Tuesday, March 31, 2015

what to say when someone with a mental illnesses melts down in front of you

I recently melted down at church. I blame it on the medication. :)

And someone took the time to talk to me and try to help. I'm pretty sure she won't find this blog at this point, but just in case; thank you. Your care meant a lot to me. And even though it got me thinking on things people have said to me that were very well meaning but perhaps a bit misinformed, i would far rather you say not quite the right thing than nothing at all. Actually, that is probably the most important point of this whole blog post. So feel free to stop reading now.

A good question is, "are you okay?" "do you mind me asking what is wrong?" "what's wrong?" This is my opinion, of course, so others might feel differently about the question. But me? Even if i don't know what's wrong, I'd probably like to tell you that. It's a very frustrating problem not knowing what is wrong with me. And i might have a guess of what's wrong (I'm exhausted; i just started taking a new medication; etc.).

And giving me time to stop crying enough to answer? That is awesome. The longer it takes me to answer, probably the more likely i really want to say something. I try to be confusing like that (just kidding; but i wanted to lighten this up:).

Offering to pray for me? I usually like that. Praying with me in person? I usually appreciate that. Simple is fine. There is just one caution i have; if you use the prayer as an uninterruptible chance to comment on what i should do, i might not appreciate that part. And if you are a Christian counselor using the closing prayer to make your point... Well, i might use you as an example of what not to do for the next ten plus years.

On the subject of medication; rumor has it that the question, "have you taken your medication?" can be offensive, so you probably don't want to ask that unless you have already cleared the question previously with the person you are talking to.

What i do get, when discussing the joys (not) of trying new medications, is the question, "do you feel better on medication or off medication?" i believe you mean well, but let's consider this for a minute. For one thing, no one can know the what-if of making a different decision. Do you think you would be happier today if you had taken a different job? Maybe, but how can you know for sure? You will never know how exactly you would feel in a different situation but the current clock time. The same goes for me. I don't know what the trajectory of my depression and ocd would look like had i never touched medication. Mental illness is not stationary. It often cycles, and it can get better or worse.

The path of finding the right psych med(s) can be long, difficult, and scarey. (Try reading the list of potential side effects and the warnings. No, better yet, read all that whole your brain is in the "I'm in danger, but i don't know why" setting, where it easily falls into, "I'm in danger from this medication that is supposed to help me.") If someone is struggling with side effects, they might need encouragement. Or silent support. You don't have to agree with their medication choice to support them as a person.

Oh, and the answer to the medication helping or not question; when the medication works right, it helps. When it works wrong? Then i might cry for half an hour at church (good thing i don't wear mascara).

Finally, i don't expect you to fix my mental illness. My Dr and therapist have been helping me for a few years, and im still (or more accurately, again) stuck in depression. I'd rather you be my friend. I've already got professionals helping me, but i can always use another friend.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you found a caring soul to support you at church. We all just want to be heard and offered compassion, don't we?