If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know the drill: in an emergency, if an oxygen mask appears above you, always fit your own before helping others. The logic is sound: if you run out of air, you’re no help to anyone. The same goes for your mental health. Here’s why.
If you have someone in your life who is suffering from a mental health condition, it can feel natural to do whatever you can to help them. You’re inclined to drop everything, especially when it feels like an emergency.
But when you have mental health concerns as well, that can really take a toll on your mental wellbeing. And even if you don’t, as the plane analogy shows, you can’t help others if you’re not getting enough oxygen yourself.
When it comes to mental illness, everyone has an opinion. There is plenty of stigma and stereotypes when it comes to certain illnesses, and even certain behaviours.
If you’re supporting a friend, partner or family member going through a tough time with their mental health, it helps to remind yourself that they have a health condition. Would you be upset with someone for coughing if they had a cold, or for throwing up if they had food poisoning?
Thinking of mental illness the same way we think of physical illness can bring logic back into an equation that can be very upsetting and emotional at times.
At the same time however, there is no excuse for abusive or cruel behaviour, no matter how unwell someone might be. Expect respect from everyone in your life, at all times.
A boundary is for you. A rule is for someone else. It can be hard to tell the difference at first glance but one is completely in your control, and the other is attempting to control someone or something outside of yourself.
Examples of rules might be ‘You’re not allowed to stop taking your medications,’ or ‘You’re not allowed to stop seeing your therapist.’ Rules very quickly become stressful for you and your loved one because you’re telling them what to do – and you feel like your happiness depends on them doing it.
A boundary is a line in the sand. It is a predetermined moment when you respectfully remove yourself from a situation. Having boundaries in mind ahead of time, especially for stressful or triggering situations, can help you to feel more calm and in control.
Examples of boundaries can be:
When you’re used to living without boundaries, setting and maintaining them can feel scary. Getting help from a professional can help you navigate boundary-setting and the emotions that come with it.
Just like physical illnesses, the treatment and specialist care a person might need for one mental illness may not be suited to the next person.
As the largest private provider of mental health care in Australia, we are dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of those we treat, with whatever pathway they need.
We encourage you to reach out to our expert team who can assist you in finding the right avenue for your mental health care journey.