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sad man sander van der welSo often in the world of mental health we find ourselves in the midst of relationships with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, roommates and the like that don’t want help. They don’t want support for their illness. They don’t want recovery. This can be a distressing place to be. I’ve been both the person who has not wanted help and the person trying to get help for someone who doesn’t want it. Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse. Talk about hopelessness, restlessness, frustration, anger, sadness, fear and hurt – helping someone who doesn’t want it is a rush of all those things.

The hard-to-swallow truth is though that there is a very limited amount of things we can do for those we love and care about who are not accepting of help or open to support. Admitting that can be the hardest. It’s almost like admitting defeat. We feel like a failure because “there has to be something else I can do” keeps running through your head. Sometimes though, there just isn’t, and in that continued, strained, exhaustive measure  while that thought is running through your head over and over; you are withering away.

You matter too.

Now, I am in now way shape or form telling you to give up hope, or prayer, or keeping lines of communication open with those that we care about. But, just like you can’t change someone’s favorite color, or make up someone’s mind to learn to walk again after a car accident, you cannot make someone seek help while drowning in a mental illness. That pressure is not on your shoulders (even if it feels like it is).  All you can control is what you do. The rest is up to them.

Mental illness is serious and life threatening, it can be devastating in nature and it takes a toll on both the sufferer and the family, friends and community surrounding them. At the end of the day though the person suffering, struggling, hanging on by a thread – that person is responsible for their own recovery. Usually that means for asking for help and leaning on people, being willing, trying new things, learning about their illness and having a set back from time to time. Until the individual is ready to make that choice, the choice to fight, to try, to be willing, there really isn’t much you can do except hope, pray, listen if they’ll talk, and take care of yourself.

This post may sound somber today. But the realities of supporting someone with a mental illness are often left unaddressed. And yes – you matter too.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.