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

As we’re working to recover, many of us are dealing not only with our own recovery but with that of our loved ones as well. Very often, our family members, partners, and friends are struggling with serious mental health issues of their own, and sometimes their issues are very similar to ours. We often feel a sense of responsibility to them, in part because we’ve lived through such similar challenges. We want to help them recover. We want to take care of them. We want them to benefit from recovery in some of the same ways we have. Dealing with the mental health issues of our loved ones, while we’re doing our own work to recover, can bring up unique challenges that we want to try and understand in order to help ourselves cope.

Prioritizing Our Well-Being

When our loved ones are struggling with mental health issues, we can feel a sense of obligation to help them recover, especially if they have been there for us and supported us while we were struggling with our own issues. This obligation we feel can be detrimental for us, though, if dealing with other people’s health problems is overly stressful or triggering for us and causes us to feel tempted to relapse. We have to prioritize our own mental health and sobriety over everything else because if we do relapse, we’re unable to care for ourselves, let alone our loved ones. We want to be of help to them, but we won’t be able to help at all if we’re not well. We want to reconcile our sense of obligation with the understanding that each of us is responsible for our own well-being, and we can’t take on anyone else’s recovery for them. All we can do is care for ourselves and support our loved ones to the best of our abilities, without compromising our own sobriety and peace of mind.

Oftentimes we don’t know how we can be of help to our loved ones dealing with mental health issues. We feel overwhelmed, by our own stresses and the stress of watching our loved ones suffer. When we’re in this position, we can be tempted to put their needs above ours. We’re worried about them, and we feel confident that we’ll be fine. Maybe we feel we’ve already been sober for a substantial period of time, enough so that we can put ourselves on the back burner in order to tend to our loved ones’ mental health issues. This can be extremely problematic for us because as soon as we’re not caring for our needs, the likelihood increases that we could slip back into a depression or find ourselves relapsing. We have to be vigilant about our stress and anxiety levels, our moods, and how vulnerable we are to relapsing or getting depressed again.

We have to prioritize our well-being because without it, we can’t possibly sustain our recovery and become our best selves.

Patterns of Coping

Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with our loved ones’ mental health issues is some of the patterns that can come into play in these kinds of situations. We might be familiar with some of the coping strategies and defense mechanisms that are common with addiction and mental illness, such as enabling, manipulation and dishonesty. We want to be mindful that our loved ones might not be as far along in their recovery as we are in ours, and they may still be using some of these ways of coping. They might be enabling one another, or hoping we’ll continue to enable them as we might have in the past. They might try to manipulate us in one way or another. They might be dishonest about what they’re going through, keeping their depressions a secret from us. They might deny just how severe their problems have become. They might conceal suicidal thoughts or behaviors, even going so far as to keep their suicide attempts a secret. When we’re mindful that these patterns might present themselves, we can be on the lookout for them and more prepared for them if they do arise.

Living Inspiration

The best thing we can do for our loved ones in this situation is to encourage them to take their recovery seriously. We can help them find treatment facilities, support groups, and therapists. We can talk to them about how important our recovery has been for us. Our work to heal ourselves can serve as inspiration for our loved ones to want to do the same for themselves. Many of us don’t have role models or living examples of people in recovery. We’re venturing into unknown territory and setting off on life-changing journeys, often without feeling we have the necessary support. We can be that source of support for our loved ones, and we can help motivate them to take their well-being seriously. We can only do this, though, if we are in a good place if we’re feeling solid in our sobriety, and balanced in our mental health.

At The Guest House Ocala, we are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety and depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488