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Mental Illness in the Family

Nicola Spendlove
I have been down a serious Google rabbit hole this past week on the subject of mental illness masking other conditions. The reason for this is personal -- my brother is currently undergoing diagnostic testing for autism. The more I think about this, the more it makes sense that mental illness could inhibit timely diagnosis of other issues.
Alixzandria Paige
Nothing is more important to me than the wellbeing of my loved ones, which is why I want the very best for them. When I notice that something could be improved in their lives, especially when it pertains to bettering a mental health situation for them, I desperately want to say something. Here are three things I keep in mind when making suggestions about mental health to my loved ones.
Nicola Spendlove
Respecting the boundaries of mentally ill loved ones should be a given, but sometimes we push these boundaries -- I've certainly been guilty of this in the past. Even when this is done out of good intent, I don't believe it is a fair thing to do. I have learned a lot on this topic through my experience with my brother, who has chronic mental health problems. Here's a bit of a reflection on those learnings.
Alixzandria Paige
It is common got people with mental illness in their family to help care for and provide support for mentally ill family members. The same is true for me, but I had to learn how to take care of my family from far away when I decided to move to a new state. Keep reading to find out how I do it.
Nicola Spendlove
Like many, I tuned into the Meghan and Harry interview last week, and I was particularly interested in Meghan's account of her mental illness being ignored by the royal family. Regardless of your thoughts on this particular couple, this is, sadly, a common issue in many families. Mental illness is ignored in families regularly, perhaps because we simply don't know how else to cope with it. I think we need to do better.
Alixzandria Paige
I find that it's easier to make difficult decisions when I have the support of my loved ones behind me. When I have to make decisions that they have difficulty supporting, the isolation I feel heightens my anxiety. I have learned three methods to take steps to cut down the anxiety resulting from disagreeing with my family so that I can still make the decisions that will benefit me.
Nicola Spendlove
I am experiencing heightened anxiety at the moment, as I am waiting for important medical results. I usually avoid sharing my anxiety with my family, but this time I decided to be more open. Telling my brother, who has chronic mental health issues, about what I am going through was surprisingly helpful.
Alixzandria Paige
My parents filed for a divorce when I was 10 years old. This experience uprooted the development of my childhood and aided in the decline of my mental health. Although the divorce caused me a lot of pain, I learned how to face it and move past it.
Nicola Spendlove
Pets are important and beneficial in general, but they can play a special role in the lives of those with mental illness. I never owned any pets as a child, but I adopted a dog as an adult, and my brother has become an honorary pet parent as a result. I am amazed to watch how his relationship with my dog helps him cope with chronic anxiety and depression. Here is a short reflection on the benefits of pets for family members with mental illness.
Alixzandria Paige
I was diagnosed with anxiety, and it has affected nearly every facet of my life since. I struggle to maintain a job, a social life, and a relationship. My anxiety doesn't only affect me, though. I have also discovered that anxiety affects how my family functions as well.