“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.”

–Joubert Botha

A relative of mine is in a behavioral/mental health hospital. Their stay is involuntary right now. A judge is going to determine if they are to be court-ordered. A little over half a decade or so ago, I stayed at several myself. There was a significant amount of visits to award me the honor of being court-ordered for outpatient treatment for a year. In more severe cases, such as my relative, being court-ordered for a year also includes an extensive inpatient stay. Our entire family is both saddened and relieved at the same time. We feel the pain of their struggles yet are relieved they and others will be safe and have time to recover. If they understood that they were very ill right now and that their behaviors were destructive, then a judge would not need to decide their temporary fate. 

It is sometimes difficult for people who do not have a mental illness to understand what a person with one who does goes through. Sometimes they are not even aware of abnormal behaviors. Other times, they are aware that something is not right with their thought processes, unable to reel themselves in from self-destructive behaviors. For friends and relatives, it is often a living hell to witness the downward spiral. Even people close to them with similar illnesses must stand by and wait for them to find the help they need to stabilize. All you can do is be there for them while not trying to hinder the process. When that person comes out of the storm and fog, it is common to have a lot of guilt and realizing that some bridges get burnt. 

Getting care for a mental illness is not as easy as it would seem, even with severe cases. There is a shortage of beds at the hospitals most of the time. For some, if you are just a little stable, you will be released. Premature release tends to happen among those who do not have good or any insurance. When a person gets released, there needs to be a solid support system in place. This system usually includes med doctors, therapists, and peer support groups. Friends and family are crucial factors, but many people are alone when they finally find stability. 

So yes, it is hard for people to understand. And yes, a person has to realize that people may not understand. But they also need to recognize that, in many cases, other people do not need to understand. Compassion is always a good place for those who do not understand to start.