October 21, 2019
“I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I will fight with you.” This sentence alone has the power to transform lives – specifically the people in life that are battling mental illnesses. We can say with confidence that loving people battling mental health issues is not easy at all. It can be a hard and frustrating role, as you are desiring to help that person and not getting anywhere. This topic has been on my [Kallie’s] heart for years now as I am continuing to battle anxiety and depression. The people in my life who love me will often ask me how they can help and/or love me better through this season. Even though I get this question often, it can be difficult to answer on the spot, because I’m not sure that I even know the answer to this question. The conclusion that I have come to is that there isn’t one. You may be thinking, “wow, Kallie, that’s pretty negative”, except it’s not. The reason that there is not a conclusion is because there are hundreds of different conclusions for hundreds of different people. There are many different types of anxiety, many different types of depression, and not to mention all of the many more types of mental illnesses. Considering each person’s different genetic makeup and the level of intensity of their mental health, it would be nearly impossible to release the secret recipe to the perfect way to love someone in your life battling mental illnesses. What I am here to do though, is to give you a few of the tips that I believe will generically be a huge aid in loving that person you are thinking about while reading this.
My first piece of advice would be to deepen your understanding. This is extremely important and can help you figure out exactly what your loved one could need from you. Even if you personally struggle with the same mental illness your loved one has, it doesn’t mean the circumstances or situation is the same as theirs. Therefore, educating yourself on their type of anxiety, depression, etc. is extremely important to better understand why they do what they do. If you do not struggle with any type of mental illness, it can be difficult to understand the way this person is acting without diving into what they deal with on an everyday basis. Educating yourself, for example, can look like Googling facts about the specific illness, watching YouTube videos about personal stories, asking a doctor or someone who is an expert in the issue, reading books, and lastly, asking your personal loved one what they experience in purposes of learning more about them. Another important way to educate yourself is to learn their triggers and symptoms. This is so vital for being a good friend for this person. By recognizing what triggers them and what happens when they are triggered can immensely help in their safety and comfort. Often times, recognizing mental illness is difficult as it isn’t necessarily obvious. Mental illnesses are often called “silent killers” because they are mostly internal. For this exact reason, you should focus on studying the triggers and symptoms to better notice when your friend, family member, or significant other is struggling without them having to say anything.
Another tip for loving others that are struggling with mental health is to refrain from offering your own advice. With mental illnesses, there often is not a reason in the present that could be why they’re experiencing what they’re going through, and they also might not be able to explain how they are feeling. The most important thing to do is just listen. Whether you are listening to them rant, or verbally process, or even just listening to their silence. It’s important that you let them speak and do not offer your unsolicited advice. You do not have their brain and you are not living their life with this illness, so giving advice usually will not be helpful. Although giving advice is not recommended, neither is ignoring it. One of the worst things for all parties is pretending it doesn’t exist. It is important to use the “I” pronoun instead of using “you”. “I am worried”, “I am noticing”, not “You are acting like –.”
NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, is an incredible resource for insight on mental illnesses as they offer practical applications to offer support for others. They emphasize the importance of helping your loved one recognize their needs. This doesn’t mean telling them what they need to do and then expecting they will somehow get better; rather, it is about supporting them as they attempt to lead healthier lifestyles. One of the most encouraging things you can do is fight this battle along with them. Karen Young, writer for HeySigmund, says “You don’t have to fix anything or change anything. If there was a way to do that, they would have done it themselves by now. Instead, acknowledge their pain…and validate what they’re going through.” Be the person that’s there for them without having to change them.
We have to realize that depression, anxiety, and illnesses along those lines are trying to steal the people that we love. The enemy is using these struggles with mental health to take the people that we should be fighting for away from us. As brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our imperative duty to step up and reflect Jesus’ love onto them. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Ultimately, the only thing that can bring true healing to these scars is His love, and He has commanded us to love each other as He has loved us. We have to love one another; it isn’t a choice, it is an obligation.
“I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I will fight with you.” This affirmation is the hope that can change the lives of those you love who struggle with mental illness. We have the opportunity to bring light into this darkness that so many people are going through. We encourage you guys to not sit on the sidelines anymore, go out there and fight for each other. Love is the only answer.
NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-
Young, K. (2016, July 14). When Someone You Love Has Depression. Retrieved from
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
Written by: Kallie Moore & Alex Quan
Kallie is a Sophomore Digital Media Video Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the amazing platform it is to have a voice and discuss topics that might not be commonly addressed.
Alex is a Junior Business Communications Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity to express his thoughts and interests through the medium of a blog! It’s a healthy way to share his opinions with others and hopefully start a dialogue with them.