There has been much conversation on Twitter today about supporting someone with a mental illness, which led me to two fantastic blog posts – one by Jen In Socks and one by In Our Hands – which I encourage you to read. I get a great deal of support from real life and virtual friends, for which I am hugely grateful. But, when things are rough, what can you do to help me?
Distract me – a virtual cuppa and random chatter are awesome – tell me about something you’ve done, seen, read, whatever. My brain is liable to take off in another direction entirely, but that’s not a bad thing sometimes.
Invite me – yeah, I probably won’t accept but being invited and included is a huge thing and I will always appreciate the offer even if I can’t make it.
Don’t take it personally – I may decline invites, change plans at short notice, not be able to see you, but that is absolutely not because of anything you have or haven’t done. If it is, I will tell you.
Be honest – if I say or do something that upsets/offends/hurts/annoys you, please tell me. It is most often unintentional, and I would rather know what it is I’ve done.
Don’t do more than I ask – I may, rarely, ask you to do something for me. In the past I have asked people to google me home when I’ve been disoriented, or to call someone for me when I can’t use the phone. I am hugely grateful to the people who help me, and it is incredibly hard for me to ask for help. But if I ask you to do one job that doesn’t give you carte blanche to do another – giving me directions does not mean calling my team for help, and asking you to call my team does not mean calling someone else.
Don’t panic – yes, I may act a little weirdly but I’m fine. If you think I am mentally unwell/dissociative/not myself, please don’t panic. If I go offline that doesn’t mean you need to get my neighbours to shout through my letterbox. If you can’t get hold of me you don’t need to call the police.
Think about yourself – this is hugely important. If you want to help me then you need to take care of you. Feel free to avoid me if you aren’t in the right place to support me. If you cannot do something I ask, that is absolutely fine. I can be hugely triggering, and I annoy myself so goodness knows I must annoy other people. I absolutely understand that you need time for you, and I want you to take it. Don’t feel bad about doing something for you instead of me.
Ask – if in doubt, ask me. Ask if I’m ok, if I want company or to be left alone, if you can do anything.
I think that covers it, and to reiterate my last point – feel free to ask