Discovering that someone you love has a mental illness can feel awful. It may seem as though the person you have known has gone away and someone you don’t really know has taken their place.
Being around someone who is mentally ill may even cause you to doubt your own sanity. Anger, loneliness and shame may haunt you, as well as questions like is their problem a mental or physical illness? Is your behavior driving them crazy? Can trying harder to help bring your loved one back?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, known as NAMI, is a great resource for the families and friends of mentally ill loved ones: https://www.nami.org/
NAMI’s website offers a list of symptoms that someone you know may be mentally ill. A few of these that I have seen from my practice are:
Excessive worrying or fear
Feeling excessively sad or low
Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” - euphoria
Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
Changes in sex drive
Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
Thinking about suicide
If you are having doubts about someone in your life, please get support for yourself to sort out what is going on for you and what steps you can take. Don’t wait for the mentally ill person to get help first. They may not have the insight or willingness to see what they are doing to themselves and those who love them.