Dealing with a mentally ill family member/friend/stranger/co-worker/employee is hard. There are a variety of mental illnesses. However, being exposed to someone who has a mental illness can affect your well being, the way you communicate and live your life. Below are 10 tips on how to deal with a family member who is mentally ill.
- Don’t take it personally. Someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness will do or say things that can be considered irrational or hurtful. Don’t take it personally. It’s hard not to but it is something you have to do for your own sanity.
- Don’t engage in an argument. Most arguments will lead nowhere with someone who is mentally ill. Just stop. Walk away.
- Engage in positive communication. Try to avoid talking about negative issues because that can lead to an argument. Talk about the weather (seriously, something harmless) or something you know that can be discussed with this person without it leading to something negative.
- Stay away or find a reason to leave. If the person with a mental illness is clearly having a bad day, it is best to stay away. Don’t try to hang around because you might become engaged in drama.
- Find an activity. Staying busy is the best way to deal with somebody who has a mental illness. Usually doing a fun activity can brighten up their day.
- Check in. If you don’t live with the person who has a mental illness, check in with him from time to time. It is important that he feels loved as well especially if you do love this person.
- Don’t always assume it is their fault. Just because your loved one is mentally it, it doesn’t mean she is always wrong. Step back and be unbiased. Were you wrong? If you are, apologize.
- You can’t change them. Unfortunately, you can not change a person with a mental illness. The person with the mental illness has to want to change. You can try and offer help, support, and love; however, don’t expect the person to change.
- Don’t try to force them to be accountable for their behavior. If he is doing something that is hurtful or mean, don’t try to force them to be accountable for their behavior. This is assuming you are dealing with a rational person. You know that what they are doing is wrong. People who have a mental illness can feel threatened by others and will lash out if you push them to think a certain way.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t let your self esteem or sanity be beat down. Walk away, don’t engage, and find ways to make yourself happy.
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