Opening up about your mental health problems can feel extremely risky. You never know how people will react, even those in your own family. Ideally, when your family knows you have a mental illness, they will act as a source of support, offering encouragement and understanding. However, opening up to them may be a daunting task. Many people are afraid that their loved ones will judge them, treat them differently or feel uncomfortable around them. This stress leads many to keep their mental health issues a closely held secret.
If you decide to open up to your family and tell them about your mental health disorder, disclosing the truth will help those who love you to fully understand what you are struggling with. This honesty will give them the opportunity to be a source of support giving you trusted people you can talk to about your feelings. It will also help you to face your condition honestly and push past denial so that you can seek the treatment you need.
Tips for Talking About Your Mental Illness
Even if you're ready to open up about your mental illness with your family, you may not know how. There is no way to predict how they'll react, and you may be afraid. But here are some tips that could smooth the way for healthy discussion:
- Be Selective: Unfortunately, not every member of your family will be able to offer the emotional support you need. If there are those who lack this skill or ability, it doesn't mean they don't love you, but you may want to wait to speak with them openly until you feel ready. It's better to share with those you feel closest to first and whose support you feel will be conducive to recovery.
- Concrete Examples: When you share, give concrete examples of how your mental illness affects you. For instance, if you have depression, share how the disorder has impacted your daily life.
- Give Suggestions on How Family Can Support You: Even though your family loves you, they may not know what they can specifically do to help. Feel free to offer suggestions on how they can provide support, such as encouraging you to attend your appointments or take your medication.
- You Don't Have to Share Everything: You can decide ahead of time which aspects of your experience you wish to share. If they ask questions that make you uncomfortable, you can politely decline to answer.
- Set Boundaries: Your family may be brimming with advice, both helpful and unhelpful - Afterall, they love you and want to help. You can make it clear ahead of time that you prefer that they hear you out without making suggestions.
- Keep Things Positive: Be sure to share good things that you've learned in spite of or even through this experience. You can also give the conversation a hopeful tone as you look forward to the successful treatment of your disorder.
- Provide Educational Information: Your family may not know very much about the specifics of your mental illness. It may be a good idea to have resources available which explain about the disorder.
Don't Be Afraid to Seek Help
Having a support system is essential to successfully managing mental illness. If you find that you can't handle your symptoms, even with family support, it's okay to seek help. Brookhaven Retreat offers a safe environment where women can get the help they need to face their mental illnesses. If you would like more information about our treatment center, browse our website or contact us today.