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Supporting others AND yourself

Sometimes, I feel that people may forget that those who are supporting loved ones with mental health issues also need support for themselves in different ways. As someone who has a sister who has struggled with severe anxiety and depression for a few years now, I have learnt that looking after myself is the first step to being able to look after her. In order to be the strong one and the glue when things are going badly, you must learn to self-care. That was something I struggled with in high-school. I used to push myself to be the strong one and tried not to show any tears or sadness in front of the family. 


For me in particular, I am from an Asian background. Mental health is still quite stigmatised in my culture and it was very difficult for my parents to initially accept the fact that mental health was a real and difficult struggle. That meant I had to be the glue for the family, the support for my sister and my parents, the mediator when there was tension between my sister and parents all while completing my senior years of high-school. It was a struggle but I got there. Something clicked when I realised I had to look after myself too. I visited a psychologist and school counsellor to tell them about my own struggles and anxieties. My teachers were a great support to me. Now that I have reached out and received that support, I am better able to look after myself and consequently, others too. Always remember to self-care. 

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

Hi @ayrc_1904 and welcome to ReachOut Heart 


I think you've raised a really important point here so thank you for bringing such an important topic onto the forum. I completely agree that in order to take care of others we must first take care of ourselves. It sounds like you've had quite a journey to get to a place where you can take care of your mental health as well as looking out for your sister Heart You sound like a really caring sibling. 


I'm happy to hear that your teachers were supportive of you when you turned to them Heart It sounds like self care is a really important part of your life. What are your favourite ways to self care? 

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

Hi @ayrc_1904! Welcome to the forums!

I'm really sorry about your sister. Smiley Sad That sounds like it must be so difficult for you and your family.
It sounds like you've had to take on a lot of responsibility at a young age. I agree with @Bre-RO  that you sound like a very caring sibling. Heart
I have had family members go through mental and physical health problems and I totally agree with you about the importance of self-care and support. I also find that I have to look after myself in order to be there for my family. I'm glad that you were able to find some support (well done for reaching out!) and are feeling better. Heart

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

Thank you so much! Yes, it has been quite the journey and I feel like you never stop learning because there are new experiences as the days go on. To self-care, I usually love to either go for a jog with some music in my ear. Sometimes, staying indoors for a while with all the noise and stresses of studying or work can feel suffocating. So for me, I feel a lot better when I go outside for some fresh air. If it's rainy, I'll usually just lie in bed, maybe light a candle and plug-in my earphones. Music is and always has been a big part of my life, so it's something I turn to when I need to stop and take a breather. What about you?

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

@ayrc_1904 That's exactly right - life is full of opportunities to learn new things and grow. I love that you've found a few solid and enjoyable ways of doing self-care. Like you, a huge part of my self care is centred around music - whether it's dancing, singing or just listening to my favourite records/finding new artists. I'm so grateful for music Heart Do you play any instruments? 


Re: Supporting others AND yourself

@Bre-RO That's so cool! Yes, I've played the cello since I was in year 2 and I've now just finished my first year of uni. Personally, I find music to be so powerful in ways nothing else is. Whether it's passively listening to music or actively expressing yourself by playing music, it is really a great way to let your emotions out. I know some friends who listen to particular songs with lyrics that really spoke to them and helped them through tough times. For those who are religious, I also know some people who find the lyrics from hymns to be extremely comforting and helpful. Of course, music doesn't have to just be used for sad times. Music makes celebrations so much more exciting and enjoyable too. Really any emotion can be expressed through it. 


My family all play an instrument actually. Music was something my sister really used to help her through her depression and anxiety. We try to use our gifts of music to maybe uplift others too. Almost every Christmas for a few years, my family go out to play Christmas music for those who are elderly and in nursing homes, or specific church members who are ill in hospital. It's such a rewarding experience! Do you play an instrument too?

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

Hey @ayrc_1904 


Wow! It's so nice to hear that your family use music to spread joy. I can imagine how special it is for the people who live in nursing homes to hear you all play.


I agree, music is so powerful. Whether you're crying to music or dancing to it, it's like a friend that holds your hand through all the emotions you feel. Good and bad! 


I play the drums! I haven't had a chance to play in awhile but I'm saving for an electric drum kit at the moment. What's your all time fave musician? 

Re: Supporting others AND yourself

@Bre-RO Drums! That's so cool! I don't actually have a favourite musician now that I think about it. I love most types of music and am open to new artists and songs. What about you? Who's your favourite?