Category Archives: Anxiety and Depression

When Someone Close To You Has Mental Health Issues

Going into the New Year, a lot of us feel pretty optimistic about the next twelve months. That’s not the case for everyone though, especially if they’ve suffered with their mental health during the past two years.

If you live with or love someone with mental health issues, it can be hard to know how best to support them. After all, we all like to think that we’re caring and kind (well, I haven’t met many people who admit to being uncaring and unkind!) but sometimes we can really be put to the test.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in the position of wanting to be the best you can where a partner or friend is concerned. If they’re suffering with a health issue, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical, it’s natural to want to help them as much as possible.

Some people are ‘naturals’ in these caring roles, but even then, other people’s health issues can take a toll on our own well-being. If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t beat yourself up about it. This week, I’m going to write about helping someone with mental health issues following on from my blog on 1 December when I wrote about how physical illness can affect your relationship

If your partner or friend is having a difficult time emotionally, you may have to help them to manage day-to-day tasks that previously they found easy to do themselves. But mental health affects people in different ways, so you have to almost ‘feel’ the situation as you go along.

One of your main roles will be to encourage and support them but also to help them to seek treatment such as medication, if appropriate, counselling and joining a group focussing on what’s going on for them. Don’t let’s underestimate the support of groups – even though a lot of people are reluctant to participate, they often find that the group is a lifeline. As someone who’s trying to help them, it might well be a lifeline for you as well.

You might also need to make phone calls for them – speaking on the phone can be a challenge at the best of times, but if you’re suffering emotionally, even more so.

Another way to encourage them is to build up their confidence about making decisions (when you’re depressed and anxious, it’s hard to have faith in the decisions you make in everyday life) and reinforce every little success that they have.

You may well feel frustrated that you can’t make them happy, or better, but like any physical health condition, you can’t always find a solution so don’t put that pressure on yourself. To help them, you need to stay healthy yourself.

If it’s really hard for them to tell you how they’re feeling on a day-to-day basis, setting up a colour-code might help. This would work by getting, say, four different coloured cards with each one having a meaning that you work out together. For instance, black could mean that they’re feeling particularly vulnerable on that day, red means they’re feeling angry or irritable, yellow means that they can’t talk about it but they do need some company and blue means that though they love you, they need to be alone that day. Whatever the card that they show you means, try to respect their needs.

Over a period of time, you might be able to interpret how they’re feeling without looking at cards but more about their behaviour and expressions on a particular day.

Most of all, as I said earlier, try to be there for them to talk to as much as you can but don’t neglect yourself and other relationships, otherwise you won’t be in a position to support them or anyone else.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Dealing With Emotional Abuse

This may surprise you – it did me when I first studied it years ago – but emotional abuse is the most common form of abuse although maybe we don’t always recognise it as such. Perhaps that’s because a lot of it is considered ‘normal’.  It’s not always very dramatic either and is often made up of a series of small incidents occurring over a period of time.

It may not be intentional but anything that insults, humiliates, threatens or controls someone else, is actually emotional abuse.

If this has happened to you, or is still happening, you’ll know that it cuts deep into your very core, often leaving you fearful and feeling undeserving and unloveable. It’s almost as if you’re being punished.

Overcoming it can be very hard but recognising what’s happening is the first step and that happens once you know what to look for. After that it’s important not to think that you must somehow work harder to fix the relationship whether that’s with your partner, a friend or a colleague. There may be elements that you need to work on but you also need to recognise that what’s happening is hurtful and wrong.

Write down the messages that you’re receiving and then think about how you can counter them. For instance, if someone in your family or at work says “you always mess things up”, try to think about the times that actually you made a difference in a positive way by, say, arranging a birthday lunch for that person, taking part in a charity walk or saving up to buy something that you really wanted. These are the times when you didn’t ‘mess things up’ and it’s important to remember them and then find ways to be kind to yourself.

If you can’t communicate with the person making negative claims and tell them how it makes you feel, try to work on how you can be more assertive next time. When you’re alone, try out different techniques such as “When you speak to me like that, it’s very hurtful” and use your new-found skills next time that person, or people, try to put you down. It won’t be easy because changing entrenched habits never is, but whatever you’ve been told about yourself, whatever your age and gender, you are worthy of respect and love – don’t accept anything less!

If you’re finding it hard to be assertive, read about it online and practice responses with a friend who’s willing to help.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

It’s Healthy To Talk

Below is the link to a blog that I wrote last month, which was published by my professional body, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

The publication was over four weeks ago, but I’ve only just received the link for publication on my website. This particular blog is about men’s mental health as that was the requirement for June 2021.

I hope that you find it interesting:

https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/blogs/2021/14-june-its-healthy-to-talk/

Talking is part of taking care of ourselves

Why Do We Choose The Friends We Do?

Having someone in our lives who think our opinions matter, who value our company and make us feel wanted is important to most of us. I think that this applies to most human beings as most people ultimately want and need to feel close to other human beings.

Having good friends can also help us to develop our self-esteem but there can, and often are, other reasons for choosing our friends. And be in no doubt, mostly we do choose people to be in our lives – they’re not always there by chance.

So why do we choose certain people to be our friends?

One reason is that it’s easier to get on with people who have similar values – while having different opinions is good in lots of ways, most close friendships are with people who think in the same way as us. If they don’t have the same values as you, there will be lots of compromises and sometimes that can be a strain, to say the least. When friends have similar values, it helps them to be accountable to each other and the wider world.

The pandemic has highlighted this for a lot of us – suddenly, people whom you thought were great friends have had different opinions about vaccinations, isolation and quarantine. It’s been a real eye-opener for many of us!

Having common goals is a big thing with a lot of friendships – if you’re ambitious in your work-life, you might choose people who can help your career take off up to the next level. This sounds a bit calculating but it may not be deliberate, just the way it’s worked out. If your usual friends are happy in their careers and don’t want or need to advance, it can help to be with people who feel the same as you.

Choosing friends who bring some balance to your life is important too – some friends have the skills and abilities that you don’t and vice-versa, so you can both enhance one another’s lives.

Past shared history is hugely important to a lot of us – that’s why it’s often hard moving to a new area, because you didn’t grow up there and can’t laugh about the crush you had on Ryan Smith in the last year of school. That’s partly why school reunions are appealing to some people – you can look back on your shared past and reflect on it, laugh, cringe and generally know that you got through it somehow.

Choosing friends with the same interests makes life more fun – if you both enjoy walking, the cinema, playing music or eating out, it’s great to have someone who shares those passions with you.

So, choosing the right friends for you is important for your happiness and self-worth. If you find yourself choosing people (or they choose you!) who don’t enhance your life, but pull you down and make you miserable, ask yourself why they’re in your life. Maybe your self-esteem is very low and you feel that you don’t deserve someone nice as a friend, so you have people in your friendship group who you can’t really relax around and, worse still, you can’t rely on. If that’s the case, look at your reasons for staying in a friendship like this and if it’s not what you really want. try to disengage from it as gently as possible. See less of that person, don’t respond to texts straight away and gradually ease away.

Lastly, if you want great friends you need to be one yourself so treat them as you want to be treated – that way your friendships will be rewarding as well as fulfilling.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

Bottling Up Emotions

On 9 March 2021 the comedian Jennifer Saunders spoke about her long marriage to Adrian Edmondson saying “”We are masters of keep it in, get over it, move on”. (see link below).

https://www.femalefirst.co.uk/tv/news/jennifer-saunders-never-argues-husband-1285266.html

As a counsellor and psychotherapist, this is not something I’d usually recommend although it certainly seems to work for Jennifer. However, she does go onto say that she often talks to her co-star, Dawn French, who, I quote, “helps me sort out my feelings about things and people’.

But, for a lot of people, talking about their feelings within relationships (whether that’s with a partner, family member or friend) is necessary so that resentments don’t build up and so that they can interact in a healthy way.

So, how to go about creating this emotional intimacy?

First of all, think about what or who has disappointed you, how it’s impacted on you and how you feel. It’s alright to say that you’re not sure about how you feel, that you’re confused and have mixed emotions.

If you’re struggling with talking about deep topics, ask yourself why this is. Maybe it taps into fears of being abandoned or rejected but if one person consistently avoids deeper subjects, anger can escalate or, the other extreme, one person shuts down their underlying emotions to try to keep the peace.

But, it’s the deep emotions that often keep a meaningful connection and it also stops ongoing negative patterns where communication is concerned.

So, how to start the conversation? Well, first of all, don’t say “we need to talk” which can make the other person feel like a five-year old, but instead say “I need to talk”. That shows that you know what you’re going to say is subjective. Following on from that, speak ‘adult to adult’ rather than parent to child. If you feel that you’re getting into a parental role with the other person, who will feel as if they’re being ‘told off’, make a conscious effort to get back to a place where you’re communicating as equals.

Remember, the person you’re interacting doesn’t exist to satisfy your every emotional need. Although your feelings are important, the other person has a right to feel differently and have their own feelings. Sometimes, ultimately you may have to agree to differ, even if that’s very frustrating.

Be patient with each other – differences often mean that you’re both experiencing things differently.

Lastly, don’t underestimate non-verbal communication. A light touch on the arm or a kiss on the cheek shows the other person that ultimately you’re thinking of them in a kind and loving way.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anger #relationships #self-esteem #sexuality #social anxiety

Communication is vital for a lot of couples