Living with others who have mental illness

*CW: mention of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts*

Dearest lovely readers,

Today’s topic was suggested by my own mother and so I hope my experiences may be of use to you today.

As you are aware, I am mentally ill, but I am not the only one who has mental illness in my household. Every other member does too, my mother, my step-father and my young sibling. They each have anxiety and/or depression. As you can imagine, this can be really difficult for everyone involved at times. It certainly has made an impact in recent years.

To be honest, there were points that each day someone fell ‘under the weather’ and then traded someone else the day after. It was just a loop of “who is ill today?”. There have also been longer periods where one of us needed a lot more support for a longer term due to breakdowns or episodes, if you will. The most obvious being myself, I usually have a couple months stability then all of a sudden my mother starts worrying about what I might do in the night.

It is tough, because mental illness isn’t the only thing we as humans have to deal with, life still goes on no matter whether we are struggling or not. It really is a fine balancing act. For me, when someone in this house is struggling, I am instantly in panic mode, constantly asking what I can do to help and thus stress and become unwell more myself. It truly is a very, very fine balancing act. My mother is in a constant state of worry for her children who have been struggling rather chronically, I cannot speak for her experience, but I imagine it does impact her. And it impacts my stepfather.

When I was young and first met my stepdad, things were okay, I was excited. But that quickly spiralled as became unwell, truly unwell, and had delusions that acted against him. He saved my life once when I was about to attempt suicide. He has helped me through so much of my life and I have never known how to thank him.

My mam loves her alone time on a night, a chance for her to rest, but the door is always open at any time of night. When I was a party girl I often had alcohol-induced episodes, I don’t remember the vast majority of them but those I do remember, she would cuddle me, stay in bed with me, made me sure I was safe. And while we have had our disagreements (especially where my alcohol intake was concerned) as any family would, she has been there for me despite her down days.

When I was beginning to falter last year, my young sibling started to struggle more, yet they would come see me, and I would calm them and chat and make sure they were safe, I have even tried to teach them a few coping skills and worked around their needs. I worry about them, but I know they understand that no matter what I may be going through, I am there for them.

See this is the thing, yes we cannot pour from an empty cup, but family are meant to be a support, and our family work like clockwork now. We all understand each other’s needs, if something crops up we rally around and try to help and support in any way we can. Last year was ridiculously difficult, yet out of it came better communication between the family. We connected when there was no where else to go. They say this lockdown has been harder, but we are supporting each other well. We recognise when someone is not on their A-game, we act accordingly. We share more, we are more open.

I am struggling right now, in a depth I cannot recognise, yet I am still trying my very utter best to be present, likewise with the family. Supporting other who are mentally ill in the same household, can seem impossible at times, because we all just want better well-being, we all want to cope and we can pour too much out at times. There is never a perfect recipe for this. But by being aware of what we are capable of each day allows for us to be better for ourselves and for the others. Love truly is a wonderful thing.

All my love,

L x

The importance of a support network

Hello all. I am wishing you joy, contentment and good health right now.

First off, we recently have had an influx of new lovelies joining us and I wish to say welcome to an accepting place where I am honest about my experiences but also try to bring hope and positivity into the discussion. Please do join in, and I hope you settle in well.

For those who may not know, a support network is is a group of people that you are connected to, who help to support you through life. It could be family members, friends, support workers, people you can go to when you need them. For myself, my support network consists of my immediate family, a handful of friends, and my partner and that’s enough for me. It’s a group of people who I trust, who uplift me and inspire me when I’m feeling low and so much more. I have been relying extensively on my support network at the minute with everything that’s going on in my life.

They can act in small ways such as helping me with food or simply understanding that at the moment I am quite limited in what I can do, or it could be greater gestures such as taking me to appointments throughout each week which had been a fair amount at the end of last year.

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have dared to seek support in others, I thought I had to rely on myself because it felt like it would all be a misunderstanding. It could cause the greatest suffering to myself, opening up in a way that I didn’t feel comfortable with. But now, I have no qualms about seeking support because I know it will be there.

It can be hard personally because we are thought of in society that we should be individualistic.

Pulling our socks up and getting out there.

Doing what we need to do.

But I am here to challenge this notion. We only got to where we are today because of collective support, I’ll say that again, we only got to where we are today because of collective support, collective intuition, collective knowledge, collective strength and collective hope. So why is it that nowadays it is frowned upon to ask for help even in things such as our daily jobs? Why is it we who have chronic conditions be the reason to blame when we cannot pull our socks up and do what what society deems correct?

I dislike living in an individualistic society where I have to live under the court of public opinion that does not fit the narrative my life has took. I know of so many people who have tried to go it on their own and haven’t succeeded. I see it hurt them time and again, and through my previous work I learned that we cannot do it alone. It is simply impossible, there is always someone around who will help another individual, I firmly believe in that.

When I finally learned the confidence to speak out about when I needed help and what kind of help I needed, I was glad. I managed to gradually spread that to my few trusted friends, to my current partner and my family. While I can sometimes feel like a burden, I suppose this is all natural, I am grateful for all that they do for me. I feel no shame in asking for support, for encouragement, for love, for inspiration, for strength, for kindness: especially kindness. It is a basic human right to show others kindness, compassion and understanding; this is essential in a support network.

More importantly we all deserve a support network, we all deserve our little community that give us strength and clarity and hope among many other things. If you feel so isolated and like you have no one, I promise you there is someone and that someone will turn into many people who will be what they you need them to be. We cannot go through life alone otherwise what kind of life is it?

This is something I am passionate about. I am grateful for my support network and I love them all dearly. Although at times it may feel like I don’t deserve them, in reality I do, because I help them back and I won’t forever need help getting around the house. I might go through long periods where I do a lot other times a little, my life is uncertain right now now but having a support network grounds me and there are so many benefits to having us apart network. I say to you, you deserve the love and support that I have received and more.

All the loving-kindness to you,

L x