Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Support Where You Need it the Most! (part one)
No, I'm not talking about that kind of support (although you all do know how much I love my veggies!). I'm talking about an emotional support system--how to build one and how to use it.
Building a Support System
I think we all know what a support system is and, if you all are anything like me, we fantasize about that perfect spouse/friend/parent/home or visiting teacher who intuits our needs so well that we hardly have to do anything. But building a support system isn't something that is easily done. It takes time and effort. The big thing I've learned a long the way: *Honesty* In order to build a support system you need to be honest with yourself and with those close to you about how your mood disorder affects you. Both of these things can be difficult.
Being honest with yourself is hard because you likely over-estimate your faults and your worthiness. You likely believe you should do things on your own and that because of the way you struggle you don't deserve the love and attention of others. You may even believe it is more righteous to struggle on your own. This is not true. Even in the throes of the bad days, especially in the throes of the bad days, you deserve to have someone there to help. There's a reason God organized us in families and wards/branches. We are meant to help each other out. How else are we supposed to fulfill our baptismal covenants? (See Mosiah 18:8-10)
Being honest with others is hard for a couple reasons. First, you don't know how they'll react (my favorite: "When I get down I know that's just Satan inside me and if I repent he'll go away." Great. So now I'm depressed and possessed. That's super.). And second, you may lack the words to describe what you are going through. The only way to figure these two things out is through trial and error (or as I like to say, trial and effort). Therapists are a really good place to start with this. They've heard it all so no matter what you say you can't weird them out--or if you do you can always find another one! They are also good at aiding introspection. They just seem to know how to help you hear yourself better and the better you understand yourself the easier it will be for you to explain all that to others.
Not everybody you know is going to be the right fit for you. This website has some nice tips to help you figure out who to start reaching out to (disclaimer: I'm not so sure about their tip to include stuffed animals in your support system. I mean, for me, personally, it's hard to talk to a teddy bear when I know my preschooler is doing the same thing in the next room).
Another great idea to aid you in building your support system is one I got from Coffinberry. She got this table from her brother and I think it encourages some good thinking and communicating. It is called "Mad Maps". In a Mad Map, you make a list as such:
*In Every-day Times
Things you should do:
Bring me herbal tea
Tell me how great I am
Things you should not do:
Give me Caffeine
Make me stay up late
*In Times of Crisis
Things you should do:
Help me find a quiet place
Sit with me and listen
Things you should not do
Tell other people what's going on
Coffinberry said, "This list would be available for those who wish to support you in times of sadness or crisis. This seems to me like a great tool for care-teams. It helps people to know how to support you, but it also helps you explore how yourself and what kind of support you need. It also gets you in the mindset of building a support network for yourself."
So whether you start with a therapist or with a Mad Map, take a good look at the people around you and see who you can depend on because as a good friend once told me, "We're all waiting to love you. Just give us the chance!"