Telling People About Your Mental Health | Kati Morton
Hey everybody, today’s video is all about how to tell a loved one about our mental illness. Now, the first thing I want to talk about is making sure you understand and agree with your diagnosis. Know that when a therapist or a psychiatrist or a psychologist or whomever you are seeing, gives you a diagnosis and says “Hey, Susie Johnson, you have major depressive disorder.” Make sure you understand it and that you think it’s the right diagnosis for you. Something that I always tell my clients is I am never going to know your symptoms as well as you because I’m not experiencing them and so make sure that you are telling your clinician, whoever you’re seeing, all that you’re feeling and all of you’re symptoms. And if they give you a diagnosis, you can ask, “Hey, can we walk through how that’s diagnosed. I want to make sure, that that’s what I’m struggling with and that I understand what that diagnosis means.” Because those two components are really important if we are going to tell a loved one about it. I want to make sure that, firstly, agree with your diagnosis and then understand what that really means. And also as a side note, once you agree with a diagnosis and you think it’s right for you. Ask for different resources, information. You can do research online. Find out all about it, so you better understand what it’s like, what it can feel like and how you can get better treatment for it. The second thing I want to mention is figuring out who to tell because truthfully you don’t have to tell anybody, if you don’t want to. So don’t let anybody pressure you or make you feel like you have to. This is something that should only be done if you feel that it will help you in some way. Either, get you extra support because you’re needing it or it’ll help in your process, maybe they’re a person that is part of what you’re working on in therapy and you want to bring them in. Or maybe you’re needing some help getting to therapy or paying for therapy. Those can all be reasons that we might want to tell somebody else. So, just consider that and know that you don’t have to tell anybody, if you don’t want to. But another component of this that I want to address is work. And I want you to be very careful about whether or not you share that information at work, at all. That means with colleagues, bosses, anybody because there are some, you have legal rights and there are some things that you can get some benefits. You can get through work if you do have a mental illness or some kind of disability in some form. You can look into that and ask at H.R very nonchalantly about what their benefits are so you better understand. But weigh it very carefully before sharing that information because the last thing that I would want to have happen is someone to talk through the grapevine and get it back to someone else. And make them think that you aren’t able to do your job and you lose your job or something terrible like that happens. So just weigh and measure what will benefit you because in the end that I hope the whole message that you’re receiving is that, doing this should be something that it is done because it benefits you and your treatment. My third tip is, practice makes perfect. And I’ve said this a lot of times on my livestreams and different ways when I’ve talked to you about telling someone you love about your mental illness but we have to practice it. And I say this because sometimes telling someone can be stressful. We may go blank, what was it I was going do. Or we may, what I call “Verbal Diarrhea”, where we’re like, “So , there’s this time when I was sixteen and I was doing this thing and it was so stressful and I wonder if that maybe cause it” And we just tell them everything about us at once. And it can be too much for them to even hear. Let alone, completely understand and so I would encourage each of you, if you are wanting to tell a love one about this to start some bullet points of what you feel they need to know. Do you want them to know the real name of the diagnosis itself, do you want them to know what it feels like for you and what maybe the limitations you have. And then I would also, like almost always add in a bullet point when you’re making this list of what you want may need from them. Like if it’s a friend, you can just say, “You know, and really why I’m telling you this is just because I need some support” And that’s okay. Or if it’s a parent, you can say “The reason I’m telling you this is just because I’m really going to need you to help me get to therapy, or I’m hoping you could help me pay the Copay for this.” Or whatever it may be. Put that on your bullet point list. Try to keep it short, so they can hear you, they can understand what’s happening and they can know what you need from them. And then, obviously like I said, it’s called practice makes perfect. Practice saying it out loud, by yourself or with a friend or maybe in your car when you’re driving. And imagine what you think that person is going to say back. So that you’re better prepared for the conversation. Once we’ve done that a few times, and know that you can bring your list with you and read it directly off of it, if you need to because it’s there to make sure that you get out what you need to get out but doing it and saying it many many times makes us so comfortable with it that we can spend less time worrying about what we’re saying and more time connecting with the person and making sure they understand it. And the last part of this that I am going to mention is being able to give them time to respond. Not everyone is going to understand what a mental illness is. Not everyone is going to accept your diagnosis or understand exactly, what it is you’re needing from them. So that’s why we practice, that’s why we prepare ahead because it’s going to be important that you’re able to give them that time. I know it’s hard, I know it can be uncomfortable. But it can take people a little while to come around and say “Thanks for sharing that with me. I’m more then happy to help.” Or give you whatever response they’re able to give. But we have to be willing to give them that time. And lastly, you can offer up resources and pamphlets and information. I would maybe have some available when you plan on telling them because if someone doesn’t understand then at least we can give them some information, NAMI, is a great resource for that. I’ll link that in the description. You can find a lot of information about mental health and different mental illnesses on their site and how loved ones can help. And also, my YouTube channel. I explain a lot of different diagnoses; what they mean, how we can treat them and hopefully I’m offering up a better understanding. So that your love one can fully grasp what you’re going through and offer up their best support. I hope you found this helpful, so many of you have asked for this video. And I hope that you find it useful. And leave in the comments if I have missed something. If you think there is another step or another thing that you should do when telling a loved one because together we work towards a healthy mind and a healthy body. Am I right? And if you are new to my channel, click here to subscribe and make sure your notifications are turned on. It’s that little bell on my homepage when you subscribe. Turn those on and I will see you next time. Bye!