Skip to main content
Tag

care

Mental Health Focus: How to support someone with Mental Illness

By Health, Thinking4 Comments
mental-health-focus Supporting someone with mental illness can be difficult. What should you say and not say? What should you do and not do?

First educate yourself around mental illness. Mental health charities Mind and SANE both have informative websites.

You can see General Statistics for Mental Health in the UK here. You can see a A list of Famous People who have experienced Mental Illness here. You can also see 15 Lies That Depression Would Have You Believe here.

Second: You must look after yourself. You can’t support anyone else if you are not well physically, mentally or emotionally. You may find my blog post 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Mental Health useful.

how-to-support-someone-with-mental-illness-image

On to the practical advice to support someone with mental illness:

  • Stay in contact with them. Ask them how they would like you to keep in contact. Some may may prefer phoning or seeing; whereas others may prefer messaging or texting.
  • Unconditional love and care. Let them know that you love them unconditionally and care for them deeply. Don’t have any expectation that they will reciprocate.
  • Listen to what they say and don’t assume anything.
  • Ensure that there are no distractions when you are with them or on the phone to them. Put your phone on silent and make sure any loud children are pets are out of the way (if you have them).
  • Offer practical support. Go shopping for them or with them, help them to clean, cook them a meal. Whatever it is that they need. They maybe resistant to the idea of practical help, so reassure them that you are happy to help and that you know they’d do it for you.
  • Remind them to take their medication or when appointments are due. People with mental illness tend to have poor short term memories.
  • Ask them about their appetite and diet. If they have an appetite but are struggling to make anything (due to lack of energy and/or motivation), find out what there favourite meal is and cook it for them.
  • Offer distracting activities. Distracting activities that you can both do together can give someone a break from their own critical inner of voice. The activities can be something as simple as a walk around the park. Make sure you are always led by the person with mental illness though. If they say that they are too unwell or tired to do the activity, don’t take it personally. And certainly don’t judge them or take offence.
  • Help them access support. This could include going with them to GP, counselling sessions or mental health service appointments. Offer to sit in appointments with them, but let them know that it’s okay if they want to be seen alone.
  • Be understanding. Someone with mental illness may cancel plans at the last minute. You may arrive at their house to find it messy and them unclean. Don’t take it personally, let them know that you understand and ask if there is anyway that you can help.
  • Be patient. Like any illness, mental illness takes the right treatment, the right support and time for them to start to feel better.
  • Limit questions and time spent with them, if you feel they are exhausted and need to rest. You’ll be able to spot if they need to rest by: pulling on their hair, forgetting what you’ve said to them, being very slow to respond, unable to think of words, dropping of their head, shuffling of feet and other body language people use when they look like they are about to drop off to sleep.
  • Be aware of your own body language and theirs. Try and display open body language and avoid mirroring.
  • Try not to give advice, as often it is unrealistic and unhelpful. For example never advise someone with depression to exercise more or have an healthier diet. This person has probably used all of their energy and motivation to get out of the bed. This single action has left them more exhausted than they have ever felt in their life. So advising them to exercise, eat an healthier diet or make big changes to their life will seem unachievable and may come across as if you are blaming them for their depression.
  • Sign-post them to useful resources. Such as: NHS Choices, Time to Change, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, SANE, Anxiety UK and Bipolar UK.

This blog post is part of a series that focuses on mental health. Other posts in the series include: Mental Health Focus: Treatment & Recovery, Mental Health Focus: A List of Common Conditions and Mental Health Focus: 5 Brilliant TED Talks About Mental Health.

You can read about my experiences of mental illness here: Life Hiatus – My Mental Health In-Patient Admission and Diagnosis of a ‘Mood Disorder’, My Health Woes: Clinical Depression, Dental Abscesses, The Lump and The Emergency Surgery, Finally…in Recovery and getting Back to Life and Mental Health Focus: I’ve Been One of the 1 in 4.

Take care,

Antony

mental-health-wisdom-banner



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


Share on Social Media:

1 Life Lesson I’ve Learned for Every Year of My Adult Life

By ThinkingNo Comments

Life is about growth through learning and experience. So here’s 1 lesson life has taught me for every year of my adult live:

Age 18 – The importance of good and lifelong friendships. What makes a good friend including care, kindness, a sense of humour and loyalty.

Age 19 – The importance of having joy in my life. Creating opportunities for joy, seeking it out and chasing it are all essential activities for me.

Madame Tussaunds Blackpool on a thrown

Me on a thrown

Antony-Simpson-Writer

Me

Age 20 – That I’m never going to please everyone. Not everyone will like me or get me. That doesn’t mean I should stop trying. If I can make somebody laugh with a funny story or a joke, I’m going to do it. The smile or laughter is always worth it for me.

I just accept that not everyone is going to be pleased with what I do or don’t do. As long as I am happy with my intentions, actions and omissions, that’s good enough for me.

Age 21 – A diagnosis of a chronic illness (in my case type 1 diabetes) starts with grief. I mourned the loss of my working pancreas and cursed my faulty immune system.

Age 22 – Independence is extremely important to me. Getting my driving licence and being smothered in a relationship both helped me to realise this.

Age 23 – In the outside world many people are far to happy to psychologically tear strips off you. So inside your home should feel safe, full of compassion and be filled with a feeling of care. How I felt at home when I was younger and buying my own apartment helped me to realise this.

Age 24 – Sometimes I just have to do certain things, otherwise I’d always wonder What if?

Heartbreak sometimes heals with the passage of time. A lot of time. More than days, weeks or months. Years. Sometimes even longer than that.

Sometimes the heart doesn’t heal at all, it just scabs over like a scraped knee. Ready for you to pick at it or for something to come along and reopen the wound.

Age 25 – Not everyone gets to live a full and long life. This feels unfair. Life is precious.

The shock of an unexpected death is a thousand times worse than the grief of the loss. It is spiritually, mentally and emotionally exhausting. The disbelief that comes from the shock can last years and make it impossible to grief.

Age 26 – There’s something magic about new babies and they smell totally awesome.

Age 27 – The past is a nice place to visit, the future is a nice place to imagine, but you shouldn’t live in either of them. Live in the present.

Age 28 – The extreme highs and lows of mood I’ve had since my teenage years are not normal. Most people have a pretty stable mood.

Mood stabiliser and antidepressant medications saved more than just my mind, they saved my life.

Age 29 – Travel broadens my mind, fills my heart with goodness and strengthens my soul. If you have the opportunity to travel do. I learned this through visiting India, which has a special place in my heart.

IndiaJuly2015-TajMahal-8

Me with the Taj Mahal in the background (2).

Age 30 – Creativity enriches every aspect of myself. Stories (written, films, etc.) ignite my imagination and develop my empathy. Art and sculptures help me appreciate the beauty that the creators saw in the world around them or in their mind. Music helps me to feel and gives me the opportunity to dance.

To create something, whatever it is, is a learning process. Sometimes creative projects go well, other times not. But I always learn things from them. The process of creating something makes me feel alive and all lit up – even if it’s just a blog post like this one.

To share something I’ve created with the world makes me super-anxious. But when somebody tells me that my creative project has had some sort emotional resonance with them it becomes a privilege.

soulmates-cover-page

Soulmates (Short Story)

The Finished Product: My homemade candles look great (1).

The Finished Product: Just 1 of the 22 completed (unlit).

The Good Teen (Short Story)

Age 31 – When you do something you love for a job, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a vocation and a passion.

Write soon,

Antony

mental-health-wisdom-banner



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


Share on Social Media:

The difference between a House and a Home

By Home4 Comments

home-apartment-mill-large

My Apartment is in a former Cotton Mill. Image Illustrated by Sye Watts.


A house is a building usually with four walls, a roof, windows and doors that people live in. Whereas a home can be any sort of dwelling and is infinitely more. A home is:

  • A destination that you always look forward to arriving at.
  • A sense of belonging.
  • A place where kin come together to socialise, share meals, drink and be merry.
  • A place filled with laughter.
  • A place where birthdays, Christmas and other events are celebrated.
  • A place of mental and emotional comfort.
  • A place of physical comfort.
  • A place of good memories.
  • A place of love, affection and sex.
  • A place that can be quiet or noisy.
  • A place that may have children, pets and plants that need caring for.
  • A place of growth.
  • A place of life and death.
  • A place filled with sentimental items: photos, ornaments and artwork.
  • A place of safety.
  • A place where you can be yourself without fear of judgement.
  • A place where you can feel exactly as you do without having to explain.
  • A place you feel yourself immediately relax on entering.
  • A place of mediation and reflection.
  • A place where you can dance unobserved.
  • Somewhere that there’s always a cup of tea on offer.
  • A place where good meals are made and devoured.
  • A place filled with sentimental items: photos, ornaments and artwork.
  • A place where personal hygiene takes place.
  • A place where pyjamas are worn.
  • A place where books are read and your imagination is ignited & stimulated.
  • A place where TV and films are watched.
  • A place where music is listened to and enjoyed.
  • A place of privacy.
  • A place where some practice their faith, religion or magic.
  • A place where more than one language may be spoken, sometimes in the same conversation.
  • A place that is part of a vibrant and diverse community.

I am so fortunate. Seven years ago I bought my own apartment (see The Move) and it quickly became my own home. But what makes me feel really fortunate, is that I have several other places that feel like home. Places where friends and self-proclaimed-adoptive-families live.

Take care,

Antony



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


Share on Social Media:

Ruth Cocker Burks: The altruistic woman who cared for gay men dying with AIDS in the 1980s in the USA

By Gigs & Shows, Health, Inspiration4 Comments

ruth-burks-image-brian-chilson

Ruth Cocker Burks, image by Brian Chilson (from Out Magazine’s Website)

The photo above is of Ruth Cocker Burks.

Ruth is the altruistic woman who cared for gay men dying with AIDS in the 1980s in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. It started when she was at University Hospital visiting a friend who had cancer. At the time she was 25 years old with a young family.

One day she saw a door to a patient’s room with a big red bag over it. Inside was a gay man dying of AIDS. Nobody came to visit him. He was asking for his mother. So Burks called his mother. His mother told Burks that being gay had brought shame on the family. His family didn’t want to know. Even the healthcare staff treated him as cursed. So Burks cared for him. She visited him in hospital and when he finally passed away she buried him.

Burks then went on to give this end-of-life care to hundreds of gay men and to bury at least three dozen herself. Luckily for Burks, her mother had bought 262 plots in a graveyard when she was younger due to a colossal family argument. This meant that Burks has plenty of space for the burials.

From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of those gay men, I just want to say: Thank you Ruth Cocker Burks. Nobody deserves to die alone, afraid and without care or love.

Burks believes that a higher power led her to her destiny of caring for these gay men dying with AIDS. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But what I do know is that Burks’ actions represents the very best aspects of humanity: care, compassion, kindness and love.

Burks is an inspirational woman and I wish we could all be more altruistic, meaning that we care for the well-being of others more.

The blog post above is a shortened paraphrase of Meet the Woman Who Cared for Hundreds of Abandoned Gay Men Dying of AIDS from Out Magazine’s online website.

Blog soon,

Antony

mental-health-wisdom-banner



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


Share on Social Media: