Woman reaching for phone while pulling a ball and chain.

More than several times, I’ve had people walk into my office and ask me why this is happening to their brother, sister, daughter, uncle, mother, again when they have had a good week/month/year.

Mental health is a constant uphill battle. People are allowed to have good days mixed in with their bad day.  Those individuals battling mental health issues work incredibly hard to hang on to good days. However, it is difficult for our loved ones to understand the harsh realities of constantly struggling with mood disorders and mental illness.

Sometimes, we begin to believe that in order to conquer a mood disorder, we must be pleasant and strong every day. That is not reality. That is not a reality for anyone. While it would be nice to be it is possible to be constantly pleasant, we can not fool ourselves into thinking this is going to happen. When our loved ones begin to expect that we can snap out of “bad days” because we just had “good days”, we’re setting up an invalidating environment. In turn, this may exacerbate the situation.

Visit the link below for a wonderful picture depicting the struggle:
http://www.boredpanda.com/anxiety-depression-comics-nick-seluk-sarah-flanigan-awkward-yeti/?image_id=anxiety-depression-comics-nick-seluk-sarah-flanigan-awkward-yeti-17.jpg 

The uphill battle associated with mental illnesses can be hard, frustrating and often times extremely tiresome for the family members. As family members and caregivers, we can be supportive by remembering the following:

  • have realistic expectations of the situation
  • take care of your personal health and well being
  • respect limits (yours and the family member’s)
  • talk about what is helpful (and what is not)