There’s still many, many misconceptions about mental health in 2018 and how it affects people individually varies massively.

Speaking about mental health can be difficult for sufferers.

But what do you do when someone you love or care about is suffering? How can you help them?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to help – you want to help, you want to make them feel better more than anything in the world and make them feel safe and loved –  it’s not your fault if you get it wrong sometimes.

Trial and error is common due to the complexity of mental health issues and the pain someone can be in…. there will likely be mistakes until you  figure out how you can help them in the right way for them, and for you.

A man recently took to Imgur to explain the things he has learned when trying to help his girlfriend, who experiences both panic attacks and has anxiety.

Note that this list is not going to work for everyone – as mentioned, these issues are different in many ways from person to person, and some of the below may not be the correct way to help the person in your life you want to help.

But, nevertheless, the issues affect so many people and it’s no surprise that the list has gone hugely viral.

Tips and Tricks.

* Don’t always try to hug. It took a while for my SO to like being hugged to calm her down. Hugs made her feel like she was being restrained.

* Just because they’re not answering, doesn’t mean they’re ignoring you, sometimes they just can’t talk yet. Attacks can come from an argument or falling out, and sometimes I’ve mistaken them for the silent treatment. A new one I’ve learnt is “If you want to talk to me but can’t, wiggle your finger.”

* Breathe loudly, you ever notice when you hug or cuddle someone for a while your breathing syncs. Or people taking a deep breath near you makes you need to take a deep breath, you’ve probably just taken one now just because I’ve pointed it out. So if they’re taking panicked frantic breaths, breathe slowly and loudly and they will begin to sync up with you.

* Slow hand motions to sync their breathing to help, maybe on the arm, or their back.

* You can tell them to “stop” or “calm down.” But just do it right, don’t tell them off. If you catch them early enough you can calm them down by calmly saying “It’s ok, calm down.” But throw in the calming hand movements.

* Sometimes they just collapse to the floor, sit on the floor with them, lie next to them. Remind them they’re not alone.

* Don’t get mad at them. Panic attack’s can happen for the dumbest reasons, once my SO laughed at her own joke so much she had a panic attack. Panic attacks can happen in the middle of an argument? Guess what, you’re not in an argument anymore, no one wins. Just help them out a little! What works for you, what doesn’t?

Following the viral nature of the post and the responses, the boyfriend posted an update:

“Wow what a frontpage, what a response. Couple things to clear up that people have commented on. The hug one, was just what I found, some people might like to be hugged, just be careful with the pressure make sure they’re comfortable. The “calm down” one, a few people said they hate being told to calm down! I was more getting at, don’t worry too much about what words and phrases you’re using, and more think about how you’re saying them. Everyperson is unique, what works for me might not work for you. Th is was by no means a “how great am I?!” I was hoping that people would discuss and share their experiences. I had a boys night in where a lot of them talked about their S.O’s having panic attacks, or they themselves having them, so thought I’d share my experiences, and I’m glad you all have too.”

 

If you have been affected by this article, you can contact the following organizations for support:

Samaritans:
Call Freephone: 116 123
Text: 087 2 60 90 90 (standard text rates apply)
Email: [email protected] (RoI)
Email: [email protected] (NI)

Aware.ie
1890 303 302 (seven days a week, from 10am to 10pm)

Spunout.ie

Pieta House