In The Background

There are a lot of things on my mind lately, and I’ve been uncharacteristically silent about all of them. I’ve wanted to sit down and write about it so the words might stop ricocheting in my mind, but finding the words right now is challenging.

It’s a fickle thing, writing about your experiences in a way that doesn’t add to the hurt. 

And no, I’m not talking about politics. Not right now, anyway. I’m talking about something else in my life that is challenging and murky, something that I can’t exactly write freely about. I want to, but it’s hard. It’s not just my story, it’s many stories intertwined. It’s not just my feelings, it involves a lot of people.

It’s years of history and pain, years of hope and disappointment.

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Behind a person struggling with mental illness is a group of people who loves them and wants to help them, but often times…they don’t know how. They are the people who try so hard to get their loved ones help, advocating endlessly for them. They are the people who make mistakes because the right answers are so hard to find. There’s no designated rule book that will adjust accordingly to each person’s unique situation, and that can be very isolating.

I know that there are people out there with mental illnesses that feel alone in their battles, and more often than not that is unfortunately true. Sometimes, they don’t have anybody to hold their hand when things get tough. Sometimes, they’ve pushed away everyone, or had limited family to speak of.

But there are also many cases where the family is there, trying to reach out and hold tight, and losing against the monsters of addiction and resistance.

It’s always been a goal of mine to write about the people in the background, probably because I am a person in the background. I care about many individuals who suffer from mental illnesses.

I love people who suffer from depression and anxiety. I love people who have rage disorders. I love people who suffer from borderline personality disorders.

Some of these people are on top of their treatments. They take their medication, meet with their therapists and doctors regularly, and do whatever it takes to keep the beasts at bay.

But I also love people who refuse to get help for their mental illnesses, and it’s heartbreaking.

Loving someone who is intent on destroying themselves is so, so damn hard. You want so badly to save them, for them to succeed and find happiness in constructive, healthy ways. But people are prideful and stubborn, and mental illness is a constant battle the entire family fights. It’s a relentless battle, and we are weary.

At the end of the day, you can’t make someone want to get better. They have to want to seek treatment themselves. Remaining supportive when you watch them make decisions you don’t agree with is also incredibly hard, and I’ve found that lately…I’ve had to take a giant step back. No matter how much I care, no matter how badly I wanted this person to get help, I believe that I may have made it worse for them. Unintentionally, of course–because really, where is that rule book? The one full of the dos and don’ts? What worked for me doesn’t appear to be working for this person, and I was setting bars they could never reach in their current state.

But then, with pulling back you ask yourself yet again…am I doing the right thing? The doubt sets in, and the confusion as well–because you feel like you could be–should be–doing more.

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