This is the final post regarding the interviews I have been conducting. I have found them to be incredibly emotional, more so than I ever imagined. I have learnt so much from people who also suffer, but also those who are relatives, colleagues, friends of those who are living with a mental illness. I am immensely proud of everyone I asked to be included in these research-type blogs. Because of their honesty and strength I have been able to portray what life is like for others who suffer. Its proven how it doesn’t matter how old you are or what job you do – mental illness can affect and does affect anyone. And one of the most important things I learnt from this study, is the advice sufferers would pass on to others. 99% of them said: talk. Something I harp on about all. the. time. But it goes to show how it has also benefited these people too. So a reminder to anyone reading this whose not yet spoken out about their struggles – there are so many of us to talk to, day or night. No judgement; just patience to listen and guide through out own experiences. But make that step, I promise you it’ll be the best one you’ve ever made.
Finally, a message to everyone whose been a supporter to someone suffering – you are the reason they have so much strength, you being there to listen and reassure is what has kept them afloat. It is so important to be there for each other, in times of need but also when times are good. We need people we can cry and laugh with – sometimes at the same time! For everyone whose been a supporter for me personally, thank you. For listening and accepting me and for handing me the rope. Not to harm myself, but to pull myself up from rock bottom.
What was your relationship to the person you know with a mental health condition?
I’m their daughter.
My husband – he suffers with anxiety and lacks confidence.
Had they knowingly suffered from their condition when you first met them?
Yes, I became aware at a very young age.
I knew he suffered a bit with his nerves when I first met him. He has had a hard time in the past and believes that this has contributed towards it.
Not knowingly suffered until we finally went and asked for advice from the GP.
Yes, but hadn’t suffered for years.
What was the thing you found most difficult in relation to their mental health?
When they overdosed and attempted suicide.
I sometimes find it difficult knowing how to help, how to make him feel better. I find it hard getting him to try new things and having belief in himself. I find it hard to support someone who gets really upset (cries) as it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Trying to keep them motivated on the days they were finding difficult, finding new ways to embed the positives into them and reflect on the good things that they already have within their life.
Watching someone you care about struggle with something that you can do nothing about. And watching so much potential be stopped by the condition.
In what ways did you support them?
I cared for them, prepared food, observed them (never let them be alone in the house), drove them to appointments, cleaned and talked with them.
I support him by always being there, always listening when he wants to talk and by trying to make him see things from a different perspective. I will hold his hand or give him a hug if he gets upset.
I took on as much as I could to relieve any pressure and dealt with anything that occurred. I used a text chat run by a mental health charity who you just text with the situation and they send you loads of helpful tips on how to deal with what is happening. They run 24/7 365 days a year and they were great in providing me with support as well as him. Its always so difficult being on the other side of it, if you are actually doing enough to help them or not. But you have to gage the signs yourself and use the support networks out there for us on the other side of it as well; to know you’re doing enough for them, even though at times I felt totally useless, snuggles and love were all I could give at times, no words would help just the hugs for reassurance!
Thinking about the condition before arranging anything, having it at the forefront of your mind before planning anything, trying to listen and understand.
What did you admire about this person?
I admire the person that she truly is, the person that would go to the ends of the Earth for me and my siblings. Who would always put us first and herself go without. The person who taught me how important it was not only to be ‘smart’ but kind and empathetic. Making me who I am today.
I admire that he will carry on with his daily life even when he is having a bad day. He pushes himself.
I admired the fact that by him allowing me to help we managed to turn a massive corner and get him/us back on the right path and start to begin enjoying each others company again.
Dealing with something so difficult but still pushed herself to beat it and not give in. Her determination.
If you could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
Move on. Live your life now and not in the past, it is so worth living.
Believe in yourself. Don’t assume you know what other people are thinking.
You are awesome and always remember that no matter how bad you feel someone loves you for you!
You can do anything you want despite your fears.
What was the thing they found most challenging because of their condition?
Feeling useless, that life would be better for me without them here.
He really struggles with situations where he has to speak in front of a large group of people (this happens every couple of months with work meetings and he stresses about it for days before).
The thing that was most challenging was maintaining the social aspect of life. Depression just encapsulates everything you try and do so trying to find ways to keep him engaging with our circle of friends at times was difficult as there were times where we couldn’t even leave the house of an evening to go anywhere we had arranged.
Being out of her comfort zone.
Can you name 3 behaviours that this condition would bring out in this person?
Excessive drinking, violence and self harming.
Sadness, stress, anger and being frightened.
The behaviours this carried were anxiety, insomnia and long periods of low mood.
Avoiding situations, overthinking and going from a high mood to a really low mood.
What positive traits does this person have because of their battles with poor mental health?
Empathy, selflessness, tolerance, loving and caring.
He is very loving, caring and affectionate.
The positive traits that he has now is that he is a good listener, he is able to recognise the triggers that start off the decline in feelings and is able to have the confidence to try and squash those feelings before it gets too bad. He used talking therapies in the very beginning and attended sessions for ten weeks which totally changed his outlook and management as well as my own. He still uses all the techniques given to him now to help him stay in that steady place.
Determined, family-orientated and level-headed.