When you’re faced with overwhelming sadness or anxiety so all-encompassing that it’s impossible to do simple, everyday activities, reaching out and talking with someone about it can help. Giving a voice to your feelings can be cathartic, and it can help you to feel less alone. It’s important though, to think beforehand about who you want to open up to. To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of characteristics that make someone an ideal support.
They’re non-judgmental: When you talk with someone who is non-judgmental, you should feel understood and supported. Instead of trying to solve your problem for you, they listen and carefully digest what you’re telling them. They empathize with you and comfort you when you need it the most. They don’t treat you differently because you have a mental health condition, and they certainly don’t tell you to “snap out of it” or “stop worrying so much.” You’ll want to text or call this person on difficult days because you know they’ll understand.
They’re a good listener: When you talk to a good listener you feel truly heard. They’re not looking to interject with their own stories and experiences similar to what you’re feeling. They sit with you and all their attention is on you. They put themselves in your shoes while they listen, and they ask appropriate and thought-provoking follow-up questions to draw out more information from you. These questions show you that they are truly engaged in what you are saying, and they want to know more.
They make time for you: Time is of the essence, especially with mental health conditions. When you’re spiraling towards a panic attack or feeling particularly hopeless, nothing can make quite a difference than getting the support you need exactly when you need it. This person doesn’t forget to text you until two days later, and they call you as soon as they are able. When you let them know that something’s wrong, you trust that they’ll be available when they can, and they’ll make that time for you.
They have personal experience with mental health: This isn’t necessarily a must. There are plenty of people who haven’t experienced a mental health condition who would make supportive confidants, but sometimes, when you don’t have the words to explain what you’re going through it can be easier to lean on someone who has experienced it themselves.
Mental health conditions can be isolating, so if your inner voice is encouraging you to reach out for support, you should definitely listen. Sometimes all it takes is one person providing the right support to help you get through the most difficult times in your life.