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5 Ways to Support a Loved One Through a Hospitalization for Psychosis

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Here are some tips on how to best support a loved one going through a hospitalization for psychosis. I’m no expert, but I am an expert in my own experiences. Having a psychotic break shifted my world and had a ripple effect on the people I love most. I wish the people who loved me had a guide for how to support me because no one talks about this stuff. Therefore, I created some handy tips I hope can help you, and most of all your loved one going through psychosis.

1. Sit with your loved one.

I know it sounds so basic, but meeting someone where they are at can mean the world. As a person who has been hospitalized with psychosis, the hospital can be a scary place with its unfamiliarity. Sometimes there is rude staff and all the rules can be confusing, so just sitting and listening without judgment to your loved one shows you care about what they are experiencing.

2. Bring them things that remind them of who they are and their strength.

When I was hospitalized, my partner made me copies of a zine that I published. The staff at the hospital didn’t let me keep it, but during his visit when I got to see it, it did have an impact on me. It reminded me of my strengths. I felt loved. Instead of feeling like a patient, I felt like a person. Do you have pictures of good times, maybe a trinket? Maybe a favorite book? Bring those things to the hospital. It goes a long way.

3. Help with the outside world.

Life goes on, inside the hospital or out. If someone you love is taken to the hospital unexpectedly, make sure their outside responsibilities are addressed. Therefore, when they get out of the hospital, they don’t deal with a thousand things at once. For example, when I was hospitalized, I was set to start school a week later. With a month of institutionalization, this was impossible. I was not in a mental state to figure out a game plan for the situation. My mom and some truly amazing friends explained my situation to my professors and they came up with some options for me. I was OK with this, but make sure your loved one is comfortable with this. You’re not making decisions for them, but instead, making sure life doesn’t leave them behind.

4. Be supportive to their supports.

I know this sounds vague, so let me explain. Your loved one’s hospitalization impacts them 100%, but it is also a stressful situation for the people who love them. If you’re reading this, it’s a catch-22 because you’re one of those awesome people. Take care of yourself. Remember to eat, drink water, sleep and take time for yourself. And remind others who are there for your loved one of this, too. Stress can be high for family and friends, but a mutual understanding you’re all there for the person who is hospitalized is key.

5. Love and empathy.

If your loved one is going through psychosis, know the world can be scary and confusing for them. Reality is distorted and this can result in them pushing you away, despite your greatest efforts. Please don’t take this personally. If they ask not to see you, respect them. They’ll reach out to you when they are ready. You never know, they might be experiencing a delusion. And though their reality is different, it can still feel very real. I know this can be hard, but be patient. Love them through this and empathize. Trust me, they’ll appreciate this.

Getty image by nadia_bormotova

Originally published: March 31, 2020
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