Let me start by saying this: being the “safe place” for my son as he battles his anxiety and depression is an honor and I am 100% grateful that I am his person. Never doubt that. Please. You have no idea the effort and “blocking” it takes to be the support person he releases all his ugly words, emotions and energy on during his moments of crisis.
I have incredible respect for those of you who battle mental illness. I call you Mental Health Warriors. To get up, get out of bed, be judged, work through it, get through each day and brave on to the next – you have my full and complete respect. But the following words are not for you. They’re for the Support Warriors who stand and fight beside you in not only your times of
When my son is in the midst of a panic attack he becomes a different person. He’s angry. He can’t breathe. He cries. He yells. And he says the most heart-breaking words you could ever imagine your child saying. I won’t tell you what he says, because those are his words, his moment and you don’t have the right to know. But, they’re awful, hurtful, and tear my heart apart every time they leave his mouth and hit my ears.
At the end of the day, I know I’m loved. I know that when my son gets through an attack we will both be exhausted and raw. And, as much as I know he doesn’t mean the words he says during an attack, hard as I try, they do chip away at my heart and my confidence in being able to be what he needs. Once he’s settled, my heart and soul remain bruised and battered and need to be nurtured. And this is when Support Warriors feel their
Trust me when I tell you that Support Warriors are well aware of the work that goes into supporting mental illness. We know the strategies to try, we know what to do…or we don’t, but ultimately we’re doing the best we can with the tools we have at the moment. Unfortunately, most Support Warriors feel the need to constantly defend their choices, their tactics and their strategies to the public who know very little about what we go through.
When you see us working with our loved one to get them through an attack, we don’t want your advice. We really don’t. It’s distracting and takes our focus and energy away from the person who most needs it.
Please don’t tell me to get my child to breathe (he hates breathing strategies). Please don’t tell me to distract him (he hates distraction). Please don’t tell me to tell him to list things he can feel, smell, taste, etc…he also hates that. As a Support Warrior, I know all this. I’ve learned all this and for us…it hasn’t worked yet.
When I get my child through an attack, the last thing I want to hear is how I could have done it differently. Maybe tomorrow I’d be up for your opinion, but definitely not right after. I’m raw. I’m hurting. I’m relieved. I’m exhausted
Advice, although well-intended, actually isolates us. It makes us lonlier than you could ever imagine. We’re not asking you for strategies in those moments. Truly. We’re asking you to give us space to support. We’re asking you to not judge us. We’re asking you to not judge the person we’re supporting. We’re asking you to support us, give us a hug when you can and tell us we’re pretty (just kidding…just tell us that you can see we’re doing the best we can in a really difficult situation).
For all of you Support Warriors out there, I’m here. I feel you. I appreciate you. I will battle beside you every single day. You are amazing. The words you hear, the emotions you absorb and the impact that energy has on your soul is crushing. I feel you. I hear you.
I am you.
You are not alone in this.
Not only do our Mental Health Warriors needs support, but the family members, the friends, the coaches and anyone else who is trying their best to help, empathize and encourage…they need your support. When we manage to get our Warrior through a panic attack, a bout of depression, an episode or whatever our Warrior is going through, we need to know that love and compassion await, not
We need you to check in on us. We need you to hug us. We need you to empathize. We need you to tell us how fucking strong we are because, trust me, supporting anxiety and depression is soul-crushing work. Would I change it if I could? F**K YES. I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone. But can I change this right now? No.
So, I need support and love. I need to know I’m not alone.
Support Warriors – you are fucking rockstars. You deserve all the self-care you can swing. You need to take a moment when your person gets through their attack to acknowledge how fucking SHITTY that was and that you ALSO made it. You are also a WARRIOR. You battle. You fight.
Support Warriors – where is your safe place? Do you have one? Are you taking care of your own heart and soul to help you get through? I sure hope so. You’re important. You’re going to need counseling. Trust me. Get it. Find it.
You are not alone. You do not have to battle alone.
If you’re reading this and this has struck a chord with you, please reach out. If you need support in supporting – please reach out. You’re not alone. We can battle for our Mental Health
I will tell you over and over again how amazing you are. How strong you are. I would glue your heart back together and sprinkle
I’m here. Right beside you. Fighting. Every single day.
Thank you for sharing this post. I suffer from depression and anxiety and while I’m on medication (and have been for a very long time), I still have anxiety attacks and dark days. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. I would rather be the one suffering than my child. It must be heartbreaking to see your child struggle. I salute you.
Supporting my spouse and now two children through their Mental Illnesses has opened to my eyes to so much. I am happy to be their Support Warriors but they, they are the true warriors. I can’t even begin to imagine what they go through in those moments of despair.