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When Their Mental Illness
Is Driving You Crazy

by Linda Jenkinson |

Happy Holidays? PugHappy holidays? This "season to be jolly" is one of the worst times of the year for many of those who suffer with the disease of depression. One of the best gifts you can give this season is compassion for those who aren't merry.

Consider that (on the low side) 1 in 5 people suffer from some sort of mental illness. With that in mind, think of how many people that you know but don't know they have a mental illness. If you knew, would you treat them differently? Be honest. Probably not. You would allow them to function as best they can without interference.

Yes, it is hard to see a loved one in pain. But it is their pain. Allow them to own it. The pain they cause you is yours and it is your responsibility to handle it as best as you can. Grant them the same courtesy. Believe it or not, most mentally ill people try to do that -- they handle their illness as best as they can. Respect that. Don't try to be their savior. You can't.

“Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When 'I' is replaced by 'We', illness becomes wellness.” — Shannon L. Alder

Most people who have a mental disorder aren't totally mental about everything. Respect and support what is sane about them. People grow when you support them.

That's what good organizations like NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) will help you come to grips with. They will help you to live comfortably with a loved one who is mentally ill. If there is no local chapter near you, NAMI online offers plenty of ideas and online support.

The best advice in dealing with a loved one's depression comes from celebrity host, Chris Hardwick. At the end of every program he admonishes his viewers to "Be good to each other." This advice works for everyone. Find the best in others and let them know you have found it. Make sure that those you love know that they are important to your life as well as their own.

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