Family can be among the most important elements of working through your mental health concerns successfully. In order to communicate effectively with them there must be an open and supportive forum, free from judgment with a desire to understand. Those living with mental health struggles often feel that they have done something wrong merely by having a psychiatric condition. Depression, anxiety, and other conditions are not crimes committed by those suffering from them. Rather they are very real conditions that can be treated and managed and are no more their fault than any disease. Family discussions of their struggle must begin from this point of understanding.
Finding Your Family While Struggling With Mental Health
For many sufferers of mental health conditions, the word “family” is a loaded concept. The initial thing that comes to mind is their parents, siblings, and extended family members. For some, these blood relatives may not represent those they are closest to, their bond being mostly or only genetic. Others may come from a history of abuse that makes these “family” members impossible or even dangerous to approach in terms of mental health.
While those we are blood-related to can certainly be included in the term “Family,” that is not how we are using the term. Family is a bond you form with those who love and accept you as you are while encouraging you to strive to be your best self. They’re there to support you when the need arises and look to you for support when you need it. For many mental health sufferers, this describes their family-of-choice rather than their blood family. Your family of choice is comprised of friends and loved ones who have shown a history of loving support and reliability.
Regardless of how you personally define family, it’s important to know when it is appropriate to approach them with concerns about your mental health. Further, it’s important to know how to do so. While you may have shared aspects of your struggle with them already, these indicators serve as a good guide of when and how to continue:
- Acceptance Of Your Condition – Acknowledgement of the struggle you face is an essential first step. This often happens before mental health treatment is sought but happens afterward for some sufferers. Acknowledging these conditions allows you to speak clearly and accountably about them.
- Ongoing Treatment – In many cases, it is wise to have begun your journey towards managing your mental health before broaching the subject. Your growing understanding of your struggle, its origins, and having your therapist guide you in these conversations can be essential.
- Your Own Comfort – This is perhaps the most important part of knowing when to broach your struggle with others. No one “deserves” your open discussion about your condition. Openness, support, and a desire to understand will guide you to those who you may wish to involve in your journey.
One important point needs to be made. The need for loving support is a part of being human and part of a community. Many mental health sufferers have a past filled with trauma and struggle to manage their condition. Entering therapy can provide the tools to do so effectively and to help you communicate with others clearly about your struggle.
Open, Ongoing Honesty And Communication Is Key
One final note. Broaching the conversation is an important part of your journey to managing your mental health concerns. However, once you’ve opened the doors, it’s essential that you continue to share openly and honestly with those who’ve shown they’ll be there. Continuing to communicate with them, and consulting with your therapist, will help you progress on your journey.