Mental illness is a complex and often challenging aspect of human life. It affects not only the individuals who experience it but also those who care for them. When someone you love is suffering from mental illness, it can be an emotionally draining and sometimes even dangerous situation.
It’s essential to understand when to walk away from someone with mental illness for your well-being and, in some cases, theirs. In advancing mental health, every innovative and mental health biotech company is working diligently to develop treatments and solutions that can improve the lives of individuals and their families facing these challenges.
When to Walk Away from Someone with Mental Illness: A Guide to Self-Care
Before delving into when and how to walk away, it’s crucial to recognise that mental illness is a legitimate health condition.
Just as you would seek treatment and support for a loved one with a physical illness, the same consideration should be extended to those with mental health issues.
However, it’s essential to draw a line when the mental illness leads to abusive behaviour, whether physical, verbal, or emotional.
Abusive behaviour linked to mental illness can be emotional or physical. Emotional abuse signs include blaming, name-calling, abusive language, unreasonable demands, constant criticism, mockery of insecurities, humiliation, disregard for your efforts, manipulation, and an insistence on conformity. Physical abuse includes assault, hair-pulling, choking, pushing, isolation, property destruction, threats, and coercion.
If you or others are at risk of harm due to the individual’s mental health condition, safety must be the top priority. This may involve physical violence, threats, or dangerous behaviours. In such cases, seeking professional intervention and temporarily distancing yourself may be necessary.
Lack of Reciprocity
Support should ideally be a two-way street. If you consistently give support without receiving any acknowledgement, gratitude, or reciprocity, it can lead to emotional exhaustion. It’s essential to maintain a healthy balance in any relationship.
Individuals with certain mental illnesses may struggle with boundaries. They may become excessively dependent, invasive, or engage in manipulative behaviour. Recognising and asserting your boundaries is crucial for your well-being.
Deteriorating Mental Health
Supporting someone with a mental illness can be emotionally taxing. If you notice your mental health deteriorating, leading to stress, anxiety, or depression, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. Your well-being is just as important as theirs.
Resistance to Help
If the person consistently refuses professional help, medication, or therapy, it can be challenging to provide adequate support. In such cases, despite your best efforts, the individual may not experience significant improvement.
Your personal growth and well-being should not be sacrificed indefinitely for someone else’s mental health. If the relationship hinders your growth and happiness, it may be time to reconsider your involvement.
Creating a Safety Plan
Walking away from an abusive situation necessitates careful planning. Evaluate the need to leave, plan your destination, confirm the location, manage your departure timing, and maintain regular contact with supportive individuals. Communicate your intentions if safe, encourage professional help, set boundaries, and seek expert guidance when uncertain about the relationship’s future.
Empathy, Not Sympathy
When dealing with someone with mental illness, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy rather than sympathy. Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another, while sympathy often involves pity or feeling sorry for someone.
Approach the situation with empathy, not sympathy, to understand their perspective, reduce stigma, and build trust.
Clear and Open Communication
Effective communication is essential. Be clear, actively listen, stay respectful, use “I” statements, remain calm, encourage their expression, and consider involving a therapist if needed.
The Importance of Professional Help
In many cases, individuals with mental illness require professional help beyond what a friend or family member can provide. Recognising when to encourage someone to seek therapy or psychiatric assistance is an act of love and support. Mental health professionals have the knowledge and tools to offer the specialised care needed to address mental illness effectively.
In conclusion, knowing when to walk away from someone with mental illness is a complex and deeply personal decision. It is not an act of abandonment but rather an acknowledgement of the boundaries necessary to maintain one’s well-being. Empathy and compassion are invaluable, but they must be balanced with self-care.
Mental illness is a genuine health condition, but it should never be used as an excuse for abuse.