Now, I don’t mean “give up” as in the final sense. All of us that have a mental illness know others that also have mental illnesses. We are a support system for each other. We’ve been to those dark places. We can understand what each other is going through. So, when a friend comes to you in crisis, what do you do? You help. You do whatever you can to make sure that your friend sees the next day. You stay up all night with them, listening to them, offer advice, but mostly listen. You take them to the ER (if that’s what is needed) and stay with them ALL night while you wait desperately for a psych bed to open up somewhere in the state. When you’re sent home because there are no beds anywhere in the state, you begin the caretaker role. This can last days, weeks, sometimes months.
At what point do you say enough is enough? Or do you? I don’t ask these questions to come off as callous, but from experience…experience I would venture to guess we’ve all had at one point. I don’t want to go into too many details about my most recent experience with this out of respect for my friend, let’s call her “C”. Let’s say that I was basically “C’s” caretaker for quite a few months. There were many, many late nights, hospital runs, phone calls, texts, etc. It was too the point that it started to effect my own mental health. I didn’t feel as though I could stop helping “C”, but I could feel myself slipping into depression, one I was afraid that I wouldn’t recover from. When she was finally able to find a psych bed and get some proper help, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. I had a good 10 days uninterrupted with my family again. In trying to keep “C” alive, I felt like I had neglected my family, not completely. I just wasn’t fully present.
So, I’m going to answer the question I’ve been asking…some may agree and some may not. In the case of “C”, I did not give up. However, had I to do it all over again, I think I might. She did have other people that she could have gone to, but she wanted me because she and I have the same illness. By helping her, it took me away from my family and it very nearly sent me to the hospital myself. It was extremely stressful and emotionally draining. I know some people will say that we should never give up on another human being and use to feel the same way. When it comes to your own health and safety, you must put yourself first. If she hadn’t been admitted to the hospital, I was already at the point of giving up knowing I had done all that I could do to help her. So know that you are not being selfish for telling someone, “I’m sorry, but this is just too much for me. Let’s find you someone else that can help.”