This story is part of a blog series called, “Your Story: a conversation on mental and emotional health and disabilities.” Please read with a heart open and understanding -free of judgement.
Please be aware that the interviewee mentions a suicide attempt. If this topic affects you in any way please stop reading, talk with a someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
A Note On Editing
Minor changes were made to the interview to bring clarity to the reader.
An Introduction to this Story
This is a different style of story than has been shared so far. This story is about a woman’s experience caring for a friend who struggles with their mental and emotional health. Both the caregiver and the friend are anonymous in this story.
I am always inspired by caregivers. Caring for someone with mental and emotional health struggles can be an absolutely draining and daunting task. The thing I don’t think most people realize about mental health is that it changes from day to day even hour to hour. Some times are better and some are worse. This is why being a caretaker is so difficult! Caretakers never know if today will be a good day or a bad day for their loved one. It can be an emotional roller coaster.
Thank you to all who have cared for a loved one struggling with mental and emotional health concerns and disabilities. You are a real hero!
How did their mental/emotional health impact your relationship?
I ended up feeling responsible for making sure she was alive and making good choices.
What symptoms or behaviors do you notice in the individual who struggles with mental/emotional health challenges and disabilities?
There are always good days, but they are far less frequent than the bad days. There are times I don’t know if she’ll make it through the year alive. She reaches out during bad spells, so I feel like she’s crying out for help.
She’s always in and out of relationships with the same two to three guys, and none of them have treated her very well. She knows this, and that’s why she leaves. But then she thinks she’s built it up in her head and returns, so the cycle starts all over again.
Did you have an intervention, a conversation, or receive a “plea for help” with this individual? And if so how did you respond?
Trigger Warning this answer contains details about the suicide attempt of her friend.
I was with another friend when she texted me. She had saved up and taken two full bottles of pills. She felt like she was going to pass out, and she was happy it might all be over. I contacted her sister immediately and told her to go check on my friend and to tell her mother, so they could go to the emergency room. Her stomach had to be pumped, and she was in the hospital for a while on suicide watch. I was really worried she’d be mad at me for thwarting her plans and for causing her to have all these hospital bills.
Do you feel that you’ve played a role in their treatment and healing process? If so, how?
I honestly don’t know how much help I’ve been. I really try. I know I helped her live through at least one experience, but who knows how long until she decides enough is enough?
Has this experience made you more aware of those around you who may also be struggling? And if so, what actions are you taking to be there for love and support?
I’ve realized you never know who is struggling and how we can influence their day – good or bad. Being a positive presence is always what I strive for now.
How do you cope with the bad days, flare ups, and ups and downs in their mental/emotional health?
Honestly, there are days I don’t feel emotionally equipped to handle it, but I can’t ignore her when she needs me. It’s just not an option.
What advice would you give someone who is witnessing the mental/emotional struggles of someone they love?
Make sure you are properly diagnosed so that you are on the right medications. It can make a world of difference. Just be kind. Everyone needs someone to be kind to them.
Is there anything else you want to say about this experience of witnessing and caring for someone with mental/emotional health struggles?
It’s so draining. But I don’t love her any less, and I don’t want anyone struggling to think mental health issues make you any less deserving of care, affection, and love. You are always worth it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story!
Continuing the Conversation
Feel free to continue the conversation on mental and emotional health in the comments below. But please understand that your comments are being moderated and will be deleted if they are hurtful, hateful, or inappropriate in any way. This is a safe space to share your story about mental and emotional health and disabilities and find support. Please do what you can to keep it as such.
A Note For Readers
If you feel inspired to share your story, please click here to be taken to the introductory post where you will learn where the inspiration for this blog series came from as well as how to participate.