For some of us, seeking out support may just be asking our family members or friends. However, when doing this, boundaries must be kept in mind. First, when seeking support from a family or friend, they must be one who is wholly trusted and will keep your confidence (unless it is a crisis situation). Additionally, boundaries are important because neither party should feel as if they are being taken advantage of.
If I seek support from my fiancé, I should not guilt him into doing things or helping me by using my previous suicide attempts as a way to get what I want from him. This is manipulation, not support. Instead, I will reach out to him when I am feeling anxious and ask him to sit with me and listen because it helps calm me.
We previously have talked about what my anxiety looks like, what my needs are in the midst of those episodes and what my “danger” signs are, so that he is prepared to help and knows what to do if it becomes more than anxiety. And he also has support he can reach out to in case he begins to feel overwhelmed with helping me. Setting up a system to ensure your loved ones feel comfortable and able to support you can allow you to accept others’ support, and not feel as if you are burdening anyone.
Finding Other Forms of Support
I know not everyone who is dealing with a mental health condition can feel they have the blessing of support. Certainly, support of family or friends is not always available, and support of professionals is not always easily accessed. But, there are other forms of support out there.
Many counties have free services offered that can provide assistance. Even if there is a waiting list, it can be better than nothing at all. For example, many counties have a mental health office or facility which offers psychiatric emergency screening services (PESS) or a similar service under a different acronym (you can do an Internet search of “Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services” to find what’s available in your state). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a search of treatment and supports “near me.” Also, Internet searching “free mental health service near me,” with your zip code can help lead to support services in your area.
NAMI offers free support groups in many counties across the country. This is a great way to meet peers who are also struggling with their mental health, release your emotions in a safe space and learn about other resources. There are also many other online discussion and support groups for those looking for support, such as 7 cups or DBSA.
While not always right at the tip of our fingers, support is out there when we look for it. Whether support comes from professionals, family or friends, it is essential to successfully coping with a mental health condition. So, keep in mind, when the mental health world repeats over and over that “support is essential,” there is a reason for it.