Living with Mental Health Issues: Family

By Ella Thwaites | @ellathwaites_

Living with Mental Health Issues is a five-part written series which gives you an insight into life with mental health issues and how this affects different areas of your life.

Part 1: Living with Mental Health Issues: Education & Career
Part 2: Living with Mental Health Issues: Romance
Part 3: Living with Mental Health Issues: Friends
Part 4: Living with Mental Health Issues: Family
Part 5: Living with Mental Health Issues: Conclusion

Struggling with your mental health can be extremely isolating and it tends to affect even aspects of your life you thought were untouchable. Of all the things your mental health can affect, your relationships with the people around you are probably the hardest one to deal with.

We have always been a tight-knit family and my relationship with my parents wasn’t something I was ever worried about until I started to experience anxiety and depression. I was convinced they would never understand how I was feeling so I put a lot of distance between us and in turn, this created endless (entirely pointless) arguments.

I remember a particularly jarring shouting match happening after my parents drove all the way to Cambridge with me and as soon as we got there I demanded to be taken home because I was panicking. My dad told me to just try as hard as I could to stick it out but I refused so the argument peaked with me sat in the car crying while we made the 30-minute journey back home. None of this NEEDED to happen. If I had been open and honest about just how helpless I was feeling then the fighting could have been avoided but when you’re in that state, communicating your emotions eloquently doesn’t feel possible.

Once I started to take my recovery seriously things got so much better because my parents could appreciate that I was trying and I could appreciate that they were trying too. Now I am impossibly close to my parents again. They’re my best friends. I know how to communicate with them in a way that will help them understand and in return they do everything they can to make this journey easier for me.

Reminding yourself that these people want the best for you is vital. It can be all too easy to convince yourself that you’re alone when you have a whole team around you that want you to become the best version of yourself. Like most problems, communication is key to finding a solution. It may feel like the most difficult thing you can do at the time but by being truly honest with the people who care about you, your problems become shared.

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