This is a guide for parents, friends, and family for dealing with addictions, self-harm/injury and or bipolar, and personality disorders.

1 accept that you don’t understand nor will you ever understand how they are feeling

It personally took me a long time to grasp this concept. I couldn’t understand for the longest time how anyone couldn’t just “grow up,” “get over it,” and “stop.” What those of us who don’t have addictions, addictive personalities or mental disorders cannot possibly understand is that for us our ability to reason and rationalize is our greatest strength. For them sometimes to rationalize and and reason doesn’t add up to the expected and quote unquote normal responses.

2 listen

The hardest thing to do as a parent or friend is to listen without judgements. Set aside your biases and try to just hear what is being said. Sometimes the best thing you can do is NOT offer advice but just be there to hear.

3 empathy not sympathy – it’s not about you.

“I know what that’s like because…” – is the worst thing you can do. The answer you’re looking for is “I don’t understand and I probably won’t.” It’s important that you come to accept this. As a parent, friend, or loved one all you can do is try to empathize with the individual and not make their situation about you. If all you can do is complain and argue about the burden it is on you then you need to remove yourself from the situation (and this is not to minimize that burden. Understand no one blames you for this illness, no one blames you for getting tired and frustrated. However, respecting the plight and helplessness of your loved one is just as important). You know that saying don’t try to give advice until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes. Well that’s empathy, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you try to fix them. When they say you don’t understand you probably don’t.

It’s not the same for them as it is for you and I. What their reality is compared to our reality is very different. All you can do is support recovery and not enable maladaptive behaviours. Encourage the individual to get help but also don’t force it.

4 there is no single answer or right way it’s always by trial and error

There is no right or wrong strategy just wrong behaviours. As long as you’re not enabling (giving a drug addict unlimited money) then you have nothing to fear.

5 relapse happens

Inevitably with human nature is that we all fall so try and remember it’s important not to play the blame game. It’s not either sides fault. They can no more help their emotions or feelings and irrationalities than you can help that you don’t understand. Just listen.

6 compassion and love always overcomes arrogance, ego, and abandonment.

Most people in this situation are used to being abandoned. They feel shame and embarrasment. It’s a common issue among people with these mental issues. Ego has no place if you’re trying to help someone out. You need to recognize that they can’t provide for you the love and emotion that you need to provide for them. Just know that they will love you for being there.

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