Your reactions are normal
First and foremost, remember that your reactions are normal. They reflect how you feel and shouldn’t be questioned or judged by other people who aren’t walking in your shoes. Everyone’s experience is unique, although there are many feelings and experiences that carers have in common.
During the initial stage, when the person you’re supporting is diagnosed with a condition such as anxiety or depression, it’s likely that you may feel relief because:
- there is a name for the difficulties you have both been facing
- there is a reason for the behaviour
- help is available.
You may also experience some fear and confusion initially wondering:
- “Where to from here?”
- “What next?”
- “Is this only the beginning?”
However, bear in mind that these questions are normal because for most people this is a new experience.
Many support people say that once the mental health condition had been identified, their feelings of love and protection for the person increased. Sometimes simultaneously, supporters felt a sense of helplessness because they couldn’t control or improve the situation.
Common feelings at various stages of the journey include:
Many support people have also described experiencing what is often referred to as ‘anticipatory grief’. This refers to a feeling of loss and sadness at ‘what might have been’ – the fear that someone may never reach their full potential, fulfil hopes and dreams or that the relationship may never return to what it was.
“Desperate, unhappy, sad and longing, just longing to do anything to help, but there’s nothing I can do.”