Accepting the situation
Supporting a person with anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings can be exhausting and may lead to confronting feelings of resentment, frustration and anger.
You may ask yourself, ‘How am I supposed to feel?’ There is no single or short answer to this – how you feel is how you feel. Accepting that your situation is beyond your control can be difficult, and that's
Try to accept that how you’re feeing is normal and be kind to yourself. Help is available and you are not alone.
Your reactions are normal
Your reactions reflect how you feel. They shouldn’t be questioned or judged by other people who aren’t walking in your shoes. Everyone’s experience is unique, though there are many feelings and experiences that carers have in common.
When the person is first diagnosed
When the person you’re supporting is diagnosed with a mental health condition you may feel relief because:
- there’s a name for the difficulties you have both been facing
- there’s a reason for the behaviour
- help is available.
You may also experience fear and confusion and wonder:
- “Where to from here?”
- “What next?”
- “Is this only the beginning?”
For most people this is a new experience, so these questions are normal. The mental health professional will be able to give you more information. We also have information about signs, symptoms and treatments at Learn about mental health.
During treatment and healing
Many support people say that once the mental health condition is diagnosed, their feelings of love and protection for the person increase.
Sometimes supporters also feel a sense of helplessness because they can’t control or improve the situation.
Many support people have also described experiencing anticipatory grief. This is a feeling of loss and sadness at what might have been. It can be a fear that someone may never reach their full potential, fulfil hopes and dreams or that the
relationship may never return to what it was.
Other common feelings include:
Be kind to yourself
Many support people are hard on themselves. Remember this is not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault.
You may worry that you’re not doing enough or that the person’s mental health problems are your fault. You might think:
- ‘It’s genetics.’
- ‘It’s my parenting.’
- ‘I haven’t been a good friend or partner.’
Try to talk to yourself more positively. Remind yourself you:
- are doing the best you can
- don’t need to have all the answers
- didn’t make the person unwell or cause their mental health condition
- want what’s best for the person, even on the days when you feel frustrated.