Communication is important in managing many aspects of mental health. It can make or break our recovery, personal relationships, and interactions with professionals who are charged with helping us heal.
It is difficult to talk about mental illness and the deep despair that it causes. Holding our thoughts and feelings inside makes us sicker. Doing so can lead to further negative feelings and unease, putting us on destructive paths. As hard as it is to talk about our pain, it is much harder to live with it in silence.
Finding Someone to Talk With
People available to talk to about mental illness and its symptoms include friends, family members, professional mental health care clinicians, and anyone you trust. If you believe someone is trustworthy, open-minded, and accepting of you no matter what, they are likely a good person to confide in. First, ask them how they feel about mental illness and what they know about it. If the person shows that they are open-minded, supportive, and willing to listen, share what you need to.
Although someone you know can be a great support, some situations call for professional help. There are public and private options available for getting help. If you do not have insurance or are on public assistance, check with your local community’s mental health organization. If you have private insurance, find out which private practitioners are available in the area.
Opening up and Sharing
Although it may seem awkward, be open and honest with your clinician. This is critical if a crisis brings you to seek professional help. Therapists or other professionals need a good picture of what is going on in your life and your thoughts to treat you properly.
Potential treatment includes talk therapy, various kinds of group therapy, psychiatry, medication, hospitalization, crisis home placement, or other places you can be treated and monitored. As your treatment continues, be sure to tell your clinician how it is or is not working for you. Keep a journal to track your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. You don’t have to share everything, but it’s good to keep track of it. It’s also good to have a record of how medication and other therapy methods affect your mental health.
Communicating With Loved Ones
With loved ones, sometimes it’s hard to know how they will respond to your plight. Judgment, stigma, and misunderstanding are legitimate fears. You have a choice of how much you share and with whom. Regardless of how much the people around you know about your situation, there are steps you can take to improve interactions with friends and family members to help your mental health and successfully deal with conflict.
I-you statements are a good way to be assertive while not sounding accusatory. “I” statements are used while talking about yourself and your experience. “You” statements are used to reference the feelings or actions of others.
For example, when you need help keeping the house clean, you might state: “You have to do chores.” Compare that with: “When the house is a mess and no one helps clean, it aggravates my symptoms. I would appreciate it if you would help with the housework.” Both statements refer to getting someone to increase their activity in keeping the house clean. The first sentence is aggressive and insensitive. The second is assertive and better communicates feelings and expectations.
In relationships, personal boundaries indicate what kind of treatment people expect and tolerate from others. Boundaries can be useful in all relationships, whether they’re with romantic partners, family members, friends, or coworkers.
Consider the following scenario: Linda is upset with her friend, Susan, because Susan frequently drops her two small kids off for Linda to babysit while she goes to the bar. Susan usually does not pick the kids up until the next morning. Linda feels used and taken advantage of. However, every time Susan asks Linda if she will babysit, Linda agrees to do it. Linda does not want to say no because she is afraid that Susan will be upset or that saying no will lead to conflict between the two of them. She doesn’t want to fight with Susan or lose her as a friend.
Linda and her therapist worked on some ways to set boundaries with Susan to improve the situation. After talking with her therapist, Linda learned that it’s OK to tell Susan no. The next time Susan asks to babysit, Linda is successful in telling Susan “no,” but she makes up an excuse, saying that she has a family emergency preventing her from babysitting. Linda feels good because Susan seems to understand, and it does not harm their friendship. Upon further exploration of the issue in therapy, Linda learns that she does not have to make up excuses when telling someone no. She continues to strive for healthy boundaries in her relationships.
Communication is important throughout the entire recovery process. Often, our recovery path begins with sharing our pain with someone we know and trust. You can also share your concerns surrounding mental illness with a loved one or a clinician. Those who are in a crisis should seek professional help. There are a variety of care options available in the professional realm, including therapy and psychiatry. Be open and honest with your support person to ensure proper care. While dealing with interpersonal relationships, communication is equally important. I-you statements are an example of how to be assertive yet fair and respectful in communicating your needs. It’s also important to build and maintain healthy boundaries with anyone you have a relationship with. You are always a priority for us at Achieve Concierge. We offer expert mental healthcare services for a variety of conditions. Call us today at (858) 221-0344 to begin your recovery journey.