So, if you follow my blog regularly you will already know that I’m in the middle of interviewing some beautiful people out there (mainly other parents) who are living with mental health issues at the moment. I am still in the process of doing that and will continue to post a few more over the coming weeks. If you haven’t read any of these yet, I highly recommend scrolling down and reading them, they are a comforting, reassuring read that open your eyes to the world of mental health and the struggles that lay within it. I decided that following on from my previous topic of interviewing people suffering with mental health issues, I wanted my next topic on my blog to be about interviewing people who support people who suffer with mental health issues. The partners, close friends and relatives of those suffering with their mental health and how it can also effect them too. The supporters play the most important role in the life of someone suffering with their mental health, they are so important and their support, empathy, love and effort never goes unnoticed and the tiniest acts of love and kindness mean the world to people suffering. Sometimes simply giving your loved one a hug and saying nothing, just hugging them and letting them cry is more than enough support and love they need. Sometimes just making them a cup of tea in the mornings and asking how they are feeling / taking a genuine interest in how they are feeling goes such a long way. Affection and reassurance is the best remedy and it’s so appreciated. I feel it’s really important to acknowledge the supporters as well here, because after all they are usually the reason we pull through the dark days, they are the reason we want to continue living through the bad times and they give us hope and they are the light at the end of our very dark tunnel. They matter just as much as we do. (When I say “we” I’m acknowledging myself as a fellow sufferer of mental health issues)
I have had the privilege of interviewing some amazing partners, relatives and close friends of those suffering with their mental health and each of them are doing a great job in their own ways.
Below is my first interview with an old childhood friend, Dean, whom I’ve known since we were just 6 years old. Dean is 27 years old and his partner has been suffering with PTSD for 3 years and sporadic night time anxiety attacks for the last 4/5 years. Dean tries his best to support his partner by cuddling her and holding her during the night when she has an anxiety attack, goes to doctors appointments with his partner and also reads books about mental health to better his knowledge and understanding of what his partner is going through. He is doing an amazing job so far.
My interview with Dean:
Me: How long have you known the person close to you who suffers with mental health problems?
D: Nearing on 3 years now.
Me: How long has your partner / friend / relative been suffering with a mental health problem and what do they suffer with?.
D: 4/5years PTSD (3 years) and sporadic night time anxiety attacks (4/5 years).Me: When did you first realise they were suffering with mental health problems?
D: At first it started when the conversation was that my partner wanted to die, this had a huge impact on me because initially I thought that it was my fault, after we worked through it together it was clear she had been suffering in silence, the late night anxiety attacks would only be calmed by me sitting up against the headboard with her sat between my legs in a bear hug type cuddle
Me: What has it been like for you personally being close to someone who suffers with mental health problems?
D: It’s hard, obviously I wouldn’t show the strain on myself, I know from my own experience being close to it that’s it’s easy for the sufferer to try and hide it as to not burden others, I’d rather be tired the next day and they have had some sleep than them dreading work due to no sleep and suffering in silence as I believe it gets exponentially worse as the days go on if it’s not talked about or even confronted even a little bit by the sufferer.
Me: Do you have a clear understanding of mental health problems, what they entail and what causes them? If not, do you intend to learn more about it in order to better support your loved one?
D: Yes, I have read books, been to appointments with the sufferer and even engaged in therapy with the sufferer to show support and learn more.
Me: How have you supported your partner?/What do you try and do to support your partner?.
D: Sounds silly but cuddles, making plans is huge for her, as it helps alleviate the anxiety, even if the plans are small something to look forward to is important, the night time attacks are best dealt with head on, I wake up straight away and make sure I do all I can, a cuddle, hold a hand and reassuring words or even a little joke to try and make her smile.
Me: If you could give any advice to someone else out there who’s close to someone with mental health problems, what would it be?
D: Just try and listen and understand it’s not all your fault, once you understand this it’s easier to help, talk about it as much as possible without putting pressure on them to talk about it if they aren’t ready
Me: Are you aware of the support you can get from different helplines and charities that help support people who care for someone with a mental health problem? If not, would you be interested in knowing more about the help that is out there for you?
D: The doctors has been good for us including counciling! Books are great and autobiographical in particular help you understand the issues some go through! In my opinion it makes the sufferer feel more normal for want of a better phrase as they realise it’s not just them!
A huge thank you to Dean for answering these personal and sensitive questions for all of us to read. ❤️