Mental illnesses can take many forms. It affects the way people think, feel, act, make decisions, relate to others, and handle stress. Symptoms often vary over time and across circumstances. It is normal to have good and bad days. Typically, there are triggers that precede bad days and lead to unhelpful or harmful behavior. Especially at these times, a person may feel overwhelmed, stuck, confused, and resentful. They may feel guilty and defensive.
These feelings are often projected onto others in their lives, especially those close-by. This strains relationships and causes a negative feedback, which exacerbates the patient’s feelings and behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, the person may genuinely appear unaffected, uncaring, or denying that anything is wrong. They may lack the motivation to change and resist any efforts of assistance. In all of these cases you, as the partner, friend, or relative, have to be clear-headed and objective about their condition. All recoveries start with awareness and acceptance, which takes longer for some people than others. In all cases, positive and informed support is the key to success!
We look at our natural emotional responses to the trauma of mental illness in the following section.