Review – Continuing Conversation by Michael Comer
May 2, 2016 – Class at Bipolar Insights / Mental Health Educational Center
“The mental health conversation is very important to me. I have friends that struggle with various mental illnesses. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. I’m very interested in how we deal with that.” -Matthew Quick
Why is it hard to talk to a person that has a mental health issue? People are afraid to say the wrong thing or afraid what the other person will think once they say something. Sometimes, people don’t know what to say because they’re uncomfortable and unsure.
Individuals with mental health issues, like bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder, don’t feel like anyone will understand them even if they do open up and have a conversation. They constantly feel misunderstood and feel there is no point in trying.
You can master the ability to believe what the other person is saying as true and validate them. Not trusting the person in a conversation just shuts the door on them and any progress that you could make in the relationship, whether it is a familial relationship or friendship.
This is hard because everyone is different; we must remember that no two people are alike. It’s important to see the difference and make the distinction between your personality and your mental disorder. It can be hard to differentiate between them and it takes time to see your past, become stable, and then categorize symptoms of your illness vs. your personhood and whole being.
How do you learn to have a conversation?
The hard way. You keep trying, keep talking and go for it. Stay on the phone, keep sharing, keep listening, keep learning, and keep putting forth the effort. People are always contacting Marcia for help or support. Marcia had to learn and find a way to let people know, that #1, she cares. You can’t talk to people in mania or that are having auditory hallucinations either.
What do you say?
“You’re somebody! I’m here for you and I support you. It’s going to be hard work, but I know that we can do this together, and I will walk with you.”
Validation is the first step in a conversation. Second step is to listen. Third step is to say, “You have to help me see what’s going on in your brain so I can understand.”
By asking them to help her, Marcia was helping them by having a conversation. This allowed her to help them in a more positive and constructive way.
The key to education is consistency.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela