Mental health awareness has made a drastic change in society in past years. We can finally talk about mental health and acknowledging the importance of it. We debate about mental illness and the treatments for disorders but overlook sick people who don’t want to go to the hospital till we personally experience this dilemma.
It is hard when your loved one gets sick, but it becomes unbearable if that person declines therapy. And sadly, nobody can help you force your friend in the hospital against their will if they are adults.
When my family member struggled with an eating disorder and my friend with paranoia, I imagined offering help and a solution would be the path to recovery. But they both told me they are not sick and they don’t need my help.
This is how I got the unwanted ticket for a lifetime ride on the I am not sick train. It is the longest journey in my life that still lasts. No one could prepare me for it, but I wonder what I wish somebody would tell me about this journey five years ago when the ride started.
. . .
1. You can’t force them into treatment
The first ugly truth you need to accept is that you can force nobody to the hospital against their will. No matter if you know they have paranoia, schizophrenia, or bulimia — you can do nothing if they refuse the therapy!
An individual can only be involuntary admit to the hospital if he poses a dangerous risk to himself or others. Treating a patient against his will is impossible until he becomes dangerous.
Those laws were made because of serious human rights violations in the past when they sent healthy people to psychiatric hospitals against their will.
But there are disorders as paranoia when a person can’t judge or see their reality- how can they ever go to the treatment voluntarily? They can’t until something dangerous will happen.
. . .
2. Waiting for something dangerous to happen is torture
The only way you will get your loved one to the hospital without his consent is if he is a danger to himself or others. So, you can only wait and suffer because waiting for something to happen is torture.
Part of you will want something terrible to happen so they can finally get treatment, but you will be scared of what can happen to the people you love!
It is a lonely and dark place to be.
. . .
3. Involuntary treatment is not the end of the battle
When my friend was involuntarily admitted to the hospital, my heart almost exploded. Finally, she will get better.
I could not be more wrong — a week later, she was discharged from the hospital, without therapy, due to a court expert’s decision. After their conversation, he judged that she didn’t need involuntary treatment.
I wrote about court expert evaluations in this story and explained how they could discharge you from the psychiatric hospital.
If you are a smart girl like my friend, you can trick doctors and court experts at your evaluation. And even if suffering individuals get the treatment against their will, what happens when they leave the hospital? They can stop taking their medicine anytime, and you are back at the beginning.
It is a never-ending journey.
. . .
4. You can’t do anything if they don’t want to get help
That was the doctor’s answer when I asked her to help me admit my paranoid friend to the treatment.
The therapist told me the same when I told her about my sibling with an eating disorder who refused any therapy.
I wish I would never hear this sentence in my life, but there is no easy way or shortcut to help someone get better than them waiting to get better for themselves.
. . .
5. Your help is limited
I have read millions of articles and talked to doctors about supporting a person with mental health problems. They advised the same thing — conversations, be there for them, and don’t judge.
For years I did everything I could to help them, and I will support them till I die. But I learned the ugly truth in recent years — I can only do so much.
You are not an angel and don’t have superpowers. You can’t heal people you love — they need to do it for themselves.
When we love others, we think they will get better because of our love, care, and energy. But the truth is they will only get better if they will love themselves and try to find a way out.
. . .
6. Maybe they will stay sick
It is dark but a possible scenario for people who refuse treatment. Maybe they will stay like that for years, and you can do absolutely nothing to push them into the treatment against their will.
. . .
7. You are not selfish if you want a break
I’m not bitter or angry about the situation with my ill friend and family member. It took me years of pain, sleepless nights, worries, and struggles to be where I am now. I became a realist with their illness — if they don’t accept the therapy, they will stay the same.
Dealing with mentally ill people is stressful and draining. You are not selfish or evil if they made you tired. You can get exhausted from this crazy ride through mountains of excitement and depressing valleys over and over again.
. . .
8. Nobody asks about your mental health
When your family and close friends deal with serious mental illness, you can become sick too.
Sick from the worries that your sibling will die from an eating disorder one day. Sick from thinking what will your paranoid friend do the next day if she will feel watched. Tired from seeing your favorite person disappearing in front of your eyes.
I developed severe anxiety in the last five years because I’m so scared and worried for people I love.
. . .
9. Be gentle with yourself
My life stopped when my sibling and friend started fighting with mental health problems. I couldn’t sleep, eat, and do anything other than obsessing about their condition and treatment. My life was spinning around them and their diseases. But eventually, I needed to take care of myself and put pieces of my life together.
Remember, even if you stop your life for them, their sickness will stay with them. You need to continue your life and take care of yourself, too. Be gentle with your mental health and take it day by day.
. . .
I wish I could finish with a positive spirit, but mental illness doesn’t always have a silver lining. We can only hope that people we love receive the needed help and get better. For them, for us, for the future.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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