Welcome Back to my second post in my Anxiety Diaries which is focused on Mental Health specifically Anxiety and Family Support. If you are interested in reading post one which discussed Anxiety and Toxic Friendships then you can do so by clicking here; Anxiety Diaries #1 – Toxic Friendships.
Explaining a Mental Health issue is difficult and explaining it to family can be even harder so when you finally open up and tell them about your struggles it can be devastating when they don’t understand.
In terms of my relationship with my family and my mental health there are things they do not know and I will probably never tell them because I know they are things they won’t understand. People say that in order to get better or to help deal with your mental health, it helps to talk to loved ones but that does not necessarily mean family. Me and my family have our ups and downs like any family but as I am the first in my family to have Anxiety it is something they don’t really understand. They try to understand but sometimes it’s as if they forget… one thing I really hate is when my older brother tells me how every worry I have is ‘all in my head.’ I used to argue and explain how I know that some of my anxious thoughts are irrational and I know they are in my head but it doesn’t stop me feeling them and it makes me feel even worse as I wish I could change it. It’s frustrating and frankly I just ignore it now because the argument isn’t worth it but if you are someone with a loved one who suffers from Anxiety then please don’t say this.
As time has gone on Mental Health is being discussed more and more everyday, there is still a long way to go to abolish the stigma which surrounds it but people are definitely starting to question and aim to understand. So how could you help your family understand your situation?
Leaflets / Websites
Your local Doctors surgery should have a bunch of leaflets regarding Anxiety, Panic Attacks and other mental health issues, you can give these to your loved ones so that they can have a read through and try to understand the symptoms associated with your issue. Alternatively the internet is our greatest tool also here, there are so many websites (just a google search away) that you can visit such as NHS, Mental Health, Mind Charity.
A good tip here is also don’t forget about YouTube or Celebrity Interviews. Sometimes a familiar celebrity can help your family understand how common mental health problems are. You will always hear the sentence ‘you never would have thought they had…’ which makes them realise that anybody can be diagnosed with depression, panic attacks, bipolar etc.
Here are a few names of celebrities you may wish to consider researching in order to help with this discussion. I find those with older generation parents may find this helpful the most, I most certainly did as my parent’s never knew anybody with Anxiety Disorder. It just helped with the discussion we had. The following are Celebrities who have spoken about their own mental health struggles in the past…
Catherine Zeta Jones
Sadly not everyone’s is or you feel like you just can’t tell them everything so where do you go from here? I wish I had all the answers. I don’t, but I have some tips which may help you when you need to get your feelings out.
Write a diary, journal or even a letter to yourself. Just getting your feelings down on paper can be so helpful and really ease an anxious episode. If you are also scared of someone reading this then you can destroy the letter, use this as a way to get rid of the negative thoughts. You are writing them down and then destroying them, throwing them away from you.
You don’t have to talk to anybody if you don’t want to but keeping things bottled up isn’t helpful, writing things down is another way to get things out there. Writing a letter to a loved one can also be a way to discuss your feelings regarding your mental health.
Blogging is essentially an extension of journalling except it is public, although you can remain as anonymous as you like. Blogging for me has really helped my anxiety, it has introduced me to so many others like me who have had similar experiences and the support network is outstanding.
This is an option not open to everyone, not everyone is as open with their families to this degree but counselling can be helpful to many. There are numerous support networks out there for yourself individully or your family as a whole. Sometimes you just need a safe space where you can talk with an unbiased professional in the room who can help explain your feelings when you can’t. In a medical capacity this can be helpful for those whose mental health needs a higher level of care and consideration.
Live With It.
Sounds brutal I know.
Sometimes you simply can’t change another person’s thoughts and when they are your family then sometimes you have to live with it. Unless you are seriously being harmed and emotionally abused from their behaviour then living with it is sometimes our only option. Sadly not all members of our families will truly understand and most likely than not, you will get a stupid comment thrown at you here and there but this is probably because they simply don’t understand. I wish we were able to place others into our brains for a moment so they can experience it but sadly we can’t.
Top Tip; When you are discussing your mental health with your family remember that you too need to be considerate. Allow them to ask questions, ones that may seem really dumb or obvious are ones they may need to ask to fully grasp what you are feeling and going through.
I hope you find this post helpful to you, I have been blown away by the sheer audience of the first post, the comments and likes. I never expected so many to interact with these posts but I am so thankful that my words are reaching out, I just hope they are helpful to someone.