You shouldn’t have to become a teacher

If you love someone whose struggling with mental health problems – do your own damn research.

I get it – mental health awareness is a *new* thing, and people aren’t born knowing everything, nor should they be. But I do think it’s time people started to take ownership over learning how to be there for others.

If your work colleague, mum, friend, long lost loved bla bla bla, had to “come out” to you about being allergic to peanuts – hopefully – you’d be the kind of decent human being that stopped buying them peanuts. Maybe you’d even go the extra mile and look at the backs of packaging and stop buying foods that may contain nuts cos well – you wouldn’t wanna kill them.

So it would be really rad if people could extend this level of awareness to mental illnesses also.

Now – obviously – as someone with a mental health problem, I am very aware it is up to me to inform people how I feel, what my triggers are, how they can help me etc. The world doesn’t owe me anything for being a certain way, nor does the general public. If I want care and understanding, then I have to make the effort to speak up and share what I know – but hopefully I’ll be met half way.

It is not our job to become full time tutors. Life is draining enough as it is, without being a 24/7 prompter, reminder-er, ever patient guru of wisdom and all things mental health.

If I love you I’ll support you without being told – and I expect that back.

Far too often I am asked “what do you want me to do”. Not only are us anxiety sufferers told far too often how irrational we are, to just lighten up, that it will allll be ok. We are also expected to be ready on hand to dish out advice packs and ready made answers and solutions on how to “deal with us”.

Now I’m not saying this is a stupid question. Sometimes it can be so heart warming, knowing that someone wants to know how they can specifically help you. But there’s a fine line between asking someone what they need, and just passing over the responsibility of care all together.

If I knew the answer – I wouldn’t need your help to begin with love.

So, what is expected of me I hear you cry! Do not fear, you aren’t expected to go running off to your local library. You don’t have to sign up to GAIA and find enlightenment. You just have to show you care for someone, in the same way you would had they been faced with a physical illness.

Top tips to take ownership of caring for a loved one

1. Actually listen. It’s all well and good asking them what’s going on / what helps. But then take this information on board and draw from it in the future. Do not expect your loved one to be a walking talking fully functioning information point.

2. Use what you have. Let’s be real. You probably spend a lot of the time with your phone in your hand or near it. Rather than sitting on the loo looking up #dogmemes, checking the football or scrolling through Twitter, maybe spend 3 minutes reading a quick article, watching a YouTube video, or just glancing over the nhs website. We all have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. There’s always time.

3. Think of how you would want to be treated. Hopefully you are surrounded by kind and caring people who would be there for you just as much as you may be expected to be there for them. What would you want from your nearest and dearest?

Easy peasy.

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