Will Your Loved One's Illness Burn You Out?*

Hi loves,

This is a pre-written/collaborative post (not written by me).

Chronic health issues affect a lot of us. Besides having to cope with our own issues, we often find ourselves playing a vital role in supporting those we love as they battle with physical conditions, long-term diseases, and serious mental health issues. But when you’re helping to support them, you need to make sure that you’re not abandoning yourself. Here, we’re going to look at how you can attempt to maintain a safe and healthy relationship when you’re loved one is going through the worst of it.

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Know you can’t force them to get help

It’s true of any illness, but particularly prominent when you’re dealing with a mental health issue or dependency on alcohol or other seriously harmful substances. You can’t force anyone to seek treatment or to take a certain course of action. What you should do, instead, is show your concern and encourage them subtly to admit that they may need help. If you can do that, you can highlight options like treatment from Addiction Recovery Centre or therapy. You can help compile resources that give them a direction to take, but you can’t make them take that all-important first step.

Know you’re not going to know everything

When it comes to chronic illness or serious mental health issues, then you aren’t going to know everything there is to know about it. You can attend support sessions with them, you can (and should) research all the literature about the condition. But chronic health is like an iceberg. You are only reading what is on the surface level as well as what your loved chooses to show you. You don’t know their lived experience, so if you’re talking about methods of relief or treatment, or what they may be able to do or not do, you have to defer to them. If they don’t feel comfortable going outside or exercising, for instance, trust their judgement.

Know you need to look after yourself, too

Providing care actively can be difficult. Supporting someone with serious emotional health disturbances or a dependency can be risky, too. Their condition can make them prone to behave abusively or manipulatively, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself suffering your own emotional harm by exposing yourself to them too much. As Good Therapy suggests, you need to practice self-care when you’re trying to help a loved one going through a tough time. You might need to find some counselling of your own. You may need to take a break now and then. You might even have to distance yourself if you are being taken advantage of.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different. Your loved one may look to you for guidance and be entirely cooperative if they’re scared and confused about their situation. Or they may want to take care of it mostly themselves and you might be relegated to supporting them from the side. You need to talk seriously with them about their needs while ensuring you aren’t putting yourself at serious risk of burnout.

Thanks for reading. Leah xoxo

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