3 Things I Need While My Loved One Is at a Psychiatric Hospital

My husband has been hospitalized for symptoms related to his mental illness three times in the past year. Each time, I’ve fallen further into my own anxiety about how I was going to handle it all while he was away. To say I’m tired is an understatement. Managing work, kids and my husband’s care feel like a I’m juggling hot potatoes. There are several things family and friends can do to make these times of transition a bit more manageable for those whose loved ones are in crisis.

1. Be there.

Living with a loved one who has a significant mental health issue is not easy. It is very isolating, lonely and unpredictable. Offer your assistance with meals, childcare assistance and other types of care. In the past year, we’ve suffered a house fire, an unexpected move, three hospitalizations and a job change. Knowing that others are there for you in prayer and friendship is vital to getting through tough times. Just be there.

2. Offer your encouragement.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, it can be very discouraging when others try to minimize your loved one’s experiences. Try offering encouragement, faith, prayer and support during times of challenge. Sometimes you may need too listen without offering advice. Allow your friend or family member to vent, cry or scream if they need to.

3. Listen without judgement.

It has been difficult for me to face I have to share our situation with my family and friends. There are times when we’ve missed important events, times when I’ve had to ask for favors I ordinarily wouldn’t ask for and times when I’ve simply needed to be shown grace by those around me because my anxiety and stress were through the roof. Having friends listen without judgement has been irreplaceable. I can not emphasis this point enough, without judgement.

I love my husband. I hope this latest hospitalization will allow him to regain control over his depression and he will develop a solid outpatient care program, which will allow him to have a better grasp on his healthcare needs. Until then, all I can do is pray things get better and take each day as it comes.

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