Coping with mental illness is more difficult than anyone can imagine. When someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness, or even you yourself are the one suffering, the strain on both of you and everyone else involved can often be too terrible to deal with. You probably feel like nobody else understands what you’re going through, and you’re probably right. Not everybody has had to cope with mental illness, and most people unfortunately don’t understand it. If you’re feeling lost, confused, and unsure of what to do, you’re going to need to find ways to cope.

First of all, understand that mental illness is, in fact, an illness. One of the most awful pitfalls for those coping with mental illness is understanding this simple fact. This is a sickness that you’re dealing with. Those suffering some mental illnesses are unable to control their thoughts, actions and words just like flu-stricken people are incapable of not having a fever.

When someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness, you cannot take his or her actions and words to heart. Remember that this person would never willingly say or do such things, and is only acting this way as a result of the sickness. When it seems like you’re talking to a different person, that’s the sickness you’re talking to–not the person. When you are the one suffering, it is doubly important to remember these things. It is natural to feel misunderstood, and feelings of guilt are not uncommon. However, you should not feel guilty about things that are not your fault. Understanding that you can’t control this illness by willpower alone is the first step towards getting better.

While people suffering from mental illness need all the help and support they can get, it will only suck the life out of their loved ones if they try to be entirely selfless. Being supportive is noble and important, but it is equally important to take care of number one. Remember, families: If you are not in good physical and mental health yourself, you’ll never be able to help anyone. Be sure to eat well, and talk to a counselor or psychiatrist about your problems if you feel it is necessary. Above all, you will need to detach emotionally from this situation a bit. It is tough to do this while still remaining sympathetic, but it is necessary to get through the rough patches.

Know when things are out of your control. There is a time to try to deal with things on your own, and when these plans go well, the sense of satisfaction and bonding between you and your loved ones is fantastic. However, when things get out of hand, it is time to seek professional help. Whether you’re dealing with depression, paranoia, or anything in between, this link may help you find more useful information. Don’t be afraid to seek help. You wouldn’t feel bad about going to the doctor when your body was sick, and it should be the same for the mind.