Disclaimer: I am not an architect. Is pillar even the right term? I don’t know.
A few days ago I finished watching “13 Reasons Why”. I won’t give any spoilers, but it is a show about a girl who committed suicide (this is revealed in the first episode) giving her 13 reasons why she did it. I realize how difficult it is to live with mental illness, but it can be just as difficult to see someone you love struggle. You may not know what to do or say, and that makes you feel even more hopeless.
I don’t think I can articulate just how grateful I am for my support system (my pillars). I have no doubt in my mind that if it weren’t for them, I would have been long gone by now. If someone you love is struggling and you don’t know how you can help, I hope this can give you some insight and guidance. Here is a (very condensed) breakdown of what I feel helped me the most.
- A warm and supportive environment free of judgement. I felt like I could open up to my parents. When I did, they remained calm. When I showed them my self-harming scars, they didn’t get angry. They listened and embraced me when I cried. When I felt I was ready, they took me to my GP who then referred me to a psychiatrist. That was the start of my journey to recovery.
- Open conversation free of judgement. My friends and family let me speak about what I was going through and didn’t treat me any differently. They didn’t tiptoe around me afterwards (which I know would have made me feel worse and even more of a burden).
- Validation (free of judgement). Validation is to recognize or affirm that someones feelings are, essentially, valid. I was once surrounded by people who told me I was “crazy” or “overreacting” and this was such a damaging, invalidating environment to be in.
Individuals with mental illnesses are often having very understandable reactions to their circumstances. It could be an inability to regulate emotions, imbalanced chemicals in their brain, or a traumatic past. People don’t feel suicidal, hurt themselves, or withdraw because they want to.