For those supporting loved ones with mental health or substance use concerns, connection and self-care are key in managing the complex emotions that are involved.
Diane understands this first-hand.
“You have a lot of anger, grief, and sadness when your loved one is struggling so much,” she explains. “I was so affected and becoming depressed from trying to support my loved one, and I really didn’t know how to do it without being angry.”
At first, Diane didn’t think she could reach out for help, but the isolation only worsened the situation.
“I felt like I was the only one, that my life was a big secret,” she explains. “I didn’t know it was okay to go through things, and that it’s okay to reach out.”
It got to a point, though, that Diane had to get help. She described her situation as “desperate.”
“I had a lot of tears. I just wanted it not to be true, that my loved one was struggling so much. That’s why I reached out for help, and I am so glad that I did.”
What she came to realize was that, in order to truly support her loved one, she must first take care of herself. It has made all the difference.
“If the family member gets better, then the loved one does too,” she says. “I have an awesome relationship with my loved one now, and I know that they appreciate too that I am doing better. It’s a win-win situation.”
Now, as a Family Peer Support Worker at CMHA Calgary’s Welcome Centre and Recovery College, Diane shares what she has learned from her own journey with others on similar paths, strongly promoting the idea of continuous self-care. The center is built on a foundation of mutuality, respect, and equality. It is open to everyone to connect, learn, and build their support system, whether they are an individual faced with a mental health concern or a loved one.
“We let [family members] share their stories, and what they are struggling with, but it’s really wonderful changing their thinking. Not to stop loving their loved one. Not to stop caring for their loved one, but asking ‘what do you do for fun now?’”
She explains that the ability to connect with others on similar journeys is extremely powerful.
“It’s beautiful what happens, actually. You just become a kindred spirit. You meet people that are where you are too.”
She describes even meeting one of the family members from a program she facilitated out in the community.
“We embraced like we were best friends forever. It was so neat. Everybody just accepts everybody. We don’t talk about the diagnosis, it’s the person behind [it]. We don’t know what everyone is diagnosed with, it’s just about recovery.”
The programming at CMHA Calgary is free of charge and without waiting lists. In order to continue to ensure that no one is turned away, we need your support, which is why we’ve launched the Turni2We campaign.
Your donation can go a long way in helping someone feel like they belong, and that they matter. Donate today.
For more information about the Recovery College and Welcome Centre, visit www.recoverycollegecalgary.ca or stop by and feel the warmth and connection for yourself.