|From the moment a patient is diagnosed with a particular disorder, the thing they need most, from the ones whom they love, and whom supposedly love them, is unconditional love! Unconditional love is one of the most difficult gifts to give, as we are all different people, with differing opinions, ideas, and character traits.
Still when someone you love is diagnosed with mental illness, you must do whatever it takes to learn to love them unconditionally. If you need to meet with a psychologist to learn learn how, do that. If you need to take a class, do that as well. Again, whatever it takes to be able to be there for your loved one, is what counts the most! The time that the affected individual spends dealing with the symptoms of their illness prior to diagnosis is extremely challenging. They likely have no idea what is happening to them; Are they going crazy? Why are they not like everybody else? Why can’t they just feel normal, or comfortable, and why do they always get the feeling that other people are constantly staring at them, or muttering about them behind their back?
I had one friend (and only one friend) starting in pre-school, and whom is still one of my best friends today, 40 years later! Why she was able to love me unconditionally, and still does, I will most likely never know. What I do know however, is that her friendship, and the ability that I had to discuss anything with her, made all the difference in the world. Although the time leading up to the psychiatrist visit is challenging, imagine how hard it must be once it must feel like after the definitive, concretized, psyche breaking receipt of an actual diagnosis, and feeling, or being made to feel like a total pariah.
There I was, a relatively little boy who had just been told, in a meeting with his parents and a psychologist whom he barely knew, that he had ADHD, OCD, and an extremely severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder! That is a heaping mouthful to swallow for anyone, let alone a little kid! I was unable to concentrate on virtually anything, unable even to string two minutes of coherent time together and frankly it was horrible. My parents had no idea what to do, though they certainly tried their best to cope and help me to cope as well. The fact of the matter is that until relatively recently, mental illness was ranked pretty much on an even keel with drug addiction. People with mental illness were outcasts, as were addicts, and mental illness, by and large was viewed as something that the patient must have done something to bring on (i.e an addict chooses to use), and were therefore no more deserving of care, compassion, or assistance then was an addict. Today of course, we know that notions such as those are not only absurd and barbaric, but mental illness is considered a disease (such as Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, etc.), and incidentally addiction, today, is considered and widely excepted as being a disease as well! If your loved one, was diagnosed with, say breast cancer; a conditions which they played no part in bringing upon themselves, they would instantly receive sympathy from all, empathy from those who could relate, and basically all of the unconditional love and understanding necessary to help them, hopefully get through the nearly unspeakable challenge that they were facing!
Does the same apply where mental illness is concerned? Well, yes and no. With mental illness, educating the uninformed is key to them being able to provide their afflicted loved ones, family members, or friends with the understanding that the need to be able to give unconditional love, without being scared of any number of myths, such as; they might catch the mental illness if they get too close.
But this is exactly the type of stigmatizing that MUST stop, mental illness is a Disease! No, it generally can not be cured, meaning essentially that it is chronic, but it can be treated, quite effectively in fact, but, the treatment can only be truly successful with the full support of all others involved; physically, spiritually, emotionally Love your loved ones no matter what, and stand by them!
Through hard times and good times, in SICKNESS and in health, forever and ever…