EPISODE 13- YOU ARE NOT ALONE
The El Paso United Family Resiliency Center is committed to reducing the stigmas that surround mental health and provide education that can help community members navigate their own healing journey.
We’ll discuss how we can provide support and guidance to a loved one who is facing a mental illness. How can we start a conversation in our dinner tables without being invasive and how can we take care of ourselves, while taking care of others?
For this month’s episode, we interviewed Isidro Torres, Execute Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness at El Paso Texas (NAMI). As mentioned in past episodes, we have partnered with different organizations in the community to provide programming in non-traditional therapies that encourages healing and resiliency. NAMI is also one of our wonderful community partners and through our collaboration we provide educational workshops to El Pasoans on mental health.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
Throughout the course of this podcast, we’ve asked our guests and mental health specialist, how to provide support to a loved one that is experiencing a mental illness. However, we know it can be a bit more complex than what it seems. We felt this topic deserved its own episode.
At the FRC we understand that a mental illness can affect the whole unit, meaning family, friends and loved ones. Often times, we might find ourselves lost with words and don’t know how to start the initial conversation.
According to Isidro, we can start by taking a “temperature check” of the situation, how is your loved one currently doing? Making questions from a place of love and openness towards their emotions.
However, we understand it can be difficult and even a grieving process seeing a loved one go through adversity. Therefore, Isidro suggests that before having this initial conversation, we need to do a quick check-in with ourselves.
“We need to make sure that we shut where we’re at and that we are ready to have this conversation. Sometimes we might encounter frustration, sadness, fear and having those feelings are valid as well. Yet we need to be in an understanding where we are at with those feelings and how we are bringing them into the conversation,” said Isidro.
In addition to checking in with our own worry, we want to be direct and precise. Long explanations can be overwhelming for someone coping with a mental illness. The purpose of the initial conversation is to let them our loved one that you’ll partner with them as they navigate their mental health journey. Finally, we want to stay as calm as possible and knowing that it will be a difficult process but reachable path. The purpose of the initial conversation is to let them our loved one that you’ll partner with them as they navigate their mental health journey.
In recent experiences, I’ve learned that when taking care of a loved one who is facing a mental illness, it is very important to give them options that can empower their healing journey. Asking questions such as “what can I do to help you,” and/or “how can I better support you through this process,” makes our loved one feel heard rather than accused for something that is not their fault.
As we navigate this process, it is crucial for us to understand that this is not our journey, we are just walking along side of them. Allowing them to have control of their own course, encourages their healing. Remember, healing is not a “one-size fits all”, what healing means to you, might not mean to them.
We understand that taking care of yourself and respecting your own boundaries can be difficult throughout this process. It’s easy to lose track of our own well-being while taking care of others. It is normal to feel helpless or disoriented in this path, validate those feelings too.
However, self-care is a daily decision, allowing yourself some moments of solitude and quiet to refuel is crucial. Self-care can come in many shapes and forms. What is self-care for you? “If you need to vent, vent,” said Isidro. “Don’t feel that you are complaining, , there’s a difference between venting and complaining. By venting we release tension,” added Isidro.
Release to recharge. We cannot give, what we don’t have.
CALL TO ACTION
We are excited to share our partnership with NAMI and the impact that it can have in our beautiful boarder city.
If you are interested in enrolling into any of their support groups, workshops and webinars, please contact our office at (915) 775- 2783.
Tune in to learn more about the Resiliency Art Project and art therapy.