In part one of this blog, I wrote about how while summer is generally associated with fun, relaxation and socializing events, persons who are struggling with mental illness might experience added hurdles and stressors during this period. I spoke about how the fact that we show more of our body could be difficult for persons with anxieties that are related to their body image, who have scars from self-harm, or who are struggling to find the energy for personal hygiene and personal grooming routines. I also discussed how a sense of ‘missing out’ could be experienced by persons who need to care for themselves by staying indoors or who find going out and socializing difficult. In this blog I wished to give a few suggestions for relatives and friends who wish to support a loved one who struggles with summer.
- Being mindful of the fact that mental illness does not go on summer vacation– Being aware of this is important because this means that your loved one will very likely need to continue taking any prescribed medication, attend appointments with mental health professionals and continue doing what supports their mental health even during summer. While for some, the focus on relaxation and enjoyment can be very therapeutic and supportive of their mental wellbeing in itself, for others the summer season comes with added stressors and insecurities which makes it important for them to continue caring for their mental health. Being aware of this reality could already be one way of supporting your loved one.
- Supporting your loved one in what they need to do to care for themselves– Needing to opt out of a plan in order to care for one’s self and one’s mental health could already be difficult. It might leave someone feel as though they have disappointed you or feel guilty that they had to miss out on enjoying a day out in the sun with you. If your loved one wishes to spend a day indoors with you, then you can be creative together and find a way to still enjoy yourselves in each other’s company while being indoors. If your friend or loved one wishes to take some time to themselves, then showing them that you are accepting of this and that you will be there when they feel they are in a place where they can connect and go out, might be a very supportive way to deal with this.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.